Earlier this week I finished Life of Pi by Yann Martel, an author newly arrived on the Canadian fiction scene. I had seen the book in the stores for months, but never really looked at it, and then when I saw it among a shelf of books on sale for $1 at my local library, decided the price was worth finding out what all the fuss was about. Both of my former bosses had recommended it and it certainly had enough rave reviews, if the comments from various media outlets were any indication. That’s where I made my mistake. I really should know better than to read, and worse, believe, the comments the publisher includes that hype the book. You’d think I’d be smarter than that. But no, I fall for it (almost) every time. So, based on the praises that had been heaped upon it, I had pretty high expectations for this book. Maybe it was just too deep for me, and I missed it, but I really don’t get what all the fuss was about. It started off good enough, a young Indian boy who wants to follow his native Hindu religion, as well as Islam and Christianity. But once the story shifts to the main focus, the tale of a boy lost at sea, well, for me, it just falls short of the promise. It’s a fine adventure story, and Martel has superb storytelling ability, but I just kept expecting more. Perhaps the more subtle meanings elluded me – I’d be interested in talking over this one with someone else who’d read it and see what insight they had.
I also wrapped up my reading of A Field Guide to Buying Organic which in my admittedly limited experience, is one of the more factual books out there on the subject. Other things I’ve read, both online articles as well as books, seem to be at either end of the spectrum: either organic food is an over-hyped elitist waste of money, or the answer to all of our health and environmental woes. In reality, it’s somewhere in between. It’s co-authored by two people with different perspectives, which gives the book a hard-to-find balance. I didn’t feel like I was reading some starry-eyed hippie’s view of the world, nor the cynical denials of an agribusiness advocate. It’s helped me figure out what foods I should focus on buying organic whenever possible, and what is fine from the conventional offerings. This book should definitely be on the reading list of anyone thinking about eating organic foods but confused by all the hype.