The Life of Pi Inspires Travel

Stephanie Stiavetti
Stephanie Stiavetti

Destination: Anywhere

Book: The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A Guest Post by Stephanie Stiavetti

Hello everyone! I’m very excited to be guest posting for A Traveler’s Library. Many of my favorite books are the ones that inspire me to travel, and today I’mPosts going to share with you one book that I feel stands out above the rest, for reasons you might not expect.

When I picked up my copy of Yann Martel’s [amazonify]0156027321:httpwwwwasabi-20:text:::: Life of Pi[/amazonify] a few years ago, I had no idea that a book could create within me such a visceral need to visit distant places. This isn’t your average travel book, though – in fact, it’s not really about any particular destination at all.

The story is told through the point of view of the narrator, an Indian boy named Piscine Patel (or Pi, for short). He and his family live in a zoo that his father runs, and because of this lifestyle, Pi has an innate understanding of animal behavior. Fast forward a few chapters and young Pi ends up stuck in a lifeboat with a huge Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Needless to say, his experience with animals comes in handy as he floats across the Atlantic ocean for months and months with this big, hungry, and very un-tame beast.

Since most of the story revolves around the fact that Pi and Richard Parker are lost at sea, there’s little talk of coming from or going to any specific place. What got me, though, was the feeling of floating through vast distances, without any real sense of time and space. When I travel that’s a feeling that I like to dip my toes into, letting them soak in the rare peace of being in the here and now. I like to forget that time is ticking away, or that entire weeks are passing me by. My goal in a new place is to forget my default contextual sense of self, and instead let new cultures wash over me and fill in the little gaps between my heart and mind.

I guess you could say that traveling fills me up, both literally and figuratively, and this book helped me to experience that feeling again without having to leave my home. While Pi’s situation was far from ideal, the fact that he’s just traveling in its purest sense really grabbed a hold of me and wouldn’t let go. Life of Pi; gave me an intense wanderlust that I’ve yet to shake, though my travels have taken me all over the United States and into Thailand since I read it. It made me want to keep going and going.

I love the idea that I can pick up a good book, one that doesn’t even tell the story of people traveling or visiting anything in particular, and have it instill such a need to experience the world that I can barely contain the feeling. For me, this need has manifested itself in a new love of international cooking and a very, very diversely packed spice cabinet. While I can’t travel as much as I would like, I can certainly cook whenever I want. Life of Pi has fed so many parts of my psyche that I feel like I’ve traveled all over the world, just within its three hundred pages.

Thanks, Vera, for giving me space to share my love for this book!

Stephanie Stiavetti is a food writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her food blog, Wasabimon, is a great place to check out her cooking adventures. You can also follow her on Twitter @sstiavetti.

And thank YOU Stephanie, for sharing this unusual travel inspiration.  I must admit that I read Life of Pi in a book club and was not enamoured, so it has been most enlightening to see the effect it has on someone else.  We have such a good discussion going on whether travel writing has a future–let’s switch the subject to the Life of Pi–Did you read it? Did you love it? Why? What role does the nationality of Pi play in the effect of the book? Perhaps you like to talk about another unlikely travel inspiration? Whatever. Just talk.

And if you want to see my guest post over at Wasabimon, it is there today. I talk about a great aid to help you navigate food allergies in another language.

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

11 thoughts on “The Life of Pi Inspires Travel

  1. I loved the book: Strange and dreamy and engrossing. But I have to admit it didn’t especially inspire travel lust. (Though come to think of it, I have such a bad, chronic case of wanderlust, maybe I just didn’t notice).

    1. Oh, I so highly recommend it. Especially if religion and faith are an interest of yours – Pi talks about faith very abstractly in the book. Very interesting to read his take on how *faith* is important to him, and his view that religion is just one side of that.
      .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..BlogHer Food ‘09 Is Almost Here! =-.

  2. Sheryl, I’m so glad I inspired you to pull it off the shelf! Do let me know what you think when you’ve finished. 🙂

    Brette, it’s a fabulous story. I love how the boy’s relationship with the tiger grows. I’m also a religious history nut, and there’s a lot of musings on faith and how religions intertwine.
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Eat Safely in Any Language =-.

  3. Stephanie – You’ve explained it beautifully – and even though I have yet to read Pi, I am inspired to take it off my shelf at long last and open it.

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