Yann Martel is a Genius of Sorts...

... and now I really must read Life of Pi. Just ask President Obama:

This note was posted on Yann Martel's blog after he received it directly from the White House. But as cool as the note is (and as much as it inspires me to read Life of Pi - yes, I am that easily swayed in my reading choices, which change on a daily basis), the blog is actually completely unrelated to President Obama.

Instead, Martel's blog focuses on Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Martel is a Canadian author). He explains the mission of the blog:

“The Prime Minister did not speak during our brief tribute, certainly not. I don’t think he even looked up. The snarling business of Question Period having just ended, he was shuffling papers. I tried to bring him close to me with my eyes.Who is this man? What makes him tick? No doubt he is busy. No doubt he is deluded by that busyness. No doubt being Prime Minister fills his entire consideration and froths his sense of busied importance to the very brim. And no doubt he sounds and governs like one who cares little for the arts.But he must have moments of stillness. And so this is what I propose to do: not to educate—that would be arrogant, less than that—to make suggestions to his stillness.

For as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, I vow to send him every two weeks, mailed on a Monday, a book that has been known to expand stillness. That book will be inscribed and will be accompanied by a letter I will have written. I will faithfully report on every new book, every inscription, every letter, and any response I might get from the Prime Minister, on this website.”

It's a pretty interesting project, and I've enjoyed flipping through the books chosen thus far (Martel is on book selection #76). Each selection is posted on the blog, along with the inscription in the book and the letter to the PM written by Martel for each title. Those responses received by Martel (totaling a mere 5, all written by assistants and secretaries of some office or another) are also listed.

I have to admit, I've only read some of the selections, and of those, several were books I absolutely hated (Larry McMurtry's Books: A Memoir, for one), but there is nothing to suggest that all of the books are perfect, just that all of the books encourage stillness, and therefore contemplation. Isn't that something we could all do with a bit more of?


  1. I loved Life of Pi. Nice to know the President and I are on the same page. As for stillness, isn't that what books are all about? Just you and the printed word, marveling in the stillness of the moment.

  2. life of pi is incredible. get on it, boo. i'm curious to hear your thoughts.

  3. thanks for sharing.

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