March 14 is Pi Day and not just because there are lots of people around the world baking and eating pies today. 3.14 is one of the most well-known irrational numbers because the ratio 22/7 (or its approximate equivalent, 3.14) is the constant of proportionality between two measurements on a circle – the distance across its widest point (diameter) and the distance around its edge (circumference). Students learn this number in middle school and math nerds like me never cease to look for opportunities to show that we remember what it means.
Since I make bookish videos now, today’s video is one where I selected a couple of books that represent Pi in some way.
Since I host an online book club, I selected Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi as next month’s pick. That’s the fun read. However, this year, Pi Day means something else too. It’s also the one month anniversary of one of the most horrific mass shootings in the U.S. Last month, a kid shot and killed 17 students at a Florida high school and nothing really happened. There hasn’t been the usual knee-jerk reaction that follows tragedies like this one – let’s pass some new law that prevents this from happening but also prevents a whole lot of other things. This time, the government seems reluctant to admit that gun control laws need to be changed. So today on 3.14, students across the country are protesting and walking out of schools, letting the world know that they are unwilling to sit in classrooms and wait for the next “tragic” shooting to occur (quotes because it’s not an accident if you can prevent it). I am not usually a fan of protests when I other action might be more productive but until the gun control laws change, there really isn’t much that ordinary Americans can do. So protest, kids. Today, I am with you.
In honor of that, and in my attempt to continue the conversation about gun control and school shootings, I chose another Man Booker prize winning book by an author whose name also contains Pi. This one is the 2003 Booker winner, Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, set in Texas about a teenager whose best friend also commits a school shooting. That’s the serious book. I’m looking forward to reading and discussing them both.
Click the titles to buy these Pi books on Amazon (affiliate links included) and read them with me in April. I look forward to continuing the conversation with you in the comments below or over on my YouTube channel.
Until then, Happy Pi Day and happy reading.