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Fiction that prompts TOK thinking
Life of Pi by
Call Number: F MAR
Publication Date: 2004
Winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction Pi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional-but is it more true? Life of Pi is at once a realistic, rousing adventure and a meta-tale of survival that explores the redemptive power of storytelling and the transformative nature of fiction. It's a story, as one character puts it, to make you believe in God.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by
Call Number: 917.3 PIR
Publication Date: 2008
"The real cycle you're working on is a cycle called 'yourself.'" One of the most important and influential books of the past half-century, Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live and a meditation on how to live better. The narrative of a father on a summer motorcycle trip across America's Northwest with his young son, it becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life's fundamental questions. A true modern classic, it remains at once touching and transcendent, resonant with the myriad confusions of existence and the small, essential triumphs that propel us forward.
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time by
Call Number: F HAD
Publication Date: 2003
Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.
Night Train to Lisbon by
Call Number: F MER
Publication Date: 2007
A huge international best seller, this ambitious novel plumbs the depths of our shared humanity to offer up a breathtaking insight into life, love, and literature itself. A major hit in Germany that went on to become one of Europe’s biggest literary blockbusters in the last five years, Night Train to Lisbon is an astonishing novel, a compelling exploration of consciousness, the possibility of truly understanding another person, and the ability of language to define our very selves. Raimund Gregorius is a Latin teacher at a Swiss college who one dayafter a chance encounter with a mysterious Portuguese womanabandons his old life to start a new one. He takes the night train to Lisbon and carries with him a book by Amadeu de Prado, a (fictional) Portuguese doctor and essayist whose writings explore the ideas of loneliness, mortality, death, friendship, love, and loyalty. Gregorius becomes obsessed by what he reads and restlessly struggles to comprehend the life of the author. His investigations lead him all over the city of Lisbon, as he speaks to those who were entangled in Prado’s life. Gradually, the picture of an extraordinary man emergesa doctor and poet who rebelled against Salazar’s dictatorship.
The village by
Call Number: F LAL
Publication Date: 2013
After a long trip from London, twenty-seven-year-old BBC filmmaker Ray Bhullar arrives at the remote Indian village of Ashwer, which will be the subject of her newest documentary. From the outside, the town projects a cozy air of domesticity—small huts bordering earthen paths, men lounging and drinking tea, women guiding bright cloth through noisy sewing machines. Yet Ashwer is far from traditional. It is an experimental open prison, a village of convicted murderers and their families. As Ray and her crew settle in, they seek to win the trust of Ashwer’s residents and administrators: Nandini, a women’s counselor and herself an inmate; Jyoti, a prisoner’s wife who is raising her children on the grounds; Sujay, the progressive founder and governor of the society. Ray aims to portray Ashwer as a model of tolerance, yet the longer she and her colleagues stay, the more their need for a dramatic story line intensifies. And as Ray’s moral judgment competes with her professional obligation, her assignment takes an uneasy and disturbing turn.
Sophie's world by
Call Number: F GAA
Publication Date: 1995
A novel about the history of philosophy, that uses the life of a schoolgirl, Sophie, as a backdrop for a discussion of the meaning of life.
Fiction that prompts TOK thinking
The handmaid's tale by
Call Number: F ATW
Publication Date: 1985
Set in the near future, America has become a puritanical theocracy and Offred tells her story as a Handmaid under the new social order
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by
Call Number: F ALB
Publication Date: 2009
THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN is a wonderfully moving fable that addresses the meaning of life, and life after death, in the poignant way that made TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE such an astonishing book. The novel's protagonist is an elderly amusement park maintenance worker named Eddie who, while operating a ride called the 'Free Fall', dies while trying to save a young girl who gets in the way of a falling cart that hurtles to earth. Eddie goes to heaven, where he meets five people who were unexpectedly instrumental in some way in his life. While each guide takes him through heaven, Eddie learns a little bit more about what his time on earth meant, what he was supposed to have learned, and what his true purpose on earth was. Throughout there are dramatic flashbacks where we see scenes from his troubled childhood, his years in the army in the Philippines jungle, and with his first and only love, his wife Marguerite.
The Master and Margarita by
Call Number: F BUL
Publication Date: 2001
A masterful translation of one of the great novels of the 20th century Nothing in the whole of literature compares with The Master and Margarita. Full of pungency and wit, this luminous work is Bulgakov's crowning achievement, skilfully blending magical and realistic elements, grotesque situations and major ethical concerns. Written during the darkest period of Stalin's repressive reign and a devastating satire of Soviet life, it combines two distinct yet interwoven parts, one set in contemporary Moscow, the other in ancient Jerusalem, each brimming with incident and with historical, imaginary, frightful and wonderful characters. Although completed in 1940, The Master and Margarita was not published until 1966 when the first section appeared in the monthly magazine Moskva. Russians everywhere responded enthusiastically to the novel's artistic and spiritual freedom and it was an immediate and enduring success. This new translation has been made from the complete and unabridged Russian text.
The Alchemist by
Call Number: F COE
Publication Date: 1998
A fable in which Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd, leaves his home in Spain to search for worldly treasures, but the most important treasure he finds is the wisdom to listen to his own heart.
The Moral of the Story by
Call Number: 808.80384 MOR
Publication Date: 2005
In The Moral of the Story, Peter and Renata Singer draw onsome of the best works of fiction, playwriting, and poetry in orderto shed light on the perennial questions of ethics. A vivid montage of literature that touches on a broad range ofethical subjects and themes Offers a unique contribution to the study of moral philosophyand literature Demonstrates how literary sources can add richness todiscussions of real-life moral questions and dilemmas Brings together selections and excerpts from the world'smost celebrated short stories, novels, plays, and poetry Features substantive section introductions by Peter and RenataSinger Peter Singer is a leading moral philosopher, widely creditedwith triggering the modern animal-rights movement.
The Language Inside by
Call Number: F THO
Publication Date: 2013
A nuanced novel in verse that explores identit, friendship, love, loss, and home in a multicultural world. For Emma Karas, Japan is home. It is where she has lived almost her entire life. But when her mother falls ill, Emma's family moves in with her grandmother, back in Massachusetts. Emma is desperately homesick. She feels out of place in the U.S. and starts to get painful migraines. Then Emma begins volunteering at a long-term care center, helping a patient, Zena, write down her poems. There, Emma meets Samnang, a cute boy from her high school. As the weeks pass, Emma and Samnang grow close. But when Emma is given the choice, will she stay in Massachusetts, or return home to Japan?