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At the Library: Books to celebrate math — and pie!

pi day

Lots of folks eat pie on Pi Day.

YAKIMA, Wash. -- I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I ever find myself in the vicinity of northeastern Pennsylvania, I’m going to need to stop in and see Punxsutawney Phil. I have a few choice words for that adorable but meteorologically challenged groundhog who “predicted” an early spring this year.

Where was springtime when I broke my snow shovel?

It certainly hadn’t arrived when I was mentally weeping while shoveling my driveway for the umpteenth time, and making such a spectacle of myself that a group of kind-hearted gents stopped their truck and hopped out to help me.

(Thanks again, guys!)

I mean, even my poor little dog, who loves the snow (and probably has about as much weather-forecasting experience as Phil the Fraud) needed to be rescued from the far side of my backyard during the worst of the weather.

He had trudged through nose-deep snow in one direction, found a small, semi-dry patch of grass near the garage door, and then refused to retrace his snow-filled steps.

I don’t blame him for that; but I do blame him for the unintentional snow angel I ended up making when I slipped and fell while retrieving him. Of course, by that point, he was more than willing to hopscotch through the snow, just to stick his freezing cold nose in my face.

Anyway. What was my long-winded point?

Oh, right. Groundhog Day is a lie!

Look, it’s not normally my style to pooh-pooh this sort of quaint tradition, but come on: Whether spring is early, or we’re all caught in the clutches of an extended polar vortex, it makes no difference to Fibbing Punxsutawney Phil. He has his own built-in, custom-made fur coat.

But (and I say this reluctantly), there’s something oddly charming about the weird, obscure, offbeat and not-quite holidays we all know and love.

So, to make up for disparaging Groundhog Day, I humbly present to you: International Pi Day.

According to (yes, that’s a real website), “Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.”

Thus, International Pi Day, sometimes stylized as “Pi(e) Day,” is an actual day set aside each year for math lovers to talk about math, for people to challenge one another to recite the digits of pi from memory, and (probably the “holiday’s” biggest claim to fame), it’s also a designated day for people to eat pie.

I’m certainly no math aficionado, but there’s something almost comforting about the fact that math, and numbers, are consistent, unchanging and reliable.

Which is more than I can say for fickle groundhogs who may or may not decide to see their shadows.

Want to celebrate International Pi(e) Day in style? We’ve got books for that.

For pi lovers

• “How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking” by Jordan Ellenberg

• “Fluke: The Math and Myth of Coincidences” by Joseph Mazur

• “The Joy of Mathematics: Marvels, Novelties, and Neglected Gems that are Rarely Taught in Math Class” by Alfred S. Posamentier, et al

• “Can You Solve My Problems? Ingenious, Perplexing, and Totally Satisfying Math and Logic Puzzles” by Alex Bellos

For pie lovers

• “Pie Squared: Irresistibly Easy Sweet and Savory Slab Pies” by Cathy Barrow

• “Sugar, Butter, Flour: The Waitress Pie Book” by Jenna Hunterson

• “Dinner Pies: From Shepherd’s Pies and Pot Pies to Turnovers, Quiches, Hand Pies, and More” by Ken Haedrich

• “Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings and Life, by Kate McDermott

• Krystal Corbray is programming and marketing librarian for Yakima Valley Libraries. Learn more at

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