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Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  563 Ratings  ·  141 Reviews
In this heartfelt, thoughtful, and inspiring memoir, New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz tells the story of his beloved rescue donkey, Simon, and the wondrous ways that animals make us wiser and kinder people.

In the spring of 2011, Jon Katz received a phone call that would challenge every idea he ever had about mercy and compassion. An animal control officer had f
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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Charlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteWatership Down by Richard AdamsAnimal Farm by George OrwellBlack Beauty by Anna SewellWhere the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Best Books About Animals
296th out of 1,049 books — 1,403 voters
Bambi by Felix SaltenCharlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteFire Bringer by David Clement-DaviesThe Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan RawlingsSaving Simon by Jon Katz
Books about Hoofed Animals That are Not Horses
5th out of 118 books — 12 voters

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Community Reviews

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Nov 02, 2014 Melissa rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
For someone who loves animals as much as I do, I don't read a lot of animal stories, because they make me too sad. So I was aware of Jon Katz as an author but had never read any of his books. I was attracted to this one because of the adorable donkey on the cover and because of the subtitle: "How a Rescue Donkey Taught me the Meaning of Compassion." Compassion is one of my favorite topics, so despite my fear of reading about horrific cruelty that would give me nightmares, I decided to give it a ...more
Sep 12, 2014 Steve rated it it was amazing
What more can you say for a book that brings tears to your eyes at the beginning with sorrow, tears in the middle from loss, and tears at the end due to compassion.
A marvelous work of Nonfiction. A chronicle of merged existence and self discovery showing that broken pieces coming together can mend holes and hearts.
From the first wrenching paragraph through recovery, familiarization, cohabitation, loss, gain, and healing this story while short in size makes your heart swell.
This goes beyond A B
Although, or perhaps because, I am an animal lover, I often avoid books, especially nonfiction, centering on animals. They are too hard to read, and too often, I just don't “get” some of the author's attitudes.

However, I gave in to temptation and read this book about saving Simon, a donkey left to die.

Of course, the rescue part was so hard to read – the horrible conditions from which Simon was rescued. But I expected that. What I did not expect, but perhaps should have because of past reading ex
Jan 01, 2015 Kathy rated it it was ok
Once again, as he did in Second Chance Dog, Jon Katz has managed to make a story about an animal mostly about him instead of the animal. I enjoyed reading about Simon and his amazing recovery from unbelievably horrific neglect. But Katz's boring diatribes on compassion that he thinks should extend to animal abusers as well as the abused animals turned me off completely. Some deeds are unforgivable. What that farmer did to Simon is one of those deeds. I also don't like that Katz talks about ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Lori rated it really liked it
I have read many of the books by Jon Katz. He has written many books about his life on Bedlam Farm and all the animals he has there. This one is about Simon A donkey he rescued. It starts out pretty sad. Simon was severely neglected and near death. The farmer refused to take care of him and left him for dead. Jon Katz was called and asked if he would be willing to rescue Simon and give him a home.Simon was in terrible shape almost near death, his condition was horrible. Jon Katz got him home and ...more
“As we treat one creature, we treat all creatures. As we free ourselves of judgment, we learn what compassion is and how to feel it.”

More than just another tug-at-your-heart memoir, or an expose on animal cruelty, or a book about loving and caring for injured donkeys and critters – although Saving Simon is indeed endearingly comprised of these things – “Saving Simon” is Katz’s enlightenment journey of connection, intimacy, mercy, and compassion on a wide-reaching scale.

“Simon taught me that com
Oct 21, 2014 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to begin with my favorite passage from Saving Simon:

“When an animal guides you, emotionally and spiritually, it is not an obvious thing. Rather, they open doors indirectly, and then a domino effect sets in. They open up one part, and then that experience opens up another.”

As someone whose life has been positively changed for the better and enriched in ways I never saw coming because of caring for a dachshund that was paralyzed, I can closely relate to how the experience opens many facets
Rebecca Foster
Feb 23, 2015 Rebecca Foster rated it liked it
(2.5) I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as Katz’s dog books. Simon the donkey, rescued from a horrible situation of neglect, joins the rest of the Bedlam Farm menagerie, later supplemented by Red the collie and Rocky the blind pony. I enjoyed hearing about everyday life with donkeys and the bonds formed between different species. It’s a perfectly pleasant read, if nothing special.

However, from that subtitle onwards, Katz completely over-eggs his argument about donkeys teaching compassion. Even S
Oct 25, 2014 Ver2car rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is charming, relevant and thought provoking. In our days of living with terror and bad news on the TV daily it is wonderful to escape with a book about relations between man and animals and one that also helps us be introspective about our own demons and suggested ways to get rid of same. i.e. get a donkey :-)
Nov 15, 2014 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals
A charming read. Animals really do teach us so many things and not all of them easy.
Oct 10, 2016 Me rated it it was amazing
Not your typical rescue book in that one of the main characters is a donkey. More importantly, the author explores what true compassion means. He discovers that he not only should have compassion for the donkey (much easier than having compassion for humans) but also the farmer who left him to die in a pen. Interesting discussions on what compassion means and how to further develop in that area.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy Hildebrandt
I love donkeys and had one of my own, and I normally love Jon Katz, but this book just fell a bit short for me. There were many repetitions of information, as though it was assembled from other writings and even an editor never made a pass through the manuscript before publication. A central theme of the book was compassion, but I wasn't sure where we ended up with that, and the ending was rather abrupt. I have great respect for Jon Katz and his writing and have had many of the same rural ...more
Jul 09, 2015 Jami rated it really liked it
I love Simon's story, as well as the underlying stories of Rocky and Red. It was interesting to read the author's take on compassion towards the people who do the abusing, as well as the animals. I have not reached that point by any means where I feel any compassion towards those who abuse animals, but I can see his point of view.

I also enjoyed learning more about donkeys. I never really thought about donkeys that much and it was fascinating to learn about their personality traits.
Jason Hand
Feb 26, 2015 Jason Hand rated it it was amazing
Not quite as sad as I was lead to believe. Definitely a good book to read if you do any kind of animal rescue work or are interested in it.
Saturday's Child
Dec 29, 2014 Saturday's Child rated it liked it
A few sad and happy tears over this one.
Mar 03, 2015 Mimi rated it it was amazing
Always love reading Jon Katz's books!
Feb 15, 2015 Erika rated it really liked it
Very uplifting book!
Nov 03, 2016 Lindsay rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I like how Jon explores compassion as it relates to both humans and animals. I will definitely read another book by Jon Katz!
Robert Harrold
Nov 27, 2016 Robert Harrold rated it it was amazing
If you love animals this book is for you. Also, see at Bedlam
Oct 09, 2016 Sandie rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A wonderful book about a man and a donkey that came to live on his farm, and what they offered each other.
Jeremy Townsend
Oct 16, 2014 Jeremy Townsend rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All of us, animals and humans alike, carry some baggage from earlier days, either in the form of trauma and abuse, or just simple regret. Some carry a freight-train amount; others just a fanny pack. What Simon the donkey carried was almost beyond comprehension. He started life with a good family of humans and horses and one other donkey. He grew up as a companion to a young boy who loved him. But the recession hit their farm hard and Simon’s owners were forced to sell off their family of ...more
Nov 04, 2015 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I love donkeys. I knew that reading a book about a neglected donkey would be tough. The opening chapters tell the story of Simon being left for dead in a pen without after food or water except for what is smuggled to him by his owner's son. Eventually the son calls the authorities and Simon is taken away.

He ends up on the author's farm. He is nursed back to health over time. The author has learned slowly to love donkeys and understand their ways.
"They are agreeable creatures, but they do not li
Deborah Klein
Feb 10, 2015 Deborah Klein rated it liked it
I received this book as a winner in a Goodreads giveaway. I was a little slow to read it, because while I have and appreciate our animal friends, I don't necessarily like reading about them, so this is not my preferred genre. That said, the book was sweet and touching, and taught me lots about donkeys, all of which was interesting, and none of which I will ever have any occasion to use. I felt the gist of Katz's message was contained in this paragraph beginning on p.110 -

"Animals are dependent
Robin Tierney
Oct 13, 2014 Robin Tierney rated it liked it
Just some notes I took from the book:

Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion
Jon Katz

It is as easy to underestimate an animal as it is to overestimate him.

Einstein: widen circle of compassion for all living creatures and the whole of nature.

Meditation on compassion.

Jon Katz believes none of an animal's responses has to do with conscious reasoning as much as genetics and learned behaviors. (vs dog choosing to be good in morning and go do therapy work or guide a blind
Jan 04, 2015 Oleander rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this true story of a donkey rescue. Simon was next door to dead when he was rescued and his story is quite heartwarming. You can't help but fall in love with Simon. The author, Jon Katz, does an excellent job describing all the details of the rescue and follow up care.
I especially loved the effect that Simon's presence had on others. His life touches many - Mr. Katz, his wife, his dogs, farm animals, a poor boy down the street, and boys from an orphanage.
The story doesn't sto
Jun 02, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: animals, 5-star
In 2011 Jon Katz received a call from an animal control officer who was trying to find a home for a severely neglected donkey that was seized from a local farm. Katz agreed and quickly realized that Simon (the donkey) would change and affect him more than he ever imagined. Simon was almost dead by the time animal control officers were called about his condition. In the weeks that it took to nurture him back to health he and Jon formed a strong bond. Jon began to see the true meaning of ...more
Very meta.

This guy seemed super familiar, until I realized: this is the author of Rose in a Storm. Which I read, and liked. I thought that that book was a work of fiction? But Mr. Katz says HE owned Rose? Confused. Anyways. That's not the point. THIS book is about Simon, a rescue donkey, and the effect he had on the author. Apparently Simon the donkey caused the author to do a lot of deep, metaphysical thinking on the nature of compassion. And I have to say, my husband has always thought along t
Maybe 1.5 stars.

I saw this book at the library, thought I'd give it a try. Gave up on it though. I read of the neglect - terrible stuff - but agree with other reviewers that Katz' inconsistent attitude toward the farmer who had Simon, the mother of Bryan (left their tethered dog when they moved away) and the animal control staff was more off-putting.
His very repetitive "good boy, loved children, wanted to live" became tedious, and it seems the story is way more about Katz (perhaps that's the poi
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Jon Katz is an author, photographer, and children's book writer. He lives on Bedlam Farm with his wife, the artist Maria Wulf, his four dogs, Rose, Izzy, Lenore and Frieda, two donkeys, Lulu and Fanny, and two barn cats. His next book, "Rose In A Storm" will be published by Random House on October 5.
He is working on a collection of short stories and a book on animal grieving.
More about Jon Katz...

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“they said, with some adoption papers if we decided to keep him. I think Simon decided” 0 likes
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