I love animals, and I know I’m not the only one. My oldest son is raising goats in our backyard, and every day, they attract visitors. I’ve watched itI love animals, and I know I’m not the only one. My oldest son is raising goats in our backyard, and every day, they attract visitors. I’ve watched it time and time again. Animals bring out the best in people: their joy, their kindness, and their sense of wonder.
This book is about how some conservationists have tapped into people’s love of animals and harnessed it not just to save endangered species but to preserve the much less adorable ecosystems in which they thrive. A clear and recent example of this is with polar bears, which are in danger of extinction due to global warming. Plenty of politicians deny global warming, and only a small portion of the voting public ever gets excited about it, but thousands if not millions of people will rally to save starving polar bears. Knowing that, conservationists were able to pressure for laws to be passed to do something about the bears’ natural habitat, the melting polar ice caps.
That’s not to say that saving the polar bears has been an overwhelming success. If anything, this book, which also covers butterfly extinction, the spectacular attempt to save the whooping crane, and a bit about the “save the whales” campaign, is full of failure. But the embittered activists involved in all these efforts are inspiring because in spite of all the setbacks they face, they just keep going. While reading the book, I’ve been involved in a very different cause, but the persistence of those environmental activists was particularly inspiring to me. As one of them said, human flaws created our current environmental disaster, but it’s got to be human beings with all our flaws to figure out how to clean up this mess. If we don’t all get cracking, we ourselves might go extinct.
I recommend this book to everyone on the planet. It would make for an Oscar-caliber documentary film, and I hope someone produces it because this is a message that needs to be spread far and wide. I’ll admit my mind wandered in the more scientific sections, and parts of it are downright scary, but the end had me cheering. Go out and get hold of a copy. Push your way through the hard parts. This is not just about solving the earth’s problems. The lessons here can be applied to any and every problem we humans face. ...more
I read this because it was Emma Watson's April pick for her feminist book club, but like with bell hooks, author of her March pick, my preview of theI read this because it was Emma Watson's April pick for her feminist book club, but like with bell hooks, author of her March pick, my preview of the author was negative - so negative, in fact, I almost sat this month out. What changed my mind was the second preview, so I might as well explain both before I get to the book itself.
Both previews were posted in the group, which is called Our Shared Shelf or OSS. The first was an article of Moran's in some popular British magazine that showcased her signature style. Rather like an African American comedian who might use the n-word to poke fun at the stereotype and "take it back," Moran is one of those feminists who feels that she has the right to be as crude as any man. That seems to have broad appeal with a whole lot of people, but since joining OSS, I've taken to calling myself a "conservative feminist." I don't like vulgar language from anybody, even though I'll admit that sometimes, it makes me laugh. George Carlin has made me laugh. So has "Family Guy." And Moran got some laughs out of me, too, but in all cases, I laughed in spite of myself.
"Okay," I thought. "I'm skipping this month. The History Book Club has plenty going on anyway."
Then came the second preview: a video message from Moran to all teenage girls. And she nailed it. She addressed the low self-esteem that results from realizing you're not beautiful and all the dysfunctional behaviors that can go with it: cutting, anorexia, overeating. It's a loving message to girls everywhere. I admire her for it.
The book embodies that dichotomy precisely. Sometimes it's vulgar, but sometimes it's uplifting. I'd give her 5 stars for a few of her quotes about motherhood and self-esteem, both of which came in the end. She's got a soul-baring chapter on abortion that's really powerful, and her chapter on overeating was so good, I read it aloud to my husband, who is also an overeater. But I would NEVER recommend the whole book to him. The first few chapters on puberty and her family life are completely inappropriate for a frum man, and parts of them were a turn-off for me, too.
So that's my warning, frum friends. Caitlin Moran has an engaging, conversational style, and her book is never boring. Sometimes it's insightful, and sometimes it's funny. But sometimes, it's just plain crude.