A relatively quick read about how farm animals are more sentient and emotional than most people will give them credit for. I find this a very interest...moreA relatively quick read about how farm animals are more sentient and emotional than most people will give them credit for. I find this a very interesting topic because while society is quick to ascribe feelings to beloved companion animals (my rabbit makes it very clear when she is not happy), there is a categorical divide in our psyche between "pets" and all other animals, particularly animals that we commoditize for food and clothing.
Mousaieff Masson provides anecdotes of various farm animals who have exhibited "human" traits, acknowledging that science does not consider anecdotal evidence evidence at all, but that is all the evidence we have at the moment because the question of farm animal sentience is poo-pooed and not taken seriously by the scientific community.
While I enjoyed the book, I found it a bit incomplete. As in a number of books I've read dealing with animal welfare, animal rights, etc., the author relies on one facet only to make the case for moving to vegetarianism or veganism - in this case that animals are sentient and suffer, and our exploitation of them is immoral. But given how ingrained this exploitation and the mindset that animals are for our use is, I doubt that argument will not bring about widespread or lasting change.(less)
Disclaimer: I received a free review copy from the publisher through Goodread's First Reads program
Trigger warning: for those who just wanted a fun bo...moreDisclaimer: I received a free review copy from the publisher through Goodread's First Reads program
Trigger warning: for those who just wanted a fun book about a guy doing battle with a rooster, McGrory starts out by dedicating a good chunk of the beginning of the book to his awesome dog, Harry, who gets very sick and he has to put to sleep. I had just put my cat to sleep a few short weeks ago and found myself sobbing while reading that section in public.
I really enjoyed this book, despite my crying jag. Harry's death led to a relationship with Harry's vet, who happens to also come with a suburban life, two kids, and a small menagerie. Buddy, the title rooster, comes along thanks to a science experiment from one of Pam's daughters. McGrory's trials and tribulations with the rooster mirror his own struggle to adjust to suburban and family life, after decades of living alone in the city.
This was a sweet and funny book. Though I was as befuddled by McGrory at the sheer amount of STUFF his soon-to-be step-daughters needed. I grew up and live in surburbia. I don't have kids but I have memories of when I was a kid and I certainly didn't have $200 birthday cakes or extravagant birthday parties. Weird.(less)
Eye surgery at the beginning of January meant that I had to sit at home in the dark for a week, unable to read or watch TV or even use the computer. S...moreEye surgery at the beginning of January meant that I had to sit at home in the dark for a week, unable to read or watch TV or even use the computer. So I turned to audiobooks. I have never read Watership Down, though I did try. I am still not sure I would have ever read it without listening to it first.
Adams has a loping narrative style akin to Tolkien's many-page descriptions of scenery or walking. I would have been bored to tears reading it. Lying on the couch listening to the narrator, though, I found it soothing.
I ended up really enjoying the book. I found myself truly invested in the fates of all the rabbits, and their journey to Watership Down and their subsequent quest for does. Lovely, if at times pretty dark, story. Its a good thing my house rabbit isn't as smart as Hazel or she would end up ruling the house.(less)
I have a good friend who hates pandas. He thinks they are slow and stupid and not worth saving. He and I have had several conversations about this, an...moreI have a good friend who hates pandas. He thinks they are slow and stupid and not worth saving. He and I have had several conversations about this, and as he is the only one of my circle who has an opinion on pandas, it was nice to come across this book so I could see the other viewpoint.
The story of the panda is absolutely fascinating. Nicholls's history starts out with their "discovery" by the Western world and moves chronologically to the present day. It was really interesting to not see how the West reacts to pandas, but how the Chinese have over the decades placed heavy nationalistic pride and political weight on the animal.
The book, thankfully, ends on a optimistic note. Nicholls points out that for the first time ever, there is enough habitat, population, funding, and research to provide the foundation for reintroduction of pandas raised in captivity to the wild successfully in the near future.(less)
Disclaimer: I received a free review ARC of the book from the publisher through Goodreads First Reads program.
Before this book, my one vague memory of...moreDisclaimer: I received a free review ARC of the book from the publisher through Goodreads First Reads program.
Before this book, my one vague memory of Rin Tin Tin was that short scene in 101 Dalmatians where the puppies are watching it on TV. Yet, I somehow knew that Rin Tin Tin was a dog, and even had a blurry picture of a German Shepard in my mind, and knew that he was a famous dog actor back in the day. So even me, who was born decades after Rin Tin Tin was last on the air, knew of him.
I found Orlean's dedication to her research and her ability to bring back to life the history of Rin Tin Tin and those around him remarkable. I sped through most of the book in one sitting, and probably would have finished it then if the plane hadn't landed.
After reading the book I found that a) I wanted to watch some of the original Rin Tin Tin silent movies, and b) get a German Shepard. Despite not having grown up with Rinty, Orlean made me fall in love with the dog and want to be a part of his legacy.
A great book for any dog lover, or any movie history buff.(less)
I first heard of Rescue Ink a few days ago on a forum on Ravelry. I ran across this book at the Borders store closing sale but passed it over despite...moreI first heard of Rescue Ink a few days ago on a forum on Ravelry. I ran across this book at the Borders store closing sale but passed it over despite the cheap price. This past weekend, I went to a discount bookstore (as if I needed more books!) and there was this book, yet again. I sighed and gave into fate and added the book to my pile.
This morning, I needed a book for the train and impulsively grabbed this on the way out the door. It was a fast read and I read a good chunk of it on my commute to/from work, and another chunk on the elliptical at the gym. I finished the last few chapters over dinner. Obviously, I liked the book enough to not want to put it down. And once I finished it, I went to pick up my cat and snuggle with him because I needed to show him I loved him. Of the three animals I have, he is the only rescue (the two rabbits I got from 4-H breeders), and I think he knew I was his forever home since he emphatically picked me at the adoption center (or he just knows a sucker when he sees one).
The stories in this book alternately broke my heart and gave me hope. I loved that the Rescue Ink guys are showing the world that animal lovers come in all shapes and sizes, and aren't all crazy cat ladies. I applaud their devotion and willingness to speak out, and their going above and beyond for animals. I was really impressed with the thoughtfulness they approached animal rescue, recognizing the reality of the world and that not every animal can be rescued, but the importance was improving the lives of the animals they can reach.(less)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author via a Goodreads giveaway.
In Every Living Being, Boissonnealt explores the relationship between huma...moreDisclaimer: I received a free copy from the author via a Goodreads giveaway.
In Every Living Being, Boissonnealt explores the relationship between humans and animals, starting with how human attitudes towards animals are shaped from an early age through media such as fairy tales and movies. She then moves onto how animals better lives of humans as a source of companionship and therapy, and how our attitudes towards animals can shape our own well-being and relationships with other humans. She touches on humans using animals as product (food, experimental specimens), and discusses the ethical implications of such use. The final chapter focuses on how animals are sentient beings subject to the same suite of emotions as humans. Boissonnealt obviously comes at this study with an bias on behalf of the animals, and writes convincingly of the positive influence companion animals have on human behaviors, feelings, attitudes, health, and overall quality of life.
This was a worthwhile academic study, but I felt it was a incomplete for a number of reasons. First, each chapter, when taken separately, adequately explores an aspect of the human-animal bond. But taken together they never quite connect into a cohesive whole. I would have liked a bit more explanation about how each chapter fits into the larger book, and transitions from one to the other.
Second, I kept wanting Boissonneault to discuss the distinction in society's collective mind between companion animals, wild animals, and commodity animals. She briefly touches on speciesism, and categorical specieism, but never really delves deep enough into this categorical divide and how to overcome it to my satisfaction, as this was a large part of the book and an underlying and implicit theme throughout. Laying this out at the beginning of the book would have helped the reader understand the distinctions made throughout, and understanding the significance of this differentiation is the first step in moving beyond it.
Third, without an exploration into this categorical distinction, the leap from how companion animals increase quality of life to the ethics of commodifying animals felt forced. Her discussion of animals as a food source also felt stunted, especially compared to the longer section she devotes to animals as experimental subjects. While I already know a lot about the inhumanity of modern animal farming, I thought that chapter would have been much stronger if equal space had been given to both commodifications of animals.
The conclusion section was especially well done in bringing all the different themes together - I only wish that this had been done sooner and throughout the book. I thought Boissonnealt laid a very good foundation of how companion animals improve life for humans. I am a big supporter of animals as part of the family, having grown up without any pets and always being envious of my friends who did. As an adult owned by two rabbits and a cat, I can attest that they do make my life better and more worthwhile.
Aside from the content of the book, I will mention that I did not like the formatting. The large font, the space between paragraphs, and wide margins all felt like needless padding to make the book appear longer.(less)
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via Goodreads giveaway program from the publisher.
I have Nick Trout's first book on my TBR list, though I h...moreDisclaimer: I received a copy of this book via Goodreads giveaway program from the publisher.
I have Nick Trout's first book on my TBR list, though I haven't read it yet. This is his third memoir, focusing on how the pets of his family influenced not only his career decision to become a veterinarian, but how his relationships with the animals, and his observations of others' (especially his father) informed his philosophy of animal-human interaction and relationships. This book made me really reflect on my own connection to my pets. A really well-written, engaging book that is both bittersweet as animals leave Trout's life, but also hopeful as it explores all that or pets add to our lives.(less)
This was a book about a small town in the mid-West. This was a book about a woman and her family. This was a book about a cat, who impacted the small t...moreThis was a book about a small town in the mid-West. This was a book about a woman and her family. This was a book about a cat, who impacted the small town and the woman.
I really liked this book. It was an easy read, and Myron mixed Dewey stories with stories from her own history, and that of Spencer, Iowa. It wasn't a lifechanging book. It wasn't a book about extraordinary events. It was a book about an ordinary cat who lived an ordinary life in an ordinary town, but managed to touch the world in an extraordinary way. It says something about Dewey's story that this book was even published, and even more so that it became a bestseller.(less)
I was really looking forward to this book. I had grown up reading the library's copies of My Side of the Mountain repeatedly and dreamed of living out...moreI was really looking forward to this book. I had grown up reading the library's copies of My Side of the Mountain repeatedly and dreamed of living out in the wilderness like Sam. It seemed somewhat fitting that the third book would focus on Frightful, but I was disappointed in the story. The information about peregrine falcons, while interesting, made the book read more like a nature essay at times. And, to be honest, I wanted more Sam. I hope JCG will take up his story at some later date.(less)
While this book didn't tell me much I didn't already know about how farm animals are treated in the industrial agriculture system, it's always good to...moreWhile this book didn't tell me much I didn't already know about how farm animals are treated in the industrial agriculture system, it's always good to head it again. This was not the best written book ever, but it was extremely compelling, and made this vegetarian seriously consider turning vegan. While I do believe Baur's conclusion is flawed -- the entire world become vegan is highly unlikely, and animal welfare is only a symptom of the disease, which is industrialized agriculture. Unfortunately, most people do not view farm animals in the same mindset as they do their pets, nor do I think Americans are quite ready to give up their dollar hamburgers for the sake of giving cows better living conditions. But so long as books like this one keep getting published and read, I think eventually, the status quo will change.(less)
I had never heard of Alex before (or if I had, I didn't remember). Hard to believe that a bird touched so many people, but I was so glad that I got to...moreI had never heard of Alex before (or if I had, I didn't remember). Hard to believe that a bird touched so many people, but I was so glad that I got to know Alex even for a little bit between the pages of this book. A really touching story that shows animals do matter.(less)
This was a very well written and meticulously researched book about how the avian influenza came about thanks to our intensification of the domesticat...moreThis was a very well written and meticulously researched book about how the avian influenza came about thanks to our intensification of the domestication of poultry, the possible catastrophe that is coming, and some simple ideas of how to protect ourselves. After reading this book, I'm a believer to how bad the bird flu will be and am appalled at how the poultry industry around the world is ignoring the signs and what experts are saying in order to continue making their profit.(less)