Lisa Vegan's Reviews > The Inner World of Farm Animals: Their Amazing Intellectual, Emotional and Social Capacities

The Inner World of Farm Animals by Amy Hatkoff
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Aug 14, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: animal-rights, non-fiction, nature, reviewed, 1-also-at-lt
Recommended to Lisa by: Chrissie
Recommended for: everybody!; anyone who has ever known & loved a non-human animal
Read in September, 2009

I cannot sufficiently extol the contents of this book. I’ve read so many animal books over the years, but this one presents a truly unique perspective. The photos are exquisite. The information provided is important. The book is truly inspirational. It’s full of happy stories of animals living in sanctuaries and therefore living lives normal for them, and it was disturbing only when I considered (which I couldn’t help thinking about) how these animals are normally treated.

I received this book as a birthday gift by a long time friend of mine; she happens to be a friend of the author. I’d had this book on my to-read shelf, as it was recommended to me by a Goodreads friend, but had not realized that it was written by a woman I knew very slightly over three decades ago, having her in my acquaintance because of this mutual friend. I can say honestly that my rating and review are not influenced by my very brief acquaintance with the author. In fact, I know my review will not do justice to this amazing book.

Here’s the table of contents:
Forward (by Jane Goodall)
Introduction
Chapter One: Chickens
Chapter Two: Geese, Ducks, and Turkeys
Chapter Three: Cows
Chapter Four: Pigs
Chapter Five: Sheep and Goats
Afterword (by Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the U.S.)
What You Can Do
Sanctuaries
Resources
(Organizations, Books, For Children and Educators (Classroom Materials, Videos for Children, Books for Children and Youth), Bibliography)
Acknowledgments
Photo Credits

I have to start out by saying that the photographs of all the animals are incredibly beautiful and particularly wonderful because the personality of each animal shines through. If there wasn’t such interesting information in the book, this could work as a coffee table book because of its beauty.

I cannot get enough of this type of information, especially when it’s given in a way that isn’t horrifying, and these animal’s stories are basically happy ones. The information about various species of farm animals is given simply and straightforwardly. These are very personal stories which touch the heart and that make one think, at least that’s the hope. The horrors of factory farming are only alluded to, barely mentioned, so I can recommend this book to everyone, not just vegans or those interested in animal rights.

I wasn’t necessarily expecting to learn anything new, although I knew I probably would, but I was just happy to read something that would validate my current feelings and beliefs. However, I learned quite a bit more than even I’d expected.

I was particularly intrigued with how sheep can recognize sheep from their own flock when viewing photographs and the effect that has on them, and there were so many more tidbits like this of information new to me.

This book is engaging, heartwarming, uplifting, and also devastating because the reader can’t help but be aware of the quality of life and ultimate fate of the vast majority of these animals. However the stories here are not at all depressing because they’re primarily about animals living in conditions that allow them to have their natural behaviors.

There are lots of vignettes of the lives of animals living in sanctuaries, quotes from many other books, quotes by and mini interviews from those in the animal welfare and animal rights movements, most from sanctuary workers who know the animals as individuals.

This book is suitable for vegans and vegetarians and omnivores. It doesn’t push a strong vegan message (although of course that’s how I saw it) but the What You Can Do section gives a variety of actions people can take to improve the lives of animals, and eating fewer or no animal products is not given a more prominent place than other options. Even if this book doesn’t change the way every single reader looks at what’s on their plate, it will hopefully make them more able to empathize with our fellow creatures.

Anyone who’s ever known and loved an animal of any non-human species (dogs, cats, etc.) will probably enjoy this book, and I’d love for the few people I know who have no affinity with animals to read it, because I think it would change the way that they think and feel.

This would make a great gift book for both adults and older children. It’s a gorgeous book.

Many of the books in the resources section and bibliography I’ve not yet read or put on my to-read shelf, so I’ve got to rectify that situation: onto my unwieldy and unrealisitc to-read shelf they’ll go.

I’m pleased to see that my city’s public library has this book; I was going to request that they buy it. However, a portion of the profits from this book goes to animal protection organizations, and it’s simply a lovely book to own, so I recommend buying a copy for yourself and copies to give as gifts also. I treasure my copy.

And Lydia, a marvelous turkey, my favorite sanctuary animal ever, makes an appearance in this book. She was very friendly and loving.
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Reading Progress

09/24/2009 page 1
0.6% "Got this as an early birthday present, and realized that years ago I knew the author."
09/25/2009 page 25
14.88% "This has the most beautiful photos I've ever seen, beautiful entire book, information provided crucial & written so well. Love it so far."
09/26/2009 page 134
79.76% "A 5 star book! Beautiful photos. Important information. Inspirational. Disturbing only when consider how these animals are treated."

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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Lisa Vegan Okay, I am aware that I managed to both gush and still not do justice to this book. I do hope that it gets a wide readership.


message 2: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Excellent review; I'll put it on my to-read list. Thanks!


Lisa Vegan It's a beautiful book. Not a huge amount of substance but what's there is great. You're welcome to borrow it. It's an incredibly fast read - as long as you don't start reading all the books in the resources list and bibliography.


Lisa Vegan Oh, and of course, it is available at the SFPL!


Lisa Vegan Thanks, Chandra. Yes, I wanted to put the table of contents and enough information so people could see what it is. I loved it.


Virginia Messina My library doesn't have this book, so I'm going to just go ahead and buy it. It sounds like something I want to own. Thanks so much, Lisa, for this wonderful review.


Lisa Vegan Ginny, Can you put in a request for your library to buy a copy? I was so glad to see that my library has it, especially because there are so many books they don't have.

Yes, I am very glad to have my copy. It is true though that it's a very fast read. Just a gorgeous book, with great info, especially for those who are not generally aware of animals' lives.


message 8: by Sfdreams (new)

Sfdreams I had already seen this book and meant to read it before you recommended it to me. Your review, though, makes me want to read it MUCH sooner!


Lisa Vegan Terri, It was really good. I think that you'd like it.


message 10: by Petra Eggs (new)

Petra Eggs I think I'll get this book. I like books on animal behaviour. Where I live 'farming' is a rather loose concept - goats, sheep, cows, horses and chickens roam the island freely. Should they do any damage, no one knows who owns them. Should you kill one, everyone knows and the farmer wants compensation. If you have a nice garden you have to fence it! What it does do is provide the animals with a completely natural life and us all the ability to see how they really live and just how many myths are written about them. This makes me very interested in this book (and Hamiltonbooks have it as a bargain right now).


message 11: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Petra, Sadly, farmed animals in the U.S. extremely rarely get to live their "normal" lives. So, I found this book fascinating. The photos are also absolutely gorgeous. I'll be curious what you think when you read it. I learned quite a bit. I'm a city person and have spent very little time around farmed animals so I'm relatively ignorant, at least as far as personal experience goes.


message 12: by Petra Eggs (new)

Petra Eggs I've just ordered it. But Hamilton take months to send anything here, so not holding my breath.


message 13: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Petra X wrote: "I've just ordered it. But Hamilton take months to send anything here, so not holding my breath."

Well, if you remember, please let me know what you think when you've read it. For months now, I've been missing most friends' activity, unfortunately.


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