So now that I’ve been working non-stop (not complaining), my nightstand is practically toppling over with all the books I have to read.
You see, I go onto Amazon to get one book… and of course I see what they suggest for me… and then I go deeper into the ‘bundled’ books they offer once you’ve chosen… and then I see what ‘others have chosen’ and so it goes on…
And that is how I end up with a toppling nightstand.
Below is my list. Let me know if you’ve read any of them and perhaps which I should read first and which I might save for last!
*If you purchase any on this list, please use our Amazon Smile button below!
1) STABLE RELATION BY ANNA BLAKE. (This was a gift to me.) Amazon says: When most women go through a mid-life crisis, they start a diet, get plastic surgery, or have an affair. My life went to the dogs…and horses…and llamas… and did I mention happy hour with the goats? My urban world came apart, so I took a leap of faith and crash-landed on a dilapidated would-be horse farm on the flat, windy, treeless prairie of Colorado. It was a place where white horses turn pink at sunrise and I didn’t have to worry about locking the back entry to the house, because the door was missing. The biggest social event of any week was greeting the trash man on Tuesday. And what should I do about the deceased llama in the laundry room?
Any decent midlife crisis has a quality of time travel, in this case swinging back to my childhood farm and my disconnected, secretive family, then forward to the animals who became my family on the prairie. My dogs and horses were soon joined by some line-dancing llamas and a biker-gang of goat kids, defying gravity and every other rule. I rescued an abused donkey who told me he was Ernest, and Windy, an un-wanted chestnut mare who became our beloved herd matriarch. Even Fred, the duck lived by a code. It’s the memoir of my bittersweet transition from a mid-life orphan to a modern pioneer woman, building an entirely different kind of family farm.
Stable Relation appeals to all animal lovers, midlife survivors, and anyone whose parents had problems of their own. It’s told in a strong, bittersweet voice, sharing life and death on a small farm and the healing power of animals: James Herriot meets Janette Walls.
2) Flash: The Homeless Donkey Who Taught Me about Life, Faith, and Second Chances by
Here is what Amazon says: The heartwarming tale of an irrepressible donkey who needed a home?and forever changed a family.
Rachel Anne Ridge was at the end of her rope. The economy had crashed, taking her formerly thriving business along with it. She had been a successful artist, doing work she loved, but now she felt like a failure. How would her family pay their bills? What would the future hold? If only God would somehow let them know that everything was going to be all right . . . and then Flash the donkey showed up.
If there is ever a good time to discover a wounded, frightened, bedraggled donkey standing in your driveway, this wasn’t it. The local sheriff dismissed Flash as “worthless.” But Rachel didn’t believe that, and she couldn’t turn him away. She brought Flash into her struggling family during their darkest hour?and he turned out to be the very thing they needed most. Flash is the true story of their adventures together in learning to love and trust; breaking down whatever fences stood in their way; and finding the strength, confidence, and faith to carry on. Prepare to fall in love with Flash: a quirky, unlikely hero with gigantic ears, a deafening bray, a personality as big as Texas, and a story you’ll never forget.
3) Finding Home: Shelter Dogs and Their Stories Hardcover by
Here is what Amazon says: Bold, retiring, serious, sparkling, quirky, or lovable—the dogs in Traer Scott’s remarkable photographs regard us with humor, dignity, and an abundance of feeling. Scott began photographing these dogs in 2005 as a volunteer at animal shelters. Her first book, Shelter Dogs, was a runaway success, and in this follow-up, Scott introduces a new collection of canine subjects, each with indomitable character and spirit: Morrissey, a pit bull, who suffered from anxietyrelated behaviors brought on by shelter life until adopted by a family with four children; Chloe, a young chocolate Lab mix, surrendered to a shelter by a family with allergies; Gabriel and Cody, retired racing greyhounds; and Bingley, a dog who lost his hearing during a drug bust but was brought home by a loving family that has risen to the challenge of living with a deaf dog. Through extended features we become better acquainted with the personalities and life stories of selected dogs and watch as they experience the sometimes rocky and always emotional transition to new homes. The portraits in Finding Home form an eloquent plea for the urgent need for more adoptive families, as well as a tribute to dogs everywhere.
Traer Scott and Princeton Architectural Press are donating a portion of the proceeds from Finding Home to two dog rescue organizations: Providence Animal Rescue League and Handsome Dan’s Rescue.
4) Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel Hardcover by (I purchased this because I have always felt that animals emote just like we do.)
I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so-close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that for a scientist was forbidden fruit: Who are you?
Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina’s landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge the fixed boundary between humans and nonhuman animals. In Beyond Words, readers travel to Amboseli National Park in the threatened landscape of Kenya and witness struggling elephant families work out how to survive poaching and drought, then to Yellowstone National Park to observe wolves sort out the aftermath of one pack’s personal tragedy, and finally plunge into the astonishingly peaceful society of killer whales living in the crystalline waters of the Pacific Northwest.
Beyond Words brings forth powerful and illuminating insight into the unique personalities of animals through extraordinary stories of animal joy, grief, jealousy, anger, and love. The similarity between human and nonhuman consciousness, self-awareness, and empathy calls us to re-evaluate how we interact with animals. Wise, passionate, and eye-opening at every turn, Beyond Words is ultimately a graceful examination of humanity’s place in the world.
5) The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating Hardcover by
Here is what Amazon says: In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, Elisabeth Bailey shares an inspiring and intimate story of her uncommon encounter with a Neohelix albolabris –a common woodland snail.
While an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater under standing of her own confined place in the world.
Intrigued by the snail’s molluscan anatomy, cryptic defenses, clear decision making, hydraulic locomotion, and mysterious courtship activities, Bailey becomes an astute and amused observer, providing a candid and engaging look into the curious life of this underappreciated small animal.
Told with wit and grace, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a remarkable journey of survival and resilience, showing us how a small part of the natural world illuminates our own human existence and provides an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.
6) The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by
New York Times Bestseller
“Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus does for the creature what Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk did for raptors.” (New Statesman, UK)
Starred Booklist and Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick
One of the Best Books of the Month on Goodreads
In this astonishing book from the author of the bestselling memoir The Good Good Pig, Sy Montgomery explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus—a surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature—and the remarkable connections it makes with humans.
Sy Montgomery’s popular 2011 Orion magazine piece, “Deep Intellect,” about her friendship with a sensitive, sweet-natured octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at her death, went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Since then Sy has practiced true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, pursuing these wild, solitary shape-shifters. Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think?
The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are establishing the intelligence of the octopus, watching them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques. Montgomery chronicles this growing appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.
7) A Dog Named Jimmy by
Here is what Amazon says: On Rafael Mantesso’s thirtieth birthday, his wife left him. She took their cookware, their furniture, their photos, their decorations. She left Rafael alone in an empty all-white apartment. The only thing she didn’t take was their bull terrier, whom she’d named after her favorite shoe designer: Jimmy Choo.
With only Jimmy for company, Rafael found inspiration in his blank walls and his best friend and started snapping photos of Jimmy Choo as he trotted and cavorted around the house in glee. Then, when Jimmy collapsed in happy exhaustion next to the white wall, on a whim Rafael grabbed a marker and drew a new world around his ginger-eared pup. Suddenly, Rafael felt his long-dormant inspiration—for drawing, for art, for life—returning.
The result? Hundreds of charming and cheeky images chronicling the owner and dog’s relationship and adventures, including poses in a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet, passed out with liquor bottles, and as the shark in Jaws. Mantesso’s Instagram feed quickly garnered fans from all over the world and caught the attention of major media outlets like Today, The Huffington Post, USA Today, and the Daily Mail, as well as Jimmy’s namesake, the luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo Ltd.
Now, Mantesso presents a definitive selection of new and classic images of Jimmy and includes the backstory of how the two became such great collaborators. As heartwarming as it is hilarious, A Dog Named Jimmy will delight animal lovers everywhere.
8) The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood by
This is what Amazon says: “Christopher Hogwood came home on my lap in a shoebox. He was a creature who would prove in many ways to be more human than I am.”
–from The Good Good Pig
A naturalist who spent months at a time living on her own among wild creatures in remote jungles, Sy Montgomery had always felt more comfortable with animals than with people. So she gladly opened her heart to a sick piglet who had been crowded away from nourishing meals by his stronger siblings. Yet Sy had no inkling that this piglet, later named Christopher Hogwood, would not only survive but flourish–and she soon found herself engaged with her small-town community in ways she had never dreamed possible. Unexpectedly, Christopher provided this peripatetic traveler with something she had sought all her life: an anchor (eventually weighing 750 pounds) to family and home.
The Good Good Pig celebrates Christopher Hogwood in all his glory, from his inauspicious infancy to hog heaven in rural New Hampshire, where his boundless zest for life and his large, loving heart made him absolute monarch over a (mostly) peaceable kingdom. At first, his domain included only Sy’s cosseted hens and her beautiful border collie, Tess. Then the neighbors began fetching Christopher home from his unauthorized jaunts, the little girls next door started giving him warm, soapy baths, and the villagers brought him delicious leftovers. His intelligence and fame increased along with his girth. He was featured in USA Today and on several National Public Radio environmental programs. On election day, some voters even wrote in Christopher’s name on their ballots.
But as this enchanting book describes, Christopher Hogwood’s influence extended far beyond celebrity; for he was, as a friend said, a great big Buddha master. Sy reveals what she and others learned from this generous soul who just so happened to be a pig–lessons about self-acceptance, the meaning of family, the value of community, and the pleasures of the sweet green Earth. The Good Good Pig provides proof that with love, almost anything is possible.
9) My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts by
This is what Amazon says: “No Dog Should Die Alone” was the attention-grabbing — and heart-stirring — headline of journalist Laura T. Coffey’s TODAY show website story about photographer Lori Fusaro’s work with senior shelter pets. While generally calm, easy, and already house-trained, these animals often represent the highest-risk population at shelters. With gorgeous, joyful photographs and sweet, funny, true tales of “old dogs learning new tricks,” Coffey and Fusaro show that adopting a senior can be even more rewarding than choosing a younger dog. You’ll meet endearing elders like Marnie, the irresistible shih tzu who has posed for selfies with Tina Fey, James Franco, and Betty White; Remy, a soulful nine-year-old dog adopted by elderly nuns; George Clooney’s cocker spaniel, Einstein; and Bretagne, the last known surviving search dog from Ground Zero. They may be slower moving and a tad less exuberant than puppies, but these pooches prove that adopting a senior brings immeasurable joy, earnest devotion, and unconditional love.
10) Twilight of the Mammoths:: Ice Age Extinctions and the Rewilding of America by
What Amazon says: As recently as 11,000 years ago—”near time” to geologists—mammoths, mastodons, gomphotheres, ground sloths, giant armadillos, native camels and horses, the dire wolf, and many other large mammals roamed North America. In what has become one of science’s greatest riddles, these large animals vanished in North and South America around the time humans arrived at the end of the last great ice age. Part paleontological adventure and part memoir, Twilight of the Mammoths presents in detail internationally renowned paleoecologist Paul Martin’s widely discussed and debated “overkill” hypothesis to explain these mysterious megafauna extinctions. Taking us from Rampart Cave in the Grand Canyon, where he finds himself “chest deep in sloth dung,” to other important fossil sites in Arizona and Chile, Martin’s engaging book, written for a wide audience, uncovers our rich evolutionary legacy and shows why he has come to believe that the earliest Americans literally hunted these animals to death.
As he discusses the discoveries that brought him to this hypothesis, Martin relates many colorful stories and gives a rich overview of the field of paleontology as well as his own fascinating career. He explores the ramifications of the overkill hypothesis for similar extinctions worldwide and examines other explanations for the extinctions, including climate change. Martin’s visionary thinking about our missing megafauna offers inspiration and a challenge for today’s conservation efforts as he speculates on what we might do to remedy this situation—both in our thinking about what is “natural” and in the natural world itself.
11) Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life by
• Provides sustainable diet strategies to curb sugar cravings, promote fat burning and weight loss, reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep and moods, increase energy and immunity, and enhance memory and brain function
• Shows how our modern diet leads to weight gain and “diseases of civilization”–such as cancer, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and ADD
• Explains how diet affects the brain, hormone balance, and the aging process and the crucial role of vitamin D in cancer and disease prevention
Examining the healthy lives of our pre-agricultural Paleolithic ancestors and the marked decline in stature, bone density, and dental health and the increase in birth defects, malnutrition, and disease following the implementation of the agricultural lifestyle, Nora Gedgaudas shows how our modern grain- and carbohydrate-heavy low-fat diets are a far cry from the high-fat, moderate-protein hunter-gatherer diets we are genetically programmed for, leading not only to lifelong weight gain but also to cravings, mood disorders, cognitive problems, and “diseases of civilization”–such as cancer, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance), heart disease, and mental illness.
Applying modern discoveries to the basic hunter-gatherer diet, she culls from vast research in evolutionary physiology, biochemistry, metabolism, nutrition, and chronic and degenerative disease to unveil a holistic lifestyle for true mind-body health and longevity. Revealing the primal origins and physiological basis for a high-fat, moderate-protein, starch-free diet and the importance of adequate omega-3 intake–critical to our brain and nervous system but sorely lacking in most people’s diets–she explains the nutritional problems of grains, gluten, soy, dairy, and starchy vegetables; which natural fats promote health and which (such as canola oil) harm it; the crucial role of vitamin D in cancer and disease prevention; the importance of saturated fat and cholesterol; and how diet affects mental health, memory, cognitive function, hormonal balance, and cellular aging. With step-by-step guidelines, recipes, and meal recommendations, this book offers sustainable strategies for a primally based, yet modern approach to diet and exercise to reduce stress and anxiety, lose weight, improve sleep and mood, increase energy and immunity, enhance brain function, save money on groceries, and live longer and happier.