Owner of Diane
My friend Paige, a fourth grader at Whittier School told me about Chickadee by Louise Erdrich. I was so excited to hear how much she liked the book I thought I should share her thoughts..
“Chickadee is a great story about twin brothers. One is stolen and it is very hard for both twins. Read this novel to find out the adventures of Chickadee and his twin, Makoons. This story is great because it uses detail and leaves you wondering every time you put it down. Sometimes you are feeling the same feelings as the characters, which makes you feel as if you are in the story. I hope you get a chance to read this book!”
Owner of Prudence
We woke up to yet ANOTHER cold gloomy day. My human said "let's make some tea, stay in bed for a while and start this book I brought home: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Well, before we knew it, it was practically lunch time. Stories within stories, beautifully drawn characters from a masterful author with a dark, delicious wit. Every chance we got, we were curled up on the couch gobbling up a few more chapters, and by the time she switched the light off at bedtime, we’d come to the lovely end. Ahhh, another day given over to a book!
The Patrick Melrose Novels
Owner of Martha
I was sitting on the ground before the snow and I could feel a lot going on under me! I remember Spring is like that. I haven't been on Martha's patio, where I usually learn about the reading inside, because it is so cold there. I know books Martha loves because she gives them to my humans (her son and his partner). She gave them a shiny black and pink book called The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn. Frank, my helper in this job and an always shedding orange cat, says that Martha seemed to like the book because, like all the stuff going on under ground, some writers get at all that's going on under ground in the people in the books. Frank reports she also laughed out loud while reading the book and cried after the fourth book in the series of novels.
Franks says Martha seemed to almost crawl into her books by Colm Toibin, The Master and Brooklyn, for a similar reason. It was like she was crawling inside the characters during her cold winter reads. Colm Toibin also wrote The Testament of Mary which Martha is going to read even though Toibin's representation of Mary "seems absurd" to her (Frank's phrase). She is sure Mary was not your average mother.
Frank says Martha's latest book is the most fun to observe through her thought pictures while he curls up next to her. It's called The Ordinary Acrobat and it's a memoir and history of the circus going way, way back and up to now. It takes place in Paris at a school for circus skills. Circuses are really a big art in the rest of the world and here now too. The whole story is colorful and active and really interesting according to Frank's interpretation of what Martha pictures. Knowing how many books Martha reads and how she will stop reading for a new, "better" one, this circus book is a real winner.
I think I would like to go to a circus. I'll be happy when the circus under ground pokes up through when it finally warms up.
Frank and Rocky
Owners of Carolyn
Rocky is no Spring chicken. He's coming up on his 13th birthday this May. The baby of the family, Frank, turned 8 last November. Even though he is the baby, the white hairs on his muzzle are coming in nicely. Once a solid tan, Rocky's muzzle is nearly all white now. Time is a funny thing. As dogs, Frank and Rocky live in the present moment, so they don't mind time, but as they age they start to feel it. Especially Rocky, who can no longer jump up on the bed to wake his humans in the morning. Instead he slowly pulls and scratches and struggles his way up. It makes him wish he were something like Luca Bastardo, the protagonist in the book Immortal by Traci Slatton. Luca ages very slowly. At age 90, he looked as young and was as strong as a man in his thirties. On the other hand, Rocky and Frank don't have any worries, and Luca has many. His life was more tragic than most. Though these two spoiled mutts don't know the first thing about hardship and therefore cannot relate to Luca's story, the book helped them to see the value in life's challenges and the way that Luca is transformed through his suffering. Set in Florence during the renaissance, a time when great thinkers and artists flourished, this is a book to savor in its beauty and profundity.
The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance
Maki (Ma'ingan -- Ojibwe for wolf): The Restless One
Owner of Louise
Louise staggers home and throws self on bed -- no run. Something about a book tour -- no games of fetch. But from her limp hand drops a book by Edmund De Waal -- The Hare With Amber Eyes. She's been reading this ravishingly written paperback, lamenting the lack of visuals. Suddenly she becomes utterly enchanted by new, hard cover, Illustrated Version. This is why we must have books, she mutters, madly flipping through the pages. I've yearned for the substance of photographs, art, pictures that I can touch and examine! The Illustrated Hare With Amber Eyes -- completely satisfying.
And yet, distraught, Maki watches the waning moon.
He feels as does Louise the anguish of his ancestors -- who would have him for lunch as they are wolves. In truth he is only named for them, in story he is related. At this writing, the wolf hunt in Minnesota has claimed over one hundred wolves. Louise does not hate or disparage hunters. Her family hunts, she hunted with her father. Ojibwe people hunt. But the wolf is not hunted because the wolf avoids humans. In the Ojibwe creation teachings the wolf walked with the first human; the wolf left us the dog so that we would not walk alone. The wolf is part of who we are as Ojibwe and as Minnesotans. There is no good science or reasonable explanation to back a wolf hunt. Who are we?
Vagina: A New Biography
Owner of Heid
So what if I am spayed? I can still enjoy Naomi Wolf's new book Vagina: a Biography. Author of The Beauty Myth and Mis(Con)Ceptions, Wolf is such a good writer, I'd like to claim her as canine. Yet even her rigorous research cannot, forgive, me, fully penetrate the mystery of the "Goddess" as Wolf calls it. Sure, there are a lot of medical terms and even some unsexy drawings, but somehow, learning the neural pathways that orgasms has only made the lady parts seem more wonderful and magical and unknowable--the way Wolf writes it. My lady, my actual human lady, was reading this aloud to her man and he, too, seemed in awe of all Wolf has illuminated in this deeply personal, but scientifically informed, love song to female anatomy. Really, who knew? That is what I heard her saying to herself as she read. And I agree, this book will illuminate and amaze and leave both male and female wondering how it is we live our whole lives in the flesh and know so little about it.
Oh, and, yes, you can buy this as a gift--it has a discreet and humorous cover with a peek-a-boo design. Fun!
Blonde Indian : An Alaska Native Memoir
Owner of Emily
Blonde Indian comes from Alaska and it moves, like daylight, from there to wherever you are and it PLACES you somewhere between the glacial valleys and age old forests of Southeast AK to the comfortable chair, barstool, or airplane seat you find yourself reading on. And read this we - Annabelle and Emily - wholeheartedly suggest. Ernestine Hayes writes to tell us about her life, but she tells us so much more - the intricacies connecting land and memory, tradition and family. She tells us of confronting racism, accepting failure, and knowing beauty. Her words are strong. We re-read her pages again and again because we like this place of truth.
"When as you conduct your life you chance to see an eagle, a wolf, or a bear, remember that it too is conducting its life and it sees you as well."
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Dharma: The Enlightened One
Owner of Susan
Dharma: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed.
My two-legged friend has shown an unnatural devotion to this book. She turns on the book light way too early! Come on! Longer walks please!
At least she constantly massages my ears as she reads.
Human: Wow! The author completed an almost unbelievable walk along the PCT from the Mojave Desert to Washington State at the age of 22. Alone. No experience. With a pack named "Monster" because no seasoned hiker would ever consider carrying such weight on this trail. She also carries a tremendous emotional weight with her; a great lifelong sadness that has made her both careless in love and with drugs.
But. But. She continues each day with a resolve that reveals an enormous inner fortitude. The trail breaks her down physically. She rebuilds emotionally. And under truly extraordinary circumstances. And the reader is taken along with every step. I could not put it down.
Dharma: PCT! PCT! Let's go!
Eaarth - Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
Rowdy: The Protector
Owner of Persia
Rowdy wants to make a public service announcement. If you buy the book Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben from Birchbark Books we will only make enough on its margin to cover part of the cost of stocking it. That's the way it is with the book business. BUT if you buy the book at Birchbark Books and read it, you'll end up doing something that will help your planet because this is the most persuasive book about the planet Rowdy's ever read. And you'll be part of something called the Slow Money movement, which is all about supporting little businesses like us -- we're here to help the world by remaining a locavore business selling mind food in a city setting. We're not here to get big and eat up more farmland in some mall. Please read eaarth and try not to cry at the beginning because McKibben makes it better -- makes you consider how you can change your life in sensible ways to support this lovely, lovely, planet we are making tougher to live on for ourselves and our dogs.