A Horse Walks Into a Bar
Owner of Martha
A Horse Walks into a Bar… Actually it’s a man.The bar is in a city in Israel. A comic has invited him to see his show and clearly knew him in the past and wants this visitor’s reflections on what he hears in the routine. Being polite he attends, but only gradually recalls the child this comic was in his past. The dissembling comic both gives a classic if desperate performance, trying to keep his audience laughing and simultaneously telling the story of his heart wrenching childhood. This magnificent novel by David Grossman weaves all elements together masterfully, creating a tragic, tender narrative that though at times harrowing is finally redemptive. One of the best novels of the past several years. I’m so good at understanding my grandperson Martha that I just channel her word for word. Woof and happy Spring digging.
Lady: The Sassy One
Owner of Christian
Naps are awesome, am I right? I liberally use sleep as a break from my day. Sometimes I end up sleeping more than being awake because you can only catch so many sticks, you know? When my sleep is disturbed or the day enters my dreams, it's like there's no where I can really rest and move on from whatever ails me. In Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto, disturbed sleep patterns disrupts three women's lives vis-a-vis their relationships. Part meditation, part ghost story, these short stories will send shivers down your canine spine and make you fathom where the line between productive and destructive is drawn. Where is escape for those who can't use sleep or can't stop sleeping? Categorize under dreamy, haunting, and paw-erful.
The Winona LaDuke Chronicles: Stories from the Front Lines in the Battle for Environmental Justice
Maki (Ma'ingan -- Ojibwe for wolf): The Restless One
Owner of Louise
As ever Louise is distracted by small events and unable to easily leave her house, running back inside for her keys or phone, muttering that there is nothing to make for dinner. But it's worse since November 8, 2016. What she reads is this: heaps of magazines and newspapers. She has suddenly subscribed to everything. Here's what she clips: Winona LaDuke's articles in The Circle newspaper. She is storing them in the pages of The Winona LaDuke Chronicles.
Murder on the Red River
Owner of Prudence
One chilly night my human and I cuddled up with a new book by Minnesota author Marcie Rendon, Murder on the Red River, intending to get a start on it before we fell asleep. We liked Cash right away, the 19 year-old protagonist, an Indian girl who drives truck for farmers during the day, plays pool and drinks beer at night. She’s quiet and tough, struck out on her own young to escape a chain of white foster homes. She’s also occasionally clairvoyant. Cash has a friend and mentor in the local sheriff, who has kept an eye out for her since he pulled her from her mother’s crashed car 16 years ago, and she proves to be invaluable to him as he seeks to solve the murder of an unknown Indian man found in a field. We tagged along with Cash in her pickup truck to the story’s end—it was 3am—and time well spent.
Good Seeds: A Menominee Indian Food Memoir
Owner of Heid
"Hunger knows no season," Tom Weso tells us in the wonderful stories of food and Menominee life found in Good Seeds: A Menominee Indian Food Memoir. We hear tender tales of elders' morning meals, gathering partridge eggs, learning to hunt, and delightful stories within stories- There was this guy on the rez with a huge appetite who could sit down and eat an entire deer. People did not like hunting with him. But Menominee cooking is a fusion: Weso tells us of older Menominee relatives went to Kansas for school and "to avoid religion" but eventually returned. With recipes. New traditions meld with indigenous ingredients of Wisconsin to create a tasty heritage. This is a delightful memoir in recipes. We learn that in Weso's youth, a meal for his Menominee family took an entire year to plan. Eating with the seasons you get wild game, fish, maple, berries, squash and other delectables. But you only get them once a year. It is this sustaining way of life that Weso narrates for us in Good Seeds, but it is also about transitions to diner food and Fair fare. These stories and recipes make us appreciate the past, make us long for woods and waters today, and make us just plain hungry.
Owner of Pallas
Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin. Like Lavinia, I have existed in obscurity and silence for most of my life. I was raised in a puppy mill and spent my first five years confined indoors, with only fellow canine inmates for company or comfort. This was my fate until! I was heroically rescued by Secondhand Hounds and cared for by wonderful people. Four months ago, I met my person, Pallas, and we have been inseparable ever since. Now that I am safely in my forever-home and with the help of my new pack (Ryoga, Bartolo, Hobbes, Roadie and Maki), I have begun to discover my bark and find my place in the world. Perhaps that is why I related to Lavinia so completely.
The titular character of the book is an interpretation of the princess Lavinia from Virgil's The Aeneid. Though she is integral to the original story, she has no actual lines and very little description. Le Guin gives Lavinia a voice and takes us to an ancient world that is ethereal and divine; a braid of historical fiction, poetry and feminist musings. Lavinia herself is a nuanced creature who can walk between worlds and time. It is an uncanny delight to travel
Though her only historical claim to fame is her marriage to Aeneas, the legendary founder of Rome, Lavina does not define herself by this relationship. As a dog who was raised for the sole purpose of giving birth to puppies, I was drawn to Lavinia's independence and appreciated her wry reflections on the dynamics of her species: “I can never get used to the fact, though I know it, that women are born cynics. Men have to learn cynicism. Infant girls could teach it to them.”
So true. I am suspicious of everything - a squirrel in the garden, a rawhide bone casually rolled under the bed, the nature of the canine condition. My male counterparts, however, are gloriously accepting of these mysteries and it is refreshing to witness their unquestioning confidence. Any society needs such balance, be it a wolf pack or a bygone tribe of Trojans. Le Guin masterfully explores the violence of love and war without judgement or rancor, unveiling a uniquely benevolent view of gender politics.
This book seems timeless, with words of celestial wisdom that float off the page. Though based on a classic, it feels entirely original and is a perfect read for spring. So, my new friends, pick this one up and let brave Lavinia live a little while longer.
Owner of Carolyn
Frank is curious about the strange noises he hears coming from the neighbor's yard. On his most recent walk through the neighborhood, he caught a glimpse. There was a small red structure and through some wire mesh he saw something -- a strange feathery creature. Incidentally, his human, Carolyn has been reading a book called Locally Laid. Frank reads the line "the chickens spent their days in our mostly fenced-in yard, walking about with their jaunty, robotic manner while absurdly chattering on CO-KE . . . . coke coke coke coke." That's when Frank realizes what his neighbors have been keeping next door... CHICKENS! The Duluth-based writer Lucie Amundsen raises chickens with her husband but on a much larger scale than Carolyn and Frank's neighbors. Their business is paving the way for more farm-based businesses that are not nearly as large as the industrial models, but are also much bigger than farmer's market ventures. It's something that North America has lost, but is being regained -- it is called "middle agriculture." Among other things, Lucie makes clear the difference between the terms, pasture-raised and cage-free. The book is like a crash course on the egg business told through the narrative of her family's harrowing story of starting this business. Carolyn was engrossed and amused from the first page to the last, and Frank is satisfied to know more about those sounds that have become the background to his daily life.
The Blue Jay's Dance - A Memoir of Early Motherhood
Co-owner of Aza & Hilary
Lately my human Aza has been growing rounder in the tummy. Full of canine curiosity, I researched further and learned of an astounding phenomenon called Human Pregnancy! Apparently I will not be the puppy of the family for long. Eager to expand upon my knowledge, I began reading a book by none other than my human's mother Louise Erdrich. The Blue Jay's Dance is an exquisitely written personal tale of pregnancy and early motherhood. This lovely little book is populated with minute details of the environment and creatures surrounding Louise, funny stories about TV dinners, interesting recipes, and shows how the journey of parenthood can enrich an artists process. Reading this book I feel I can begin to understand what the author, my human, and many other pregnant mothers experience: the sweetness of creating life. What a thrill for a male dog. There are a few too many cats for my taste, but I do feel resonance with the kind-eyed dog of the family. I recommend for anyone who is pregnant, knows someone who is pregnant, or formerly existed as a pregnancy (i.e. every mammal!).
Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep
Co-owner of Aza & Hilary
I have always felt there was more to life than my yard, my house, and the dog park…. Yet exploring on one's own as a dog is frowned upon in this society. Sigh. But then! On my human Hilary's bookshelf I came across The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep. Little did I know I could be having all sorts of adventures and journeys of self-discovery in my sleep. This wonderful book, written by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, a practitioner of Bön Buddhism, has changed my waking and dreaming life. The practices of sleep yoga and dream yoga are both revolutionary and ancient (Bön is an Indigenous spirituality). I have begun to lucid dream and am experiencing life in a whole new way. The author is a skilled writer and introduces concepts rarely understood in Western cultures. My humans often speculate about my dreams when they see my paws in motion and hear my grunts as I snooze… If only they knew I am fully aware and running upon clouds, having epic battles with tigers!
Dear Zoo : A Lift-the-flap Book
Owner of Allicia
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell is the lift the flap book every child will enjoy. It's a classic that continues to captivate the attention span of a variety of ages. In the book, the child is on the quest to find their perfect pet from the zoo. The zoo makes pet recommdations until they find the perfect fit—and the pet that makes the grade is one that any canine can stand behind! Perfect baby shower gift or holiday stocking stuffer/present for little ones 1 year to 4 years old. 5 woofs out of 5 woofs!!!
Fates and Furies
Rowdy: The Protector
Owner of Persia
Rowdy is intrigued by the icy ocean cover of Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. Tempests promised within! And sure enough it is juicy as the cat food from the refrigerator that Rowdy waits in vain to steal from the vicious feline who shares the house. Speaking of vicious felines this book about a "happy" marriage involves one of the most manipulative happy housewives ever. A woman with a chilling past. A man of vacant beauty. Lots of snappy sex dialogue. What's not to love?