Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pets and Animals

The final Genre Reading Group meeting of the year will take place on Tuesday, December 29th at 6:30pm, as usual.  The library will be on Holiday Hours and will be closed, but I will be here to let you in to the building.  It will be one of our biannual Salon Discussion so there is no assigned topic.  You may bring whatever kind/topic of book you’d like to share with the group.

Last week, GRG met to discuss pets & animals!

Buttercups and Daisy by Elizabeth Cragoe
This book is too old and too obscure and as such, has fallen off the radar.  I have found no official reviews, so here is my personal one. Elizabeth Cragoe and her husband, city dwellers both, pick up and move to the Welsh countryside in the early 1970’s to take up life as dairy farmers in this charming tale, told during the moment in history when industrialized farming was just beginning to become popular.  She speaks candidly about how her animals fare in making the swap to more industrial milking practices as well as how chickens perform in battery cages.  It is an interesting look at the lives of rural Welsh farmers (I cannot pronounce ANY of the farms, landscape features, nor most of the characters’ names) as well as the evolution of farming in Europe.  I love her family and look forward to reading more of her books out there in the world if I can find them.

Once Upon a Flock: Life With My Soulful Chickens by Lauren Scheuer
(amazon) When longtime illustrator and lover of power tools Lauren Scheuer was looking for a project, she got the idea to raise backyard chickens. Her husband and teenage daughter looked on incredulously as coop sketches and chicken-raising books filled their New England home. But when the chicks arrived, the whole family fell in love with the bundles of fluff and the wild adventures began. 

Rabbit series by John Updike
(wikipedia) Updike's most famous work is his "Rabbit" series (the novels Rabbit, RunRabbit ReduxRabbit Is RichRabbit at Rest; and the novella Rabbit Remembered), which chronicles the life of the middle-class everyman Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom over the course of several decades, from young adulthood to death. Both Rabbit Is Rich (1982) and Rabbit at Rest (1990) were recognized with the Pulitzer Prize. Updike is one of only three authors to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once (the others were Booth Tarkington and William Faulkner). He published more than twenty novels and more than a dozen short story collections, as well as poetry, art criticism, literary criticism and children's books. Hundreds of his stories, reviews, and poems appeared in The New Yorker starting in 1954. He also wrote regularly for The New York Review of Books.

Nova: Dawn of Humanity (2015)

NOVA and National Geographic present exclusive access to an astounding discovery of ancient fossil human ancestors. Deep in a South African cave, a special team of experts has brought to light an unprecedented wealth of fossils belonging to a crucial gap in the record of our origins that spans the transition between the ape-like australopithecines (such as the famous Lucy) and the earliest members of the human family. At the center of the discovery is paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, a character brimming with enthusiasm and opinions, whose claims have stirred long controversy in the contentious field of human origins. Join NOVA to solve a two million year-old "crime scene" and dig into extraordinary new clues about what made us human.

(amazon) 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.

(amazon) When Humphrey hears that school is ending, he can't believe his ears. What's a classroom hamster to do if there's no more school? It turns out that Mrs. Brisbane has planned something thrilling for Humphrey and Og the frog: they're going to Camp Happy Hollow with Ms. Mac and lots of the kids from Room 26! Camp is full of FUN-FUN-FUN new experiences, but it's also a little scary. There are fur-raising wild sounds and smells, and there's something called the Howler to watch out for. Humphrey is always curious about new adventures, but could camp be too wild even for him?

The Hamster in Our Class by Kathleen Tracy
(amazon) Playful and affectionate, hamsters can make terrific class pets. In this book you'll learn about the different types of hamsters, whether they like to live alone or in groups, what kind of food they eat, how much exercise they need, and the best kind of cage for them. Hamsters can be shy at first, but once they get to know you, they can be held. They will make a delightful addition to any classroom.

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
(amazon) Written at a time of profound anxiety caused by the illness of his mother, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck draws on his memories of childhood in these stories about a boy who embodies both the rebellious spirit and the contradictory desire for acceptance of early adolescence. Unlike most coming-of-age stories, the cycle does not end with a hero “matured” by circumstances. The Red Pony is imbued with a sense of loss. Jody’s encounters with birth and death express a common theme in Steinbeck’s fiction: They are parts of the ongoing process of life, “resolving” nothing. The Red Pony was central not only to Steinbeck’s emergence as a major American novelist but to the shaping of a distinctly mid twentieth-century genre, opening up a new range of possibilities about the fictional presence of a child’s world.

The Pugilist at Rest: Stories by Thom Jones
In the short story "I Want to Live," Mrs. Wilson is a woman diagnosed with an advanced cancer. Her husband had died from cancer ten years earlier. Her memories of the past include a very precocious chicken.

Essays of E.B. White by E.B. White
( “In 1948, E. B. White wrote "Death of a Pig" which appeared in Atlantic Monthly, an oddly affecting account of how he failed to save the life of a sick pig, made ironic by the fact that the pig had been bought to act its part in the "tragedy" of the spring pig fattened for winter butchering. Since literature is not life, White set out in "Charlotte's Web" to save his pig in retrospect, this time not from an unexpected illness but from its presumably fated "tragedy."” 

Read “Death of a Pig” here:

(amazon) How much of an impact can an animal have? How many lives can one cat touch? How is it possible for an abandoned kitten to transform a small library, save a classic American town, and eventually become famous around the world? You can't even begin to answer those questions until you hear the charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Iowa.

Dewey's story starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the Spencer Public Library. He was found the next morning by library director, Vicki Myron, a single mother who had survived the loss of her family farm, a breast cancer scare, and an alcoholic husband. Dewey won her heart, and the hearts of the staff, by pulling himself up and hobbling on frostbitten feet to nudge each of them in a gesture of thanks and love. For the next nineteen years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility, (for a cat) and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most.

As his fame grew from town to town, then state to state, and finally, amazingly, worldwide, Dewey became more than just a friend; he became a source of pride for an extraordinary Heartland farming town pulling its way slowly back from the greatest crisis in its long history.

What are YOU reading?

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