Books, books, books: Surely one of the greatest inventions of humankind. I love to give books as gifts, and last night I found myself pondering what books to give to which person for the holidays. That, of course, led to thoughts about great books to send the dog lovers that I know, and that led me to you, good reader, who is so often an excellent source of wonderful things to read. I’d love to hear your ideas about great books to pass along to dear friends.
While pondering “great books about dogs,” I thought it might be instructive to look at what others had to say; not just about new books but about dog books written over the ages. Here are some of the lists I found:
First off, a dear friend sent me this link, from Mother Nature Network: Six Books Every Dog Owner Should Read. Of course, my friend sent it because my book, The Other End of the Leash is listed in second place, (Good Friend, Good Friend) but I like several of the other books on the list, too. You?
Curious about other book lists, I went to the elephant in the room, Amazon, to see what they had to say if you type in Best Dog Books. My first reaction was “Uh, what?” None of the books I’d list in that category came up, and some appeared that I’d put into, uh, other categories (like the Monk’s of New Skete’s book). But then, any list that has Walter, the Farting Dog on it can’t be all bad. The first book that cropped up on the list is completely new to me, Dogs, photographed by Tim Flach, and the cover photograph knocked me out. Could be a great gift for a lover of both dogs and fine photography.
It seemed logical to look next at Barnes and Noble, just out of curiosity. I was happy to see that they sent me to a blog, written by Becky Ferreira, titled Best books About Dogs. Her top book is The Philosopher and the Wolf, by Mark Rowlands, a book I admit to owning but not yet reading. Anyone read it yet? She also lists Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls, a book that somehow I’ve never run across and that I clearly have to get. Sounds like a classic. (A friend told me to get out the tissues, and then said: “It’s not a good dog book if it doesn’t make you cry.”)
Another good source for classic dog books is the Christian Science Monitor, who has a list of Eleven Essential Books for Dog Lovers. It’s top book is The Art of Racing in the Rain, a smash best seller that I personally found strange and somewhat annoying. (Apologies to those of you who loved it. But the dog’s “voice” sounded so unlike anything a dog would ever say, at least in my imagination, that I found myself struggling on every page.) The next book was Where the Red Fern Grows (okay, I REALLY need to get his book) and the next was one of the world’s great novels, Old Yeller. If you haven’t read Old Yeller, you need to. Really. It’s brilliantly written. Speaking of classics, Lisa L. here at the office suggested Goodby My Lady, written in the 50’s by James Street. Another one I have to get, along with a crate of tissue paper.
Dogwise, sometimes called “the Amazon of Dog Books,” is also often a good resource. They recently posted a newsletter with the top selling books at the APDT conference in October. You’ll note that all the books at the top of the list were books written by speakers, which makes all the sense in the world; it’s often after hearing someone speak that I too, am motivated to buy their books.
Two authors who don’t come up enough on the list are Susannah Charleson and Cat Warren. Susannah wrote Scent of the Missing and The Possibility Dogs, both brilliantly written books about page-turning topics. Cat Warren wrote What the Dog Knows, a book I absolutely love. Consider it “CSI meets Sherlock Holmes meets Nancy Drew meets Great Book About Human Dog Connection.” Both Susannah and Cat deserve to be on Top Dog Books Ever in my opinion. As does Caroline Knapp’s book Pack of Two, an honest and thought provoking memoir about her, her best friend, and their lives with their dogs. (See Let’s Take the Long Way Home for a heart-breakingly beautiful memoir by Gail Caldwell about her relationship with Caroline Knapp, their struggles with alcoholism, their mutual love of dogs and living through Caroline’s untimely death of cancer.)
And what about books for kids? I loved discovering the Reading Bug Blog, and its Best books about dogs for children.
You’ll note that I’ve focused on a lot of classics, versus some of the most recent books about dogs, but that is where my head seems to have gone this week. Two more suggestions before I update you on the farm: The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs (a wonderful collection of articles, art and cartoons from the long history of the New Yorker, perfect for reading on long winter nights) and, she said sheepishly, a Holiday Gift Package of books from yours truly.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm. The news is: we’re back on the farm! We were gone almost three weeks, and although it was a wonderful trip, it is heaven to be home again. England, Wales, and Germany were much prettier — still lots of lovely leaves on the trees, and it is cold and grey/brown here — but still, there’s nothing like home. One year I made a Christmas card that listed our travels but ended: “But Dorothy was Right.” (Meaning, there’s no place like home.) The symposium in Germany was full of interesting information, I’ll write more in upcoming posts on topics that were stimulated by the talks of my colleagues.
Here are some last photos from the Travelogue, first a typical street scene in Aschau:
Here’s the great hall where the symposium was held; everyone is out walking their dog or finishing up their lunch. It was a great venue and a wonderful crowd.
Ich danke lhnen sehr. (Did I get that right?)
And here we are back on the farm: King Charles is the handsome boy in the background, strategically placed behind Lady Godiva. You can tell by the red butts that both her and her daughter, Lady Ba Ba have been bred already. Nice work King Charles!