Have you ever wondered how another species thinks? Do they have feelings similar to humans? I am not trying to anthropomorphize other animals or tell you what your dog is thinking. However, it is interesting to consider how the world around us reacts to things compared to ourselves. The following books are all by authors who closely studied varied animals, some scientifically and others on a more personal level, and considered what they may feel or be going through from the animal's perspective. Humans may never fully understand the minds of other animals, but it is fun to think about.
The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
Sy Montgomery is a prolific author and naturalist who has traveled the world learning about species as varied as the octopus, Golden Moon Bear, Pink Dolphins, and the ordinary pig. In this book, she retells her experiences following the lives of a number of octopuses housed at the New England Aquarium. She was so intrigued by her first exposure to an animal species so different from our own that she continued researching them. Likewise, the title of this book intrigued me and did not disappoint. It will provide you with a new understanding of the octopus beyond where its mouth is and how it eats, including how it senses people and the world around it. Sy Montgomery has also written many titles for younger readers who have an interest in researching animals.
H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald
The author, a falconer, decides to try to train a goshawk after losing her father. This is a detailed account of her trials and tribulations of working with the bird as she works through her grief. She often refers to T. H. White's book, The Goshawk, and the challenges he faced in doing the same. The goshawk, Mabel, turns out to be the perfect mix of challenge and responsibility the author needs to move on with her life. Regardless of how animals perceive us, they often provide us with what we need. The author just published her second book, Vesper Flights, which is a collection of essays on various aspects of bird life.
The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World by Patrick Svensson
As the publisher describes the book: "Part H is for Hawk, part The Soul of an Octopus, The Book of Eels is both a meditation on the world's most elusive fish - the eel - and a reflection on the human condition." The Book of Eels was recently published and received much acclaim. The author shares the history of the European eel from the days of Aristotle to today, as well as his own experiences fishing for them while growing up in Sweden. You will follow their elusive path from the Sargasso Sea to Europe and back again. Amazingly, little has been known of eels and their life cycle until the past century, despite being familiar to mankind throughout history.
The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs are Smarter Than You Think by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods
This book takes a look into the behavior and biology of dogs and how science is trying to better understand them. Dogs have been a part of our lives for so long, yet only recently have we realized their multi-faceted potential for helping us. Their potential lies far beyond seeing eye dogs and therapy dogs as they can detect not just drugs or bombs but identify medical conditions and alert owners to a pending event or the need for a diagnosis. I was fortunate enough to get to hear the author, Brian Hare, speak about his book in person at the Decatur Book Festival a few years back. Brian Hare works with the Duke Canine Cognitive Center based out of Duke University. He is truly passionate about his work... a true calling!Good Dogs Don't Make It to the South Pole, by Hans Olav Thyvold. The book is set in Norway and the author uses a dog, Tassen, as narrator. Tassen describes his new relationship with a widow, Mrs. THorkildsen, after his master, Major Thorkildsen, passes away. A dark yet hilarious and sentimental read for anyone who has ever owned a dog. As Mrs. Thorkildsen was a former librarian, they bond by reading books about Roald Amundsen and his expedition to the South Pole. Be forewarned of a less than pleasant fate for man and dog on the expedition. Nonetheless, the book is an enjoyable read and makes it difficult not to wonder what your dog is thinking or trying to tell you.
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