"The word is the making of the world." - Wallace Stevens

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

❦ Wild Kingdom Book Challenge! ❦

Hello, fellow book and animal lovers. I'm setting myself an animal studies/ anthrozoology based reading challenge and I would love it if you'd join me! Any genre counts, as long as it pertains to the human-animal bond. Anthropomorphic stories can count too, i.e. Alice in Wonderland and her waistcoat wearing white rabbit. Possible reads can include fiction, non-fiction, rereads, children's stories, textbooks, wildlife journals, whatever you'd like. Remember, you don't have to have a blog to participate and leave comments, and you can join anytime during the challenge.

- The challenge will run from January 1st-December 31, 2012.
-Books may count toward other challenges.
- Choose where you want to go:

1-3 books = The Hundred Acre Wood
4-6 books = Rikki Tikki's Bungalow
7-9 books = Best Friends Animal Society
10 or more = The Jane Goodall Institute

-If you'd like to follow this challenge on your own blog, first create a signup post and then use one of these banners to link your post to the Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post. Remember to add the link of your sign-up post page, not your blog's main address.

- Here are some possibilities:

Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
City of Ravens - Boria Sax
Megan's Mare - Lynn Hall
The Ten Trusts - Jane Goodall & Marc Bekoff
The Animal Manifesto - Marc Bekoff
Putting the Horse Before Descartes - Bernard Rollin
Incident at Hawk's Hill - Allan W. Eckert
Charlotte's Web - E.B. White
The Yearling - M.K. Rawlings
Moby Dick - Herman Melville
Spoken in Whispers - Nicci Mackay
The Man Who Listens to Horses - Monty Roberts
Out of the Mist - Pat Lyne
Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage - Cherry Hill
Animals As Teachers and Healers - Susan Chernak McElroy
The Animal Within Us - Jay D. Glass
Never Cry Wolf - Farley Mowat
Gorillas in the Mist - Dian Fossey
Stories Rabbits Tell - Davis and Demello
Uncle Wiggly's Storybook - Howard Garis
Fury and the Mustangs - Albert G. Miller
The Black Stallion novels - Walter Farley
When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals - Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein
Buffalo Gals and Other Stories- Ursula K. Le Guin
King of the Wind - Marguerite Henry
Misty of Chincoteague - " "
All Creatures Great and Small series - James Herriot
The Midnight Fox - Betsy Byars
My Friend Flicka - Mary O'Hara
The Philosophy of Animal Rights - Mylan Engel & Kathie Jenni
Bunnicula - Deborah & James Howe
The Darkness is Light Enough: The Field Journal of a Night Naturalist - Chris Ferris
Wild Minds - Marc D. Hauser
Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat - Hal Herzog
The Man Who Talks to Whales: The Art of Interspecies Communication - Jim Nollman
The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling
Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos - Derrick Jensen
In the Shadow of Man - Jane Goodall
Watership Down - Richard Adams

Hope you join me. Looking forward to hearing from other animal enthusiasts!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Greek Classics Challenge

A goal for the upcoming year: to read me some Plato and Aristotle. And anything else Greek and Classic that comes my way. Thanks for hosting, Howling Frog!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mouse the Messy

Time to clear off my desk! Here is a list of the books I've read or reread in the last ten months or so, I'm not going to get a chance to write about them for a good long while and they need to live on the bookshelf and move off my desk. In no particular order, here are the titles:

Supernatural Stories, 13 Tales of the Unexpected - edited by Jean Russell
Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
Animal Dreams - Barbara Kingsolver
Girl with a Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier
A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter Miller, Jr.
Blackbriar - William Sleator
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
Prodigal Summer - Barbara Kingsolver
The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros
My Side of the Mountain & On the Far Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George
Treasure Box - Orson Scott Card

...and also several books that go with the Wild Kingdom challenge including authors Bernard Rollin, Marc Bekoff, and Hal Herzog. Stay tuned! Whew, I can see part of my desktop now.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood

In this very complex story, you meet three very different women from Toronto, Canada: Tony, Charis, and Roz. You learn about their pasts and what makes them tick. What they have in common, what binds them, is being manipulated and betrayed by the evil witch of the story, Zenia, The Robber Bride.

The story's title is a reference to the fairy tale, The Robber Bridegroom. The characters themselves are meant to mirror fairy tale characters. Tony is Rapunzel, Charis is Sleeping Beauty, and Roz is Cinderella. Zenia is the wandering orphan, the dangerous rootless wanderer, the prince-less one. The references make perfect sense as you get to know the characters.

Zenia is an enigma. Her past is explained many times, by Zenia herself to the other women. But what parts of her self proclaimed history are fact and which are fiction? Zenia invents herself again and again in different ways for the other characters of the story, but you never know for sure who or what she really is except a disturbed and intriguing personality. At some point in their lives, Zenia has burned each of the main characters; seducing husbands/significant others, lying, betraying, causing general chaos against the other women for her own mysterious reasons. Also at some point, each character dreams of Zenia. Or in Charis's case, has a vision of her. "..Charis's astral body falls to its knees, raising imploring hands to the astral body of Zenia, which burns red, a red crown of flames like spiky leaves or old fashioned pen nibs flaring around her head, with emptiness at the centre of each flame", page 221. Tony, Charis, and Roz end up both admiring, fearing, and despising Zenia at different times, seeing themselves in her in spite of it.

I'm not so sure what a male reader might get out of this story. I loved it myself and identified with different bits of each character. But I have a feeling this kind of feminism might only be able to be understood by women.

"The story of Zenia is insubstantial, ownerless, a rumour only, drifting from mouth to mouth and changing as it goes. As with any magician, you saw what she wanted you to see; or else you saw what you yourself wanted to see. She did it with mirrors. The mirror was whoever was watching, but there was nothing behind the two-dimensional image but a thin layer of mercury", page 509.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Joan Aiken

At last! I finally ordered this the end of last month and finished it while flying to and from Ohio early this month. I enjoyed it, but I was disappointed that Dido Twite wasn't a character in this story. Oh well, Bonnie and Sylvia had some pretty interesting adventures.

The two cousins (one a sweet but high strung personality and one a gentle, timid orphan) are left at Willoughby Chase while Bonnie's parents take a sea voyage for her mother's health. Sylvia leaves her Aunt Jane behind in London to move to the Chase. Even if this book was written for children ages 9-12, anyone any age can enjoy Miss Aiken's writing. She puts her characters in situations that reveal their true colors and does a great job of developing them, even characters like Bonnie's father, who isn't in the story much. You understand he's a kind, loving father but distracted enough with his wife's illness that his judgement is a little off when he asks a distant relation he doesn't know to come and watch the Chase and the children. Miss Slighcarp plots to take over the estate completely. She and her gang of bullies are the real wolves featured in this story, although there are real four legged ones running around the place too and the girls and their friends have some narrow escapes. This is a very enjoyable story with heroes, villians, plots, escapes, cruel situations, and happy endings. The next book in the series is Black Hearts in Battersea, where I believe Dido makes her appearance. Can't wait to get to it!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Prodigal Summer - Barbara Kingsolver

I love Barbara Kingsolver. I devour her writing, and it satisfies on so many levels. I just got me a copy of The Lacuna, and will hopefully get to it soon. But the "to read" stacks on my desk are getting out of control. I don't MEAN to hoard books, but every shelf is packed!

Oh geez. I think I've read this novel about a dozen times and gone though about a dozen copies; I always want to share it and pass it on. The first time I read it, I was working in Ireland on the Renvyle coast, as a trail guide for a local stable. The job was challenging and exciting, but I still couldn't wait to get into bed at night to get through at least one chapter. I ended up passing on that particular copy to one of the tourists I went riding with, who told me she was so happy to get out of the city that she didn't want to go back. So anyway, I reread it again this past August. I haven't given this one away yet, maybe I'll hang on to it and let it fight for space on my shelves. Here are some good reviews. This lady is one hell of a writer and a human being, I highly recommend anything she puts down on paper.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Insomniac Rantings

I can't sleep. And I'm so tired, what a drag. I want to call and talk to a girlfriend, but they're all in eastern standard time. It could be because I have so much on my mind that I want to hide under the covers and suck my thumb. It could be because the third floor neighbors are such punks and all night long it sounds like they run a bowling alley in their living room. Or maybe because I'm so homesick for Ohio lately that it wakes me up when I finally do fall asleep. It really doesn't matter I guess, the fact is sleep is elusive tonight and tomorrow's work day is going to be tough and full of coffee. So I'm petting the puppy, who HATES the bumping & thumping noises from upstairs, and watching Star Trek TNG. Geordi is the focus character for this episode....um, "Aquiel". I had a crush on Levar Burton when I was in second grade. And I still know all the words to the Reading Rainbow theme song. "Butterfly in the skyyyy, I can fly twice as hiiiiiiigh..."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Doctor Who and the Android Invasion - Terrance Dicks

If you are not from the Planet Ming Mong, then here's a run down on Dr. Who:

He is an alien. He's a renegade bad boy Timelord from the planet Gallifrey, who has a soft spot for the human race and spends a lot of his time rescuing them. He can regenerate himself, and each reincarnation has its own personality traits & quirks. (Tom Baker by far and away was one of the best and best loved as the fourth incarnation. David Tennant is pretty popular too, he played the Tenth Doctor.) He travels through space and time in his space/time machine, the TARDIS = Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. He carries a sonic screwdriver. This incarnation's personality is "partial to tea and muffins", wears a long dramatic scarf and an overcoat with lots of pockets, has a robotic dog named K-9, and breaks the ice with complete strangers by offering them Jelly Babies.

This story is classic Tom Baker/Fourth Incarnation. I must have watched this one on VHS a hundred times as a kid. Heh heh, and an adult. I finished reading this back in November; incidentally the same day the Bear and I went down to the county courthouse in hoodies and got married. Yep, I was reading Doctor Who on my wedding day. Typical of the Doctor, this adventure starts out by a chance encounter. He is taking his companion Sarah back to the real Earth and when the TARDIS malfunctions slightly, they accidentally stumble into a hostile "aliens using androids" take-over attempt of the Earth by the Kraals where he goes head to head with the Chief Scientist of the Kraal Expedition, the Doctor and Sarah are both put in a bunch of sticky situations that they have to get out of by quick thinking, there are creepy androids, scary militant aliens, and the wonderful & clever Fourth Doctor...love everything about this story! If you are a Who fan, this is a classic you must sample. If you're not a Who fan, it means you haven't met the Doctor yet and you need to.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Eight Stories from the Rest of the Robots - Isaac Asimov

Couldn't find a picture of this edition's cover on the net. And for some reason that I haven't been able to fix, this is the best I can do with my scanner right now. Grrr.

This collection of robot stories from Asimov was really enjoyable and scored me a trip to Uranus on the Mind Voyages challenge when I finished it early last month. The stories are:

Robot AL-76 Goes Astray
First Law
Victory Unintentional
Let's Get Together
Satisfaction Guaranteed
Galley Slave

This was the first I'd heard of Dr. Susan Calvin the roboticist, who I'm still not sure I liked or not. I did like how Asimov's style questions the boundaries of human and robot; you get a good look at his robots' "human" sides.

I think my favorite short of this collection was Victory Unintentional. A group of robots are sent to Jupiter to observe the Jovians, who are hostile to humankind but so far not technologically advanced enough to threaten them. And the robots have distinctive personalities and qualities that help tell the story. It's simple, but effective story telling: the Jovians observe the robots performing any number of feats that an actual human would be incapable of and are duly impressed, thinking that they are observing examples of human capabilities. It's not until the end of the story that the robots understand they have probably quelled interstellar war, simply by being themselves.

Very entertaining and insightful writing. Asimov fan? Add this to your list of must reads.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Running to Catch Up

Quick update of our household: the year is off to a hectic start. Lots going on, including planning our wedding celebration this coming fall! I'm behind on everything from the laundry to getting my license plates to blogging. The wee Dee does NOT approve of slacking. No sir, she's giving me the the evil eye.

All of my book challenges finished up on New Year's Eve, and I'm behind in blogging by seven books. Yikes. Time to write some book reports, Mouse. Also, I don't think I'll be joining any new book challenges this year, at least for now. There's just too much going on. I think one solid reading project is all I'm going to have time to handle, hopefully a quasi-anthrozoology challenge I'm planning to host in the spring. I know most of these challenges start on the first of the year, but mine won't because...well, I'm running late. For a white rabbit, Dee Dee looks like she has all the time in the world.

So yeah, very soon, you can expect to see an animal/anthrozoology themed book challenge coming up here. And a ton of book challenge entries!