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Latest Reads

Nov
24


As the weather dips colder and the nights stretch longer, I tend to spend more time reading. Outside activity is crammed into shorter hours, leaving more time to curl up with books. Lately, I’ve been on an “animal stories” kick, as the download list in my Kindle will attest. In case you’re looking for something to read, here’s what I’ve been inhaling the past few weeks.


No Dogs in Heaven? Scenes from the Life of a Country Veterinarian, by Robert T. Sharp — I started with this one. The writing style is a little unpolished at times (I’m sorry, I can’t help but notice these things, I’m a writer) and doesn’t always follow any certain order, but it’s highly readable and enjoyable. The book is about a vet who takes on a mixed-animal practice in a small town in Ohio. Most of the stories deal with small animal veterinary practice, though there are some stories about large animal practice. The book is as much about people as animals, and it made me wish he could be my vet. There are some great stories, and it’s worth the read. It left me wanting more, so I moved on to the next one!

Close Encounters of the Bovine: Recollections of a Rural Veterinarian, by Rosalie Cooper-Chase — Obviously, here I was looking for what I didn’t get out of the first book, which was non-stop large animal vet stories. And my obsession with Glory Bee’s bee-hind is showing, too. This book is one story after another of assisted calf deliveries. I LOVED IT. Like the first one, it’s not a particularly polished book, but it was exactly what I wanted to read and it delivered (ha, pun). It opened my eyes to just what assisted calf deliveries can entail–which was both comforting and scary–and was also an interesting study of humans for the behavior of the various owners in each situation. If you have cows, or are just interested in good stories, you’ll enjoy this one as long as you don’t mind the occasional detailed story about cutting up a dead calf INSIDE the cow before taking it out. (I HAD NO IDEA THEY DID THAT. It’s called a fetotomy.)

Considering the Horse: Tales of Problems Solved and Lessons Learned, by Mark Rashid — I’m in love with this book. Or, possibly, in love with the author. Mark Rashid started working with horses when he was 10, working for “the old man” as he calls him who taught him to understand horses. Rashid went on to become a horse trainer in his own right, and from what I can figure, he is a natural horsemanship trainer, but he doesn’t like to call himself that. I like the way he explains horses–by telling stories about individual horses, teaching with stories instead of dry directions. I also like what seems to set him apart–he’s all about the individual horse, not some standard method to apply to every horse. I was particularly fascinated by the section of stories on hard-to-catch horses. (I wonder why.) I’ve read article after article on various natural horsemanship sites about hard-to-catch horses, with specific guidelines–do this and your horse will become easy to catch. Which makes you feel as if you failed if you can’t make them work. And they didn’t work. When I read this book, I felt like saying a big THANK YOU for someone finally telling me why. Shortcake isn’t Every Other Horse. Shortcake is Shortcake, and this book is filled with fascinating stories that demonstrate how to read your own horse and modify methods to work for their individual needs. (Specifically, a very good description and contrast of the “spoiled” horse vs. the “scared” horse, and why the same methods absolutely don’t work for both. Most hard-to-catch methods seem geared to the spoiled horse, which Shortcake is not, so no wonder they don’t work for her.) I’m finishing the book now–need I say that I love it? The way Rashid approaches building relationships with horses really speaks to me and feels right to my gut instincts about Shortcake.

Next on my reading list is All My Patients Have Tales: Favorite Stories from a Vet’s Practice, by Jeff Wells — because I’ve probably had enough calf birth stories for now and I’m missing cat and dog stories, but because I’m not done being in love with Mark Rashid, I also have Whole Heart, Whole Horse: Building Trust Between Horse and Rider waiting for me!

Any good “animal stories” book recommendations? What should I read next? (Edit to add: If everyone says Herriot, that isn’t going to help. Everyone knows that one! I’m looking for something I may not have discovered yet.)

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on November 24, 2012  

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  1. 11-24
    6:40
    am

    No James Herriot? True, they’re set in England, but that makes his books all the more charming, and a cow’s a cow for a’ that.

  2. 11-24
    6:42
    am

    This isn’t a “best of” list! It’s a list of what I’ve read recently, which isn’t James Herriot. He would certainly make a “best of” list.

  3. 11-24
    6:48
    am

    They beat me to it..I was going to say James Herriot also, and start from the beginning. Loved it. :happyflower:

  4. 11-24
    6:50
    am

    Thanks! But I’ve already read Herriot–that one’s obvious! Looking for something I haven’t already heard of.

  5. 11-24
    7:29
    am

    Loved your list of book ideas! Sorry I don’t have any to add. I read all of Herriot’s books when I was a kid and loved those so it’s nice to find some others I’d like too.

    Have you watched The Incredible Dr. Pol on NatGeo?? I think you’d love that!

  6. 11-24
    7:43
    am

    Suzanne,
    Try David Taylor’s books.
    Zoo Vet, Is There a Doctor in the Zoo?
    He’s the “Herriot” of zoo animals, there was a BBC program made from his books also. You can watch some of the episodes on youtube.

  7. 11-24
    8:04
    am

    Here is another vet author – Malcom Welchman, the book is “Pets in a Pickle”. I read it a few months ago. Funny animal stories around a new vet’s life story. Pretty good and funny.

  8. 11-24
    8:27
    am

    Please get Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson – a wonderful book – about SAR – Search and Rescue and how she trained her partner, Puzzle. Heartwarming and soooooo good.

    Merle’s Door is also good, by Ted Kerasote. Merle appeared out of nowhere while on a camping trip down a river. Good read. Both are non-fiction.

  9. 11-24
    8:43
    am

    I enjoy Jon Katz….especially his stories of Rose. He mostly writes about his dogs and the work they do herding sheep, Hospice work and keeping him sane. He also includes his cow Elvis, donkeys, sheep amd various other farm animals. Not as fond of his latest book, a collection of short stories, but everything else I have loved.

  10. 11-24
    9:53
    am

    Have you read anything by Monty Roberts? The Man Who Listens to Horses was fascinating. While he does go into his methods and philosophy, it’s a memoir more than a manual.

  11. 11-24
    10:29
    am

    Hi Suzanne, for horse knowledge, you cannot go wrong with anything by or about Buck Brannaman. Here’s a link to check our your options:

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_8?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=buck+brannaman&sprefix=buck+bra%2Caps%2C322

    One of my nieces is an experienced horse trainer,and she loves Buck’s work, has attended his clinics,and learns more each time.

  12. 11-24
    12:20
    pm

    I enjoyed the Herriot books many years ago and even kept them to re-read someday.

    Then I discovered the Herriot books are FICTION. He made up those stories!

    “Contrary to popular belief, Wight’s (Herriot’s real name) books are only partially autobiographical, with many of the stories being only loosely based on real events or people.” Wikipedia

    Once I learned these were not true-to-life stories I lost interest. I donated my many Herriot books to Goodwill.

    I am, however, very intrigued by a couple of the books you’ve recommended, Suzanne. I am borrowing one from the library and purchasing one through Amazon. I can’t wait to get them!

    Kessala

  13. 11-24
    1:21
    pm

    Book 1: “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron

    followed up by his 2nd book: “A Dog’s Journey”

    Probably one of the BEST books I’ve read in a long time!

    Don’t believe me? See what others have to say about it:

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7723542-a-dog-s-purpose#other_reviews

    Denise

  14. 11-24
    1:37
    pm

    iamajourneywoman, I agree! Buck Brannaman is a fabuous horseman! Try to catch a CD or two….he is an amazing person!

    He’s also from my neck of the woods!

  15. 11-24
    6:42
    pm

    Suzanne,

    We just celebrated my uncles birthday and he received the book “While You’re Here, Doc: Farmyard Adventures of a Maine Veterinarian” by Bradford b. brown. I looked the book over and plan on ordering it from amazon very soon! I also discovered a second book “one more thing, doc” which is by the same author. I, too love these kinds of books and this author just happens to be from Maine which is where I live so I’m even more excited! Happy reading :)

  16. 11-24
    11:31
    pm

    I highly recommend Chosen by a Horse, by Susan Richards. It is a memoir about a rescued race horse named Lay Me Down.

  17. 11-24
    11:40
    pm

    Sorry, I’ve been reading different kinds of books lately. “Into the Wild”, then “HeLa”, & lastly “Infidel”. All interesting, perhaps to a smaller audience. I may look at your list & follow your lead awhile.

    When I glanced at the displayed page on your reader, I thought it was one of your romance novels. Hey! Have you read “Fifty Shades of Grey”? Not much about horses in it, but your rope work might improve.

  18. 11-25
    1:03
    pm

    I agree with CasieD, you would love Dr. Pol on NatGeo…but I’m not sure if that show was cancelled or if they are just filming new episodes right now. If you find it you should definitely watch it. On a different note: oh I hope I get a Kindle for Christmas!!!

  19. 11-25
    1:24
    pm

    How about The Hidden Life of Dogs, by Elizabeth Thomas? And anything by DAvid Attenborough.

    If I may say, re: James Herriot, altho Mr Wight used Herriot as a pen name (in part due to the professional etiquette of his time), most of his stories were either real or based on real events. He talked about writing down his experiences for years and did not even begin to write until he was 50 years old, which is pretty amazing!

    Anyway. I love David Attenborough’s videos of wildlife, and his books are good, too.

    Tigers in the Snow by Peter Mathhiessen, The Beast in the Garden by David Baron…. The Dog Who Rescues Cats, by Philip Gonzales, The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery…. The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton…. Modoc, the True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer….

    :dancingmonster:

  20. 11-25
    1:30
    pm

    Oh! How could I forget? And he’s from my neck of the woods – Trauma Farm, by Brian Brett. He’s a heck of a writer, Suzanne, and it’s truly a wonderful book: “An irreverent and illuminating journey through a day in the life of the affectionately named Trauma Farm, with numerous side trips into the natural history of farming.”

    He has a website, if you’d like to check it out: http://www.brianbrett.ca/trauma_farm/

    Wonderful man, too, saw him at a Writers Festival a few years ago.

  21. 11-25
    1:34
    pm

    I’m sorry to chime in again. I also want to share a lovely book by Theodore Stanwell Fletcher. I don’t even know if it’s in print anymore: Driftwood Valley. She and her husband lived in Northern British Columbia in the 30’s and 40’s. They were both naturalists and lived completely off the land as they hunted, trapped, and survived the incredible winters. It’s a beauty of a book, if you can find it. My paperback copy is falling apart. How I love that book.

  22. 11-25
    3:36
    pm

    I’ve read All my Patients have tales in tandem with The rhino with glue-on shoes which is a compilation of zoo vets and their patients and I LOVED it! I’m a nurse but have aspirations of going to vet school.

    Also Merle’s Door-Lessons from a freethinking dog by Ted Kerasote is a major tearjerker and national bestseller

    Finally The art of racing in the rain by Garth Stein is a book told from the dogs perspective of his owners.

  23. 11-26
    2:33
    pm

    For rural living, try Helen Hoover, A Year in the Forest. The books aren’t available on the Kindle. I read them long ago through my parents’ Readers Digest Condensed Books in high school. Loved her books. For country living, try Peter Mayle… A Year in Provence.

  24. 11-26
    11:15
    pm

    I have not read these, but my mother really liked a series of books by Cleveland Amory…I think the first one was “The Cat Who Came For Christmas” with maybe two after that. He might have other works, too, but this was the only author I could think of off the top of my head. :)

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