You might think that all I ever do is eat, play, and love. But while those activities are very important, I am also an avid reader. In particular, I love it when people read to me (I learned that from Caryn, who loves to be read to when she knits). Our library had a Dog Day Afternoons reading program until recently, and maybe when they start up again Caryn will take me there so that kids can read to me – I hear it’s a real love fest.
Do you read? What do you like to read? What are your favorite books?
One of my favorites is Ken Wilcox’s Hiking Whatcom County. That book’s been around for a dog’s age! In its 6th edition, it’s still one of the best, along with Urban Trails Bellingham, if you’re an outdoorsy type, like me. When I was younger, Caryn read all kinds of dog training books, but my favorites were Culture Clash, by Jean Donaldson, and When Pigs Fly! by Jane Killion. Why, you may wonder, would a dog even like a book on dog training? Because a good dog trainer knows that you have to train the human, not the dog, and these two authors know that secret!
My favorite book of poems is called Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver. All of her poems are about nature and life, and even I can understand them. Carole Walter’s Best Cookies is amazing – every time Caryn opens that book a buttery aroma appears. It’s almost as good as eating the cookies (which I don’t). But Caryn does make me biscuits from the King Arthur Baking website, so I’ll put in a plug for the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book (which has a great whole grain sourdough bread recipe).
Now everyone in the family wants to weigh in with their favorite books. I put the limit on three though, because I don’t want them to take over my blog!
Caryn: Some of her favorite novels are The Weight of Ink (Rachel Kadish), an incredible book about a huge stash of historical documents found under a staircase (a great mystery unfolds from there). A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles), and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (David Mitchell) are also on her list.
The last two are especially good pandemic books, because the protagonists can’t go anywhere and have to stay home! Still, they manage to live full, imaginative lives, which is good to read about and can give us inspiration.
Two books Caryn is just starting: Braiding Sweetgrass (Robin Wall Kimmerer), about what nature can teach us, and The Great Failure (Natalie Goldberg) – which sounds like a terrible book, but Caryn says Goldberg is one of her favorite writers and assures me it will be fantastic. She even said she would read it aloud to me.
When she’s not busy trying to figure out who lives in the kitchen sink drain (especially when the dishwasher is running), she enjoys reading Sleeping with Cats (Marge Piercy), The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats (Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson), and The Cat Inside (William S Burroughs). A rather limited palette, but she is a cat you know.
This is Richard, my other favorite human in the family:
He’s happy to read to me about bone broth and other delectable things. His recommendations are Timothy Egan’s The Good Rain, about the Pacific Northwest (anything Egan writes is worth reading). Richard loves maps, and The Map Book (edited by Peter Barber) contains a beautiful selection of maps, many handmade, that reveal an illustrated history of the world. The explanatory texts take you more deeply into each map. Richard also loves poetry, especially Mary Oliver. His favorites are Owls and Other Fantasies, and Why I Wake Early. If you find you really love her (like we do), you might consider getting Devotions, a feast of her poetry that she selected from throughout her long career.
There are so many books out there to read! I asked my neighbors what they like to read, and if they read to their pets. Here’s my neighbor Gabe and his new puppy (Peppa) reading together:
Gabe is 10 years old. He likes the My Father’s Dragon series (Ruth Stiles Gannett), books about cheetahs, and the “I Survived” historical fiction series (a great way to learn about history). When asked why he likes books about cheetahs, he said “because I love cheetahs.” Of course! (why do adults ask such silly questions?) Like me, he loves being read to aloud. He got hooked on the My Father’s Dragon series because his teacher started reading it aloud to the class. And his mom, who must be an angel, has always read to her kids, as a way to encourage them to love reading. Her favorites are The Tale of Despereaux and Because of Winn-Dixie, (Kate DiCamillo) as well as the Little Britches (Ralph Moody) series, true stories written just before the depression, that follow the life of a boy as he grows up. Gabe’s mom describes them as, “adventuresome, fascinating and sometimes so real and hard that we had to stop and process what we had just read.” The “Borrowers” series is about “secret tiny people living in kids’ homes.” (Dahlia would like for us to read that to her – it might solve the mystery of who’s living in that growling sink). So if you know a 10 year old, there’s a pile of books for you!
Gabe’s big brothers both liked the Percy Jackson series (exciting fantasy) for older elementary to middle school level) and the Eragon series (also exciting fantasy, but for older middle school to high school level).