Monday, December 7, 2015

Holiday Recommendations - Animal Lovers

It's that time of year again, I can hardly believe it. Who will admit to fast-forwarding the calendar. It seems like we just rang in 2015. Anyway, I have a few posts to share with you on some fun holiday recommendations for different people in your life.

Most people who know me, know what a big animal lover I am. So I'm going to start off with two gorgeous books I think any animal lover would appreciate.

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First I have The Penguin Lessons: What I Learned from a Remarkable Bird by Tom Michell. If this memoir doesn't make you want a penguin, nothing will. It's heartwarmingly delightful.

In 1975 Brit Tom Michell is teaching abroad at an Argentinian boarding school when he goes on a short holiday to Uruguay and encounters a great horror. Along the beach are thousands of dead penguins, killed by an oil spill. Amid the devastation he sees movement. One of the penguins is still alive. Michell decides he simply can't leave the animal there to die, he has to at least try to give the poor critter a chance. So he carries the bird back to the apartment he's borrowing from friends and hilariously sets to work cleaning the penguin. When he's thoroughly cleaned the bird and dirtied the apartment's bathroom, Michell takes the penguin back to the sea in an attempt to release him. But the penguin just keeps coming back to Michell. And this begins the relationship between man and bird.

Michell names the penguin Juan Salvador (which means "John Saved") and covertly transports him back to Argentina and his apartment at the boarding school. The Penguin Lessons follow the pair through their experiences together as well as the students' interactions with Juan Salvador. The lessons in this short, sweet story will make readers laugh and cry.  If the Grinch's heart hadn't grown three sizes in Whoville, it definitely would have after reading The Penguin Lessons. It's a true feel-good story and perfect for the animal lover on your gift list.


The Penguin Lessons is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9781101967416) from Ballantine Books. There is also an audiobook version available from Random House Audio, narrated by Bill Nighy.

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The next book is for the animal lover and/or photography enthusiast on your holiday list. Traer Scott and Princeton Architectural Press have created this stunning photography collection called Finding Home: Shelter Dogs & Their Stories. This book is a follow-up to Scott's out-of-print Shelter Dogs that was published in 2006. The striking black and white photos of shelter dogs intermixed with color layouts of individual dog stories is inspiring and eye-opening. The photos are gorgeous, but the stories remind us of a constant need to continue working for the betterment of shelter dogs. The book is populated with a wide variety of dogs: young and old, various breeds--purebreds and mixed, many with success stories and sadly, some without.

Finding Home will make a wonderful coffee table book for your dog-lover. It's the kind of book you can get caught up in but it can also be consumed in small snippets at a time. But it's value in being seen and shared regularly is greatest.

Since I also have a great interest in photography, especially dog photography, I was also entranced by the photos themselves, the expressions captured by Traer Scott, who has traveled around the world photographing dogs. The dogs' spirits she freezes on the page are beautiful. I was entranced and energized. Simply flipping through a few pages made me want to do something important for animals with my own photography.

Finding Home is a gorgeous treasure and any dog lover on your holiday list will surely cherish it. It is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9781616893439) from Princeton Architectural Press. Check with your favorite independent bookstore or any of these online retailers:

Alibris Amazon Barnes & Noble
 iTunes Kobo

2 comments:

Beth F December 7, 2015 at 7:00 AM  

I have a couple people who would especially love Finding Home. Thanks for the recommendations.

Malcolm Avenue Review December 7, 2015 at 4:45 PM  

I'm so happy you loved Juan Salvado as much as I did, that book turned into one of my favorites of the year. I wish I could get the shelter dog book because it looks beautiful, but I'm not sure I can take the stories. Maybe I'll peruse it in the store and see how it hits me. Thanks for writing up both of these, great stuff!

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