Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What I Read Wednesday

Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves
I was interested by this book because we adopted a shelter dog in January who definitely showed signs of anxiety when we brought her home. This was the first time I became aware that dogs could suffer from what is typically thought of as a human condition. Fortunately, after a few months of showing her that we were safe and weren't leaving, her anxiety lessened. The author of this book did not have the same experience, as her dog never became less anxious, even with dog therapy and medications, to the point where he jumped out their fourth floor apartment window.
In this book, she speaks not only of her dog but of countless other animals who suffer from human conditions, such as night terrors, homesickness, separation anxiety and rage. While this book shows that we've come a long way in humanely treating animals and understanding them, it also shows that we've barely began. This was a fascinating read.

California: A Novel
Cal and Frida live off the land in a ruined world. They escaped from LA to live in the woods, after weather and humanity destroyed most of the civilized world. After their closest (only) neighbors commit suicide, Frida begs Cal that she needs to know what is beyond them, she needs to know that others are out there. Exploring leads them to a town surrounded by large metal spikes, a seemingly huge maze designed to keep out anyone who might dare to enter. Here, Cal and Frida's world is rocked by revelations that connect to her brother Micah, a suicide bomber who died during the beginning of the end of the world.
In the beginning of this book, I felt that it was going to be on a Cormac McCarthy level and tore through it, but unfortunately, it fell apart a little at the end. It felt like there should be a sequel, but I'm not sure there is. I don't mind open endings, but this one was a little too open, a little too rushed.

The Fracking King: A Novel
Winston Crwth (rhymes with truth) is at the Hale School for boys on a scholarship from Dark Oil. The name is not a misnomer, as Dark Oil is responsible for so much fracking around the school that the water out of certain sinks can be combustible. This is a coming of age story mixed in with an environmental truth story mixed in with satire. Think Carl Hiaasen. Winston uses his Scrabble tournament skills to attempt to schedule a meeting with the governor so he can force her to admit that fracking is destroying the water in Pennsylvania. Although I wished that tertiary characters better developed in this story, I loved the character of Win so much that I could overlook the rest.

The Walking Dead Volume 20: All Out War Part 1 TP
I also read part 2 but I'm not going to link to both. If you're a fan of The Walking Dead, I would definitely recommend making your way through the graphic novels--even if you don't typically like graphic novels.

I am a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell and was looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, it fell short for me. Georgie and Neal are struggling in their marriage. When Georgie tells Neal she can't accompany him to Omaha (where his mother lives) along with their two daughters, it's the last straw. The Omaha visit coincides with Christmas, which makes it a bigger deal than just skipping a vacation. While dealing with work stress and her staying at her mother's house because she can't stand to be alone, Georgie calls Neal from the old yellow landline in her room. After a conversation, she discovers that she's not talking to present day Neal, but to Neal from 1998. A Neal with whom she was once on a break, shortly before he proposed to her. I don't mind magical realism, I don't, but the book from this point on was so trite and contrived that it absolutely lost me. I guess they can't all be Eleanor&Park or even The Attachments, but this was not the book I expected.

What are you reading?


Barb Ruess said...

I've heard mixed reviews on Landline... not sure I want to read it. California is on my list too.

This week I read The Son by Philipp Meyer. A family saga told through generations of a family that fought to make a life in the Wild West - in this case Texas. Told through three generations: the patriarch of the family who was kidnapped by Indians as a youth; his son who was the black sheep of the family; and then it skipped a generation to the great-granddaughter who ended up finding financial success... but no one in this family seems to have a happy ending. Decent read.

Then I read Everything I Never Told You which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was so impressed with how the author was able to build a suffocating, weighted feeling through the novel. I thought the ending was both sad and a relief of sorts.

Lyndsay W said...

I started 'The Opposite of Loneliness'last night and had a hard time putting it down and going to bed.

InTheFastLane said...

California and landline are on my list. I'm still working on Lisey's story. This whole working thing is putting a crimp on my reading time.

Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph said...

I am still in such a reading rut! I never do this but I have three books going right now- The Rosie Project, Summer House with Swimming Pool, & Landline. I am back to finishing up the Summer House one (but think I'm just never going to like Koch's characters....) and then want to get back in my reading groove!


Theresa Mahoney said...

I am glad to hear Morgan is feeling less anxious, especially after only having her for such a short time. It took our pug about 3 years to get over her anxiety. I remember her flinching when any noise was made- the rustling of a plastic bag, the kids dropping a pencil on the floor, etc. She will still go running if my husband raises his voice, but our boxers do that too lol. I could yell all day and they don't bat an eye. Guess it has something to do with the deep tone of his voice. Animal Madness sounds like a very interesting book!

One crazed mommy said...

Nothing new to report on reading, but we do have a cat that is blind in one eye. Some neighbors owned her, but shortly after they arrived she started hanging around, and wouldn't leave, our house. Then they up and moved we have this precious, obviously wary cat, who was abandoned. We were told that they don't know what happened to her eye, but then their young sons told our children that she was poked in the eye with a stick!!! Whatever the story, she wanted to love people for the longest time, but wouldn't allow herself to get TOO close...until this year. She will still occasionally nip, and is still anxious, but she has shown that she trusts and loves us. It breaks my heart to think that she may have been abused...I don't have proof (other than the boys words - but body language speaks loudly!!