LaRose: A Novel
Owner of Martha
I am an older dog now and am allowed in Martha's house with a leash tied to my humans. I absorb the books Martha has read as they dance or plod through her brain and sit in the room like birds or leaves I see outside. LaRose by Louise Erdrich caught my attention. First of all it lit up her brain more brightly than something on a screen and the whole last part had her heart flowing feeling and her eyes flowing tears and her voice flowing sounds so that I figure that is the book readers should read above the rest! I understand this author's dog leans on legs as I do so all the more reason, I say.
Good Seeds: A Menominee Indian Food Memoir
Owner of Heid
"Hunger knows no season," Tom Weso tells us in the wonderful stories of food and Menominee life found in Good Seeds: A Menominee Indian Food Memoir. We hear tender tales of elders' morning meals, gathering partridge eggs, learning to hunt, and delightful stories within stories- There was this guy on the rez with a huge appetite who could sit down and eat an entire deer. People did not like hunting with him. But Menominee cooking is a fusion: Weso tells us of older Menominee relatives went to Kansas for school and "to avoid religion" but eventually returned. With recipes. New traditions meld with indigenous ingredients of Wisconsin to create a tasty heritage. This is a delightful memoir in recipes. We learn that in Weso's youth, a meal for his Menominee family took an entire year to plan. Eating with the seasons you get wild game, fish, maple, berries, squash and other delectables. But you only get them once a year. It is this sustaining way of life that Weso narrates for us in Good Seeds, but it is also about transitions to diner food and Fair fare. These stories and recipes make us appreciate the past, make us long for woods and waters today, and make us just plain hungry.
Owner of Pallas
Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin. Like Lavinia, I have existed in obscurity and silence for most of my life. I was raised in a puppy mill and spent my first five years confined indoors, with only fellow canine inmates for company or comfort. This was my fate until! I was heroically rescued by Secondhand Hounds and cared for by wonderful people. Four months ago, I met my person, Pallas, and we have been inseparable ever since. Now that I am safely in my forever-home and with the help of my new pack (Ryoga, Bartolo, Hobbes, Roadie and Maki), I have begun to discover my bark and find my place in the world. Perhaps that is why I related to Lavinia so completely.
The titular character of the book is an interpretation of the princess Lavinia from Virgil's The Aeneid. Though she is integral to the original story, she has no actual lines and very little description. Le Guin gives Lavinia a voice and takes us to an ancient world that is ethereal and divine; a braid of historical fiction, poetry and feminist musings. Lavinia herself is a nuanced creature who can walk between worlds and time. It is an uncanny delight to travel
Though her only historical claim to fame is her marriage to Aeneas, the legendary founder of Rome, Lavina does not define herself by this relationship. As a dog who was raised for the sole purpose of giving birth to puppies, I was drawn to Lavinia's independence and appreciated her wry reflections on the dynamics of her species: “I can never get used to the fact, though I know it, that women are born cynics. Men have to learn cynicism. Infant girls could teach it to them.”
So true. I am suspicious of everything - a squirrel in the garden, a rawhide bone casually rolled under the bed, the nature of the canine condition. My male counterparts, however, are gloriously accepting of these mysteries and it is refreshing to witness their unquestioning confidence. Any society needs such balance, be it a wolf pack or a bygone tribe of Trojans. Le Guin masterfully explores the violence of love and war without judgement or rancor, unveiling a uniquely benevolent view of gender politics.
This book seems timeless, with words of celestial wisdom that float off the page. Though based on a classic, it feels entirely original and is a perfect read for spring. So, my new friends, pick this one up and let brave Lavinia live a little while longer.
Cool for You
Maki (Ma'ingan -- Ojibwe for wolf): The Restless One
Owner of Louise
Oh great. Now Louise has taken to reading in "The Sphinx", a yoga pose that is so basic it really can't be yoga, can it? She is like a kid reading on her stomach on the floor, claiming that now she has no backaches whatsoever, and taking up Maki's favorite rug with her endless lolling about. At least it is possible to loll right up to her, put a head on her arm, and read cool for you by Eileen Myles. This book could be described as a coming-of-age via psychiatric and Catholic institutions. She gets all the smells right, Louise mutters, and the fabrics of the uniforms and the food that is not really food. And sometimes Louise laughs, but it is a weird laugh. Sometimes she jumps up and runs out of the room. The best times are when she jumps up and runs out of the room with the dog and they both leave the house together and she brings the book to the park saying that it is the sort of book best read in the open air. Intense and wickedly insightful! Eileen Myles. cool for you.
Owner of Carolyn
Frank is curious about the strange noises he hears coming from the neighbor's yard. On his most recent walk through the neighborhood, he caught a glimpse. There was a small red structure and through some wire mesh he saw something -- a strange feathery creature. Incidentally, his human, Carolyn has been reading a book called Locally Laid. Frank reads the line "the chickens spent their days in our mostly fenced-in yard, walking about with their jaunty, robotic manner while absurdly chattering on CO-KE . . . . coke coke coke coke." That's when Frank realizes what his neighbors have been keeping next door... CHICKENS! The Duluth-based writer Lucie Amundsen raises chickens with her husband but on a much larger scale than Carolyn and Frank's neighbors. Their business is paving the way for more farm-based businesses that are not nearly as large as the industrial models, but are also much bigger than farmer's market ventures. It's something that North America has lost, but is being regained -- it is called "middle agriculture." Among other things, Lucie makes clear the difference between the terms, pasture-raised and cage-free. The book is like a crash course on the egg business told through the narrative of her family's harrowing story of starting this business. Carolyn was engrossed and amused from the first page to the last, and Frank is satisfied to know more about those sounds that have become the background to his daily life.
The Blue Jay's Dance - A Memoir of Early Motherhood
Co-owner of Aza & Hilary
Lately my human Aza has been growing rounder in the tummy. Full of canine curiosity, I researched further and learned of an astounding phenomenon called Human Pregnancy! Apparently I will not be the puppy of the family for long. Eager to expand upon my knowledge, I began reading a book by none other than my human's mother Louise Erdrich. The Blue Jay's Dance is an exquisitely written personal tale of pregnancy and early motherhood. This lovely little book is populated with minute details of the environment and creatures surrounding Louise, funny stories about TV dinners, interesting recipes, and shows how the journey of parenthood can enrich an artists process. Reading this book I feel I can begin to understand what the author, my human, and many other pregnant mothers experience: the sweetness of creating life. What a thrill for a male dog. There are a few too many cats for my taste, but I do feel resonance with the kind-eyed dog of the family. I recommend for anyone who is pregnant, knows someone who is pregnant, or formerly existed as a pregnancy (i.e. every mammal!).
Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep
Co-owner of Aza & Hilary
I have always felt there was more to life than my yard, my house, and the dog park…. Yet exploring on one's own as a dog is frowned upon in this society. Sigh. But then! On my human Hilary's bookshelf I came across The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep. Little did I know I could be having all sorts of adventures and journeys of self-discovery in my sleep. This wonderful book, written by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, a practitioner of Bön Buddhism, has changed my waking and dreaming life. The practices of sleep yoga and dream yoga are both revolutionary and ancient (Bön is an Indigenous spirituality). I have begun to lucid dream and am experiencing life in a whole new way. The author is a skilled writer and introduces concepts rarely understood in Western cultures. My humans often speculate about my dreams when they see my paws in motion and hear my grunts as I snooze… If only they knew I am fully aware and running upon clouds, having epic battles with tigers!
Dear Zoo : A Lift-the-flap Book
Owner of Allicia
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell is the lift the flap book every child will enjoy. It's a classic that continues to captivate the attention span of a variety of ages. In the book, the child is on the quest to find their perfect pet from the zoo. The zoo makes pet recommdations until they find the perfect fit—and the pet that makes the grade is one that any canine can stand behind! Perfect baby shower gift or holiday stocking stuffer/present for little ones 1 year to 4 years old. 5 woofs out of 5 woofs!!!
Fates and Furies
Rowdy: The Protector
Owner of Persia
Rowdy is intrigued by the icy ocean cover of Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. Tempests promised within! And sure enough it is juicy as the cat food from the refrigerator that Rowdy waits in vain to steal from the vicious feline who shares the house. Speaking of vicious felines this book about a "happy" marriage involves one of the most manipulative happy housewives ever. A woman with a chilling past. A man of vacant beauty. Lots of snappy sex dialogue. What's not to love?
Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better
Owner of Prudence
People! Truthfully, don’t you get a little tired of reading books about people? Well, let me tell you about two fabulous new books devoted entirely to animals. A refreshing change, I assure you!
Only the Animals is an extraordinary collection of stories by Ceridwen Dovey, each told by an animal caught up in human conflict: the French writer Collette’s cat accidentally left behind in the trenches of World War I, the pet tortoise of Tolstoy’s daughter smuggled out of revolutionary Russia, a mussel on a journey of exploration ala Jack Kerouac ending at Pearl Harbor. Wry, intelligent, moving…anthropomorphism that is entirely unsentimental and quite unlike anything I’ve read before.
Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better is by Tracey Stewart and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if it’s inspiring vegetarianism around the world. Extremely informative, totally endearing and beautifully illustrated, this book will deepen your understanding and appreciation not just of your pets but ALL the critters that affect your life, from the backyard to the dinner table.
Lady: The Sassy One
Owner of Christian
I'm not just sassy; I'm also very smart. I often research interesting things. Recently I've been devouring (not literally... ok maybe a little bit...) Audra Simpson's Mohawk Interruptus. In her new book, Columbia University Professor Simpson (Mohawk nation) investigates complex reworkings of recognition and membership politics in the Kahnawa:ke Reservation. This book is a great addition to the growing work by scholars focusing on definitions of "Indian" and legal ramifications at work in the defining processes. This particular work takes an interesting glance at Native reworkings of internalizations of non-Native definitions of who counts as Native, expanding my understandings of how contemporary reservation enrollment is not just a product of colonial legislation, but also new ways that tribes had worked within and around those laws, repurposing them in some regards, reiterating colonial laws in others. It's an academic book full of stories and critical thought, and it's delicious! Trust me...