Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What I've Been Reading Lately

You know I've been furiously de-cluttering and giving away things. I'm getting into the "Less is More" groove. One of the obstacles...nay...opportunities...was that I have a ridiculous number of books. I found several books in my "to be read" category. They were not in a single place. No, they were all over the house. One here, one there. 

I did my "organizing" during the weekend, so during the evenings on work nights I dedicated myself to reading the books I've been meaning to find time for. I'm sharing about the books that moved me. 

Let me say that I read one book that I was bored with and thought when does it get better. Turns didn't. I won't re-hash that one for you. (You're welcome.) I do want to mention that it was fiction and it had way too many characters that got to tell their point of view of the same events in alternating chapters. Note to author: some of your readers (me) can barely keep up with the narrative of her own family/husband...much less more than one or (at the very most) two narrators in a novel. 

Interestingly, the books that enthralled me were memoirs.

I read I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship on a vacation last Fall. LOVED IT. This one is staying in my possession...even with my self imposed policy to donate or share books I've already read. I just can't part with this one yet. As you can imagine from the title and cover, it's writers sharing stories of their complicated relationships with their dogs. Many are purely sweet and most are laugh out loud funny.

The Daily Coyote is a book I was reading and misplaced...mid read. {I'm telling you...organized I'm not.} I knew I would find it and during my "cleanse" I did. The first thing that struck me about this book is the breathtaking photography. Shreve Stockton has an eye for amazing images. Of course, the coyote is a pup during the early portion of the cuteness does abound. But, the landscape really stands out, both visually and as an important part of the story. Stockton fearlessly lives her dreams, including riding a Vespa cross country before "landing" in a small Wyoming town for this chapter of her life. I enjoyed the vicarious experience.  One of the things I appreciated is that Stockton tells her story without sentimentalizing it. She never loses sight of the fact that the coyote she cares for is, at his core, a wild animal.

Let's Take the Long Way Home is beautiful and soulful capturing a precious and deep friendship that is so rare. Both women have a strong connection with her own dog before they "really" meet each other. Their friendship grows as a result of the outings that they each take with their dogs.

Their friendship deepens as they each push to further their sculling skills. There is something about sharing in this physically demanding sport that enhances their friendship.

It's a rare memoir that explores the deep bonds that women have in their friendships.

I don't want to give too much away here. The book is equal parts "woman and her dog"; "woman excelling in a strenuous sport" both individually and together; "woman and her best friend".  It's powerful.
Weekends with Daisy may be the best "My Dog Changed my Life" stories I've read.  BONUS: The dog does NOT die! Sharon Luttrell is mourning before she meets Daisy. She's mourning the loss of her German Shepherd, her long time companion. She's mourning the change in her relationship with her children as they pull away in adolescence. Joy and purpose are fleeting for her. 

Luttrell enters a service dog training program. The program is primarily focused on prison inmates being paired with dogs that they train during the week. Weekend trainers/puppy raisers provide additional real world exposure for the dog. The weekend trainer must make sure that the dog learns to stay focused no matter where they are or what is happening. Things like going to the grocery store, or to a restaurant or the doctor. Absolutely every errand or trip that is made includes the service dog trainee. 

It's not all cuteness and rainbows. This type of training doesn't come naturally for Luttrell. It's work. Daisy's primary trainer (and inmate) becomes a mentor for Luttrell adding to the depth and richness of the experience.

After writing about these I want to read them again. I think I read them too fast. I want to re-read and savor. Unfortunately for me....these books are already in transit to their new homes.

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