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Books to read with our pets:
I feel it is fitting for a shop named 'Dog Eared Books' for our inaugural blog post to be about good books to read with your pets. Of course, some of these are useful, some are just fun and some will hopefully help you appreciate your beloved fur-babies even more.
Yes ok, Watership Down by Richard Adams is the book of the week in the shop at the moment (3/10/16) but it's not only a delightful story (while also heartbreaking and beautiful at other points), it's also very informative about out the way rabbit live in community groups. It'll give you good ideas on how to care for your rabbit, keep it company and give your baby bunny interesting things to do.
I feel Lassie or Old Yeller is a bit of a cop out so this is my mention of them and I'm moving along. Of course, Marley and Me by John Grogan is one of the best descriptions of life with a beloved canine companion but there are a number of other ones also worth a mention. There's also Horrie the War Dog by Roland Perry, eminently popular both with animal lovers and people interested in the armed forces, along with Trackers, The untold story of Australian Dogs of War by Peter Haran. For the younger readers though Emily Rodda's Dog Tales is perfect as you can read a story, give your dog a cuddle, then read another story!
The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide has been a runaway hit of the last twelve months. Although I have yet to see one in Dog Eared Books, I live in hope as I can't wait to read it. For the younger reader there is The Warriors Series by Erin Hunter, about different clans of warrior cats and their trials, is full of action and adventure. Kittens in Trouble by Lucy Daniels just came in and is two books in one sure to keep a younger cat lover very happy. Of course Cat in the Hat and Old Possums Book of Practical Cats are old favourites too and perfect afternoon reading with the kids and cat on your lap.
Refer previous descriptions of cop outs for dogs, so Black Beauty, Silver Brumby, National Velvet and Horse Whisperer I feel are also cop outs, moving along. Maggie Steifvator's YA novel, the Scorpio Racers is going to be entirely satisfying for any fans of fantasy as well as horse fiction. Meanwhile Rachael Treasure's books have horses all over the front covers and as a retired Jillaroo, I think you might be assured there'll be a few featured. Also we have a big pile of horsey books for younger readers at the moment so now is the time to get your horse fiction fix if you're aged 5-14.
I think my favourite series with a bird as the main character is Mo Willems Pigeon series, with such titles as 'Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus', 'Duckling Gets a Cookie' and more. Hilarious and great teaching tool for little kids who don't like hearing no, sharing or going to bed. Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn doesn't exactly have a bird in it, but is perfect for as Spring afternoons reading surrounded by birdsong.
Check out the photo above for more ideas on good pet related books and come and visit if you want to pick any of them up.
With the press going a little nuts for the recent Man Booker International winner, The Vegetarian by Han Kang, it got me thinking about how many books I've read that were translations. So I went around the store to try and see if we had a good representation of authors who write in anything except English. I have to say, there weren't a lot currently on the shelf but I was pretty impressed with the quality of what we did have.
Starting with the ones I've read, there's of course the breakaway hit My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante but I've also read the astounding Arturo Perez Revetre's The Nautical Chart. And I have yet to find someone who didn't like The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. And we've got his most recent one too in stock, Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All. In the crime section we've got a few Nordic writers running around but my favourite is (unsurprisingly for regulars), Jo Nesbo and his wonderfully flawed main character Harry Hole. These were released in English out of sequential order and I'm really glad they were. The writing in the more recent books is of much higher quality than the earlier ones. In classics of course there's a pile, with The Leopard by Lampedusa being an old favourite of mine after I slogged through it for Y 12 English. I don't think I've ever felt such achievement with a book as when I got to the final page of this novel. I'm tempted to revisit it now all these years later to see if my memory is correct or whether a new translation breathes new life into this epic work.
Others on the shelf that I haven't read but always wanted to are Franz Kafka's Stories from 1904-1924 and Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist has been sitting on my bedside table for months (ahem, years) waiting to be read and I will really soon, I promise! In fact we've got a few by Coehlo, interestingly enough all translated by different people. I'm almost curious enough to read them all to compare style and see if I feel Coehlo reaching through the words. Some Italian influence is present in Niccolo Ammaniti's I'm not Scared and I've got a couple of copies of Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian, which intrigues me just from its evocative title.
So turns out there's more than I thought! And how exciting it is to think of all these different ways of thinking about love, relationships, drama, passion and all the things that make up life and death.
Sometimes we need to splash out and try something new. Sometimes there are odd things in life that turn out to both very interesting and informative. With an recent influx of new books, both from book hunts and from regulars bringing them in I thought I might highlight a few that caught my eye. Some are just plain weird, some are strangely inspiring and some are simply interesting.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
I'm starting with one that many people will have heard of even if they haven't read it. Wild sucked me in from the very beginning. Every second paragraph I felt like yelling at her for being so naive, unprepared and generally not very bright. But then the other paragraphs I'd be cheering her on, wanting desperately for her to succeed at this insane task she set herself. Intensely surprising, inspiring and lyrically written, I'm looking forward to watching the movie as soon as I can get my hands on it.
The Case of the Vanishing Corpse by Kel Richards
Now this is a weird book. I mean really odd but slightly addictive in its writing style even though you already know the ending. What would have happened if Jesus had been killed on the cross in the 20th century? Why, when his body disappeared, you'd call the local PI and get him to investigate. Weaving the story from the bible in amongst well known crime tropes this is perfect for Christians with a sense of humour.
One Summer, America 1927 by Bill Bryson
I gave this book to my Dad for Christmas a couple of years ago and as he unwrapped it he turned to me and said 'Why on earth do I care about one summer in America in 1927?' My response was, 'Shut up and read it, then talk to me.' Unsurprisingly he came back a week later and waxed lyrical about how interesting it was and did I know this? And did I know that? With Bill Bryson's delightful turn of phrase, you'll see how One Summer in America in 1927 actually changed the world.
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
I've always been a fan of Scott Westerfeld and so when this book came out I bought it as a matter of course. However this book completely blew me away. Both in its format, style and subject matter. On the one hand it's a book about a young country girl, Darcy, coming to grips with her sexuality in a highly charged environment of New York and on the other it's a paranormal teenage romance, with Lizzie in the centre of ghosts and terrorist attacks. What you realise very quickly though is that Darcy is writing Lizzie's story and both their stories affect each other in ways that surprise and delight you throughout.
Pigeon Poo, the Universe & Car Paint by Dr Karl Kruszeinicki
For those people who love interesting facts and strange stories this book is perfect. Dr Karl is very famous in certain circles and reading the opening of this book you can see why. His writing style is not only hilarious but informative and I can already tell you more things about pigeons than I ever thought I'd know or remember. A fabulous book to just open randomly and read a paragraph, this will make you feel smart in 30 seconds flat.
Readers Digest Select Edition
- with Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly, Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva, Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella and Crossing Place by Elly Griffiths
Sometimes it's really hard to decide on a new a book or you're a bit shy about trying a new author. The Readers Digest Select Editions are perfect for the days you're indecisive or just having a bad day. Because these books are all easy reading, fun and stories to dive into for a while. I know a lot of people poo-poo Readers Digest, but everything has its place in the world. Don't knock it until you try it.
Weird and wacky books on the shelf that might just interest you...
The War Corner
With all the furore in the media in comparing Donald Trump to Hitler and other less savoury historical figures I wondered whether that was one reason why one of my most popular sections was the entire shelf of books on War. For many of you, you won't have noticed but in the back corner of the shop is an entire shelf devoted to the study in both fiction and non-fiction of War in all it's shapes and forms. When I'm re-shelving books I'm constantly amazed by the breadth of human emotions that can be found just in this one section. There's some sea-faring adventures, with war conducted the old fashioned way with cannons and muskets. Then there's the ominously named book 'World War III' and the other futurist books that cast their eyes forward trying to anticipate how next we will try to destroy each other. There's also books on the different machines, land, air and sea, that made and make these different wars better at destroying civilisations. But in amongst all the doom and gloom there's also on the stories of the men and women caught up in these terrible circumstances. From everyday people helping those in need, to the soldiers and the journalists and those who's lives revolve around the making and creating of wars. The terribly sad part is how many of these books are written by someone who was killed in the line of duty.
Although I haven't read nearly enough of the books in this section every time I walk past another book catches my eye and I can't help but pick it up just to have a look and file it away on my list of 'to read' books. I do wonder if we all read more history books and studied the mistakes of those who came before us, would we be in the situation we are now?
Books for a Bad Week
It’s the beginning of the year, and everything is coming crashing down. What with back to work, school and more. So sometimes this first week back can be a bit of a bad week. So here are some different options if you’re having a bad week and need something to get you invigorated or at least escape for a while.
Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
Yes, this may be a 'kids' series but what you might not know, is that not only does Riordan weave ancient myths and fables into his stories but it's done with large scale action, adventure and most importantly humour. You’ve got to read them in order, starting with Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief but you won’t regret taking a punt on this fantastic series.
Rosie Project by Graeme Simison
Many people have read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon with his Autistic main character and hard on its heels in popularity is this book, Rosie Project. Don Tillman is a professor of genetics, who's a little bit on the autistic spectrum and everyone knows it except him. One day, he decides he wants a wife and goes about it in the most insane way possible. Don should annoy you terribly but all you feel like doing is cheering him on in his self realisations and his kooky romance with the titular Rosie.
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks
This one took me completely by surprise. So much so that I actually spilt my lunch down my front I laughed so suddenly and so loudly! A homage to PG Wodehouse, this is perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, particularly those who love Maggie Smith's dry humour in it. I've never read any Wodehouse before but it didn't matter in this story of upstairs, downstairs, hidden agendas and subterfuge.
Phryne Fisher Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood
Sometimes in life we just need some glamour! As those who've seen the Phryne Fisher TV series would attest to, these books are stuffed full of amazing costumes, sets and characters. The thing that the show is missing though is truly how fabulous Phryne is. They tried, they really did, to make her as amazing as she is in the books but they just fell a little short. Every time I read one of these I just wish I lived in 1920s Melbourne.
I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
Who doesn't like a good run round the world thriller? Let's save the world again from international terrorists. Pilgrim will hit that craving for good guys winning, but manages to ever so slightly humanise the baddies too. Although not enough that you don't feel awfully satisfied when they lose. I don't feel like it's giving it away to say that, two pages in you get the idea but it's all in the execution of the whole thing that makes it a page-turner.
Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cummings
Alan Cummings is not widely known outside of Broadway circles or those who are big fans of The Good Wife. His particular brand of humour is unusual but he's always been very clever in everything I've seen. His recent autobiography will not only make you laugh, it will actually make you cry. However you'll come out of it feeling like, if he can come through all things he did and still have a smile on his face, then I can get through today.
Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester
An absolute must for anyone with a passing interest in history, biography or simply a fascinating story. The subtitle is 'a tale of murder, madness and the love of words' and it captures this book in a simple sentence. What isn't mentioned though is Winchesters's delightful turn of phrase or the insertion of the Oxford English Dictionary's own definitions of words pertinent to each chapter. Although at its heart a sad story you can't help but get caught up in W.C. Minor's story and the enthusiasm all parties involved in this story have for the English language.
Whiskey & Author Pairings
So in the world of foodies they've paired everything with wine, whiskey and anything else with alcohol in it. In our house, whiskey is the tipple of choice and so one day, hugging my latest book to my chest I went looking for a dram to complement. This got me thinking of all the different expressions of whiskey and I realised that just as there is an author for everyone, there's a whiskey for every author. So below are my completely subjective pairings of highly popular authors and highly popular whiskey.
Some assumption is made towards you having read or at least heard of the following authors. If not, the descriptions of the whiskey should give you an idea about their styles. I should also note that we only deal in single malts or blends done from primarily upmarket distilleries. However all of these whiskeys can be easily found at your local bottle shop and all the authors found in Dog Eared Books.
Geraldine Brooks (Historical fiction)- Nant, Bourbon Wood
A light smooth Australian whiskey, that won’t blow your head off, but clearly a lovely dram.
Liane Moriarty (Australian modern fiction) - Abelour, 12 year old
Smooth with floral overtones, but a bit of body to it to give a weight to the flavour.
Jeffrey Archer (Clifton Chronicles, family saga) - Glenfarclas, 25 year old
A distinctively expensive malt, that nonetheless feels very accessible to the palate.
Ian Rankin (Scottish crime fiction)- Benromach 10 year old
There are spices in this Speyside malt, that give this deceptively gentle malt a hidden kick.
Robin Hobb (Epic fantasy) - Starward
A stiff nose but a smooth finish seems to somehow mimic her ever-growing sets of series.
Oliver Sacks (Scientific non-fiction) - Blantons, Original Private Reserve Single Barrel
Fantastically complex but beautifully flavoured and smooth, Blantons has a gentle finish.
Lee Child (Thriller) - Ardbeg 10 year old
A smack in the face and a hit at the back of the throat announces the peaty-ness of this whiskey.
If anyone’s got any requests for author and whiskey pairings shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.