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It would not be unreasonable to say that two of the things I love the most in the world are dogs and books. So in honor of National Pet Day (last week, and let’s be honest, in my world every day is National Pet Day–-this is really just an excuse to talk about audiobooks featuring animals and/or beloved pets), we’ve got audiobooks for animal lovers!
A very kind reader of this newsletter informed me that audiobooks on vinyl are still a thing! Here’s what she says, “a quick note on audiobooks on vinyl: They’re back. Have been for awhile. I was working at B&N a couple of years ago and we had Yes, Please by Amy Poehler on vinyl, and HarperAudio is releasing a series of audiobooks on vinyl starting this month.”
HOW COOL IS THAT?! Now, I just need a record player. And some vinyl audiobooks.
And now, animal lovers, here are some audiobooks to warm your heart. Some of these are from fellow Rioters, otherwise, anything in quotes is from the publisher.
The following suggestions are from Rioter Kate Scott:
Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin & Catherine Johnson; narrated by Andrea Gallo
This book offers a new perspective on animal behavior and emotion. Temple Grandin is autistic, which gives her unique insight into the animal mind. She argues that there are astonishing similarities between how animal and autistic brains work–that both are hyper-specific and incredibly sensitive to detail. This fascinating book will change the way you think about animals and autism.
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal; narrated by Sean Runnette
This exciting new book explores the current science of animal cognition and challenges many of the assumptions humans have about “lower” life forms. The genius of animals has long been underestimated, but this book seeks to set the record straight, marveling at the ways in which animals have adapted to their natural environments and the humans that too frequently invade their homes.
H is for Hawk written and read by Helen MacDonald
“When Helen MacDonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer captivated by hawks since childhood, she’d never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators: the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral anger mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T. H. White’s chronicle The Goshawk to begin her journey into Mabel’s world. Projecting herself “in the hawk’s wild mind to tame her” tested the limits of MacDonald’s humanity.”
The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide; narrated by David Shih
“A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo; they work at home, freelance copy-editing; they no longer have very much to say to one another. But one day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. It leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. Soon they are buying treats for the cat and enjoying talks about the animal and all its little ways. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife-the days have more light and color. The novel brims with new small joys and many moments of staggering poetic beauty, but then something happens . . .”
Rioter Heather Bottoms has a delightful list of animal-related books here and I nabbed a few that had excellent-sounding audiobooks.
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel; narrated by Vikas Adam
A sixteen-year-old boy survives a deadly shipwreck only to find himself sharing a single lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. This remarkable pairing of man and beast inspires a tale that is insanely imaginative, deeply moving, and surprisingly plausible. Martel pulls off one of the most compelling feats of storytelling I’ve ever come across. There are grand moments of danger balanced by introspective ponderings on philosophy and faith. Then he tops it off with an ending so mind-bending, you’ll be ready to read it all over again.
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan; narrated by Sartaj Garewal
Two surprising things happen on Inspector Ashwin Chopra’s last day of work for the Mumbai Police force. First, he gets a letter informing him that he has inherited a baby elephant. ––Katie’s rudely inserted commentary: I would like a baby elephant, please and thank you–Then he stumbles onto evidence of a mysterious murder that will launch his post-retirement career. The adorable elephant is an unforeseen help in his secret investigation, and it is delightful to see how the two begin to bond. If you love a good cozy mystery, definitely check out this first book in Khan’s Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation series.
And now, picks from yours truly.
Pack of Two by Caroline Knapp; narrated by Hillary Swank
As you may be aware, I absolutely adore the work of the late Caroline Knapp and this book is no exception. With her characteristically evocative prose, Knapp describes how she came to understand and appreciate the intimacy between dog and human. I read the print version of this book years ago and a few months ago, I was messing around on Audible (probably wishing more credits would magically appear in my account) and I noticed that Hillary Swank narrates the audiobook. She is a delightful narrator. I actually can’t listen to this audiobook on my commute because it makes me miss my dog so much, but that may be my own issue.
Through A Dog’s Eyes written and read by Jennifer Arnold
I listened to this audiobook years ago and I still talk about it constantly. I’ve read a number of books about how dogs’ brains work, what they’re thinking, etc. (I’m sure you’re all shocked by that information) and this is the one that sticks with me the most. Arnold trains service dogs, so she often has to teach them very specific things (for example, how to turn on and off a light switch) and she has so many incredible stories. And in telling those stories, you learn about how dogs think, what they respond to, why they’re motivated by, etc. If you’re a dog lover, I can’t recommend this one enough.
Until next week,