Wednesday, 17 December 2008

105. Harrison Weir - Our Cats and All About Them

I was very excited to find a copy of this book which was originally published in the 1800s. Weir is credited with moving the domestic cat's social status from 'necessary hunter' to 'beloved pet.' He organised the very first cat show (at Crystal Palace) and wrote this book as a means to help people enjoy and understand the species. Although some of the language used is difficult to read at first (think Dickens), I enjoyed this book. There's a lot of detail about what makes a good show cat and, I must confess, I did skip some of the detail as my interest isn't in showing. The rest of the book is made up of sections of varying size and covering such diverse topics as 'Cats Take Note of Time' and 'The Wild Cat of Britain'. I found it fascinating to note where Weir's thoughts match (or differ from) modern knowledge of cats.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

104. Elizabeth Martyn & David Taylor - The Little Book of Cat Behaviour

This is a beautifully illustrated little book, full of tasty bites of information.

Monday, 15 December 2008

103. Bob Briner - Roaring Lambs

What an interesting book. I don't remember why I acquired this book but I'm glad I did. Generally, when I book comes into this house, it's registered on BookCrossing and put in a box or on a shelf until it works its way to the top of Mt To Be Read. Then I pick it up and read it without reviewing the marketing blurb on the back cover. I think that books should stand on their own merits and quite like the adventure of not knowing what I'm reading when I set out on my journey through the pages. I followed this pattern with Roaring Lambs and, from the title, was rather expecting an exhortation to lead a traditional and fundamentalist Christian life in the manner of, say, Elizabeth George. In fact, this book is quite different.

Briner takes a broad look at culture - literature, visual arts, television, films - and asks 'Where are the Christians?' He suggests that, instead of complaining and boycotting what we find objectionable, we should be praising the good and creating more that is good in these fields. He says that it isn't enough to write Christian books for Christian readers - this is, after all, a classic case of preaching to the choir - but Christians should be using the popular culture to bring the Gospel message to those who'd never darken the door of a Church or Christian bookstore.

The book is a very easy read - it's taken me only a few hours - and I am surprised at having enjoyed it and taken on board some of the ideas. I wasn't in the mood for a fundamentalist lecture and I'm glad not to have found one.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

102. Laura Ingalls Wilder - Little Town on the Prairie

Laura does a lot of growing up in this book - she's pinning up her hair, wearing hoopskirts and Almanzo is walking her home from Church. When I was growing up, this was one of my favourite books in the series and I'm pleased to say that it still is. Laura writes so honestly and simply of events big and small that I don't want me re-reading of the series to end.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

101. Frank Delaney - Ireland

This isn't the book I thought it was. Fortunately, by the time I'd worked that out I was well and truly hooked and read happily right through to the end.

Delaney is telling two ... or three, or four? ... stories in this book. First is the story of Ireland from prehistoric times right up to the 1960s. Then there's the story of the young boy we meet in the opening pages. Ronan is only nine when a Storyteller visits his family home. He is spellbound by the old gentleman and his tales and devotes a great piece of his life to finding him again. To say more about the plot would be to tell secrets so I shall leave it there.

Delaney's writing is engaging and knowledgeable. The characters are painted in broad brushstrokes and there are so many stories within the stories he tells that it might have all become a shade too complicated. Thankfully, Delaney is skillful enough to pull it off and I never had that nasty feeling of being all at sea. Highly recommended.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

100. Laura Ingalls Wilder - The Long Winter

I'm delighted to be finishing off 'Read 100 books in 2008' with this well-loved book. Laura is growing up and becoming more aware of events outside of her own home, even though she's frightened of living in town at first. She makes new friends and tells of their adventures, most notably Almanzo's. The Ingalls family face very real dangers in this book and Laura is honest about how hard the winter was for them. Despite the hardships this is still a warm and loving account and very readable.

99. Pam Johnson-Bennett - Cat vs Cat

I have rather grave misgivings about some of the advice in this book. The author is a strong advocate of keeping cats exclusively indoors. She feels that the outside world is too dangerous for them and that allowing them out may cause redirected aggression within the home. I, on the other hand, am in favour of cats leading as natural a life as possible and that, I'm afraid, means braving the great outdoors. That said, this is still a useful guide for anyone in a multi-cat household or who has chosen to keep their cat(s) exclusively indoors. The author suggests great use of interactive play sessions and offers some good advice on feline relationships. That said, some of her advice does sound wrong to me - for example, if a cat is upset by something outside then one should cover the windows! - and likely to create a neurotic rather than a happy, confident cat.

Friday, 5 December 2008

98. Eliabeth Marshall Thomas - The Tribe of Tiger

I found this a fascinating look at the social and predatory behaviour of cats large and small across a variety of situations. The author has spent a considerable amount of time in Africa where she observed lions and their interaction with the native bushmen and I found her account of these wild animals fascinating. She also looks at captive tigers and comes to the conclusion that circus animals are actually better off than their zoo-bound counterparts. Pumas are also covered as are the humble house-cats. I read this book as part of my studies but would happily read it again for pleasure.

97. Leslie Parrott - You Matter More Than You Think

Although this is a very readable book with some interesting ideas, I didn't find myself drawn to the author although I'm sure she intended that I should be. I am left thinking that I am not a typical woman, according to her description, and that's a very unsettling feeling.

96. Debbie Macomber - Changing Habits

I’m very interested in Catholicism so I was intrigued by this, my first Debbie Macomber. She tells the story of three women who become nuns and friends. She tracks their history from childhood, looking at why they became nuns, what that life was like and why they left their Order after Vatican II. There are some big issues addressed – homesexuality, abortion, alcoholism – and I think the book was well researched. Although Ms Macomber fell into the trap of telling rather than showing a few times, I enjoyed this book and will look forward to reading more of her work.