dedicated dog lover will wonder what propels a successful
careerist to give up her globe-trotting, corridors-of-power ways
for a life among other people’s animals.
Felines turn up in Lyons Press’s The Good Luck Cat: How a Cat
Saved a Family, and a Family Saved a Cat by Lissa Warren, and in
Crown Archetype’s A Letter to My Cat: Notes to Our Best Friends
by Lisa Erspamer (both Oct.). Unlike Grumpy Cat, the cat in
Warren’s memoir has all the healing and enriching powers of
Brottman and Riley’s stellar pooches. In Erspamer’s compendium, celebrities trumpet their love for cats in the vein of 2012’s
A Letter to My Dog (Chronicle), which Erspamer created with Kimi
Culp and Robin Layton, and which has sold close to 19,000 hardcover copies, according to outlets tracked by Nielsen BookScan.
For readers with a more exotic taste in pets, Ashland Creek is
releasing a novel about a cockatoo that’s in love with its human
owner: Love and Ordinary Creatures by Gwyn Hyman Rubio (Oct.),
author of the 2001 Oprah’s Book Club pick
Icy Sparks. Ballantine has another novel,
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (Oct.), the story of a
daughter’s search for a mother while studying
grief in elephants; and for equinophiles,
Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me
the Meaning of Compassion by Jon Katz.
“We’ve had a nice long history here with
books that have animal elements,” says
Ballantine senior v-p Jennifer Hershey.
“Animals in fiction and nonfiction externalize
the internal landscape, and amplify and
illuminate our human interactions.” And
although Hershey says she wouldn’t turn
away a good dog or cat story, she expects
more to come in the way of less-usual animals; the house has just acquired a title
about monarch butterflies by Dan Fagin,
Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Toms River.
Several new books illuminate
the ways in which people and
animals relate to one another
BY LELA NARGI
We’re really good at talking about material things but we’re really bad at talking about emotion,” said David Brooks, op- ed columnist for the New York Times, in a 2011 TED Talk. As we become ever more
enamored of the electronic gizmos that can shield us from human interaction, this notion may help explain the ongoing
phenomenon of Grumpy Cat—a sardonic Internet meme
turned misanthropic advice giver ( The Grumpy Guide to Life,
from Chronicle, hit bookstores in August)—and the slew of
upcoming releases in which animals give voice to our feelings,
featuring dogs that reveal their owners’ minds, cats that can turn
despair into hope, grieving elephants, bodhisattva donkeys, and
cockatoos in love.
HarperCollins’s The Great Grisby (Oct.) puts an academic spin
on this void filling. Written by Oxford-educated psychoanalyst
Mikita Brottman, it explores the bond between dogs and
notable masters from arts, letters, and history (Picasso, Thomas
Hardy, Prince Albert). It also delves into the author’s relationship with her French bulldog and sports a blurb from animal
science doctor Temple Grandin, author (with Catherine Johnson) of Animals Make Us Human.
In a similar if less lofty vein, Secrets of a Pet Nanny by diplo-
mat-turned-dog-sitter Eileen Riley (Elliot & Thompson, Nov.)
mixes memoir with an exploration of her clients’ devotion to
their canine companions. The book has a sly hook: even a
Pets and Animals
Books for Fall 2014