Ep. 3. It's A Zoo Out There: Books about animals

Humans have classified, eaten, domesticated, studied, healed...animals probably since...ever. It is not surprising, then, that humans have also written books about animals. The list below is just a minute sample from all the bibliography that exist about animals, but it is a good point to get you inspired.

Photo by Anna Shvets

Many kids want to be vets and work at the zoo when they grow up. But maybe the stories related by Lucy Superman in this book are not what they, or anybody really, have in mind when they think of the job description for a zoo vet. The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes has something for animal lovers or just lovers of a good story. Since we would not like to spoil any of the stories, here is our Six-Words Book Review: Exotic remedies for exotic zoo dwellers. You can give us your review for this book in six words in our page.

Dewey Readmore Books was the complete name of the cat who lived at Spencer Public Library in Iowa for 19 years. He was found in the returned books slot one cold morning by the author of this book, who was the library director at the time. Dewey was adopted into the library family and became a very popular staff member. 

Today, if you find yourself in Spencer, Iowa, you can take a tour and remember Dewey at the public library.
Bestiaries were popular in the Middle Ages as an illustrated collection of animals, sometimes including fantastical ones. For readers today, Henderson gives us a zoo in bound format of real animals, organized from A to Z, which proves that reality can be stranger than fiction. Wait until you read about mystaceous, or xenophyphores, or iridogorgia, or even the entry for us humans!

If you would like to start a bestiary of household items, you can purchase a pair of dog balloon book ends from Uncommon Goods, or a magic narwhal coffee mug from Streamline, or Nessie (a mini Loch Ness monster) to mark your pages from OTOTO.

Dog balloon book ends (left), magic narwhal coffee mug (center), Nessie bookmark (right)

These two are the pugilists in one of the two Book vs. Book features this week. Both books explore bird behavior. Ackerman, a recognized nature writer, focus on their intelligence; while Stryker, an ornithologist, writer, and photographer, focuses on the similarities between bird and human behavior.

The second battle this week is for two books describing instances of stealing and smuggling of animals. Smith tells the story of the rivalry between a dealer of exotic reptiles and a reptile breeder spanning over 50 years and involving illegal trading and federal investigations. Voigt tells us of how the Asian Arowana, or dragon fish, became so coveted and of the crimes and adventures behind its acquisition. Tell us which one you like the best at Book vs. Book.

Kurlansky tells us in this book how cods have influenced people's diet,  have been the cause of wars, and have shaped economies. The book also includes recipes for preparing the fish. A soup from the Middle Ages called Not the Eyes: Fisherman's Cod-Head Chowder specifies the eyes to be removed before adding the heads with some potatoes and water to previously sautéed salt pork and onions.

Read this book and realize that New York City's nickname should have been the Big Oyster instead of the Big Apple. Oysters played a predominant part in New York's earlier history as a budding metropolis.  
Inspired by New York City, we found a recipe for Grand Central Oyster Stew from Epicurus.com replicating the famous stew served at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. If you think some of the ingredients  may be hard to find, like oyster liqueur and clam juice, maybe you can visit the Oyster Bar in New York City.

Rats! As hard as it is to believe, the special cover featured for this topic in our Cover Gallery has the figure of a rat in it. The clever design shows us a map of the Manhattan peninsula in the shape of a big rat. See for yourself.
2005 Paperback edition by Bloomsbury
If you are feeling geeky, read The Gecko's Foot. This book, relating the inspiration for products like velcro or self-cleaning surfaces from the natural world, is great bibliotherapy for geeky moods. 

This week, we want to know if you can guess the title of a memoir where the narrator is an animal. Read the first line and give us your best guess at GuessWork.

We are sure you know of more books featuring animals. Let us know in the comments, we would love to know about them.

To buy books covered in this episode, visit our TBR Bundles 


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