Talk Back: Hitting the Books

By on January 8, 2010 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Just before the holidays I posted a collection of some of the books I most enjoyed in 2009, along with a few I look forward to reading soon. I asked for reader recommendations as well and you didn’t disappoint—below I share your suggestions. But while the body of literature and research on animal issues is ever-growing, there are still only a handful of academic programs that incorporate animal protection concerns, and give individuals an opportunity for study in this domain. As I reported last month, Humane Society University became the first higher education institution exclusively devoted to providing academic curriculum in animal protection studies, with bachelor degrees and graduate certificates in humane leadership, animal studies, and animal policy and advocacy. Many readers were excited about this development:

This is a wonderful idea! What a great way for more people to become animal advocates. —Misty Hay

I think this university program is a brilliant idea! What better way to help animals in need than educating people on the facts, prevention, how to help during and after disasters, etc. Knowledge is power and ignorance is not bliss! I will enroll for classes for next semester! Thank you and HSUS for making this happen! —Cordelia Jones, U.S. Virgin Islands

How wonderful and exciting! I am very interested and will be contacting HSU soon. I have a pre-med undergraduate degree in psychology. I am currently working on my MBA with the hopes of starting my own vegan ranch style bed and breakfast. I have often wondered: when did farming go from animal husbandry to animal science? There is a lot to be done. Thank you for this great opportunity. —MA Moore

And your feedback on my 2009 bookshelf favorites:

Thank you for this column! Book suggestions are helpful and I would look forward to this topic on as regular basis as can be had. There are SO many good books on animal welfare issues that we might not be aware of, and any means to make us aware is greatly appreciated. —Peter Hood

Suggestion: "Animals Make Us Human" by Temple Grandin. —Amanda Groff

Lynn Reardon's “Beyond the Homestretch.” —Molly Kitch

How about Rev. [Andrew] Linzey’s new book [“Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics”]. —Cynthia Kucera

Don't forget “The Kind Diet” by Alicia Silverstone! —Erin Gaines

Excellent list. It includes a couple of titles I had never heard of and will definitely look into. One other book that I would have included is Jane Goodall's new book about endangered species and the various projects that seek to save various individual species and bring them back from the brink of extinction. (It's called "Hope for Animals and Their World.") I found it unusual in that its point of view is one of hope and optimism. And it points the way to a refreshing "humane-ity." Whether we listen or not is up to us. Thanks for the suggestions! —B. Hotchkiss

Ohhhh man… You asked for it! I whittled it down to the four most important books that maybe you hadn't read yet? “Tiger Bone and Rhino Horn” by Richard Ellis about traditional Chinese medicine and its effects on the depletion of tiger, rhino, and bear populations; “Rattling the Cage" and "Drawing the Line” by Steven M. Wise: about the case for legal rights for animals; “Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees” by Roger Fouts: I found this one of the most poignant stories I've ever read about chimps and sign language and Roger's quest to save Washoe from the labs; and “Eating Apes” by Dale Peterson—number one! Really talks in detail about the bushmeat trade. I feel like this is one area of animal protection that often gets waylaid in light of being culturally sensitive. Other ones to consider about animal cognition: “The Parrot's Lament,” “Alex & Me,” and “Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins.” Also anything by Frans de Waal. I hope maybe you haven't heard of at least a few of those. I want to thank you for your recommendations too. I read and enjoyed a lot of the books you recommended this year including “Thanking the Monkey,” “Farm Sanctuary,” and “Nim Chimpsky.” —Sara N.

Thanks so much for these book recommendations. The Olmert and Siebert books are at the top of my reading list. Here's another great animal book from 2009 that you might mention if you do a follow up to this entry: Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce, “Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals.” Thanks for your blog and all you do! —Cathy Becker, Columbus, Ohio

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