Shelf Awareness for Thursday, November 16, 2017

Overlook Press: Bad Men by Julie Mae Cohen

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Akaschic Books, Ltd: Go the Fuck to Sleep Series by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortés

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta


National Book Award Winners

NBA winners Benway, Gessen, Ward, Bidert

The winners of the National Book Awards, presented last night in New York, are:

Young People's Literature: Far from the Tree by Robin Benway (HarperTeen).
Benway said, in part, "Teenagers are the toughest audience because they need to hear the truth more than anybody, especially in days like today. Writing for them has been the absolute biggest honor of my life, and every time I see this award and I think of this magical night, I will remember how important it is to do my job well and effectively and in honor of them."

Poetry: Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 by Frank Bidart (FSG).
Bidart said, in part, "Writing the poems was how I survived. You might well ask is it really a question of survival? My sense is that all human beings alive have the most enormous schisms in their experience, terrifying schisms within our feelings and within what we discover the world to be. One premise of art is that anything personal seen deeply enough becomes general, becomes impersonal. I hope that the journeys these poems go on will help others to survive as well."

Nonfiction: The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen (Riverhead).
"It has been such an honor to be on the longlist and the shortlist," Gessen said. "I never thought a Russia book could actually be longlisted or shortlisted for the National Book Award, but, of course, things have changed."

Fiction: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner).
"Throughout my career when I've been rejected, there was sometimes subtext, and it was this: 'People will not read your work because these are not universal stories.' I don't know if some doorkeepers felt this way because I wrote about poor people or because I wrote about black people or because I wrote about Southerners. As my career progressed and I got some affirmations, I still encountered that mindset every now and again. I still find myself having uncomfortable conversations with reluctant readers who initially didn't want to read my work because they said, 'What do I have in common with a pregnant 15-year-old?' They said, 'Why should I read about a 13-year-old poor black boy or his neglectful drug-addicted mother? What do they have to say to me?'

"And you, my fellow writers and editors and publishing people and National Book Foundation folks who read my work, you answered plainly. You looked at me and the people I love and write about. You looked at my poor, my black, my Southern children, women and men, and you saw yourself. You saw your grief, your love, your losses, your regrets, your joy, your hope, and I am deeply grateful to each and every one of you who reads my work and finds something that sings to you, that moves you in it. I hope to continue this conversation with you for all of our days."

Ward, who also won the National Book Award for fiction in 2011 for Salvage the Bones, thanked, among many others, her "home-state booksellers"--Mississippi's Pass Christian Books, Square Books, Lemuria and Turnrow--and "all of the independent bookstores and not so independents like Amazon and Barnes & Noble that helped my words find readers."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

National Book Awards: Annie Proulx and the Happy Ending

In her acceptance speech for the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the National Book Awards last night, author Annie Proulx said:

Annie Proulx

We don't live in the best of all possible worlds. This is a Kafkaesque time. The television sparkles with images of despicable political louts, sexual harassment reports. We cannot look away from the pictures of furious elements, hurricanes and fires, from the repetitive crowd murders by gunmen burning with rage. We are made more anxious by flickering threats of nuclear war. We observe social media's manipulation of a credulous population, a population dividing into bitter tribal cultures. We are living through a massive shift from representative democracy to something called viral direct democracy, now cascading over us in a garbage-laden tsunami of raw data.

Everything is situational, see-sawing between gut-response likes or vicious confrontations. For some, this is a heady time of brilliant technological innovation that is bringing us into an exciting new world. For others, it is the opening of a savagely difficult book without a happy ending.

To me, the most distressing circumstance of the new order is the accelerated destruction of the natural world and the dreadful belief that only the human species has the inalienable right to life and god-given permission to take anything it wants from nature, whether mountaintops, wetlands, or oil. The ferocious business of stripping the earth of its flora and fauna, of drowning the land and pesticides again may have brought us to a place where no technology can save us.

I personally have found an amelioration in becoming involved in citizen science projects. This is something everyone can do. Every state has marvelous projects of all kinds, from working with fish, with plants, with animals, with landscapes, with shore erosion, with water situations. Yet somehow, the old discredited values and longings persist. We still have tender feelings for such outmoded notions as truth, respect for others, personal honor, justice, equitable sharing. We still hope for a happy ending. We still believe that we can save ourselves and our damaged earth, an indescribably difficult task as we discover that the web of life is far more mysteriously complex than we thought and subtly entangled with factors we cannot even recognize.

But we keep on trying. Because there's nothing else to do. The happy ending still beckons, and it is in hope of grasping it that we go on. The poet Wisława Szymborska caught the writer's dilemma of choosing between hard realities and the longing for the happy ending. She called it consolation.

Darwin. They say he read novels to relax, but only certain kinds, nothing that ended unhappily. If he happened on something like that, enraged he flung the book into the fire. True or not, I'm ready to believe it. Scanning in his mind so many times and places, he's had enough of dying species, the triumphs of the strong over the weak, the endless struggles to survive, all doomed sooner or later. He'd earned the right to have the happy ending at least in fiction, with its microscales. Hence, the indispensable silver lining, the lovers reunited, the families reconciled, the doubts dispelled, fidelity rewarded, fortunes regained, treasures uncovered, stiff-necked neighbors mending their ways, good names restored, grief daunted, old maids married off to worthy parsons, troublemakers banished to other hemispheres, forgers of documents tossed down the stairs, seducers going to the altar, orphans sheltered, widows comforted, pride humbled, wounds healed, prodigal sons summoned home, cups of sorrow tossed into the ocean, hankies drenched with tears of reconciliation, general merriment and celebration, and the dog Fido gone astray in the first chapter turns up barking gladly in the last.

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Bookstore Sales Down 6.5% in September

September bookstore sales fell 6.5%, to $1.01 billion, compared to September 2016, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. This marks the third down month after a four-month streak in which bookstore sales rose every month. For the first nine months of the year, bookstore sales are $8.4 billion, down 2.8% compared to the same period in 2016.

The ABA noted that for independent stores reporting to its weekly bestsellers lists, sales are up slightly more than 2% for the year to date.

Total retail sales in September rose 4.5%, to $470.4 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 3.9%, to $4,215 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Books Kinokuniya Closing Costa Mesa, Calif., Store

The Books Kinokuniya store in the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Costa Mesa, Calif., is closing permanently at the end of the year, and in February, in a different part of the Marketplace, the company will open a Mai Do Fine Stationery and Gifts store, which specializes in stationery and gifts and offers a limited selection of books and magazines.

Mai Do has some freestanding stores in the U.S. as well as large sections in some Books Kinokuniya stores in the U.S.

Besides the Costa Mesa store, Books Kinokuniya has 11 other stores in the U.S., about half of which are in Mitsuwa Marketplaces. In the last year, it has opened two stores in Texas, in Plano and Carrollton, and recently confirmed that it will open another next year in Austin.

English-Language Bookstore to Open in Rome

Europa Editions in New York; its Italian parent company, Edizioni E/O; and Italian indie bookstore Altroquando are joining together to open Otherwise, an English-language bookstore in the center of Rome. Otherwise will open on Tuesday, November 21, and have an inaugural celebration party on Thursday, November 30.

Otherwise said it's inspired by "the best of the American independent bookstores and the dynamic and vital role they play in U.S. cultural life." It will offer North American editions of fiction, nonfiction, literary journals, and other periodicals as well as aim to be "a center for cultural events and a meeting place for the English-speaking community in Rome and for visitors to the city." The store will have about 860 square feet of space and will stock 5,000-10,000 titles.

Among scheduled events are a December 7 reception during the Più Libri Più Liberi festival that is being organized with the publishing houses Sur and E/O as well as a late January conversation with Ann Goldstein, English translator of Elena Ferrante and former editor at the New Yorker.

Otherwise is located at Via del Governo Vecchio 80, on Piazza di Pasquino (near Piazza Navona).

Obituary Note: Parker Ladd

Longtime publisher, book and author promoter and literacy advocate Parker Ladd died on Tuesday. He was 89.

Ladd worked for many years as an executive at Charles Scribner's Sons and was a director of the Association of American Publishers. After retiring, he had a busy second career: he was a producer for the A&E show Open Book, which featured author interviews; ran a popular book & author breakfast program in Palm Beach, Fla.; held author events to aid charities; regularly hosted the annual National Association of College Store convention book & author breakfasts; and with his husband, the late Arnold Scaasi, and Liz Smith, who died four days ago, founded Literacy Partners. Donations may be made to the Scassi-Ladd Book Fund at Literacy Partners.


Tulsa's Magic City Books to Open on Monday

Congratulations to Magic City Books, Tulsa, Okla., which opens on Monday, November 20. To celebrate, the store is hosting a "Book Bash with Emma Roberts" on Sunday evening, December 10. "Actress and book lover" Roberts will appear with her Belletrist Book Club and "a surprise guest author." The event will also feature "live music, conversation, a cash bar, and of course, BOOKS!" The $50 ticket includes a book.

Magic City Books is owned by the Tulsa Literary Coalition and specializes in literary and popular fiction and narrative nonfiction for adults and sections for children and teens. The store also has a café that serves, among other things, beer and wine. Magic City Books is home for BookSmart Tulsa, a Tulsa Literary Coalition program that has hosted author events around the city for the past 10 years.

Five Recommended Gay Bookstores Around the World

Passport magazine surveys gay bookstores around the world, noting that "though diminished in number because of big box stores, Amazon, and assimilation into the mainstream, a handful of queer bookstores continue to do what they do best: offer up great gay literature and provide spaces for queer people to meet, mingle, and even crochet. Innovation and reinvention for a new era are hallmarks for these flaming phoenixes, aiming to thrive, not just survive, while maintaining the quirky edge that sets them apart from traditional literary outlets."

The story profiles Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni's Room, Philadelphia, Pa.; Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto; Gingin Books in Taipei, Taiwan; the Bookshop Darlinghurst in Darlinghurst, Australia; and Voces en Tinta in Mexico City.

Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster Children's Books

Keri Horan has been promoted to senior marketing manager at Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. She was formerly marketing manager.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Timothy Ferriss on Dr. Oz

NPR's Science Friday: Andy Weir, author of Artemis (Crown, $27, 9780553448122).

Access Hollywood: Carl Lentz, author of Own the Moment (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781501177002).

NPR's the Pulse: A.J. Jacobs, author of It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World's Family Tree (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781476734491).

Steve Harvey: Tyler Perry, author of Higher Is Waiting (Spiegel & Grau, $26, 9780812989342).

Dr. Oz: Timothy Ferriss, author of Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9781328994967).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Miami Book Fair

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, November 18
10:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Live coverage of the Miami Book Fair, at Miami Dade College in Miami, Fla. (Re-airs Saturday at 9 p.m.). Highlights include:

  • 10:30 a.m. Chris Matthews, author of Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781501111860).
  • 11:15 a.m. Larry Pressler, author of Neighbors in Arms: An American Senator's Quest for Disarmament in a Nuclear Subcontinent (Penguin/Viking, $29, 9780670089314).
  • 11:30 a.m. Norman Ornstein, co-author of One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250164056).
  • 12:45 p.m. Helen Thorpe, author of The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom (Scribner, $28, 9781501159091).
  • 1 p.m. Walter Isaacson, author of Leonardo da Vinci (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781501139154).
  • 1:45 p.m. Open phones with Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books and Books bookstore and co-founder of the Miami Book Fair.
  • 2:20 p.m. Open phones with Chris Matthews.
  • 3 p.m. Salman Rushdie, author of The Golden House: A Novel (Random House, $28.99, 9780399592805).
  • 4 p.m. Katy Tur, author of Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History (Dey Street Books, $26.99, 9780062684929).
  • 5 p.m. Khizr Khan, author of An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice (Random House, $27, 9780399592492).
  • 5:45 p.m. Open phones with Katy Tur.

6:30 p.m. C-SPAN's Local Content Vehicles tour historical and literary sites in Burlington, Vt.

7:45 p.m. Scott Adams, author of Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter (Portfolio, $27, 9780735219717).

Sunday, November 19
10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Continuing live coverage from the Miami Book Fair. (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.). Highlights include:

  • 10:30 a.m. Charles J. Sykes, author of How the Right Lost Its Mind (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250147172).
  • 11:15 a.m. Jefferson Morley, author of Ghost, The: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250080615).
  • 11:30 a.m. Van Jones, author of Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together (Ballantine, $27, 9780399180026).
  • 1:15 p.m. Open phones with Charles J. Sykes.
  • 2:10 p.m. Open phones with Sharyl Attkisson, author of The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote (Harper, $27.99, 9780062468161).
  • 3 p.m. Les Standiford, author of The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits (Broadway, $17, 9781524762469).
  • 3:45 p.m. Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race (Basic Books, $18.99, 9780465060689).
  • 4 p.m. Poet Laureates Robert Haas and Charles Simic discuss their literary lives.
  • 5:15 p.m. Edwidge Danticat, author of The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story (Graywolf Press, $14, 9781555977771).
  • 5:30 p.m. Kurt Andersen, author of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (Random House, $30, 9781400067213), and Mark Bowden, author of Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam (Atlantic Monthly Press, $30, 9780802127006).
  • 6:30 p.m. Senator Al Franken, author of Al Franken, Giant of the Senate (Twelve, $28, 9781455540419).

7:30 p.m. Rebecca Costa, author of On the Verge (RosettaBooks, $27.99, 9780795350573).

8 p.m. Coverage of the 68th annual National Book Awards in New York City.

Books & Authors

Awards: Christy; Writers' Trust of Canada; Patrick White Winners

Winners of the Christy Awards, "honoring and promoting excellence in Christian fiction," are:

Book of the Year: Long Way Gone by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson)
Contemporary Romance: Her One and Only by Becky Wade (Bethany House)
First Novel: Stars in the Grass by Ann Marie Stewart (Barbour Publishing)
General Fiction: The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House)
Historical: The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green (Bethany House)
Historical Romance: (two winners)
A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House)
The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof (Mason Jar Books)
Mystery/Suspense/Thriller: When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks (Thomas Nelson)
Short Form: Looking into You by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House)
Visionary: The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James Rubart (Thomas Nelson)
Young Adult: The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson (Thomas Nelson)


Winners have been announced for the 2017 Writers' Trust of Canada awards, "presented for individual works and career achievement, and in recognition of accomplishments in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, short fiction, poetry and literature for young readers."

James Maskalyk was awarded the CA$60,000 (about US$47,000) Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction for Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine; David Chariandy received the CA$50,000 (about US$39,170) Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for Brother; and Sharon Bala took the CA$10,000 (about US$7,835) Writers' Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize for "Butter Tea at Starbucks."

Four authors received awards for their contributions to Canadian literature through a body of work: Louise Bernice Halfe ($25,000 Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize); Diane Schoemperlen ($25,000 Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life);  Billie Livingston ($25,000 Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award); and Ruby Slipperjack ($25,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People).


Tony Birch has won the 2017 Patrick White Literary Award, honoring an author who has "has made an ongoing contribution to Australian literature, but who may not have received due recognition." Established by Patrick White with the proceeds of his 1973 Nobel Prize for Literature, the award is worth A$20,000 (about US$15,170).

Birch is the first indigenous writer to win the prize, the Sydney Morning Herald wrote, and is the author of four books of short stories, a book of poetry, and two novels, "the first of which, Blood, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award, and the second, Ghost River, last year won the Victorian Premier's award for Indigenous writing."

He told the paper, "While novelists writing about climate change and ecological issues is important, I think any writer who is writing about the human condition or connections between people and the value of community is contributing to that as well. I suppose my writing is broadly about class, but more essentially about valuing people who might otherwise be regarded as marginalised."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, November 21:

The People vs. Alex Cross by James Patterson (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316273909) is the 23rd Alex Cross thriller (November 20)

Dream Big Dreams: Photographs from Barack Obama's Inspiring and Historic Presidency by Pete Souza (Little, Brown, $21.99, 9780316514392) is a photo book for young readers from the former chief official White House photographer.

Poison: A Novel by Galt Niederhoffer (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250085290) is a domestic drama about a troubled couple.

Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250032898) is a biography of the rock and roll star.

The Effigies: Siege of Shadows by Sarah Raughley (Simon Pulse, $18.99, 9781481466806) is follow-up to Fate of Flames in which the teens search for the origins of the Phantoms.

The Man Who Invented Christmas, based on Les Standiford's book about Charles Dickens and the creation of A Christmas Carol, opens November 24. A movie tie-in edition (Broadway, $17, 9781524762469) is available. (One of the executive producers on the film is Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books in southern Florida and the Cayman Islands and co-owner of the Mazur/Kaplan Company, the production company that brings books to the screen.)

Call Me by Your Name, based on the novel by André Aciman, opens November 24. Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet star as a young gay couple in 1983 Italy. A tie-in edition (Picador, $17, 9781250169440) is available.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

The Last Ballad: A Novel by Wiley Cash (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062313119). "Ella May has never had much of anything. She labors long hours in a textile mill in North Carolina trying to feed her four young children on nine dollars a week. When Ella sings one of her songs at a meeting of workers who are hoping to form a union, she finds herself something of a local celebrity. Written in beautifully evocative prose, this novel about bigotry and labor unrest in the 1930s exerts a powerful impact that pulls the reader into the vortex of the struggle for social justice. It deserves a place of honor in the canon of great Southern literature." --Alden Graves, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt.

Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury, $28, 9781620403211). "Having grown up in Mark Twain country on the Mississippi River, New York City was as foreign to me as Cairo, Egypt. Due to the dumb luck of having a very intelligent and ambitious relative, I was able to go to New York City when I was a very impressionable and enthusiastic 14-year-old. The experience changed my life. Roz Chast's Going Into Town reminds me, in one nostalgic and thoroughly entertaining sitting, of the most endearing aspects of the city. From moments of, 'Wait, is this an entire block of stores that sell ribbons?' to 'Humanity is both supremely lovely and frightening,' Going Into Town is a love letter to New York City for natives, newcomers, and wannabes alike." --Nicole Sullivan, BookBar, Denver, Colo.

The Second Mrs. Hockaday: A Novel by Susan Rivers (Algonquin, $15.95, 9781616207366). "When Major Gryffth Hockaday returns home after years fighting in the Civil War, he discovers that his wife had given birth to a child who later died, both events occurring under mysterious circumstances. Knowing he cannot be the father of the child, he has murder charges brought against his wife. The trial and the story of what happened unfold through letters and diary entries written by Placidia Hockaday and other family members, culminating in a shocking truth. Inspired by actual events, the characters and story that Rivers has created are truly memorable and The Second Mrs. Hockaday is a unique and fascinating read." --Sherri Gallentine, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8
Fort-Building Time by Megan Wagner Lloyd, illustrated by Abigail Halpin (Knopf, $16.99, 9780399556555). "Fort-Building Time is a darling, delightfully fanciful look at the four seasons and the fun kids can have together during them! The fort concept is well-executed and the diverse cast and their varied interests make this book a winner. I've read it with my one-year-old several times, and he loves the bright colors and the detailed art." --Gretchen Treu, A Room of One's Own Bookstore, Madison, Wis.

For Ages 9 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
Sidetracked by Diana Harmon Asher (Amulet, $16.99, 9781419726019). "Sidetracked is the story of two outsiders connecting. Heather and Joseph are complete opposites: she is tall, strong, and an excellent student, while he is puny, has severe attention deficit disorder, and sees every school day as a struggle to survive. Diana Harmon Asher has crafted a highly satisfying underdog story about the power of trying to do your personal best." --Laura Delaney, Rediscovered Books, Boise, Idaho.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis (Harlequin Teen, $18.99, 9780373212446). "In a dystopian future in which almost all words and gestures have been copyrighted and citizens are charged for even the most basic forms of communication, the ultimate act of resistance may be to choose silence. In this richly imagined novel, Katsoulis explores ideas of free speech and the consequences of intellectual property law through characters that are sympathetic, tough, and thoroughly believable. All Rights Reserved is an excellent sci-fi thriller (with some of the best world-building I've seen in ages) with a great sense of humor and a political conscience. For anyone who feels the need for a little bit of revolution in their fiction, this book is just the thing." --Annie Farrell, Labyrinth Books, Princeton, N.J.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Leaving the Wild: The Unnatural History of Dogs, Cats, Cows, and Horses

Leaving the Wild: The Unnatural History of Dogs, Cats, Cows, and Horses by Gavin Ehringer (Pegasus, $27.95 hardcover, 336p., 9781681775562, December 5, 2017)

Gavin Ehringer has been studying animals and writing about them for more than 25 years. He grew up next to a game farm and spent his young adult years working on a ranch; he is also an accomplished dog trainer. In Leaving the Wild, he explores four common animal species--those with which the author is most familiar--expressing his admiration and passion for these beautiful creatures who have given up the wild in order to share their lives with humans. "Understanding how once wild animals came to live in barnyards and under our roofs helps us... to better understand our own place in the world." Are people really living up to their end of the bargain in caring for and protecting these animals? Are humans making proper provisions for the well-being and ethical treatment of animals?

Ehringer examines the history and evolution of each species. He then focuses on their class structures--working, feral, pet, show and industrial animals--and how they have partnered with humans, for better and for worse.

Dogs were the first to trade their wild existence for human companionship. Anchoring his timeline in the Ice Age, and spanning the globe, Ehringer chronicles the domestication of dogs; wolves and foxes not only tolerated humans, but also "sought their attention." He shows how cats, too, have served human purposes throughout the ages. Ancient Egyptians and Cyprians allowed wildcats to incorporate and ingratiate themselves into human life by offering their predatory skills in exchange for food and shelter. The commercial aspects of animals bind the sections on cows and horses--they serve mankind globally via agricultural and dairy farming, as well as the beef and herding industries. For every benefit these animals offer to humans, however, Ehringer points out multi-dimensional downsides and drawbacks: animal exploitation and lack of sustainability, abusive caring practices, unethical over-breeding that forsakes aspects of longevity and health, and the slippery slope of cloning and genetically modifying animal DNA. Often, when money enters the picture, moral and rational decisions are sadly forsaken.

Ehringer (100 Best Ranch Vacations in North America) makes a case that "animals who left the wild made a very good choice. Their value to us has ensured their survival." However, he also believes that "human values shape animals." In some instances, those values can be distorted and accountability can fall by the wayside. Thus, this informative, entertaining narrative raises red flags and outlines causes for concern. Animal devotees will be eager to explore Ehringer's interpretative research that blends a mixture of natural history, human history, personal experience and science. His engrossing study presents ways humans can set and maintain high ethical and moral standards for the breeding and care of our animal partners now and in the future. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A horseman and dog trainer maps the evolution of four species of animals and their partnerships with humans into the modern day. 

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