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Book Review: Just Life

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction by Jacki Skole0 Comments

When I read a New York Times story about a New York City neighborhood grappling with a rare animal-borne disease that killed one resident and left at least two others seriously ill, it was, for me, a tragic case of life imitating art. You see, I’d recently finished Neil Abramson’s Just Life, a fast-paced fictional tale in which a mysterious and deadly zoonotic disease is spreading through a neighborhood on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In the Times’ story, medical officials concluded the disease—leptospirosis—was being spread by rats. In the novel, Abramson challenges readers by asking this: What if an animal-borne …

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Book Review: The Dog Merchants

In Book Reviews, Nonfiction by Jacki Skole0 Comments

Most dog lovers consider their canines loyal companions, best friends, or beloved family members. (Count me in that last category.) The American legal system considers them property. Journalist Kim Kavin, in her new book, The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and Rescuers, suggests that we view dogs in a more provocative way—as products, not unlike the chicken and steak, veal and pork, that line “that big case of meat in the supermarket.” After all, she tells readers, some thirty million dogs are bought and sold each year, in what is estimated to be an $11 billion-a-year …

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Holy Mōlī: Albatross and Other Ancestors

In Animal Behavior, Birds, Book Reviews, Conservation, Endangered Species, Nonfiction, Oceans by John Yunker0 Comments

The Laysan albatross is known as Mōlī in Hawaiian. It is difficult not to speak in superlatives when describing the albatross. The bird has a wingspan longer than most humans are tall. Albatross far outlive most other birds — with one active albatross now 64 years old. They spend most of their lives  at sea, gliding just a few inches above the waves. Only 5% of their lives are spent on land — and this is where they are particularly vulnerable, when they are breeding and caring for their chicks. Author Hob Osterlund is founder of the Kaua’i Albatross Network an organization that works to protect these birds. And through her writing you …

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Book Review: Landfill Dogs

In Book Reviews by Jacki Skole1 Comment

In Landfill Dogs, photographer Shannon Johnstone pays homage to shelter dogs with images that capture their indelible spirit, but also the tenuousness of their existence. Johnstone awoke to the twin issues of shelter overpopulation and euthanasia several years ago when she began volunteering at her local animal shelter, North Carolina’s Wake County Animal Center. The shelter is open admission. It gets overcrowded. And like many overcrowded shelters throughout the country, it sometimes euthanizes for space. It’s a situation, she writes, that so many of us “know exists but try not to think about.” Challenging herself to “make visual this hidden …

Film Review: Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

In Animal Rights, Climate Change, Conservation, Education, Endangered Species, Oceans, Organic Farming, Pollution, Trees, Veganism by Midge Raymond0 Comments

Okay, so this isn’t a book review — but it’s such an important documentary that I wanted to review it here on EcoLit Books. (The book connection: As you watch the film, you’ll learn about a few books to add to your reading list, including Comfortably Unaware and The World Peace Diet.) Cowspiracy (which is currently still available for its special Earth Day price of $1) covers the impact of animal agriculture on the planet — it’s the number-one contributor to human-induced climate change and affects everything from the rainforests to the oceans — and why some of the biggest environmental organizations never talk about …

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Book Review: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

In Book Reviews, Children's Books, Pollution by Mindy Mejia2 Comments

In a quiet part of town where the houses stand close and evening stretches long the shade of the garden hose and the baby falls asleep clutching her teddy bear’s toes . . . it’s time to read my son The Lorax. We’ve read this book for almost a month to the day and our ritual always begins the same way, snuggling on top of my bed, he tilts up his tow head and asks, “Why the Lorax is lifted away?” We pretend not to know why the Lorax will leave and we crack the book and start the nightly …

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Book Review: The Secret World of Red Wolves: The Fight To Save North America’s Other Wolf

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Endangered Species, Nonfiction by Beckie Elgin0 Comments

Considered functionally extinct in 1980, the much-misunderstood red wolf (Canis rufus) has made a tenuous but promising comeback. In The Secret World of Red Wolves, T. Delene Beeland relates the fascinating saga of the red wolf. In researching her book, Beeland followed Fish and Wildlife biologists into the field, crawling through blackberry thorns and dense stands of myrtle while swatting at mosquitoes and gnats in the hot, humid environment of North Carolina’s Albemarle Peninsula. Her interest and firsthand involvement in the project makes The Secret World of Red Wolves the wonderful book that it is. Beeland’s presence is on every …

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Q&A with Mindy Mejia, author of The Dragon Keeper

In Animal Rights, Endangered Species, Q&A by Midge Raymond0 Comments

Q&A with Mindy Mejia, author of The Dragon Keeper Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Dragon Keeper, and how long did it take you to write it? Did you have a special routine or place in which you wrote?  A: I was on a business trip in London in December of 2006 when I read an article in the paper about a Komodo dragon reproducing via parthenogenesis at the Chester Zoo. Since it was so close to Christmas, the article made a lot of overt comparisons to the Virgin Mary, and the tone of the entire piece was …