The October Country

img_2499Date Read: October 19 to December 1, 2019

Rating: 5 (of 5) stars

I read The October Country a few months back as a sort of reward for myself— if you have been following along, you may recall that in October I was challenged to read a book that scares me, and chose the lowest rated book on my to read shelf, which I had been putting off for quite some time. (I wrote about that here, if you’re interested.) I planned on reading this one next, as a sort of carrot for myself: finish the book I was less excited about so that I could move on to one that I was excited to read. Coincidentally, this was also a good fit for the November Unread Shelf challenge, a book from your favorite genre. I have a tough time defining a favorite genre, but I think this was a good fit for that.

This collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury turned out to be that perfect reward. Although it took me longer than I had hoped to finish, it was well worth the time spent. The October Country is introduced as a sort propensity for darkness that exists within us. A place that is not inherently evil, but perhaps a little creepy with the potential for wickedness. Despite an overwhelming sense of spookiness, I would not classify anything in this book as outright horror.

Rather than go for an upfront scare, these stories leave one with a feeling of uneasiness. Many of the endings are at least a tad ambiguous, leaving the level of horror up to the imagination of the reader. Some ease in with some creepiness, but end with a sense of sadness—a man left with a shattered self, an average person born into a family of immortals, a glimmer of hope with a grave consequence.

One story that particularly stood out to me was The Next in Line, which I am positive relates to the fact that I have visited the location of the story in the recent past. I have very clear memories of walking through the cemetery, and looking down the spiral staircase into the crypt. The Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato looks very different now than the room described in the story, but having seen them for myself, the thought of being haunted by the faces encountered there is by no means a stretch of the imagination.

Boris’s thoughts: “It’s always all about the spooky with you, isn’t it? 3 paws.”

Book: The October Country by Ray Bradbury

A Friend for Dragon

img_3067As a kick off to the third year of Books On My Cat, I present to you A Friend for Dragon by Dav Pilkey. This is the first book in the Dragon series of book, which I have written about several times before. Dragon is one of my favorite children’s characters. He is always getting into some sort of misadventure—in this case, Dragon falls for a prank and mistakenly assumes that an apple that has fallen on his head is actually looking to become his friend. Despite the misunderstanding, Dragon finds the apple to be a delightful friend, who is a good listener, has common interests, and shares with his friends.

I admit that this is not my favorite addition to the Dragon collection, but I think it sets a nice tone to the series. We get a good glimpse of his personality, which is then built upon in the later books. Dragon is a little naïve, but is also willing to make the most of any situation with his positive attitude. If everyone else is too busy, why not spend your time hanging out with an apple? Of course, apples do not last forever (especially when you are tricked into thinking you have a special speaking apple, and the culprit of the trick is no longer around to fake an appley voice). Although Dragon is quite distraught at the loss of his friend, he receives a pleasant surprise the summer after laying his friend to rest in the backyard.

Of course, as you may have noticed in the photo, today is also the debut of a friend of Boris: introducing Minka, a sassy little girl that joined our family at the end of December. She was found near where my dad works as a kitten in July; she was alone despite seeming too young to have left her mother. My dad began to care for her, and she moved into the office building. After living there for a few months, and with the weather starting to turn cold, he decided that it was time for her to have a more proper home and asked if Boris needed a friend. I was reluctant, as Boris has always struck me as a lone cat personality, but we decided to give it a try. The two are still getting used to having another cat around, but are starting to warm up to each other a bit. While Boris is still my number one guy, you will start to see a bit more of Minka around here!

Book: A Friend for Dragon by Dav Pilkey

Biggest Apologies

I was so excited about my new plans for Books On My Cat that I got ahead of myself– I started to write content to schedule but just kept writing and never scheduled it!! I had a post ready to go for this week, but alas, it is saved on my laptop at home while I am out of town. My sincerest apologies to readers. I am so disappointed in myself.

So as not to leave you completely without content this week, I will share my current situation, and what I imagine Boris to be doing in my absence:

Welcome Back

As January wraps up, I would like to welcome you back to the new (and hopefully improved) Books On My Cat blog! During my time off, I took the opportunity to organize my thoughts around this blog and what I would like it to be. While my priority will be on sharing the books that I am reading, I hope to be more intentional with how I use the blog and want to give myself some room to breath as well.

Part of my revamp will be a slightly modified post format. Looking back to my previous posts, I realized that I have not always been good about including the full titles and author names for each book. I will correct that with the new format, and am planning to slowly work on ensuring that this information is included in all previous posts as well.

Currently, I have a bit of a backlog of books from the end of last year, which is a perfect place to start. I have looked ahead at the year to plan out some posts, and built in some breaks where I think I will need them. Moving forward, I plan to catch up on reviews, participate in The Unread Shelf Project 2020, and mix in a few extras along the way. My regular posts will still be on Wednesdays, and I will continue to feature a picture book at the beginning of each month. My last post each month to be the book I chose for the Unread Shelf, with a few pre-planned exceptions.

I am working on a few ideas for “bonus” posts— bookish content, but not necessarily book reviews. Even when planning some weeks for picture books and taking time off, there are simply more weeks remaining than books I will realistically read. At a minimum, I have these planned for months when there will be five Wednesdays. However, I would love to plan out something special to share every month.

My regular posts will resume next week, February 5, 2020, which is also the second anniversary of Books On My Cat. This post will be in the form of a book review, but will also include a surprise announcement! I am looking forward to a wonderful year of books and cats, and I hope you are too!

Under Construction

img_3117A few weeks ago, I posted that Boris and I were taking a break. This has extended a little longer than I had originally planned, but I am now hoping that it will be with good results.

While taking a break from writing, I took some time to think about my reasons for starting this blog. I love to read, and I love to share the things that I have read (although I am not sure of how many people out there are really reading). I felt like channeling this into a blog would make it feel a little more productive—and it did, at first. Over time, something that I truly loved to do in the beginning was starting to feel like a chore. I would fall behind on reading or writing reviews, which would make me feel guilty for being unprepared, and eventually lead to me feeling overwhelmed by the idea of writing. I have tried a few “tricks” along the way to help me catch up, whether that be posting about previous reads, adding in children’s books, or sharing other bookish things. Unfortunately, these were only temporary fixes. I want to change that.

So here I am with an update: Books On My Cat is still temporarily under construction. I am working on establishing some better habits, starting with making writing a regular routine. Rather than trying to force myself to write a review because of a deadline, I want to spend just a little time each day with my writing—thinking about the things that I have read recently, or perhaps with some other bookish musings.

Over the next couple weeks, I plan to take some time to lay out my vision for the future of Books On My Cat. I would like to continue to post here weekly, but I do not go through books quickly enough to make that feasible without expanding a bit from book reviews. I have a few ideas to fill in the gaps, but need some time to fully flesh them out. I plan to be back to the regular schedule at the beginning of February (if not sooner).

Until then, thank you to those who are reading! If there is anyone out there who has made it this far, I would love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment with something you like about this blog, or something you think could be improved. Or maybe just say hello!

Notes on the photo above: Boris is pictured with My Purrfect Friend by Charles Wysocki. This is a cute little book that was gifted to me. It is full of cat pictures and artwork, along with many quotes and poems related to friendship.

How to Talk to Your Cat

img_2724This fun little non-fiction children’s book was brought to my attention by my school librarian—she noticed that the cat on the cover looks a bit like Boris, and thought he might be interested in reading! How to Talk to Your Cat provides a good introduction to cat behavior and some general information in interpreting what your cat is trying to say. Of course, as a book intended for children, it’s not a definitive guide. There are a few items of cat behavior included that I would consider a bit questionable, plus a few items that contradict things I have read recently. I suppose some of this is inevitable in a book that was published nearly 20 years ago.

The book starts with the history of domestic cats, referring to something I have heard a few times from other sources: humans did not domesticate cats; cats domesticated themselves. From there, it moves on to cat greetings, and communication via scent, sound, and body posture. The book wraps up with some more behavioral information—typical habits for indoor and outdoor cats. Along the way there is some advice in communicating and living with cats. I believe it is said a few times that cats tend to have the attitude that we belong to them, rather than the other way around. I’m not quite sold on this, but I think there is some truth to it. Boris knows that there are some limits to his running of the household. I am the keeper of the treats, after all.

Although I would still consider this a picture book, it is quite heavy on text. Most of the pictures included are for demonstration, with a few additional illustrations to fill in along the way. The drawings are fairly simple and cartoonish, which I think feels appropriate with the style of the book. There are a few photos of the author (Jean Craighead George) included, intermingled with the cartoonish cats. It feels a little silly—especially the picture of her on hands and knees rubbing heads with a cat. I suppose this is one way of keeping interest for kids who might otherwise be off put by the lengthy text passages on each page. I can see this as a good book for older kids who have an interest in cats or pets, or perhaps animals in general, but would not necessarily make a general recommendation for this one.

Boris’s thoughts: “A well read cat like me clearly has much more to say than this book would suggest. 2 paws.”