e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the tag “animal welfare”

30 Day Book Challenge – day 14: A book that should be on school and college reading lists

For this day I’ve chosen The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. There are several reasons:

  • the prose of much of the book is worth reading just for itself
  • by being so imaginative it stretches the imagination – IMHO this is particularly important for young people
  • the writing about animals encourages a reassessment of our relationship with them
  • it raises and explores issues about things like survival, reality, the importance of religion
  • the ambiguity of the end allows the reader space to come to their own conclusions about what it all means

life of pi cover artOne of the main things I took away from my reading was the importance of what we name our fellow creatures. The tiger, Richard Parker, has a human name and I found I had a completely different view of him than if he’d been called an animal-style name like Stripey or Felix. Of course, this has been known for a long time, but it hadn’t been a point I’d ever given much thought to.

If you haven’t read this book, I recommend it. If you haven’t seen the film I recommend that too – it’s beautiful, colourful and gripping.


30 Day Book Challenge – day 6: A book that made me cry

Having let this challenge lapse for several weeks, I’m now back on it and raring to go sharing my discoveries – because discoveries they are. In answering the questions I search my memory and come up with whole continents of forgotten reading territory.

This Day 6 challenge is no different. In fact, because books very rarely make me cry, I had to look hard to find this one.

3685I read Black Beauty by Anna Sewell years ago and the descriptions of the cruelty the horse met in the course of his life shocked and upset me. As it was meant to do. Ms Sewell wrote the book to do exactly that – shock her readers into looking anew at animal welfare. Reading the Wikipedia writeup of this book I was very happy to learn that she achieved her aim. Also, as a result of her book the conditions for hackney cab drivers in London were improved.

Another demonstration of  the power of the pen and how one person can make a difference when wielding it.

For those who aren’t familiar with this book, it’s an ‘autobiography’ of a horse. Black Beauty is sold from owner to owner and experiences the full range of human kindness and unkindness. Ms Sewell had mobility problems due to an accident as a teenager and was dependent on horse-drawn vehicles. This gave her a deep respect for horses and an understanding of their behaviour, both of which she used to good effect in her only book. At the time (1877) writing from an animal’s viewpoint was a novelty and affected readers more than it would do today.

Picture from Goodreads which also has a short review.

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