Thursday, November 21, 2013

Alex and Me

 Written by: Irene M. Pepperberg

First line: How much impact could a one-pound ball of feathers have on the world?

Why you should read this book: When Pepperberg set out to test her own hypotheses on the intelligence of birds, specifically in relation to the new field of human-animal communication, she determined to keep her study scientific, and allowed a pet store employee to randomly select the African gray parrot whose quirky personality and obvious ability to reason and communicate would one day captivate the world. Alex, an intelligent and bossy bird, soon demonstrated his ability to identify colors, numbers, and objects; to understand concepts such as more, less, and same; to express his desires, insecurities, and emotions to the world; and to surprise his keepers by exhibiting talents they hadn’t taught him, such as the ability to sound out words or understand the concept of zero. After thirty years of revelation, Alex’s premature death inspired Pepperberg to set aside her scientific detachment and write the story of her relationship with a very clever bird and the way in which Alex’s talents shaped the course of her life’s work and touched her emotional core.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: This is a fast and personal narrative; readers searching for more in-depth knowledge of Alex’s training and its relevance to animals studies will want to consult some of Pepperberg’s scholarly work.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Doctor Sleep

Written by: Stephen King

First line: On the second day of December in a year when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado's great resort hotels burned to the ground.

Why you should read this book: Picking up where The Shining left off, Doctor Sleep follows Dan Torrance from a young boy learning to deal with ghosts to a young man suffering from the pain instilled by his gift and poisoned by his father's legacy of alcoholism. Dan finds a better place, where he can pursue sobriety, find his true calling in life, and make friends with a magical baby named Abra, but as Abra grows up, her abilities comes to the attention of the True Knot, a group of traveling psychic vampires who eat kids like her. The odds are against Dan and Abra as they work to outmaneuver a creature much older, much more experienced, and much more endowed with resources than they are.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're a drunk and you don't care how it affects those around you.