Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reading Retreats: In the Company of Animals

Pets can make great reading companions, can't they? Of course, that's only when they're behaving--otherwise, they're horrible reading companions (even if they are cute). Above is my wonderful purring-machine, otherwise known as Mr. Murphy. Isn't he adorable? I agree that he does have the "fierce tiger" look, but don't let him fool you. He can be tamed by a simple scratch behind the ears or rub on the belly. =)

Anyway, today I would like to welcome one of my great blogging friends, Kav from Best Reads (2010)! She's got an interesting story to tell about her own furry reading companion, so be sure to take a moment and read the following interview:

Amber: Where is your favorite place to read? Do you prefer curling up by the fire or going out into the sunshine?


Kav: Pretty much anywhere I have a book in hand. Maybe the bus while I’m traveling to work and home again. I’d go squirrelly if I couldn’t read on the bus.


Amber: Where is the most interesting place in which you have read a book? (This could include an intriguing town, an exotic trip, or simply an unusual quiet spot.)


Kav: Okay…this is going to sound weird and definitely not glamorous – but walking my dog. I have this sheltie with a prey/herding instinct so high that he really should be a working dog. Wish I’d realized that when I got him. Let’s just say he’s had challenges adapting to city life since he was a puppy. He has issues with squirrels. BIG ISSUES. Basically he thinks this planet isn’t big enough for both species. His soul purpose in life is to chase (thankfully he never catches) squirrels. So what does this have to do with interesting places to read a book?


Well, after multiple obedience classes and personal trainers and oodles of cash I had a perfectly trained dog – unless there was a squirrel around. Since I live in a lovely treed neighbourhood with a squirrel family living in every tree…well, I won’t go into the grim details here. In desperation I tried the desensitization theory -- taking your dog into an area that is ripe with his problem and totally ignore him while he goes demented. You keep him on a short leash and only walk when he is behaving nicely. The minute he goes ballistic you stop and ignore. It’s very important not to make eye contact or engage the dog in anyway because that just feeds the frenzy. He thinks you’re joining in on the squirrel rampage. The dog trainer suggested reading a book.


So that’s what I did…for months. Walking down streets and stopping every time Simba saw a squirrel. I’d open my book and read and he would howl and yowl and moan and cry. It created quite a sensation. I could read pages before he’d calm down enough to continue the walk. We’d barely get half a block before there’d be another squirrel sighting and off he’d go again and I’d start reading again. The neighbours thought it was hilarious and still greet me with “Read any good books lately?”


And, in case inquiring minds want to know – alas, the desensitization method did not work on Simba. Seven years later after quite a bit of negotiating and mediation we are more or less on the same page now…He doesn’t chase squirrels on a walk and I don’t haul him back by his nice plumy tail.


Amber: Wow--that's quite a story, Kav! ;) If you could choose any location to read in for a day, with any kind of scenery, where would you want to go? And if you could choose to bring only one fiction book with you for this day trip, which would you choose?


Kav: Hmmm…only one location? Well, I guess I’d say I’ve always had a hankering to own a wingback chair in my very own home library. With a fireplace. And a window seat close by. And an old globe – the really big kind with an oak pedestal. And a plush comfy lounger. Oriental carpet on the floor. Brocade drapes framing the window seat (glass would be leaded). I’d spend the day moving from window seat to wingback chair to lounger with my nose stuck in a book all the while.


And you actually want me to name only one fiction book????? You know I’d read more than one in a day if that was all I was doing, don’t you? Well…it’s impossible for me to name just one. That’s like asking your mother who her favourite child is. It’s just wrong. I’ll just say that I would bring the book I was currently reading at the time and I’d sneak in the top book off my TBR pile when you weren’t looking.


Amber: I like the place you envision. It's lovely! So, which upcoming release (book) are you most looking forward to, and why?


Kav: Ack – is this a trick question? Book as in not plural? I can’t do that either…it’s just so wrong to pick favourites.


Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad (she’s a writing buddy of mine and she writes historical romance with a touch of comedy. I’ve read some of her other work and it’s fantastic. This is her debut novel with Revell and it comes out beginning of September).


A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman (need I say more…I’m really looking forward to this one – especially since she gave us a sneak preview on your blog).


The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson (Her debut novel as well. It’s a YA fantasy – retelling of a fairy tale – from Zondervan. I LOVE that kind of fantasy so I’m really excited to read this one).


Made to Order Family by Ruth Logan Herne (I’m committed because this completes her first series and she knows how to spin a tale full of laughter and angst and romance. Sigh. It’s also due in September…though if you order from eharlequin I think you can get it in August sometime.)


Okay – I could go on…but I’ll stop there. Those are the September releases I can remember at this point but now I’m feeling guilty because I’m sure I’ve left somebody out.


Amber: Remind me never to suggest picking just one book again to you! ;) I think I've learned my lesson now! Thank you so much for joining us today, Kav!


I'll leave ya'll with another picture of Mr. Murphy. I confess that usually he's not the best reading companion because he always likes to knead me and rub all over me, which is a bit distracting. Doesn't he look guilty here? =)


24 comments:

Julia M. Reffner said...

Amber, our kitties could be reading twins as they have the same coloring :)

Kav, I love your "reading" room. My vision is nearly the same. I have a reading room with a fireplace. Guess what is on the wall? An authentic photograph & autograph of Longfellow (inherited from my grandfather) and on the other wall a brown tintype picture of my Dad as a child. I love those globes though. I love old maps, too and am hoping to paper my walls with some. Anyway, that was a lot of rambling. :) I'm glad you came to Amber's blog today. Your blog is a recent discovery for me, but one I'm quite glad I found.

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Hahahaha I can totaly relate to Kav and Simba's squirrel problem! I have a collie named Coco who goes nutso for them! Luckily she too has never caught any. At least Kav got a lot of reading done! :-P

Amber your kitty is adorable! He has the same expression as my dearly departed kitty Mia. She always looked fierce but at the same time she was very lovable. Coco, my collie is really good at behaving while I read. All she does is lay down beside me on her bed, on occassion she will come over and "read" the book but not enough to be a pest LOL!

This was a fun interview!

XOXO~ Renee

bluerose_shelnut said...

The squirrel story is so funny!! :)
My "puppy"(still my little puppy @ 100 pounds) has to sleep 20 hours a day at least! So he doesn't bother me when I read. He's snoring at this very moment. I'm surprosed it doesn't wake up "little brother."
It was great to learn more about Kav! I always enjoy getting to know more about blogging buddies.

Amber S. said...

Julia,

That's a cute thought--"reading twins!" :D I love tabby cats! What's your cat's name?

Isn't Kav's blog great? Gotta love all those book reviews! :)

By the way, your reading room sounds lovely! Thanks for stopping by!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Renee,

All this talk about dogs and squirrels makes me think about the Pixar movie "Up." Those dogs are too..."Squirrel!"...funny! ;)

Mr. Murphy is the best kitty a girl could ask for. :) He's so sweet, even if he does knead me with those sharp claws... And I'm sorry again about Mia. She must have been a great cat.

Coco sounds like a wonderful pet, too, and a fantastic reading companion! The pictures you share of her are so adorable. :)

Glad you enjoyed the interview!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Bluerose,

That's so funny that your "puppy" snores so loudly! What kind of dog do you have?

Thanks for stopping by, and it's been so fun getting to know ya'll more through these interviews and your comments! :)

~Amber

Julia M. Reffner said...

Thanks, Amber. I'm sitting in it right now :)

Our kitty's name is Zelda.

Kav said...

LOL. No offence, Amber, but your kitty looks grumpy! Did you ask his permission before taking that picture? Because I think he's saying "Don't take my picture...I'm warning you..." Mr. Murphy is very handsome though -- lovely markings. We have a cat stalker in my neighbourhood. He's a tabby too and he stalks dogs in the early morning. Drives Simba crazy because he can smell cat but he can't see cat and he knows he can't bark at 5:00 a.m. to flush cat out. Mr. Cat runs across driveways, ducks under cars, hides behind bushes and Simba has his nose in the air muttering, "I smell c-a-t.Grrrr." Yes my dog is odd...or maybe it's his owner?

Julia -- I hadn't thought about what kind of pictures I'd put on the wall. I'm thinking I'd get the original artwork from some favourite books and book covers. Wouldn't that be cool? And if we're wallpapering with maps I have dibs on Narnia!

Renee!!! You have a collie! Don't you just love that herding instinct? Only, I really think Simba wants to eat squirrel stew...everyday of the week. The trainer kept saying he just wanted to herd them. Ha!

bluerose, inquiring minds want to know what kind of 'puppy' weighs 100 pounds. Is it a Newf? A St. Bernard? A boivier?

Thanks for putting up with my silly answers to your very good questions, Amber! :-)

Melanie Dickerson said...

Thanks for mentioning The Healer's Apprentice, Amber!

Amber S. said...

Julia,

You're welcome. :) Enjoy that beautiful room! And I like your kitty's name!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Kav,

OK, I seriously don't think I took these pictures! I found them on my dad's computer when I was getting other pictures, and I think this was around Christmastime when he was lying by my sister. I don't know...but if you want to see grumpy, you should see my sister's cat! ;) Mr. Murphy actually stays at my grandparents' house where he enjoys the outdoors. Muffinman (my sister's cat) stays indoors at our house, and as much as I love him I must say he's kind of strange. Funny, but weird. ;) He's a silverish tabby with big ears and a penchant for fighting and dragging stuffed animals around. He also chatters when he sees birds or a moth or something out the window. But he's cute and he's ours, so we'll continue to keep him. ;)

And isn't Mr. Murphy handsome? :D

Sorry about the cat stalker. And I think all pets are a little bit odd in their own way, right? ;)

Your answers to the interview were lots of fun! Thanks for letting me ask you random questions!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Hi Melanie!

No problem--although it was actually Kav, the person I was interviewing, who mentioned your book! I hope I get to read it, too, though! I've heard about it and it looks good. :)

And I think this is the example of what Julie was talking about in my last post. You authors always are in the know about when your books are mentioned! ;)

~Amber

bluerose_shelnut said...

My "puppy" is actually about to be 4. He's an Olde English Bulldogge.
Here's a link to his picture. :)
This was when I interrupted a nap.

http://bluerosesheart.blogspot.com/2010/05/new-father-tim-novel-by-jan-karon-only.html

Melanie Dickerson said...

Right! Thanks, Kav!!! I owe you, Kav! You're so sweet about looking forward to my book! I hope it doesn't disappoint! I can't wait to hold it in my hands! It seems to be taking forever. :-) And if I ever have the pleasure of meeting you, Kav, face to face, I am going to give you the biggest hug!!!

Kav said...

Melanie -- I'm sure I won't be disappointed...I just have a feeling, you know?

bluerose -- your 'puppy' is adorable...and not a breed I would have matched you with. LOL.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Amber,

Mr.Murphy could also be a twin for my cat, Riley. I agree with Kav, he looks very unhappy about having his picture taken!

Our Riley is such a gentle guy who thinks he's a dog because he loves to lick. You cannot pat him without him grabbing your hand between his paws and licking your hand. He also likes his belly rubbed. Must have been raised with a dog (we got him from a shelter).

We also have a princess cat - a rather large pure white girl with a pink nose and paws. Adorable. And she snores like crazy! LOL.

Pets sure add a lot to our lives.

Amber S. said...

Bluerose,

I think I remember that picture! ;) Your dog looks like he would be a "gentle giant." Thanks for sharing the picture!

~Amber

P.S. I wouldn't recommend waking him up from anymore naps. ;) He looks maybe as grumpy as Mr. Murphy in the pictures above!

Amber S. said...

Melanie,

Kav deserves a nice big hug for putting up with me and for writing such good reviews of the books she reads! ;) I can't imagine the kind of anticipation you must feel; I'm sure your book will be great!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Kav,

Thanks for coming back and responding to the comments! ;) Way to follow through!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Susan,

I think your cat, my cat, and Julia's cat will have to be "reading triplets!" ;)

Riley sounds adorable and so sweet! And your "princess" cat sounds cute, as well! I used to have a Persian cat a long time ago, and with that squished in nose she would wheeze all the time. ;) Poor thing!

Anyway, I definitely agree that pets add a lot to our lives! Thank you for leaving a comment!

~Amber

Michelle said...

Well, I guess I am a little late to the party. ;)

Amber, Mr. Murphy is well quite mean looking, lol. I didn't notice it in the small picture, but I clicked on the picture by accident. In the enlarged version, he looked a little scary. ;)

My parents dog is half collie and half cocker spaniel. Her name is Socks. I happen to be quite afraid of dogs, I was almost bitten when I was 7. When my parents brought Socks home, as a puppy, she literally followed me around all night. She was right at my heels. It was like she was saying "there's no reason to be afraid of me, I like you!!"

Kav, I love that you can't just choose one book, because I can't either!

Amber S. said...

Michelle,

No worries! :) Great to see you here!

OK, I definitely did NOT choose good pictures to put up here, I guess, because Mr. Murphy is the exact opposite of mean! ;) I'm sorry that his picture scared you, but he really is just a purring, lovable, furry guy! Honest!

Socks sounds both cute and funny! I hope she didn't make you too nervous by following you around like that! ;) Did she help you conquer your fear?

And yes, we've all learned not to ask Kav about her favorite book, right? ;) But I agree--it's too hard to choose just one! (I guess I should think about things like that before I ask the questions, right?)

Thanks for stopping by!

~Amber

Michelle said...

No, as small as she was then, Socks didn't bother me when she followed me around. And you are right, she's very cute and can definitely be very funny. She did help me conquer my fears some, but I still have to really get to know a dog to be comfortable with one. I'm mostly comfortable with Socks, but she has a habit of jumping on you, and I really do not like that at all. It's how I was almost bitten when I was 7

Amber S. said...

Michelle,

Well, Socks sounds like a special dog. :) I'm sorry about your scary experience when you were younger, and I hope that you have some good experiences with dogs, too!

Anyway, thanks again for sharing. :)

~Amber