Monthly Archives: August 2013

Lost in Translation

The English language has some amazing words and expressions, but sometimes there just isn’t a word to describe the way you’re feeling.  The German word schadenfreude comes to mind: the joy one feels as the result of someone else’s misfortune.  Once in a while I try to describe something,  find myself flailing in English, and think that there must be a better word to describe what I mean!  I recently did some searching in our collection to see what words other languages use that don’t have equivalents in English. I came across some good ones.  Here are a few of my favorites.

From They Have a Word For It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words & Phrases:

Feierabend (German): Festive frame of mind at the end of the working day.

mbuki-mvuki (Bantu): To shuck off one’s clothes in order to dance.

razbliuto (Russian): The feeling a person has for someone he or she once loved but now does not.

From The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words From Around the World:

Backpfeifengesicht (German): a face that cries out for a fist in it. (The German language is so descriptive!)

pu’ukaula (Hawaiian): to set up one’s wife as a stake in gambling

From In Other Words: A Language Lover’s Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World:

hankikanto (Finnish): a frozen crust on the surface of snow that is strong enough to walk on.

wabi-sabi (Japanese): the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, incomplete, modest, and humble.

uitwaaien (Danish): to walk in the wind for fun.

As I was looking for more untranslatable words, I also came across some interesting websites. This one features an infographic mapping English words for emotions and 25 words to describe specific emotions that have no English word equivalent. And this one, which led me to a few more words I love: pena ajena (Mexican Spanish– the embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation) and gigil (Tagalog– the urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute). Comment below if you know of any amazing words that don’t have an English equivalent!



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Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Puns in Print

At my first full-time library job, processing course reserves at Pitt’s Hillman Library, I had a wonderfully eccentric coworker who seemed to get a real thrill out of doing the opposite of what people expected. He would, for instance, wear a coat and tie on Friday after wearing t shirts to work all week, pretend like he didn’t believe that dinosaurs ever lived when grad students were within earshot, and, with little provocation, dance much more nimbly than you might expect given his 250+ pound frame.

It was thanks to one of this guy’s contrarian habits – choosing books based solely on their covers – that I learned about Kinky Friedman. It was a long time ago, but I remember very clearly that my friend was attracted to the bright green cover of Kinky’s  2003 title Kill Two Birds and Get StonedBeing much more refined than my friend, I went so far as to read the jacket and determined that anyone who gets a blurb from Joseph Heller and Steve Allen is probably worth a look, and the rest is history.

I would guess that I’ve read more of Kinky’s books than those by any other author, which kind of surprises me because I wouldn’t say that he’s my favorite author. But then again, I wouldn’t say that stir fried green beans with tofu and brown rice is my favorite food (far from it, in fact) but I’ve had it for dinner at least once a week for probably a decade, and I suppose that Kinky’s novels are the same thing to me — wholesome, quick, easy, and comforting.

Kinky’s novels are detective stories in the finest Raymond Chandler tradition. In the place of Marlowe, however, we have Kinky, a semi-retired Texas country singer residing in lower Manhattan. I have a soft spot for reluctant amateur private eyes, and Friedman is indeed that, getting himself and a regular cast of friends dragged into complicated cases each time around. Friedman the narrator is detached and stoic, reacting to danger, heartache, and other troubles with a puff of cigar smoke, a shot of Jameson, and a massive dose of homespun wisdom. Throw in some punny titles (the title of this post is my poor attempt at aping Kinky’s style, using one of his own works, a hilarious satire of people critical of feminism), country music references, and plenty of irreverent humor, and you will perhaps see why Kinky’s formula has been so successful for him.

Some of my favorites have been:

The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover (Simon and Schuster, 1996) is Kinky’s version of political intrigue. His search for a missing person takes him to D.C. and Chicago and brings the attention of both the FBI and the mob. The title of this book  (a T.S. Eliot reference) is my favorite of Kinky’s, just barely edging out…

A Case of Lone Star (Beech Tree, 1987) This one finds Kinky in his element, delving into dive bars, country music mythology, and the seedy underbelly of show biz as he investigates the murders of some well-known country singers. Hank Williams lyrics were enclosed in a letter sent to the victims, which makes this perhaps the only case in the series in which Kinky is a qualified investigator.

Armadillos and Old Lace (Simon and Schuster, 1994) takes Kinky out his Manhattan digs and back into Texas hill country, where he has gone to get away from the danger of his big city life. But of course trouble follows Kinky, this time in the form of a number of mysterious deaths in his town, all women in their seventies. As our hero discovers the connections between the victims, he gets a good reminder that small town life can be just as sordid as life in the Big Apple.

The above are just my favorites; you can really start anywhere in the series and, in all honesty, these books are pretty much all the same thing. What you get is a fun glimpse into the mind of a true original, a cowboy who did a stint in the Peace Corps, a country singing psychology major, the great Kinky Friedman. To paraphrase the Kinkster, you can pick your favorite books and you can pick your nose, but you can’t wipe your favorite books off on the saddle.


P.S. In addition to being an author, Kinky has attained notoriety through no less than two other ventures: country music and politics. I can’t say much about his political career, but he was a great country singer for over a decade before he published a book. The Library has a copy of his classic Sold American on CD, and his albums turn up occasionally in shops if you look enough.

I wonder what Sue Grafton's country records sound like.

I wonder what Sue Grafton’s country records sound like.


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Have Your Cake and Concert, Too!

“Have You Tried the Music Library?”

In 1938, a group of musically prominent Pittsburgh citizens approached the director of Carnegie Library [of Pittsburgh] requesting that he consider the establishment of a music collection. He agreed and selected a thirty-year-old library assistant to be its initial organizer. Irene Millen gathered together the music materials scattered throughout the library system and made them accessible to the public. When it became clear that the acquisitions budget for music would not meet the demands of the enthusiastic public, Irene harnessed that enthusiasm to found the Friends of the Music Library, with an administrative board comprised of representatives from every Pittsburgh musical organization. The Friends served both as fundraiser and as public relations resource for the music collection. “Have you tried the library?” was something she taught the board to ask their constituencies whenever they had a music need or problem.

Ida Reed, the Music Department manager who succeeded Irene Millen, wrote this description of the establishment of the department. In my role as the current manager, I also like to ask the “Have you tried the Music Library?” question. Users, supporters and friends all know—there’s no better resource in Pittsburgh for the serious musician, as well as anyone with a casual interest in music, including, in the words of Irene Millen, “parents whose children are studying music, program annotators, and non-practicing music lovers.”

1938 — 2013

Next month the Music Department will celebrate 75 years of service to music fanciers in Pittsburgh and beyond. Cue the trumpets! Our new concert series heralds a coming season of celebration.

Sounds Upstairs: Hear the Library’s Music Department Collection Come to Life!

Sounds Upstairs intends to lead listeners of all ages up the welcoming marble staircase to the second floor of the Main Library in Oakland, to hear acoustic presentations of music drawn from our collection. The thousands of books, scores, and recordings that fill our department leave no room for concertizing, so our series will be held down the hall, in the International Poetry Room. 

Sunday, September 8, our inaugural concert presents violinist Sandro Leal-Santiesteban and cellist Hannah Whitehead performing both solo and duo pieces in a program ranging from Bach to Gershwin with recent compositions by Mark Summer and Pittsburgher Sean Neukom.

Sandro Leal-Santiesteban

Sandro Leal-Santiesteban

Hannah Whitehead

Hannah Whitehead

Sunday, September 8
3:30 — 4:30 PM
CLP – Main, International Poetry Room (second floor)

Before the concert, join us for a birthday cake reception hosted by the Friends of the Music Library, beginning at 2:30, in the Music Department.

After you try the library, please spread the word!



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Superman or Green Lantern Ain’t Got Nothin’ on Me

Taken from the Facebook page of the Carnegie Library.

Taken from the Facebook page of the Carnegie Library. Photo by Ian Eberhardt. Drawing by Elyse Anderson.

I am a middle-aged woman, mom, librarian, and (drum roll please) a comic book geek. I started actively collecting comic books around 1980 as a teenager, but even before that I had a bunch of Archie Comics, Harvey Comics, Mad Magazines, and compilations of Peanuts that I appropriated from my grandfather.

Comics—I mean graphic novels—are more than just the sum of their parts, writing and illustration. The image on the paper evokes emotions—pleasure, fear, creepiness, hilarity, anxiety, romance, passion. A great graphic novel will have a talented writer at its helm, but can only work when an illustrator translates the feeling on the page with style.

My favorite emotion-evoking graphic novels:

Swamp ThingSaga of the Swamp Thing How can I describe what this is about without making it seem lame? Set (mainly) in the swamps of Louisiana, a man dies and becomes a plant elemental, fighting on the environment’s behalf. It’s also a romance between a woman and a monster. It really is so much more nuanced than I can relate here. I enjoyed Len Wein’s pulpy original from 1972, Secret of the Swamp Thing, but Alan Moore’s tenure (1984-1987), with illustrations by Stephen R. Bissette, is masterful and groundbreaking. This was the first mainstream comic book written for adults, not because of eroticism or violence, but for its complex thematic elements. I love this so much that Moore’s more famous Watchmen and V for Vendetta series were disappointments.

Here is a bonus for those familiar with Alan Moore and Frank Miller (of The Dark Knight Returns fame) but haven’t seen this yet: Alan Moore vs. Frank Miller.


Heartbreak SoupLove and Rockets by Los Bros. Hernandez. This series in toto is one of the most poignant pieces of literature I have read. Favorably compared to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the authors use the panels to convey deeper meaning. Little bubbles emanate from the mouth of a sickly child causing his older brother to warn him not to laugh. A tough female sheriff’s inner dialog is conveyed as thought bubbles. A wordless panel shows a baby in a playpen while blood is pooling on the floor from out of view. In opposition to my colleague, I enjoy Beto’s work more. When I picked up part 2 of Duck Feet (a story set in the fictional town of Palomar, somewhere in Latin America), it changed my literary life forever.


Building StoriesBuilding Stories (contains 2 books, 5 booklets, 1 newspaper, 5 folded sheets, 1 folded board, in a box) by Chris Ware. So sad. So depressing. So, so awesome. Every piece fits together in ways that don’t become clear until you read all of them. It doesn’t matter what you start with either. The cast includes a few people, a few bees and a building. You get snapshots of their lives and interactions at different points in time. Excuse me, Chris Ware, but just how did you look into my mind and write about my life?


SandmanSandman by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman is my very favorite writer right now, and his latest effort Ocean at the End of the Lane  is among his best work. I remember not being terribly impressed by this series until issue 3 or 4, but since then I have been an avid and obsessive Neil fan. The series has a few different artists, and the interpretations of the material changes in interesting/disturbing/beautiful ways. Bonus nerd alert: the character Matthew (the crow) is really Matt Cable from the Swamp Thing.


Here is one that was critically acclaimed, but I am giving a pan to:

Are You My MotherAre You My Mother?: A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel. There are so many references and quotes taken directly from other books she read, and the illustrations, while expertly drawn, are mostly of those quotes, and Bechdel herself talking to her mother, reading a book, or looking at her computer. Why be graphic at all? So boring!

These are all graphic novels on the “Dark Side.” My next post will be about some of my favorite lighter fare. Do you have any favorites that you’d like to share? I need new blood!

See you in the funny pages,



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Ten Things About “Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love” by Sarah Butler

  1. Reading it took my breath away. The writing is simple but true.
  2. Lists start each chapter with the two main characters, Alice and Daniel, writing their own. “Ten Things I’m Frightened Of”, “Ten Things People Say to You When Your Father Dies”, and “Ten Things I’d Rather Forget” are a few of them. It’s a good writing technique and helps the reader find out a lot about a character’s interior thoughts in a small amount of words.
  3. Daniel has synesthesia so sees words and letters as colors. He describes someone’s name as “the color of sun-warmed sandstone”. The letter D is “a pale orange, like powdered sherbet”. Alice’s name is the color of “milky blue water”.
  4. Butler does a wonderful job of capturing the ache of wanting someone to love you.
  5. Daniel walks around London, collecting things like bottle tops, paper clips, a string of plastic pearls, and an empty photo frame to make found art he uses to express himself.
  6. This sounds weird, but I felt like my heart was also reading and reacting along with me.
  7. “When the whisky is finished, I screw the top back on and slam the bottle into the ground. It doesn’t break. I want something to break.” Those lines perfectly capture the frustration of feeling broken and wanting anything around you to be broken, too.
  8. Butler’s writing style put me so into the novel that when a character was distracted, I felt it, too. A character’s thoughts would interrupt lines of dialogue and leave me with their feelings of uncertainty in my head.
  9. Lines like these: “And I carried on doing what I’ve been doing for years. I have written your name more times than I can remember. Always, at the beginning, I write your name.”
  10. I didn’t want it to be over.

Ten Things I've Learnt About Love

Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love is the debut novel of Sarah Butler. Alice is the youngest of three sisters and has never felt a true part of the family since her mother died when Alice was young. She’s off in Mongolia, escaping heartache, when she hears that her father is dying and returns in time to be there when he dies. Daniel is homeless and looking for the daughter he’s never met. We watch as these two slowly come together. As I mentioned before, Butler’s writing is simple but true and shows how the hope of love can root us when nothing else can. I really look forward to Butler’s future work.



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Do You Hear the People Sing?

Chinese poet Liao Yiwu‘s most recent memoir, For A Song and a Hundred Songs, takes its title from a particularly fiendish torture imposed on him during a prison stint: caught singing by a guard, Liao was forced to squat against a wall and sing non-stop for about eight hours, until his voice completely conked out. It’s a horrible story, but the wondrous part about it is that it didn’t stop Liao from singing again. Or writing. Or escaping to Germany so that he could share his story with the world.

There’s a power in words and music, a power that makes some people nervous, and others celebrate. History and culture are filled with moments that highlight this power, like this iconic scene from Casablanca:

Or the time Elvis Costello bit the hand that fed him on network television, which you can watch here and learn more about below:

We could write a whole separate blog post about “We Shall Overcome” and other freedom songs:

And, of course, the power of music is a world-wide phenomenon, as can be seen in Algerian rai

…the protest songs of Filipino musicians…

…and countless other examples.

The library is a great place to learn more about the power of music in history and culture. Some representative samples:


33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs From Billie Holiday to Green Day / Dorian Lynskey

Story Behind the Protest Song / Hardeep Phull

Protest Song in East and West Germany Since the 1960s / David Robb, et. al.

Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song / David Margolick

Rockin’ the Boat: Mass Music and Mass Movements / Reebee Garofolo, ed.

Recorded Music

Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Songs of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement / The Cultural Center for Social Change

The Best of Fela Kuti, Fela Anikulapo Kuti

Classic Protest Songs, Smithsonian Folkways

Rolas de Aztlan: Songs of the Chicano Movement / Smithsonian Folkways

Songs of Conscience and Concern / Peter, Paul & Mary


The People Speak / A&E Television

Soundtrack for a Revolution / Docurama Films

A Night of Ferocious Joy / Artists Network of Refuse & Resist


Songs That Changed the World / Wanda Wilson Whitman, ed.

The People United Will Never Be Defeated: 36 Variations / Frederic Rzewski

The Big Red Songbook / Mal Collins, et. al.

Songs of Protest and Civil Rights / Jerry Silverman

As ever, you can get more materials and information by asking a librarian. But right now, it’s your turn: has there been a particular song, or type of song, that raised your awareness of the world around you? Did you live through an era where music played a significant role in political / historical / cultural  events? Tell us about it.

Leigh Anne


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Of Houses and Presidents

I love history and architecture. And in recent years, it seems I’m taking (and planning) vacations that feature the history of American presidents.

Presidents are kind of like our country’s royalty, even though our founding fathers fought hard against this analogy. But I find presidential history fascinating and have read several wonderful books about some of the most interesting people.


Thomas Jefferson

As you read this today, I am visiting Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s beautiful home and estate in Charlottesville, Virginia. History geek that I am, I bought tickets for the behind-the-scenes tour, which includes a multi-level tour of the house.



I often travel home to Michigan and have seen a sign on the Ohio Turnpike for the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, which I would love to visit if I could just find the time on my visits home. Did you know that more presidents–eight of them– come from Ohio than any other state?


Rutherford Hayes

And, since I  live in Pittsburgh–on a street that is named for his family’s British ancestral home–I’m not far from George Washington’s Virginia estate, Mount Vernon, which I hope to visit next year.


Mount Vernon

In July, I also enjoyed a (too brief) visit to Washington, D.C., where I visited The National Portrait Gallery. Of course, my favorite room was the presidents’ portraits. I plan to vacation there again very soon to see more.


A favorite painting of Abraham Lincoln in The National Portrait Gallery

And I’ll also have to consult this fun list for future presidential history trips.

~Maria, who is from Michigan, which can only claim one president: Gerald Ford. Pennsylvania also has only one: James Buchanan.


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Aural Histories


Our outreach collection on 8/10/2013 in Arsenal Park. All items were available for check out!

This past week I was lucky enough to attend Lawrenceville’s Rock All Night Festival (R.A.N.T.) on behalf of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Music, Film & Audio Department. In addition to providing the opportunity for patrons to make their own harmonicas, we also had a well-curated selection of music documentaries, CDs, and books available for check out. While pulling books for our outreach table, I discovered just how many interesting oral history books we have about music–there’s one for just about every genre or interest. The following are a few gems I’d like to share with you today, arranged by genre:





















Andy Warhol & The Velvet Underground


And Punk, again


Happy reading & listening all,



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Happy 40th To Me

Last month I celebrated my 40-year anniversary working for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. I was hired as a clerk, fresh out of college, at the CLP Bookmobile Center. I was armed with an undergraduate degree in library science, qualified to be a school librarian. Alas, school library positions were hard to come by. It was the 70s, the Vietnam war was going strong, and every other person wanted to be a teacher. To be a public librarian, then and now, a master’s degree in library (information) science was required. I was lucky to find a library-related job.

Click the image to read more about the history of bookmobile service in Allegheny County.

Click the image to read more about the history of bookmobile service in Allegheny County.

Like many Pittsburghers, except for college, I had never ventured too far away from my Brighton Heights home. The travel radius around my home was tight. I rarely went beyond the North Hills to shop, or to make a visit to my cousins in Penn Hills. Going downtown was always a special treat. Lunch at Stouffers, then shopping at the three big department stores: Horne’s, Gimbels and Kaufmann’s.Sometimes there would be a stop at the Candy-Rama for some special sweet treats. Movies were a draw to town as well, at the Penn, the Stanley, and the Fulton theaters. But I never went to the downtown library. I took the scary bus trip to Main in Oakland (transfers were involved) for my high school research papers.

However, I was a library brat. I had one maiden aunt who worked at the Allegheny Regional library and another who worked closer to home at the Woods Run branch. Books and libraries were in my blood and a habit from my earliest days.

So, working on the bookmobile was an adventure for me. I really loved it! We traveled weekly routes all over the bridges, hills, and valleys of Allegheny County to deliver books to customers from our 3,000 volume mobile libraries. We went and parked at shopping centers and municipal buildings large and small, in mill towns and suburbia. I made friends there that I will always have, though many are now retired.

Bookmobile service was a very personalized, almost boutique service. You really got to know the regular borrowers and often chose books for them based on what you knew they liked to read…without them even asking. The bookmobile was a great training ground. There was no card catalog on board. Staff had to memorize b0th the Dewey Decimal and the Library of Congress call numbers (CLP switched classification systems in 1972), so you could find the subjects people wanted on the orderly shelves, for both kids and adults.

The bookmobile customers were voracious readers, especially of all kinds of fiction. You really learned all the genres and authors–popular, classic, and literary. We were allowed to read as we drove to and from our stops so it was not uncommon to read a few books each week. This was like feeding steak to a lion.

All of the work was done manually. Registering customers for library cards, taking requests and filling holds–all were done with pen and paper and we kept the information in cardboard shoe boxes. For checking items in and out we used a camera system. Book requests were searched for and laboriously sorted into bins for placement on each of five bookmobiles. Services were very transaction-oriented. We even called the date due cards we put in pockets in the books “trasaction” or “T-cards.” The T-cards had holes along the side like early computer data punch cards and staff used long, thin rods which you skewered into the holes systematically to sort for adjacency of dates. All of the returned T-cards were matched up against the photo logs of check-outs to see if all T-cards had been returned. If not, well, that’s the way we identified if someone had materials overdue, and if they had fines. We kept long lists of names and folks with fines so we could send them overdue notices in the mail.

The world of libraries has changed dramatically over these past 40 years. Computers were introduced in the mid-1970s and have since changed almost every aspect of our library work, our collections, and our services, both behind the scenes and for public service. Our work then and now has been focused on developing a community of readers of all ages. What the public wants from the library is still somewhat the same, but also very different, too. I will talk about these changes from time to time in this blog in future months. People think of the library as a very quiet, traditional place. We anchor our neighborhood, we help everyone. But scratch the surface and you will discover a dynamic, vibrant institution that has constantly changed over time, and is still changing.



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Dog Days of Summer*


I became a dog person the moment I saw my dog at a family picnic. I loved everything about her; her happy swishy tail, her sweet personality, her beautiful amber eyes and tiny little nose. I liked her foot fringe and her bounciness and her curly ears. Then I found out that she was an abused shelter dog, rescued by my boyfriend’s cousin (thanks, Dan!) from being euthanized. So, despite the fact that I’d only been dating this guy for a few months, that I never owned a dog, that I wasn’t even allowed to have a dog in my apartment, and knew nothing about caring for a dog, I got a dog.


Ozzy Girl

That was 13 years ago. The boy and the dog are still the same.

It goes without saying that librarians love cats. But we love our dogs, too!

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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Pets!

My Favorite Books About Dogs

GoDogGoGo Dog Go!, P.D. Eastman

This was my all-time favorite when I was a kid. My parents probably have horrible flashbacks just looking at the cover. To this day, my heart lifts when I see the cover.  Basically, it’s a bunch of colorful dogs doing things like racing cars and bicycles and  partying in trees. Exactly what you think it would be.

ZorroZorro Series, Carter Goodrich

This children’s series is unbearably sweet and so funny. The illustrations are gorgeous, too. Anyone who has brought another dog home will be able to relate to the disgust Mister Bud feels when Zorro, a little pug with a big attitude, shows up on the scene. Mister Bud has a schedule and he sticks to it. He doesn’t want to share anything, ever and is grumpy about this new mutt. Then one day Mister Bud realizes that Zorro has the same schedule! Suddenly nap time is more comfortable and walks are more fun and even though Mister Bud could still be grumpy, they become best friends.

DogBoyDog Boy, Eva Hornug

In 1998, the end of the Cold War and the breakdown of the Russian economy created over 2 million homeless children. Many parents simply packed up and left, leaving children as young as two years old to fend for themselves. Dog Boy was inspired by the true story of Ivan Mishukov, a four-year old who lived with a pack of wild dogs for two years until he was “rescued.” If you are interested in the real story, it is included in Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children by Michael Newton. Dog Boy is a work of fiction (and one of my favorite books), and it is so beautifully and realistically rendered that I found it so easy to imagine to sleeping in a pile of smelly wild dogs, burying my face in their warm bellies to escape the harsh Moscow cold and sharing scraps of food with them. Four-year-old Romochka and the dogs work together to survive and that includes preying on other people. Eventually they earn the notice of the “authorities” and Romochka is “rescued” from the dogs. I honestly don’t know what I expected, but I found the ending heart-breaking. This book stayed with me for a long time.

CujoCujo, Stephen King

Cujo is the reason every kid who grew up in the 80s has an unnatural fear of rabies. Do you know how many people in Pennsylvania contracted rabies last year? 450. Out of a population of 12.76 million. Dudes, you’re not getting rabies. I read the book and saw the movie. Believe it or not, the book is sympathetic to the poor dog. Cujo didn’t want to get sick; in fact, there are chapters from his point of view that are downright heartrending. He is simply a dog with a hurt nose and can’t figure out why he wants to hurt “his” boy. According to King, he wrote this novel while he was drinking heavily and barely remembers writing it it all and in fact, wishes he could remember writing the good parts.

WaltertheFartingDogWalter the Farting Dog Series,  William Kotzwinkle

I’m married to a guy named Walt, so obviously I find these books extra-hilarious (and the stuffed animal!) Walter is an apologetic-looking dog who passes gas morning, noon and night, which causes him to be banned from all kinds of places. However, he also foils burglars with his smelly farts! Yet poor Walter isn’t allowed at the beach, on a cruise ship or yard sales. Interestingly, Walter is based off of a real dog whose owner fed him beer and doughnuts.

DogStoriesDog Stories, Diana Secker Tesdell, Editor

Mark Twain, Tobias Wolff, Jonathan Lethem and Anton Chekhov are only a few of the authors featured in this Everyman’s Library Pocket Classic, Dog Stories. In “Her Dog” by Tobias Wolff, a man talks to his dead wife’s dog to assauge his grief. But Victor the dog will have none of it, saying, “…I loved her more than you. I loved her with all my heart.” There are humorous tales from a dog’s point of view, including tales from P.G. Wodehouse and O. Henry and many more touching portraits about man’s best friend and his ability to amuse us, touch our hearts, and drive us crazy.

Also, if you feel like crying your eyes out, read the prologue to Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. It’s written from the point of view of a dog who is grieving his lost owner.

Now go cuddle with your pooch-

*From the Columbia Encyclopedia:

Dog Days is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was reckoned as extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun.


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