Book Review of Cherished
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Book Review of: Cherished

21 Writers on Animals They Have Loved and Lost

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Review of Cherished, by Author (Softcover, 2010)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)

Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.

The death of a pet is a hard thing to endure. This book provides 20 accounts of dealing with just that situation, and one account of "losing" a pet by not adopting it in the first place.

The emphasis in this book is on the death of the pet, rather than its life. In most cases, the climax of the story is the euthanasia. In my opinion, it would have been better to summarize the death part because we all know pets die and we also know that while we do not (legally) extend the charity of a quick death to terminally ill, suffering humans, we do extend that to pets. So for pets, the euthanasia is pretty much a given and the human companion is usually going to be there to provide final love and comfort.

With limited space and 21 stories, it would have been better to focus on the unique aspects of each pet rather than to spend page space on repeating the details of the "shaved a spot and stuck the needle in" trauma. After all, the subtitle is "loved" AND "lost;" not just "lost." In fact, the procedure could have been left out of each acct and just described in an appendix (preferably by a veterinarian). Or one writer could have provided a livid acct that would be presented as perhaps typical or at least representative. While each pet is unique, the euthanasia procedure isn't. We didn't need to read it a dozen plus times.

Fortunately, many of these accounts do describe what made a given pet and its relationship with the human so memorable. Some accounts  reveal the failings of the humans the pets relied on; one about a horse was particularly moving. The accounts I liked best were the ones that showed the personalities of the pets being discussed. About a third of the accounts did this really well.

The pets who were subjects of this book were cats, dogs, and horses; except for one good story about pigs, no other species were included. If they had been, I think I would have been disappointed. With the exception of some birds (and the aforementioned pigs), I don't think other species not mentioned in this book have anywhere near the effect on us that cats, dogs, and horses do.

Yes, some people have kept primates as pets but that's a special situation in which I think the entire human/pet thing is just a delusion. Regarding cetaceans as pets, similar logic applies.

All of the contributors are writers (as the subtitle stated), and most of those writers are poets or novelists. The writing was generally of good quality. A few writers had grammatical errors. One, for example, used the past tense of lay ("laid") where the past tense of lie ("lay") should have been used.

The story part of this book runs from page 1 through page 199. With a few exceptions, there's a blank page between each of the 21 accounts, so the total story page count is about 180 pages. The accounts are of varying length.

Another reviewer stated "all monies will be donated to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary." This is not true. What is stated in the back of the book is all profits from the book will be donated to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. The profit margin on a book today is usually quite slim. This one sells on Amazon, at the time of this review, for $9.96. I have no idea how many books must sell before the proceeds cover the fixed costs of printing the initial run of this book (those costs are significant) or how many more must be printed before each book sold generates a profit. I can tell you the number is big, though. So it will be a long time before any proceeds are donated, because it will be a long time before this book actually turns a profit.

For the typical pet lover, this book is worth buying. While the book could have been better, it's a great value at this price.




About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree and an MBA, among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.

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