A warm breeze, a cool drink, and a giant pile of books to work through poolside!
That’s my ideal summer, anyway. Of course, it’s not always quite so idyllic, but it’s the dream!
If you’re anything like me, though, the summer TBR (to-be-read) pile can feel overwhelming. There are just so many great books out there in a ton of categories. So, one of my favorite things each year, is to round up what I’m reading and make some recommendations to you guys. This is the first of a few “summer reading list” posts–and YIPPEEE they all come with giveaways so you can add to your TBR pile, too!
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Best Beach Read
A YA dystopian novel, Your Robot Dog Will Die stars Nano, a compassionate young gal who starts to question her reality. What is her reality? Well, in this near-future, humankind drove dogs toward extinction by messing with their DNA, turning them vicious, and rounding them up for euthanasia to protect the citizenry. So, people can’t have pet dogs, but they can have robot dogs. Nano lives in the community charged with, first, taking care of the last remaining real-live dogs, and, second, testing robot dogs.
It’s a perfect beach read. A page turner with a little young romance thrown in. It poses a humongous question: What is suffering? But, author Arin Greenwood delivers her response in a funny, thought-provoking, and quick-moving novel. My only complaint–and this is something that crops up in YA novels often–is there are places where she’s making a point about something horrific, like puppy mills or animal abuse, and instead of relying on the audience to draw conclusions from the scene, she sums it up in a whack-you-on-the-head kind of way. It happens five or six times in this novel, and having read a ton of YA, I feel like sometimes YA authors spell things out because they think teens might miss the message. They won’t. Overall, a super nitpicky, tiny complaint from an otherwise fun, thoughtful read.
Best line? Nano observes the last living dogs in their enclosure, “At once, you can have a sort of religious feeling toward them… but then you just have to see these beasties playing with a new toy, or wrestling with each other, to see how delightful they are as well…. These animals embody the best of everything.”
BTW, this is also available free with an Audible trial if you’re an audiobook fan!
Best Children’s Book
We read a LOT of children’s books. We love books; Violet loves books. We read to her before her nap and before bed, and throughout the day, she’ll pick up a book and hand it to me to read to her. All this to say: We have a lot of books under our belt.
The Case of the Pinched Stradivarius features turtles Fargo and Miles who witness through the window of their NYC apartment a crime: a young girl’s violin is stolen. From their aquarium, what can they do, though? Luckily, their owner also has two little dogs who might–or might not–take orders from the turtles.
It’s a cute story written in a way unlike any of the other books we’ve read with Violet. Instead of structured in a typical prose format, it’s organized like dialogue in a script. It took some getting-used-to to read it out loud in that way, but John pointed out that a group of school-aged kids could have a total blast acting out the entire caper! One thing to note: It states on the back of the cover that it’s the first in a series, so I think we’ll be seeing Fargo and Miles again soon!
The Doggie in the Window: How One Dog Led Me from the Pet Store to the Factory Farm to Uncover the Truth of Where Puppies Really Come From covers in-depth the puppy mill problem in the United States. The author’s own dog was purchased from a pet store–what she calls in the introduction “My Favorite Mistake.” Beginning from her purchase of Izzie, then back tracking to the creation of the Animal Welfare Act, through the current roles of the USDA and FDA, this book dives deep into examining all the complicated, complex facets of a really big, really horrible problem.
It’s thoughtful and unflinching. Parts are hard to read. But this is an incredibly important book that I hope you all feel inspired to pick up a copy, read it, then pass it along (or write about it if you blog!) because she points out that the laws in place to regulate this industry are inadequate and, not only that, they’re inadequately enforced. As citizens, though, we elect the lawmakers who write these laws, and we can make sure that our elected officials hear our thoughts on puppy mills. This book arms you with everything you need to affect real change. It’s a must-read. This one is also available free with an Audible trial.
Best Biz Book
As you guys know, I’m committed to learning and doing as much as I can to live an environmentally-responsible lifestyle. I’m constantly striving to learn and to do better. As a small business owner and as a consumer and customer, I’ve always wondered: How can we do more? Can Business Save the Earth? Innovating Our Way to Sustainability provides direction.
Why am I including this text within an animal-friendly roundup? Everything is interrelated, you guys. This book opens with a clear-eyed, harsh accounting of the environmental issues we are all facing right now, from the clean water shortages ravaging parts of the globe to the energy crises rocking every industry. In fact, the authors sum it right up in the first chapter: “Our environmental challenge is the wickedest kind of problem imaginable: complex, interconnected, and requiring massive collective action.”
Massive collective action.
We’re all in this together. The book lays out the role the shifting markets play, along with the need for innovations that disrupt the status quo of how we do business. Even if you don’t own a company, you might work for one that could use some fresh ideas on making changes. This book is definitely for you. If you don’t own a company or work for one, you still buy stuff. We all do. There’s an entire chapter dedicated to the impact consumers can have on the decisions companies make by voting with our dollars. As pet lovers, there are dozens of companies out there–from food to toys to bedding to collars–that make a difference in the world, and this book serves as a call to action: Shop your principles.
BTW, I was lucky to receive an advance copy of this book. It comes out May 22, but it looks like if you sign up for Amazon Prime’s 30-day free trial and pre-order, you actually get it delivered on the day it comes out. I strongly recommend you do! This book hits on some critical, timely topics that can help inspire us all to do better.
Finally, thanks to the incredible generosity of the publishers and publicists of these books, I have a copy of each one to give away to you guys! This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. Sometimes the widget takes a minute to load, but if you’re reading this via email or through a feed reader, you might have to click the link to get it to open.
We are so grateful that we had this opportunity to share these recommendations with you–and free copies to four lucky winners! Keep an eye out for more summer reading to come!
In the meantime, I’d love to know: What’s on your summer reading list?