I don’t keep track of the number of books I read each year, but my best guess is somewhere between 150 and 200, and at least half of them have something to do with cats. I reviewed more than 30 books here on The Conscious Cat this year.
I made a commitment to myself long ago that I would never post a bad book review. I feel that every author pours his or her heart and soul into a book, and just because I don’t like a book doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a good book. As a result, if you see a book reviewed here on the site, it means that I really liked it. This made it challenging to pick only ten favorites for this year end round up, especially since the books cover such a wide variety of genres.
Here are my ten favorites for this year, in the order in which I reviewed them.
Love Saves the Day is a hauntingly beautiful, heart touching, and at times painfully raw story about grief, hope and healing. Narrated from three points of view, with the primary narrator being Prudence, a brown tabby rescued from a deserted construction site on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, this is a book about the importance of memories, and of preserving a part of one’s past. It’s also the story of a mother daughter relationship that shows that deep rifts can be mended even after death. But ultimately, this is a book about love, and how one small cat, through her mere presence, can change multiple lives.
Parrots Prove Deadly, the third in Simon’s Pet Noir series featuring pet behaviorist and psychic Pru Marlowe is yet another winner from this prolific author. This book has a little bit for everyone. Animal lovers will enjoy Pru’s communications with the various animals. Mystery lovers will enjoy the wild ride Simon takes the reader on. Romance lovers will enjoy the developing on again, off again relationship between Pru and her detective boyfriend.
Grey Dawn, Simon’s second new release this year, and the sixth book in the Dulcie Schwartz mystery series featuring the Harvard graduate student, is another satisfying read for lovers of cat-centric mysteries. Simon masterfully takes the reader through multiple plot lines to a surprising finish. There are plenty of cats in this book: from ghost cat Mr. Grey, who keeps an eye on Dulcie and guides her with subtle and sometimes not so subtle messages, to Esme, who is maturing into a young adult with a strong sense of who she is, to an orange kitten rescued by the protagonist.
Cats and Daughters: They Don’t Always Come When They’re Called is the long awaited sequel to Helen Brown’s international bestseller Cleo: The Cat Who Mended a Family, about the little black kitten who came into the author’s life after the death of her young son. After Cleo died, the author swore she’d never get another cat, but the universe had different plans when a small Siamese kitten with an intense blue gaze wrapped his paws around her hand in a pet store. Jonah came into Brown’s life shortly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the book chronicles Brown’s struggle with her illness, her daughter, and her rambunctious cat. This is a story of love and family – both two- and four-legged – with all the challenges and imperfections that are part of life.
Fifth Life of the CatWoman was the most unusual book I reviewed this year, and the most unexpected treasure. History teacher Kat O’Malley is living the nine lives of a cat, and her lessons come from four hundred years of underdog experience with witch trials, prejudice, intolerance and poverty. This is magical realism at its best. The book touched me deeply, and it’s one I will be rereading over and over. It is poignant, haunting, bittersweet, joyful, and thought-provoking. And the fact that a tortoiseshell cat cat appears throughout the book only added to my overall enjoyment of the book.
I fell in love with Bob, the ginger (orange) tom cat and his human, James Bowen, when I read A Street Cat Named Bob last spring. The story of a down on his luck street musician who was busking the streets of London with his cat captured my heart – and the hearts of millions of readers around the world. The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-Wise Cat picks up where the first book leaves off, and takes us all the way to the publication of the first book and how it changed the pair’s life.
Lil BUB’s Lil Book: The Most Extraordinary Life of the Most Amazing Cat on the Planet came as a surprise to me. I didn’t really expect to like this book. I liked Lil BUB, but I didn’t think this small book was going to be all that special. I was wrong. Unlike the hundreds of images I’d seen of Lil Bub on the internet before then, this little book made me realize that she is, indeed, a very special little cat. And like hundreds of thousands of cat lovers before me, I fell in love. This book is a chance to be touched by Lil’ BUB’s magic.
In The Cat, the Mill and the Murder, the latest Leann Sweeney’s Cats in Trouble series featuring cat quilter Jillian Hart and her three cats Merlot, Chablis and Chiraz, just keeps getting better and better. Like all the books in the series, this one is hard to put down. And like all the others, it is filled with lots of fascinating facts about cats. The recurring and new characters are thoroughly likeable, and the cats are delightful.
I absolutely adore The Big New Yorker Book of Cats. Aside from the from that fact that it combines two of my great loves, cats, and New York City, into one beautiful book, it’s everything a special cat book should be.This illustrated collection is a celebration of cats. The book features articles, poems and humor pieces by such literary luminaries as Margaret Atwood, Roald Dahl, Robert Graves, Ted Hughes, Jamaica Kincaid, Jean Rhys, James Thurber, John Updike, Sylvia Townsend Warner, E. B. White, and many, many more. And of course, it also contains plenty of the New Yorker’s signature cartoons and drawings.
In The Dalai Lama’s Cat and the Art of Purring, the sequel to the 2012 novel The Dalai Lama’s Cat, the Dalai Lama gives his feline companion the task of discovering the true case of happiness. Narrated with warmth, wit and wisdom, this book, like the first one, is a wonderful introduction to Buddhist principles in an easily accessible way. Readers who are already familiar with Buddhist teachings will find themselves smiling at how the tenets are presented from a cat’s point of view.
Photo at top of post ©Bernadette Kazmarski, used with permission.