Thursday, May 6, 2010
What I'm Reading These Days, Vol. 2
I just finished reading a delightful book called Wesley the Owl, by Stacey O'Brien. It's the true story of a young woman who adopted a barn owl when he was only a few days old. She kept him for nearly 20 years, letting him sleep in her bedroom. The story is very funny in a quirky sort of way. I loved reading about Stacey's adventures and embarrassing moments. It was also very educational; Stacey is a biologist, so she has both book knowledge and practical experience with owls. I had no idea barn owls were so intelligent and sensitive, nor that they eat absolutely nothing but mice.
Wesley's loyalty to Stacey was inspiring, as was her dedication to his care. For example, she had to kill six mice per day to feed him, and she says she never got used to that. And for awhile she was never able to go away on vacation because she was the only person he would allow close to him.
The book really made me think about the intelligence of animals. In that regard, it reminded me of another book--which I borrowed from Christina, the same friend who loaned me this one--called When Elephants Weep. That book has a completely different style. It's more of a scientific book, and not such an easy read, but it's quite fascinating. It explores the emotional lives of all sorts of animals, from rats to elephants. I'll tell one story from that book that made me laugh so hard. Somehow, experimenters discovered that a particular type of rat has a strong instinct to rescue babies. They found that it would rescue over 50 rat babies from different mothers and try to cram them all into its nest. Then they tried putting babies from other species out there, and it tried to rescue them as well. It was absolutely determined to drag squawking ducks and scratching kittens into its nest. Bizarre!
If you decide to check out either of these books, I'd love to know your thoughts. If you read Wesley the Owl, be sure to read the acknowledgment section at the end. As an aspiring author, I found the story of the book's publication to be very encouraging.