Crysania (crysania4) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #2 to #5

Behind the cut are the following books:

2. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
3. Dogged Pursuit: My Year of Competing Dusty, the World's Least Likely Agility Dog by Robert Rodi
4. Beethoven by Maynard Solomon
5.Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz

Title: Stardust
Author: Neil Gaiman
Year published: 1999
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 288
Rating: ***

Description: One fateful night, Tristran promises his beloved that he will retrieve a fallen star for her from beyond the Wall that stands between their rural English town (called, appropriately, Wall) and the Faerie realm. No one ever ventures beyond the Wall except to attend an enchanted flea market that is held every nine years (and during which, unbeknownst to him, Tristran was conceived). But Tristran bravely sets out to fetch the fallen star and thus win the hand of his love. His adventures in the magical land will keep you turning pages as fast as you can--he and the star escape evil old witches, deadly clutching trees, goblin press-gangs, and the scheming sons of the dead Lord of Stormhold. (from

My thoughts: I read this book because I recently saw the movie and LOVED it. I found the book to be only somewhat like the movie and for perhaps the first time in my life, I actually liked the movie better than the book (blasphemy I know!). Gaiman writes well and I found it an easy and quick read, but I simply liked the movie version's take on the characters slightly more than the original novel's.


Title: Dogged Pursuit: My Year of Competing Dusty, the World's Least Likely Agility Dog
Author: Robert Rodi
Year published: 2009
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 288
Rating: ***

Description: Robert Rodi is a self-proclaimed Blue-stater who prefers fine wine and Italian literature (in Italian) to SUVs and suburban sprawl. His dog Dusty’s scrawny build and skittish personality make him an unnatural competitor. Nevertheless, Rodi recounts a year filled with victories, failures, and hysterical personalities, and the loving bond between one man and his bug-eyed dog. (from

My thoughts: I wanted to love this book. Seriously. I wanted to think this was the best book ever. Considering my love of dogs and the sport of agility, this was really right up my alley. I almost bought it as soon as it came out but opted instead to wait a bit. Ultimately, I took it out of the library and I was glad of it. Rodi is a great writer. He makes you laugh and the story flowed well. But there were so many things about the book that irked me. Dusty, the dog in question, appears to not be enjoying agility at all. He was fearful and horribly uncomfortable. Rodi was confusing in his signals and made things only worse with not only his hyper-competitiveness but also his lambasting of the others involved in it. He waxed quite eloquently on how the others ate sloppy joes and he made amazing gourmet meals at home. In the end, I found it an ok read, but I was upset at the lengths Rodi went to keep his dog in a sport he was eminently unsuited for.


Title: Beethoven
Author: Maynard Solomon
Year published: 2nd edition published 1998 (1st edition published 1977)
Genre: Biography
Pages: 554
Rating: ****

Description: Hailed as a masterpiece for its original interpretations of Beethoven's life and music. This edition takes into account the latest information and literature. (from

My thoughts: For the most part I thought this was an awesome biography of Beethoven. There is a LOT here so it takes awhile to digest. I had to reread some sections more than once just to make sure I was able to take it all in. The best section in the book is where Solomon delves into the mystery of Beethoven's Immortal Beloved and pretty much pins down who is the most likely woman for the role. He presents it like the mystery it is and then unveils all the information he has that points to this particular person and discounts others who have been named in the past. The worst aspect is the intense focus on Freud in his psychoanalytical moments. Beethoven is a fun one to psychoanalyze. He was a peculiar person. But Solomon is very focused on Freud's theories throughout the book and after a time I found myself tiring of them fairly quickly. He also glossed over Beethoven's struggles with his hearing and incresing deafness. I think there's a lot more there than Solomon really talked about. And just a warning to non-musicians: if you're interested in Beethoven but don't know all that much about music, you may want to skim the music sections. They're dense and full of sometimes detailed information that would probably only interest a theorist!


Title: Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know
Author: Alexandra Horowitz
Year published: 2009
Genre: Dog behavior/psychology
Pages: 368
Rating: *****

Description: What do dogs know? How do they think? The answers will surprise and delight you as Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal, the human. (from

My thoughts: Loved it. Absolutely loved it. I've read a lot of books on dog psychology and I found this one to be perhaps the most readable and most accessible to people. I also like her focus on positive training and debunking the alpha/dominance myth.

Horowitz breaks the book down into sections on the dog's senses (beginning with the nose, which is ultimately the most important) and then combines it all together to give you the whole dog's perception of the world. She really tries to make you SEE (or rather, SMELL) the world as a dog does. And I think she admirably succeeds. At the end of the book she gives several suggestions for enriching your dog's life. If you get nothing more out of this book than that, then you're far ahead of the game. If you've ever wanted to know more about that creature you share your home with, this is the book to read. Highly recommended!

* = Horrible, wouldn't recommend it to my worst enemy
** = Meh. It was ok, but won't reread
*** = Good, a decent book, not the best ever, but not horrible either
**** = Excellent, will keep and likely reread
***** = AWESOME. Will reread many times and likely end up having to obtain a second copy
Tags: animals, fantasy, memoir, music

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