Top Ten Tuesday: Animals from Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog. The topic this week is Animals from Books (these could be mythical, real, main characters, sidekicks, companions/pets, shifters, etc)

These are all books I’ve read. The first five are about rabbits, dogs, farmyard animals and a moth.

 Watership Down – Sandleford Warren is in danger. Hazel’s younger brother Fiver is convinced that a great evil is about to befall the land, but no one will listen. Together with a few other brave rabbits they secretly leave behind the safety and strictures of the warren and hop tentatively out into a vast and strange world. 

Animal Farm by George Orwell – It tells the story of a farm where the animals rebel against the farmer, Mr Jones, and throw him off the land. They hope to create a society where they are all equal, free and happy. Ultimately, the farm ends up in a state that is as bad, if not worse than it was before, under the dictatorship of a pig named Napoleon. 

The Call of the Wild by Jack London – Buck, a cross between a St Bernard and a Scotch Shepherd (Collie) was stolen from his home in the Santa Clara Valley in California and taken to the Yukon where strong sled dogs were needed during the Klondike Gold Rush. Buck has to fight for existence and as he learnt by experience, instincts that were long dead came alive in him:

Bob in Agatha Christie’s Dumb Witness – The ‘dumb witness’of the title is Bob, a wire-haired terrier in what is described as ‘the incident of the dog’s ball.’ Agatha Christie dedicated Dumb Witness to her wire-haired terrier, Peter, describing him as ‘most faithful of friends and dearest companion, a dog in a thousand‘. Bob plays an important part in the plot.

Death of a Moth by Virginia Woolf, in a collection of twenty-eight essays, sketches, and short stories. The first essay is a meditation on the nature of life and death seen through the perspective of a moth. It flies by day, fluttering from side to side of a window pane. As the day progresses the moth tires and falls on his back. He struggles vainly to raise himself. She watches, realising that it is useless to try to do anything to help and ponders the power of death over life:

The last five are all about birds:

Grip, a pet raven in Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens. Grip goes everywhere with Barnaby. He’s a most amazing bird who can mimic voices and seems to have more wits about him than Barnaby. He is based on one of Dickens’s own ravens, also called Grip.

The Raven a narrative poem by Edgar Allen Poe. Poe was inspired by Dickens’s portrait of Grip to write his poem. It tells of a talking raven‘s mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man’s slow descent into madness. 

The Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson historical fiction about the early years of Henry’s reign as seen through the eyes of Joan Vaux, a lady in waiting to Elizabeth of York. Joan’s fascination for and care of the ravens of the Tower of London firmly believing in the legend that should the ravens leave the Tower for good then the crown will fall and ruin will return to the nation.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. It’s three  books in one – one about herself, her childhood and her intense grief at the sudden death of her father, one about training a goshawk and another about T H White and his book, The Goshawk.

Corvus: A Life With Birds by Esther Woolfson is a remarkable book about the birds she has has had living with her; birds that were found out of the nest that would not have survived if she had not taken them in. Although the book is mainly about the rook, Chicken, Esther Woolfson also writes in detail about natural history, the desirability or otherwise of keeping birds, and a plethora of facts about birds, their physiology, mechanics of flight, bird song and so on.

14 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Animals from Books

    1. I found H is for Hawk difficult to read and draining, despite some richly descriptive narrative. I am not comfortable with keeping wild creatures in captivity and in my naivete I hadn’t realised just what training a hawk entailed – it came across to me that it had been a battle of wills, as she kept Mabel indoors in a darkened room, in a hood, on a perch or restrained on a leash for much of the time. It was a physical battle too that evoked rage, violence and frustration. I also found it difficult because it is so personal as she exposed just how bereft she was, how she suffered the loss of her father and became depressed almost to the state of madness.

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  1. Yea Bob from Dumb Witness is a very popular choice today. I really want to have a Bob. But we have two Labradors and Bob will have to wait for one day.

    Lovely selection!

    Elza Reads

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  2. This is a great meme, Margaret, and you’ve done a brilliant job with it! I’m really impressed. What I especially like about your choices is the variety – fiction, non-fiction, and all kinds of fiction, too. Far better than I could do!

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