Cover Image: Our Wild Calling

Our Wild Calling

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Member Reviews


Below are a few (somewhat) brief, $.02 opinions about several books I've read or listened to recently but don't have time to review in full. Their appearance in this recurring piece generally has little to nothing to do with merit. Many of these books I enjoyed as much or more than those that got the full court press. I hope you'll consider one or two for your own TBR stack if they strike your fancy whether they struck mine or not.

Great, but Dry:

Our Wild Calling, by Richard Louv

I love me a good nature book. Subtitled How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives, the premise of this one grabbed me at the start. Within, Louv explores our powerful bonds with nature and animals and how they can "transform our mental, physical, and spiritual lives, serve as an antidote to the growing epidemic of human loneliness, and help us tap into the empathy required to preserve life on Earth." Unfortunately, the writing felt more like a textbook or treatise than a narrative. I realize it's non-fiction, but putting a story to a non-fiction premise makes it more accessible to those who aren't necessarily part of the sciences. A good and interesting work, but perhaps not for everyone.
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We can all use a better connection to the world around us, particularly to the animals that share our space. We have pets and we love all kinds of animals, but how does this help us connect to nature? Are animals a pathway for humans to understand nature better?

In the book, Our Wild Calling, author Richard Louv explores our relationship with animals, both wild and domestic. How can humans draw closer to nature and to animals? What sorts of things are people out there doing now to help make this happen?

In this book, you will see a variety of ways in which we can enhance our lives and experience. Wildlife, pets, imaginary animals, and more, are all there for us to learn about and become closer to. Humans are learning more and more about the animals that share our planet. 

Some of the things that you will learn in this book come from research and some from experience. There are plenty of ways to approach our need to get closer to animals. Some do this in a spiritual way and some in a scientific way. But, the approach itself isn’t what’s really important. The connection with nature and animals is what’s really important. That’s what need is being fulfilled here. Humans can’t exist in a vacuum without nature and animals. 

I think I most enjoyed the chapter that talked about animal-assisted therapy. I think that’s probably a very important thing to be doing. The use of animals helps seniors and sick kids alike. All humans seem to love animals and we can all relate to them. So, their use in a therapeutic setting seems just natural. I enjoyed that part of the book a lot. The whole book is packed full of good information and I think there are many nuances in it too, that will require a second reading in more detail. 

This is a book to savor and think about for a long time. I really loved it.
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I wish I could give this book more than 5 stars! I want to buy a hard copy because there are so many examples/information and just beautiful writing that I want to revisit and take notes on. This is a very important book and one that I hope will be adopted in many different settings. It is  substantial  in both content and in length. I loved it and look forward to more of Louv’s books.
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- with thanks to Algonquin Books and Net Galley for this ARC copy -

I've had my eye on Richard Louv's Our Wild Calling for about a year, having come across it while I was preparing a course on Human-Animal studies. Educators will be happy to get their hands on this work. Beginning with the idea that of the over 800 studies done on nature and health, few have focused on animals, Louv proceeds to guide the reader through the many ways people are combating the "cacophony and distraction of modern life" by "self-medicating with nature." These include interactions with companion animals, of course, but more and more have led people to seek out connections with wild animals, too. 

The good news from Louv's book is that we are becoming a kinder species to other animals. Through critical anthropomorphism, story-catching, bird watching, creating safe spaces for urban animals, and designing biophilic cities, we're making the world a better place for other creatures and for ourselves. Louv writes that to fully protect anything we have to know it and the more we know the more benefits we will transfer, not just to charismatic, flagship species, but to all the creatures who share our world. Of special benefit to educators is an "action plan" provided in later chapters for schools who want to increase the relationship between their students and the natural world. 

My sole critique of this book is that sometimes the examples are lumped together in such a way that they can distract from the main thesis of the chapter, but I think the work is lively and easily understood and will make a perfect addition to college courses that focus on wilderness and health or on animal studies.
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Moving, evocative and profound, Louv echoes Sy Montgomery in effective, personal nature writing. A timely, urgent book about what it means to be human in the most basic sense of the term - and how non-human animals are more human than we accept.
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