Birds and cats, to be precise. My favorites!
The Lion in the Living Room: How Housecats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Tucker focuses on the unlikely association between cats and humans. Housecats aren’t “domesticated” the way dogs and other animals are. Cats make a deliberate decision to stick with humans, and humans keep these fuzzy little hypercarnivores as cherished pets. This book discusses how, on an evolutionary and ecological level, how truly bizarre this is. It’s also a wonderful capsule biological history of the cat. It’s also extremely fun and extremely readable.
One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives by Bernd Heinrich is armchair bird-watching at its best. Heinrich is a fantastic nature writer, and the narrative is enlivened by his sketches of birds. He lives in a cabin in the Maine woods and interacts with his bird neighbors both as scientist and observer. One review I saw called Heinrich’s work “hands and knees” science, and that’s a great way to put it. But it’s also enjoyable because these birds really are Heinrich’s neighbors, the same way I feel about the chickadees, blue jays, cardinals, and goldfinches who are regular visitors to my backyard feeder (I am particularly partial to the chickadees).
I’ll be honest with you and say that I’m still in the middle of both of these books. But given how slowly I read even slim volumes of nonfiction like these, I thought it prudent to go ahead and share now.