Thursday, June 18, 2015
The Emotional Lives of Animals - by Marc Bekoff
I wasn't expecting purely hard science from this book, but it was still a bit less scientific than I had expected. Although, as Bekoff makes it clear that he is writing for people who don't necessarily believe that animals have emotions, I don't think the lack of scientific evidence is a downfall. I also thought this book oversimplified many of the issues such as animal testing or the impact of zoos, but again, this might be because I am not the intended audience. I am a passionate animal lover and have always accepted that all species of animals have a wide variety of emotions.
My main critique of this book regardless of the audience is the organization. Bekoff repeats many of his assertions to the point where they become redundant. And while I don't mind the mix of scientific evidence and anecdotes, I think the move between these doesn't flow very smoothly. The author will often just jump into an anecdote without any real transition or introduction, and then make a similarly jarring transition back to his more scientific or ethical arguments. This book has great potential if people who aren't sure if animals have emotions could be convinced to read it. My only worry would be that the organization might be off putting and the oversimplification might leave those who are more scientifically minded unconvinced. I am definitely interested in reading some of Bekoff's other books, though, because I did enjoy The Emotional Lives of Animals and would like to see what else he has to say.
This will be my third book for the summer reading challenge from http://summerreadingonline.blogspot.com/ and I will be using it for the book about animals challenge. I also considered using it for a nonfiction book, but lately I've set myself a personal goal of trying to read more nonfiction in general so I'm hoping that still having a challenge to complete will encourage me to do so.