Tag Archives: Science

Review: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
By Frans de Waal
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393353662, April 2017, 352pp.

The Short of It:

An interesting look at animal intelligence.

The Rest of It:

This was a fascinating read and also an interesting choice for a book club selection. Definitely not something I would have picked up on my own. Basically, Frans de Waal’s work involves experiments and tests to determine just how intelligent animals are and whether or not some of their intelligence is inferred by humans.

What I found interesting is how difference species would solve the same problem in different ways, given their exposure to certain situations and whether outside influences such as being fed before a study could affect the outcome. A lot of these experiments are food based so a chimpanzee who has been fed beforehand, may react differently than one who has not.

I have a dog. I think she is brilliant. I believe she has full thoughts and works through problems in a systematic manner. But after reading this book, I realize that most of her action is cued by me, unknowingly. The way I stand, the way I may look at a certain object are giving her clues on how to behave. Interesting, huh?

If you have any interest in animal intelligence at all then this book will fascinate you. Frans de Waal has a VERY interesting TED Talk on his work if you’d like to check it out.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Future Home of the Living God

Future Home of the Living God

The Future Home of the Living God
By Louise Erdrich
Harper, 9780062694058, November 2017, 288pp.

The Short of It:

This book is the perfect example of why you sometimes need to give a book a little more than fifty pages to work its magic.

The Rest of It:

The story opens with the world going to hell in a handbasket but it’s ever so subtle. Parts of the world are okay but some parts have discovered a problem with how babies are developing in the womb. Although the markets still have food available and many seem to notice little in the way of change, there is an uncomfortable need to grab what you can and go.

Cedar, watching all of this unfold on the news is in a delicate situation. She’s pregnant and she’s beginning to realize that pregnant woman are being taken in for “examination” and it’s during this point in the story that I suddenly realized that some of the babies in question have reverted to their original state of primate. Erdrich never once comes out and says it but in between the lines, you know what’s going on.

The story revolves around Cedar, her birth mother and her adopted mother and how all three of them play a role in her survival. As the government closes in, they are forced to hide in order to protect the baby and in doing so, become part of a larger movement to save these women and their babies.

This was a suspenseful read with some interesting supporting characters. Once the story got going, I had a really hard time putting the book down. I HAD to know how it all turned out and anytime  someone steps in to control a woman’s body, you can bet that there’s plenty of content to discuss.

If you’ve read Erdrich before you’ll recognize her style right away but this book will also remind you of The Handmaid’s Tale and Brave New World.

This would make an excellent book club read.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.