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Book Discussion: "Being With Animals: Why We Are Obsessed with the Creatures..."

For our next vegan book group we'll discuss Being with Animals: Why We Are Obsessed with the Furry, Scaly, Feathered Creatures who Populate Our World by Barbara King. This book was chosen to for its anthropological and historical look at the bonds between humans and non-human animals. The theme of this book is sure to appeal to all Friendly Vegans members regardless of the degree to which they've adopted or considered a vegan diet.  We'll discuss the book in its entirety at this meetup; however, if you haven't read the whole book (or haven't read it at all), please feel free to join us anyway!

Note: If you plan to purchase the book, unfortunately you might have to order online because Bookshop Santa Cruz is unable to get the book from its distributors.  But don't worry, there are plenty of copies on various websites online...I recommend the following as alternatives to Amazon: Better World Books and Powell's Books
That said, there are also three copies available through the Santa Cruz Public Libraries.

Synopsis of the book:  In Being With Animals, anthropologist Barbara King unravels the complexity and enormous significance of this relationship.  Animals rule our existence.  You can see this in the billions of dollars Americans pour out each year for their pets, in the success of books and films such as Marley and Me, in the names of athletic teams, in the stories that have entertained and instructed children (from The Cat in the Hat back to well before Aesop created his fables), in the animal deities that pervade the most ancient forms of religion, to the paintings on the cave walls of Lascaux.  The omnipresence of animal beings in our lives--whether real or fictional--is something so enormous that people often take it for granted, never wondering why animals remain so much a part of human life.   King looks at this phenomenon, from the most obvious animal connections in daily life and culture and over the whole of human history, to show the various roles animals have played in all civilizations.  She ultimately digs deeply into the importance of the human-animal bond as key to our evolution, as a significant spiritual aspect of understanding what truly makes us human, and looks ahead to explore how our further technological development may, or may not, affect these important ties.

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  • Jayne

    My cat is sick, and I'm exhausted from work/apt hunting this week - if things are better this afternoon then I'll come

    April 14, 2013

  • Radha V.

    Not because of the book, but because my good friend wants to celebrate her birthday with a visit to Garland Ranch in Carmel to see wildflowers, I'll not be coming to the Bagelry.

    April 12, 2013

  • Madeleine

    After making my way through this sometimes painful sometimes enjoyable book, I will not be able to attend the discussion to a family medical emergency. Hope to join you next time!

    April 12, 2013

  • Madeleine

    Thanks for the additional info/warnings Julie! I come across things that don't mesh with my "vegan beliefs" on a daily basis, (as I imagine most of us do) and I think it's just part of what we deal with at this point in time as vegans. I'm up for sticking with this book. I think it might spark a good discussion about animals and the role they play in our lives.

    March 10, 2013

  • Julie


    I was going to suggest a possible change of book but as some of you have already ordered it, that may not be fair. We can keep this meetup as is; however, I would ask that:
    1) you will take this message as a disclaimer so you can avoid the book or avoid the chapters on topics you do not want to read
    2) that group meeting attendees be prepared to approach this meetup more as a critique if need be. Let me know if you have other concerns, comments, or ideas. Also, if you do desire to change the book please let me know. On a side note, I think there are/will be great moments and insights throughout this book, but you will also come across information that does not align with your values or vegan lifestyle lifestyle. My apologies again,


    March 9, 2013

  • Julie

    FACILITATOR'S NOTE (PART I): Hi all, as the book groups leader and book selector, I would like to apologize. While I'm only a few pages into the book, it has turned out to be something different than I expected and from the reviews. Being that the author is speaking from an anthropological perspective, she does (at least in chapter 1) discuss the origin/evolution of things like hunting or domesticating animals for food. She doesn't seemed to be advocating such things but simply telling the historical and anthropological reality as she sees it. That said, I am concerned about how we as vegans may feel about reading this book and would like to offer an advanced apology to anyone for whom this book could upset or offend. While I did suspect this book wasn't written from a vegan perspective, I believed it was going to be more about celebrating our relationships with animals throughout history. While there are moments of celebration it isn't what I expected

    March 9, 2013

  • Julie C.

    I'm disappointed that I won't be able to make this book discussion.

    March 6, 2013

  • Madeleine

    Just ordered the book! Looking forward to reading and discussing!

    March 4, 2013

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