Monday, July 15, 2013

WIld Reading: A Big Little Life

I've been wanting to read a lot more books that are non-fiction about animals and I finally got to. These books, when I review them, will be a new feature by the name of Wild Reading. This is something else I'm trying and I'm hoping it goes rather well and that y'all enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed reading all these books and watching all the movies.

This is the first animal memoir I have read. It is also the first non-fiction book about a dog I have read. I have never read a book by Dean Koontz until now and it wasn't one of his fictional bestsellers. Today's review is for a book Mr. Koontz wrote about his first dog and how she changed his life. 

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A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 5/5
  

It's been quite a while since I've given a book 5 whole.....whatever things it is I give out for these. I suppose in that case I would give it 5 joyful barks as a tribute to Trixie Koontz. Having never read a memoir about a dog (or any animal) before, I am incredibly happy to have this one be my first. I was kind of nervous at first, since I've never leaned too much into liking non-fiction, although I suppose it does depend on the subject matter.


A Big Little Life:  A Memoir of a Joyful Dog
The closest I've ever come to this was probably Death at Seaworld and it wasn't really about the animals as it was about people and opinions. It certainly didn't have the heart that these other animal books I've been wanting to read do. Not anywhere close. I love watching animal movies, but those are all fictitious works made up by imaginative and wonderfully creative people (Free Willy, Flipper, Dolphin Tale, Racing Stripes,...and many more similar to those). A Big Little Life is none of those things. It is full of heart and love and truth. That is what I've been seeking and I can say whole heartedly that this book has it all and some. I don't really even know where to begin this review at....there's too much wonderful about it.


I have never read a Dean Koontz novel. None of his bestselling works are in my collection and have never been checked out on my library card. I couldn't even name any besides the ones he briefly mentioned in A Big Little Life. However, I do know of him, his name and that he is a successful writer. That being said, I picked up this book because I hope to one day be a published author myself and I have always wanted a dog. My first thought at seeing this book was "I wonder how a dog would affect a writer's life.." as a way to kinda see how my own life might be affected and how a dog could add or subtract in that aspect. Then I realized I just really wanted to read about a real life dog who made some sort of impact on a human, to see what I could look forward to when I someday get my own. No two dogs are exactly alike, so I picked up 3 different memoirs to get a small taste of the dog personality spectrum. A Big Little Life was my first of those three and I'm very satisfied with it. 


In time, I just might read a book by Mr. Koontz, preferably the one he mentioned that had golden retrievers included in the cast. I would love to read one of his first ones and then one he wrote with the influence of Trixie, just to see if there really is a difference. However, A Big Little Life was a great place to start, because it tells you how he came to be a writer. If you'd like, a couple of chapters in there could even be subtitled "The Origin of Dean Koontz." It was interesting to see how his life was before he began writing, after he started, and when he and his wife adopted Trixie.


The writing style of this book is very personal, which could probably be expected, since it is a memoir after all. However, instead of just relaying memories, Koontz actually includes his thoughts on some of the memories he had with Trixie as well as his thoughts on various other aspects of life. When reading this book, I felt like he was sitting with me in a room and just telling little stories that made up one big chapter of his life, often referring back to previous chapters that led up to it. He doesn't put on the air of a writer, he just writes like a real person talking which I found especially enjoyable. You're not experiencing Dean Koontz the bestselling author, you're having tea with Dean Koontz the man, the mind, the soul, the father of Trixie. His quirks and reactions come alive in the pages. A piece of him exists in the pages and us readers get to experience it and appreciate it. There's humor abound and I couldn't help but chuckle to myself on several occasions. I was laughing and smiling...and of course tearing up when it came time for the book to end.


I simply must add in 3 things that tickled me and made me a really happy reader. They aren't major and I'm rather certain they wouldn't be considered spoilers. There were 3 instances where I wanted to give Koontz a million + points because they were things that I immensely enjoy. One was a Jurassic Park reference...and not just about anything in Jurassic Park, it had to be a mentioning of the velociraptors (which are, for those who don't know, my favorite). The second was a reference to Back to the Future in regards to bedhead. I was so tickled by it. And finally, there was a point where even a sea lion was mentioned (sea lions are some of my favorite animals). That part was simply delightful and made me get an even deeper appreciation for Trixie.


Trixie was a miracle dog. She was definitely beautiful and very loving. The book leads me to believe that she was also a very cheerful and friendly dog who had some very mysterious abilities. Throughout the book, I couldn't help but get attached to her, she was such an incredible dog. I can't say a whole lot, because there's just too much that I wouldn't be doing this book or Trixie justice. This book is a must-read for all dog lovers. I'm sure I would have an even deeper understanding and appreciation for this book if I had a dog myself. It is a beautiful masterpiece that I think animal lovers of all walks and occupations would enjoy greatly. There is so much love and heart in this book, it'll bring you immense joy and take you to tears.


Its been a long time since I have picked up a library book that I have wanted to read right over again. This book is one that would deserve that. I would buy this book (which is saying a lot considering there are very few books I've wanted to have for myself from the library after reading through them). A Big Little Life is......incredible, heartwarming, enchanting, amazing, and all around fun. There are definitely lessons to learn within it and a very wonderful animal to love. A true miracle. So if you know any animal lovers who are searching for a great book, or you need a gift for your fellow dog parents, this is the one to give them and recommend. Without a doubt, it is one that many will come to cherish.


The link above will take you to youtube and the book trailer, which has pics of Trixie so you can see how beautiful a dog she really was. Her beauty extended in and out, as well as one of the most innocent creatures you will ever read about.

Trixie was a retired assistance dog that Dean and Gerda Koontz adopted. Here's a link to CCI (Canine Companions for Independence). CCI helps people with disabilities through dogs. Visit their site to find out more about their services, opportunities to help, or just general information. Trixie was trained and worked there before having to retire due to elbow surgery.

Until the next review, farewell!

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