Book Club

Nov. 6 Book Club: Sebastian Junger's 'Tribe'

tribe-coverThe next Paws & Effect Book Club selection is the non-fiction work "Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging" by Sebastian Junger. Junger is the author of such books as "War" (2010) and "The Perfect Storm" (1997), as well as co-director of the documentaries "Restrepo" (2010), "Korengal" (2014), and "The Last Patrol" (2014).

"We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding—'tribes,'" marketing materials for the book read. "This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival."

The book club discussion will take place starting 6:30 p.m., Sun., Nov. 6, at Barnes & Noble, Shoppes At Three Fountains 4550 University Ave, West Des Moines, Iowa.

The book is available at Barnes & Noble, and via the company website here.

Book Club Selection Speaks to Paws & Effect Mission

The Paws & Effect Book Club selection for September 2015 is "Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process" by Irene Pepperberg.

Pepperberg, a scientist who studies animal cognition, tells the story of Alex—short for "Avian Learning Experiment"—an African Grey parrot who mastered a vocabulary of more than 100 words, and was able to answer questions about colors, shapes, and objects.

In her research, Pepperberg indicated that Alex's language abilities were comparable to those of dolphins and great apes. In the book, she also tells of other avian examples of intelligence and understanding.

"Paws & Effect is deeply committed to celebrating and contributing to research about the human-animal bond, and the roles that animals can play in our lives," says Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "That's why our book club uses titles like 'Alex & Me' as foundations for discussion. That's why we're partnering with brain researchers at Des Moines University. And that's why our latest litter of future service dogs is named to honor individuals such as co-founder of Pet Partners Leo Bustad; primatologist Jane Goodall; and animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin. In addition to 'Leo,' 'Goodall,' and 'Grandin,' we have our own 'Alex'!"

The book club discussion will take place 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thurs., Sept. 17, 2015 at the Grand View University main campus library, Des Moines, Iowa.

The library is located on East 14th Street, between Grandview and Morton Avenues. For directions to campus and maps, click here.

The book is also available available on Kindle format.

'Far from the Tree' is Book Club Selection for June 25

The next Paws & Effect Book Club selection for 2015 is "Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity" by Andrew Solomon.

The discussion will take place 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thurs., June 25, 2105 at the Grand View University main campus library, Des Moines, Iowa.

The library is located on East 14th Street, between Grandview and Morton Avenues. For directions to campus and maps, click here.

"Far From the Tree is one of the most compassionate books I have ever read that treads in the deep, deep water of human differences," says Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "This book attempts and succeeds in bringing in a unique point of view about differences; front and foremost it includes those family members and friends who love that person who is different."

"Paws & Effect works with people every day whose lives may be very different from our own," Shumate continues. "This book both honors and celebrates differences, quickly doing away with stigma and prejudice, often finding perspectives that allow the rest of us to embrace the very things that we deemed difficult to begin with."

The 976-page (including 200 pages of notes) book is also available available on Kindle or unabridged audiobook formats.

Next Book Club Selection: 'In a Dog's Heart,' April 16

The second Paws & Effect Book Club selection for 2015 is "In a Dog's Heart: A Compassionate Guide to Canine Care, from Adopting to Teaching to Bonding"by Jennifer Arnold. In 1991, Arnold founded Canine Assistants, a Milton, Ga.-based non-profit that trains service and seizure-response dogs for children and adults diagnosed with medical needs.

According to her biography, Arnold and her family learned about the value of mobility dogs after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and spent two years of her adolescence using a wheelchair-user.

"I have come to believe that dogs are among God's greatest creations," Arnold writes on her Amazon author page. "I also believe that we have a responsibility to treat them with respect and kindness. Force and intimidation have no place in working with dogs."

"In a Dog's Heart" is Arnold's second book. Her first, "Through a Dog's Eyes: Understanding Our Dogs by Understanding How They See the World" was turned into a one-hour television program on PBS.

The Paws & Effect book club discussion will take place 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thurs., Apr. 7, 2105 at the Grand View University main campus library, Des Moines, Iowa.

The library is located on East 14th Street, between Grandview and Morton Avenues. For directions to campus and maps, click here.

'Age of Empathy' is First 2015 Book Club Selection

The first Paws & Effect Book Club selection for 2015 is "The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society" by animal behaviorist Frans B. M. de Waal.

The discussion will take place 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thurs., Jan. 8, 2105 at the Grand View University main campus library, Des Moines, Iowa.

The library is located on East 14th Street, between Grandview and Morton Avenues. For directions to campus and maps, click here.

With a doctoral degree in both biology and zoology, de Waal teaches, researches, and writes about primate behavior in the psychology department at Emory University, Atlanta, Ga. He is also the director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, also in Atlanta. According to the center's webpage:

[De Waal's] latest research concerns empathy and cooperation, inequity aversion and social cognition in chimpanzees, bonobos, and other species. He and his students have pioneered studies on how behavior is culturally transmitted in the primates, whether elephants recognize themselves in mirrors, how primates react to unequal reward divisions, how well primates spontaneously cooperate, and whether bonobo orphans are as emotionally affected by their trauma as human orphans.

Writing in plain-spoken prose, peppered with plenty of anecdotes, de Wall's "Age of Empathy" explores the possibility that humans—like other primates—are not inherently selfish, but are instead more than capable of creating an empathic and generous society.

"Having an appreciation for other species and their experiences helps us better understand our own relationships with each other," says Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "So much research-based information is presented in Age of Empathy, it makes it a worthy read, two- or three-times over."

Book Club Event Rescheduled for Oct. 2

The fourth Paws & Effect Book Club selection for 2014 is "Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace" by animal behaviorist Kathy Sdao.

The discussion will take place 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thurs., Oct. 2 at the Grand View University main campus library, Des Moines, Iowa. The event was originally scheduled for Sept. 4.

The library is located on East 14th Street, between Grandview and Morton Avenues. For directions to campus and maps, click here.

The book relates how Sdao has developed a philosophy that emphasizes mutual reinforcement among trainers and their animals, rather than establishing rules that hinder the human's abilities to share affection and attention with animals they're training.

According to press materials:

[R]enowned dog trainer Kathy Sdao reveals how her journey through life and her decades of experience training marine mammals and dogs led her to reject a number of sacred cows including the leadership model of dog training. She describes in narrative fashion how she has come to focus her own training philosophy which emphasizes developing partnerships in which humans and dogs exchange reinforcements and continually cede the upper hand to one another.

'Plenty of LIfe is Free' for Book Club on Sept. 4

The fourth Paws & Effect Book Club selection for 2014 is "Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace" by animal behaviorist Kathy Sdao.

The discussion will take place 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thurs., Sept. 4 at the Grand View University main campus library, Des Moines, Iowa.

The library is located on East 14th Street, between Grandview and Morton Avenues. For directions to campus and maps, click here.

The book relates how Sdao has developed a philosophy that emphasizes mutual reinforcement among trainers and their animals, rather than establishing rules that hinder the human's abilities to share affection and attention with animals they're training.

According to press materials:

[R]enowned dog trainer Kathy Sdao reveals how her journey through life and her decades of experience training marine mammals and dogs led her to reject a number of sacred cows including the leadership model of dog training. She describes in narrative fashion how she has come to focus her own training philosophy which emphasizes developing partnerships in which humans and dogs exchange reinforcements and continually cede the upper hand to one another.

July 10 Book Club Selection: Sebastian Junger's 'War'

The third Paws & Effect Book Club selection for 2014 is "War," by Sebastian Junger. The discussion will take place 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thurs., July 10 at the Grand View University main campus library, Des Moines, Iowa.

The library is located on East 14th Street, between Grandview and Morton Avenues. For directions to campus and maps, click here.

The 2011 book was written by Sebastian Junger, who also wrote "The Perfect Storm". Junger, along with photographer Tim Hetherington, repeatedly embedded as media with a U.S. infantry company in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley in 2007-08. In 2010, they made an Oscar-nominated documentary "Restrepo." A second documentary about the experience, "Korengal," will be released theatrically later this year.

As narratives, "War" and "Restrepo" are complements to each other. In far more detail and depth, however, the book tells the story not only of how the soldiers of Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team fought the fight, but how they came to the fight in the first place. It also tells where it left them afterward.

One of the soldiers mentioned in "War" is Iowan Salvatore Giunta, who received the Medal of Honor for actions described in the book. Junger's "War" is an accessible, enlightening, and sometimes gritty read for those who want to learn about how American soldiers lived, fought, died, and survived in Eastern Afghanistan. By way of example, here are some quick excerpts of the plainspoken prose from the hardcover edition:

Every time you drove down the road you were engaged in a twisted existential exercise where each moment was the only proof you'd ever have that you hadn't been blown upon the moment before. [p. 142] 

Rear-base limbo: an ill blend of apprehension and boredom that is only relieved by going forward where things are even worse. [p. 199] 

When I asked the men about their allegiance to one another, they said they would unhesitatingly risk their lives for anyone in the platoon or company, but that the sentiment dropped off pretty quickly after that. By the time you got to the brigade level–three or four thousand men–any sense of common goals or identity was pretty much theoretical. [p. 242]

The book is available in bargain-priced hardcover, trade paperback, mass-market paperback, and other formats.