Friday, February 19, 2016

Books I Think You Should Read, part 3

The final countdown has reached zero (part 3) and as the kids are saying these days: its an oldie but a goodie.

Call of the Wild by Jack London

Synopsis (from Amazon) “The story opens at a ranch in the Santa Clara Valley of California when Buck is stolen from his home and sold into service as a sled dog in Alaska. He progressively reverts to a wild state in the harsh climate, where he is forced to fight to dominate other dogs. By the end, he sheds the veneer of civilization and relies on primordial instinct and learned experience to emerge as a leader in the wild.”

And so we end this series of recommendations on a book about a dog, from a dog’s perspective, if that dog was Jack London. This book is great.

Overall this book is the easiest to read and the most straightforward in style and plot among the books I've recommended in this series. There is no additional content necessary to understand this story and there are no mental acrobatics necessary to understand what the story is telling. The only hill that needs to be overcome is that the main character is a dog named Buck and the narration is, for the most part, from Buck’s perspective.  

Jack London’s construction of Buck’s perspective, though distinctly dog like, is also very human. You start to believe that these are the things that person might actually do. Buck labors with others to accomplish task of those in authority. He must adapt to extreme conditions and survive deadly climates. He fights against those that wish to oppress him. He find lasting and loyal friendship and is driven to do terrible things when that friend is attacked and killed. All of these things are distinctly human. The Golden Gate like bridge that Jack London had built between man and animal in Call of the Wild gives a greater understand of humanity, that comes so more easily from this type of writing, which leads to a greater empathy for people in general.

Because of this strong connecting to humanity while using a non-human perspective Call of the Wild also acts as a gateway book to those stories with odd perspectives found in fiction. Lets look at an example of this. If I were to tell you about this really cool book, great world building, well thought out and empathetic characters, an epic struggle against oppression while trying to build a new life you might say “that sounds cool, tell me more” to which I would respond “it’s called Watership Down and it’s all about rabbits” to which you might respond with “okay…” and walk away wondering why are we friends. This is only a slight exaggeration of every case in which I recommend Watership Down to people. A book about rabbits is a hard sell to a lot of people and yet if you can be swept away by the life of Buck then you will be more open to reading a book about rabbits.

This was one of the first books I ever read that made me want to read and so holds a special place in my heart. It may not actually be your cup of tea, whether you like it hot and Earl Grey or sweet and iced, yet I say give it a try. It’s easy to read, easy to understand, and will open you up to a whole world of stories you never even considered before. (Fun fact, you can download the ebook of Call of the Wild for kindle for free, so there's that.)


We've come to the end and what a wild ride it as been eh? Well not wild, but fun. Fun for me at least. I hope these recommendation help you who are reading to broaden your reading horizons, or if you have never sailed the waters of fiction before, then I hope they have given you the final push to come and get your sea legs. Be on the look out for more book reviews to come, new and old, along with some posts about creative writing in all its forms. You may not  always agree with what I have to say, especially if its about a book you hold dear, and that's great but I ask that you respond not with bladed edge but rather with kindness and grace and I will strive to do the same. We all have swords but let us all strive to live our lives in a way that we will never have to unsheathe them. 

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