But seriously, it’s a real part of my identity. I always feel some silly pride in this fact, even though I really don’t have much to do with it. My parents were incredibly faithful in reading to my siblings and me and in encouraging our own reading for pleasure all through my childhood. I know that this instilled a habit that seemed completely right and natural as I began deciding what to do with my own leisure time, and this habit has continued to mature with me as I’ve become an adult.
Although I love exploring the world in all its beautiful and gritty reality, I also derive much pleasure from engaging in these explorations in the comfort of my own bed or favorite coffee shop. My wife Becca and I decided for the first time to take advantage of Goodreads’ 2012 Reading Challenge, and we both made it to our goals on Christmas Eve! 30 for me and 52 for her, if you must know. I would love to connect with any and all on Goodreads through my profile here.
I’ve also started to delve into the other side of reading this year. Yep, you guessed it: I’m writing a book. It’s still in the very early stages, but I’m excited about the idea of contributing to the grand world of stories as a creator and not just a consumer. I’ll be writing more about this process over the months ahead. Stay tuned!
So without further ado, here are my favorite books of the last year by or about uncommon veterinarians. I’m cheating a little bit because only two of these books were actually published in 2012. The other three are ones that I read in 2012, even though they’ve been around for a while. I chose them not just for the veterinary connection but also as background research for my own work in progress. I’ll start off with the non-fiction and then treat you to a couple of novels at the end.
How’s that for a title? I got this book for Christmas and finished it on New Year’s Eve, so that should give some indication of how much I liked it! This page-turner is co-authored by a DVM/MPH like myself, Monica Murphy, and it also features a number of veterinarians who have been involved in rabies research and programs over the last few hundred years. Highly recommended. 2012 release.
David Quammen‘s new book is a must-read for all current and future uncommon veterinarians. His contribution to the growing popular literature on emerging zoonotic diseases is easy to read while remaining intellectually rigorous and staying away from some of the exaggeration and fear-mongering that sometimes seem to characterize the genre. Spillover features a number of uncommon vets doing exactly the type of work I would love to get into one day. Quammen is an accomplished author and Contributing Writer for National Geographic Magazine, which makes him a pretty cool guy in my eyes. 2012 release.
3. Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detective of the Epidemic Intelligence Service
This is one of several books that have come out in the last ten years featuring the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. Author Maryn McKenna follows the stories of a number of EIS officers, including a few veterinarians, who fly around the world trying to get to the bottom of some pretty exciting infectious disease mysteries. I’ve considered applying for the EIS myself, and I’m also planning to feature a fictional EIS officer as a character in my novel, so this book was an especially relevant read for me.
Did you all know that the incredibly successful thriller author James Rollins is a veterinarian? I had seen his books on various bestseller lists and shelves over the years, but I never picked one up until I learned that very important fact earlier this year. I’m not really a connoisseur of his style of pop action-adventure, but if you look through my recent Goodreads’ books you’ll probably notice that I’ve been reading a bunch of this genre over the last few months. They are quick, fun, and easy reads, and I’m trying to learn from the style as I delve into my own writing adventures.
But back to Altar of Eden. This is the first of Rollins’ books to feature a veterinarian as the protagonist, so that’s why it was also the first one I decided to read. The vet in question, Dr. Lorna Polk, finds her work at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species rudely interrupted by a fast-paced adventure involving mutant killer creatures, mysterious bad guys on Caribbean islands, and even the war in Iraq.
I also read the first book in Rollins’ acclaimed Sigma Force series, mostly so that I could move on to the 2012 release Bloodline, which features a military working dog (near to my heart, as you can imagine!).
Yes, an oldie but a goodie! If you have never read Michael Crichton’s classic dinosaur thriller, do yourself a favor and find a used copy sometime soon. You may have forgotten that the park veterinarian, Dr. Gerry Harding, plays a small but important role through the story. I actually first read this book back in middle school after the movie came out, but I picked it up again this year to try to learn some biological thriller craft from the expert Crichton. How cool would it be if one of us ends up being the first dinosaur vet a few years down the road?
So there you have it! I hope you’ll take a break from whatever other activities you’re busily engaged in to dive into some of these inspiring stories.
But enough from me. What did I miss? Any good recommendations on books by or about uncommon vets?