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How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals
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How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,080 ratings  ·  230 reviews
National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery reflects on the personalities and quirks of 13 animals--her friends--who have profoundly affected her in this stunning, poetic, and life-affirming memoir featuring illustrations by Rebecca Green.

Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalist, and advent
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Joan I'm afraid of spiders and tarantulas would freak me out. I managed the book fine. I think there is one illustration of Clarabelle, the tarantula in…moreI'm afraid of spiders and tarantulas would freak me out. I managed the book fine. I think there is one illustration of Clarabelle, the tarantula in black and white (which, stipulated might be worse than color in this case.) It kind of was ok, the way Charlotte in Charlotte's web is ok. But I got my eye off the illustration fast, and went on to the story. Or, just skip chapter 4, period. (less)

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Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)
The cover of this book is what caught my eye, what a beautiful illustration. There are whimsical drawings throughout the book and a wonderful gallery of photographs of Ms. Montgomery with some of her animal friends at the end of the book.

I won’t go through all of the animals that are mentioned in the book but my favorite was Christopher Hogwood the pig and his very large personality. Even when he had grown huge and powerful he was a gentle pig. Sy describes the two preteen neighbor girls giving
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it

Sy Montgomery writes books and documentaries about animals for both children and adults. In this book, Montgomery shares stories about some of her favorite creatures, including her family pets; an octopus in an aquarium; and creatures in their natural environment.

Sy Montgomery

Montgomery travels around the world to research her books, and has visited the cloud forests of Papua New Guinea; Mongolia's Gobi Desert; Amazon rivers; the Australian Outback; and much more. Every animal Montgomery got to
I had seen the cover of this book, had been drawn in by the illustrations on the cover but knew little about the contents until I read my goodreads friend Dorie’s review. Then I knew I wanted to read it and requested it from the library, thinking that it would be months before it would be my turn, so I was surprised when I received a notification that my turn had arrived!

In the introduction, Sy Montgomery speaks of her travels around the world and how a saying that came to her once has become a
Enchantress  debbicat ☮~Traveling Sister
5 BIG HAPPY stars! If you wanna know how to be good creature, you can learn this from animals, like Sy did with 13 written about here. Such a good book! I must buy a copy. I enjoyed hearing about all 13 of her animal loves. My favorites were the dogs, Christopher Hogwood, the good pig, Octavia the Octopus, and the Clarabelle, the tarantula. So much to learn here and enjoy. "Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalis ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating look at one woman's journey with the animals she's met and loved throughout her life. The illustrations are captivating. I can't believe I cried over an octopus!
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are so many wonderful adjectives I could use to describe this book : lovely, engaging, entrancing, profound, and full of discovery. Montgomery has dedicated her life to traveling the world to write about animal life around the globe. She also has had a number of animals in her life including dogs, chickens, and a pig, and lives with her husband on a farm in New Hampshire. The animals she writes about include a Scottish Terrier, Border Collies, emus in the Australian Outback, a pet pig, a G ...more
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Author Sy Montgomery’s childhood Scottish Terrier taught her to be tough and independent. Twelve more animals she has shared her life with, including an octopus and a tarantula, have each taught her something about life and herself. Sy truly understands and appreciates animals. This illustrated memoir is so charming and reminded me that to slow down and give my own fur babies extra cuddles is good for the soul, theirs and mine.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Carolyn
How to Be a Good Creature is a book unlike any other I've yet read.

If you know me, you know I've been rescuing hedgehogs for a number of years now. I've worked with animals close to death and brought them back to a happy, healthy state. I've worked with animals that hated everyone, but taught them to love me and accept others. I've worked with any number of these little creatures, and the one thing I can say after having done this for over six years now is that every single one that has come in
Sep 17, 2018 marked it as sony-or-android
Shelves: mer-mst-clw
Oh I do hope at least one of my libraries gets this promptly!
Or maybe I'll have to buy it. Direct from Sy, because she should get all the proceeds....
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a treat. Having only previously listened to a part of The Soul of an Octopus’ audio before my library loan expired, I knew what Montgomery was about: Animals. Unique experiences. Love.

This book made especially for young readers is wonderful. It chronicles the animals that taught Montgomery throughout her interesting life. Although there are a few of man’s best friend (dogs) count also emus, a tarantula, a pig, an octopus, and a weasel among others. With life lessons, gorgeous illustrations
Ilana S.
More like 4.5 stars 🙂

I’m an unabashed animal lover/nutcase with three furkids of my own—of the kind that remains relatively unmoved at the sight of adorable babies, but goes absolutely nutters over dogs, cats, elephants, cows, horses, pigs, frogs, spiders, bears, beetles, bees, marsupials, octopuses, whales, mice, and just about any non-human critter living on this planet (except for roaches and mosquitoes 😖). As such, I absolutely love Sy Montgomery’s books, who’s passion for animals is positiv
Maggie Holmes
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved Soul of the Octopus and I was eager to read this book (thank you Edelweiss for the prepub copy.) I cried and laughed throughout; wanted to go on expeditions to see some of the animals; and marveled at Sy's wonderful supportive group of friends. As my cat meows constantly at me because I've shut him up in a room so he won't eat my muffin, I wonder if cats teach us to be a good creature. I'll have to pay more attention. This book -- like all good nonfiction -- makes you want to go learn mo ...more
Waverly Fitzgerald
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, memoir
This is one of those books that can change your life. And those are rare.
Sy Montgomery whose work as a writer about animals I knew and admired, here tells with honest and lyrical prose, the story of her life through her relationships with different animals, beginning with her appreciation for the qualities of her childhood pet, Molly the Scottie. The next chapter tells how she discovered her true career (writing about animals) in her twenties while observing a trio of emus in the Australian outb
Triumphal Reads
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
*I did receive a digital version of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

This is the second book that I have read from the naturalist author Sy Montgomery. While I definitely enjoyed The Soul of an Octopus I was expecting a little bit more, though, perhaps that was due to the surrounding hype of that particular book. However, after now finishing How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir In Thirteen Animals, Montgomery is now established as a superb author of the natural world
I think this would appeal to anyone who has loved Montgomery's animals books, kid, teen, or adult. It is surprisingly personal and intense. I had no idea how much she struggled with depression. She may have forgiven her parents but they certainly seem like nasty people. She had the humility to learn from her animal friends and to love them. She also was incredibly open minded. She became friends with a tarantula, shudder....I'm afraid of spiders....and several octopusi (NEAT!) as well as the sli ...more
Sarah Shoo
This book was provided by Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

Sy Montgomery's ability to humanize animals is incredible. I was reluctant to go with her as she learned a lesson from a tarantula, as I'm terrified of spiders, but even I was charmed by Clarabelle.
But it was her later chapters on loss and love that really affected me. Her words on love multiplying and staying with us were poetic.
She was even able to make a tentacled octopus, sucking hickeys into her skin humorous and lovable.

Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
More than just a pretty face (but what a pretty face!), this gentle, lovely memoir highlights the importance animals can have in our lives, even teaching us more about our own humanity. For Montgomery, they are family, friends, teachers, and guides. There are some delightful experiences shared here, as well as some truly dark times, and Montgomery may even convince you to feel for octopodes and spiders what you feel for dogs and cats.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
"After Chris and, too soon afterward, Tess had died, the one thing that kept me going was the comforting thought that I could kill myself."

This quote perfectly signifies my confusion with this book and what the author is trying to accomplish. This is not so much an exploration of “how to be a good creature” as much as it is a record of the author’s struggles coping with the aging process and subsequent death of the animals she loved.

I read through a lot of the reviews trying to understand why e
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've read a few of Sy Montgomery's books before and have enjoyed all of them. This one is a feel good book. With stories of 13 different animals that brought joy to her life, the book can be read in several short sittings. I finished the book with a big smile on my face.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
As a fan of Sy Montgomery's books about animals, I was delighted to read her memoir. I have had the privilege to see her talk about her books and life on several occasions. This book gave me a better knowledge of her as the person behind her books. What an interesting life she is leading.
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Couldn’t put it down. A very sweet little read anyone who finds a special place in their heart for animals will appreciate.
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book for anyone who wants to think just a little more deeply about the life of animals and their relationship with humans.
Gwen - Chew & Digest Books -
I'd call it a memoir to the animals that have touched and molded her life and personality.

As another animal lover and someone that is childfree, I can relate on so many angles. Still, her career has meant that she has taken her love, her experiences, and her exposure to different species much further than I ever have or will have.

Each animal we have if we allow ourselves to think deeply, teach us something about life. Just as we have our own personalities and ways of facing the world, they have
Tisha (IG: Bluestocking629)
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just wow.

I am not going to lie the only reason I purchased this book was because it was illustrated by Rebecca Green. Then I forgot all about the book.

I picked it up not even remembering what it was about. I am so glad I finally read this gem!

Incredible! Beautifully written memoir with each chapter dedicated to an animal or a group of animals the author met in her life. We, the reader, not only learn wonderful tidbits about a specific animal but we also learn compassion. The love Ms. Montgo
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really liked the concept of the book, and the illustrations were lovely, but I felt that the execution could have been better. The prose did very little to capture my attention.
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've never been an animal nut, in fact I was especially good at my job selecting all the books in PetSmart and Petco for 3 years precisely because at that time I had no pets and so was very unbiased. Along with my husband came first one cat and now two, and I had a couple of cats growing up and my sister had a dog. We even had goldfish for a while. But we've gone long stretches between animals and nothing exotic. So you might think a book like this one wouldn't be for me, but I loved it.

It helps
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Sy Montgomery's big-hearted books about animals, particularly The Good, Good Pig. This "memoir in thirteen animals" is beautifully illustrated and bittersweet, reflecting on the healing power and enduring wonder of other animals. Montgomery's mother drank heavily and was emotionally and possibly physically abusive. Both of her parents disowned her when she married a Jewish man and refused to enter the military, as her father had done before her. The unconditional love of animal companions ...more
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's official. I am going to spend the next several months reading EVERYTHING by Sy Montgomery. What started out as some dribs and drabs, I'm full-on obsessed with Montgomery's life, writing, perspective, and scientific curiosity. I learned more about her life in this memoir, but also about animals. Again. And I can't get enough.

This book is in pieces almost like a collection of short stories of different animals and lessons she learned or ways the animals helped her, as a whole it paints a por
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A reminder of the incredible amounts of brilliance, compassion, love, and ferocity that exist in this world, human or not. Sitting here with my parents’ cats, it’s a reminder of the respect and the reverence with which we should treat other living things.

In particular, I was inspired by Chris the pig’s wholehearted appreciation for the small (but essential) things in life (food, warm baths, the people that take the time to stroke your hair); moved by the octopus’ intense maternal love and care
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is lovely! Montgomery is a famous science and wildlife writer, and I had flipped through a few books by her when I worked in a school library. This is a memoir about her pets and some of her favorite animal friends she's met during her travels. Her writing style is joyful and observant, which you'd expect from a science writer. Each of the animals she describes were especially interesting to her and taught her different things, leading her to reflect on her own family, feelings of grie ...more
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Part Indiana Jones, part Emily Dickinson, as the Boston Globe describes her, Sy Montgomery is an author, naturalist, documentary scriptwriter, and radio commentator who has traveled to some of the worlds most remote wildernesses for her work. She has worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes in Manitoba, been hunted by a tiger in India, swum with pink dolphins in the Amazon, and been undressed b ...more