Summer Reading

The fiction, non-fiction, and (of course) cat and dog books I’m reading this summer.

Summer reading. The books chosen by Zazie Todd of Companion Animal Psychology

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Like everyone else, I’ve not been able to travel this summer; in fact (probably like you too) I rarely go out and wear my mask whenever I do. But there’s still time for reading, and my local bookstore has a great system for picking up books. As has become tradition here at Companion Animal Psychology, I’m sharing with you the books I’m reading this summer.

You’ll find all of these books in my Amazon store. This page contains affiliate links.


The Wild Heavens by Sarah Louise Butler

Through the course of a day spent tracking impossibly large human-like footprints through the snow, we learn of the loves, losses and family in Sandy’s life. Set in the forested mountains of the BC interior, this book is beautifully crafted and brings the natural world to life on every page. A meditation on change, longing and transformation, this book tells the story of a lifetime protecting a mythic creature called Charlie.

Cover of The Wild Heavens, part of Zazie Todd's Summer Reading list

The Certainties by Aislinn Hunter

In 1940, three travelers trek across the border from France into Spain in the hope of getting to America, and are detained at a hotel because of an issue with their papers; a 9 year old girl, Pia, sees one of them eating on the patio of a restaurant after he manages to get out for a walk. The man’s internal narration shifts to tell her his story, and she always remembers him (“So don’t forget him. This is all you can do,” says her mother). Much later, Pia is at work on an island on the night of a terrible storm when a boat sends a distress signal. Beautiful prose, written with a poet’s eye, and a haunting tale of what it means to witness and remember.  

Cover of The Certainties, one of the books on Zazie Todd's summer reading list

Walking on the Ceiling: A Novel by Ayşegül Savaş

This novel set in Paris and Istanbul reminds me of W.G. Sebald. In Paris, Nunu becomes friends with a famous author, M., whose books are set in Istanbul where she is from. Over long walks with M. around the city, she recounts stories of her uncle and her mother in old Istanbul. She feels that the many stories of her late mother, shared with M. and others in her life, never get the full sense of her quite right. This is about the fragility of memory and the way stories change as we highlight or embellish them, with big political events happening just out of shot.

Cover of Walking on the Ceiling, one of the books in Zazie Todd's summer reading list

Who Rescued Who by Victoria Schade

When Elizabeth Barnes loses her job, she takes a quick trip to rural England to sort out a family inheritance before returning to reclaim her position in Silicon Valley. At least that’s the plan, but finding a lost puppy is just the start of things derailing. Elizabeth is forced to consider whether she is the business person she thought she was or really more of an artist. Along the way, there are sheep with attitude, plenty of beer, and, of course, an annoying stranger. This delightful, charming rom-com has a happy ending for both Elizabeth and the dog.  

Cover of Who Rescued Who, one of the books on Zazie Todd's summer reading list

My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong

When Iris Wang fails to get into college and can’t even graduate high school, she is shocked that her parents send her away from her New Jersey home to visit with relatives in Beijing. She doesn’t want to learn to be Chinese, and her cousin doesn’t want to be her friend, but it turns out her uncle is one of Beijing’s richest people and the Mandarin tutor he hires for her is dreamy. But how will Iris learn enough for her parents to let her go home? And what should she do about the family secrets she has uncovered? This is a fun, fast-paced YA novel about finding your place in the world.

Cover of My Summer of Love and Misfortune, one of the books on Zazie Todd's summer reading list

Summer reading: A nice big pile of books chosen by Zazie Todd for her summer reading list
Both photos copyright Zazie Todd; tees available in the merch store


Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear by Eva Holland

Nerve opens with Eva Holland stuck on an ice-climb, unable to descend due to fear of falling. This incident combined with the recent loss of her mother spurred Holland to explore the science of fear and how she could learn to deal with the fears that have dominated her life: fear of heights, fear of losing her mother, and fear of car accidents. Along the way she explains what we know about emotions, why fear has its uses, and the methods that are used to help people overcome fear. She tries some of these herself, with better-than-expected results. The science is nicely explained, and anyone who has had to make a long-haul dash to be at loved one’s bedside will feel kinship with Holland. A fascinating and ultimately optimistic book. 

Cover of Nerve, one of the books on Zazie Todd's summer reading list

They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up by Eternity Martis

In this eye-opening (and funny) memoir, Eternity Martis shares her experiences as a Black student at the largely white Western University in Canada. It’s an account of racism, sexualization, sexual assault and violence at the same time as she is figuring out her identity and who she is. For anyone who thinks things are different in Canada, the everyday barrage of racist comments will be a depressing shock. Each chapter ends with advice to students on how to get through. Martis weaves in facts on the situation for Black students in Canada and the US, with tips on how to make higher education a more inclusive and diverse place. Essential reading for students and educators.

Cover of They Said This Would Be Fun, one of the books on Zazie Todd's summer reading list

The Book Club Books

These are the current and recent books chosen by the Animal Book Club. While the book club is not currently accepting new members, you are welcome to read alongside us.

The Education of Will: Healing a Dog, Facing My Fears, Reclaiming My Life

Recently, the book club read The Education of Will by Patricia McConnell. This memoir tells of traumatic events in McConnell’s life and how she eventually came to take ownership of them. Her own search for healing is interwoven with the story of her beloved dog, Willie, whose serious behaviour issues bring her own trauma into sharp relief. This is beautifully written, and descriptions of the landscape will make you want to visit Wisconsin. Full of wisdom from years of working with troubled dogs and their owners, as well as insights from McConnell’s own hard work to feel safe again, this is a book of healing. Brave, insightful, and inspiring. (You might like my interview with Dr. McConnell too).  

Cover of The Education of Will, one of the books in Zazie Todd's summer reading list

The Eye Of The Trainer by Ken Ramirez

Ken Ramirez is an incredible animal trainer, and this book is full of nuggets of information from his experience working with all kinds of animals, including whilst at the SHEDD aquarium. Each chapter is a series of short articles, and covers topics such as why training is important for animals, advanced training techniques, and how to teach trainers to train better. Examples include a training plan for CJ the sea lion to learn to work with a new trainer, teaching a reindeer to be less pushy, and learning from a Maremma. At the end of the book, a list of favourite books means the learning can continue. This book is easy to dip into and everyone will find something to think about.

Cover of The Eye of the Trainer, one of the books in Zazie Todd's summer reading list

Decoding Your Cat: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Cat Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, edited by Meghan E Herron DVM DACVB, Debra F. Horwitz DVM DACVB and Carlo Siracusa DVM DACVB.

This new book distills the wisdom of veterinary behaviourists into one volume, and follows on from ACVB’s first book, Decoding Your Dog. Chapters cover feline body language, how cats learn, common behaviour problems such as fear, aggression, and inappropriate toileting, as well as how to help a senior cat. It’s clearly written with plenty of black-and-white photos to illustrate points, and appendices at the end cover teaching your cat to like their carrier, how to give medications, and how to introduce dogs and cats. I’m looking forward to diving in with the book club.

Cover of Decoding Your Cat, one of the books on Zazie Todd's summer reading list

If you like the tees seen in the photos, they're available in my merch store and a portion of all proceeds goes to the BC SPCA Maple Ridge. 

What are you reading at the moment?

Zazie Todd, PhD, is the award-winning author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy and Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy. She is the creator of the popular blog, Companion Animal Psychology, writes The Pawsitive Post premium newsletter, and also has a column at Psychology Today. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband, one dog, and two cats. 

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