How to Be a Good Creature
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 adventurer Sy Montgomery. To research her books, Sy has traveled the world and encountered some of the planet's rarest and most beautiful animals. From tarantulas to tigers, Sy's life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets. This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals--Sy's friends--and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.

How to Be a Good Creature Details

TitleHow to Be a Good Creature
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 25th, 2018
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-139780544938328
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Animals, Autobiography, Memoir, Science, Adult

How to Be a Good Creature Review

  • Dorie - Traveling Sister :)
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 him a spa treatment “We fetched warm buckets of soapy water . . . we added products created for horses to apply to his hooves to make them shine Grunting his contentment as he lay in his pool of soapy water, Christopher make clear he adored his spa “Ms. Montgomery seems able to bond with all sorts of creature even a tarantula, I love animals but they have to be the furry kind. Although Ms. Montgomery would even argue that point as she describes the tarantula’s legs “Despite spiders reputations as dirty, nasty “bugs,” tarantulas are as immaculate as cats, carefully cleaning any dirt that falls on their bodies by meticulously drawing the hairs on their legs through the mouth, using their fangs like the teeth of a comb”Despite the whimsy of the illustrations there is genuine heartbreak here also. Ms. Montgomery describes the early years of her arranged living style with her partner, Howard, and her animals in such a loving way, however apparently her mother felt she was living so out of the sphere of what she considered “normal” that she disowned her.Along with the love of an animal, of course, comes the heartbreak when they pass away. It seems as deeply as she was in love with her animal friends she also suffered severe depression upon their passing. It sometimes took several years before she even considered added another pet/friend to the household. Because the author honestly tells us how deeply her depression was felt with even thoughts of harming herself I would suggest caution in giving this book to anyone under the age of perhaps 15? Of course that is my personal opinion, she is being honest with the reader but sometimes depression can be very hard to understand.I was very glad that I read this memoir as Ms. Montgomery certainly has lived a life worth remembering and sharing. I love the quote below that was in the author’s biography :“Go out into the world where your heart calls you. The blessings will come, I promise you that. I wish for you the insight to recognize the blessings as such, and sometimes it's hard. But you'll know it's a blessing if you are enriched and transformed by the experience. So be ready. There are great souls and teachers everywhere. It's your job to recognize them.” ― Sy MontgomeryI received an ARC of this memoir from the publisher through Edelweiss
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  • Candace
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 and a note of sadness (if you’ve recently lost a pet bring Kleenex) Montgomery shows how animals can teach us valuable lessons even when you least expect it.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    Squee!!Oh I do hope at least one of my libraries gets this promptly!Or maybe I'll have to buy it, though I really shouldn't.
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Maggie Holmes
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 more, read more, experience more. Thank you, Sy.
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  • Sarah Shoo
    January 1, 1970
    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. I 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. I've already pre-ordered my hard copy of this book. Montgomery's lessons are ones I plan to return to.
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  • Margie
    January 1, 1970
    A sweet memoir of animals Sy Montgomery met or had in her life. A true animal lover she thinks nothing of getting close to large spiders, dogs, sea creatures, pigs, etc. Very enjoyable stories about thirteen animals.
  • Dani
    January 1, 1970
    So sweet and sincere! The author’s love of all creatures, big and small, emanates from the pages. The illustrations are super charming; they make even Clarabelle the tarantula look cute and cuddly, which is appropriate as the author finds nearly all creatures lovable!
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  • Kirsty
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Jake
    January 1, 1970
    Received and ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Super sweet memoir about certain individual animals and the effect they've had on the author's life. Domestic, captive, and wild; everyday (dogs, pigs) and exotic (emu, tree kangaroos). If you're the kind of person who has had a special animal in your life, it's not a matter of if you should read this book but how much you'll cry reading it.
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  • Bobby
    January 1, 1970
    How to Be a Good Creature calls itself "A Memoir in Thirteen Animals" and is fairly equally a memoir and about thirteen animals. It's the story of Sy Montgomery's life from her toddler years, told in the story of her childhood dog Molly, through the present. The author holds nothing back in terms of honesty about her love for these animals, the way they changed her perspective on these other animals that we share the planet with, and her own inability to deal with the loss of a couple of them wh How to Be a Good Creature calls itself "A Memoir in Thirteen Animals" and is fairly equally a memoir and about thirteen animals. It's the story of Sy Montgomery's life from her toddler years, told in the story of her childhood dog Molly, through the present. The author holds nothing back in terms of honesty about her love for these animals, the way they changed her perspective on these other animals that we share the planet with, and her own inability to deal with the loss of a couple of them who were part of her family (especially Christopher Hogwood the pig and Tess the border collie). Montgomery even admits to fighting depression as a result of these losses.The book is a very easy and quick read that provides insight into the beauty of animals that humans commonly think of as companions - especially four dogs - and animals that we usually don't, like a pig, an octopus, three emus, and a tarantula. Personally, I appreciated the author's insight into the worth and beauty of every one of these animals. This is a sweet little book that I'd recommend to both the converted and the curious alike.Favorite quote from this book: "This is the gift great souls leave us when they die. They enlarge our hearts," Too true!
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  • Emmy
    January 1, 1970
    A sweet and tender memoir of a woman and the animals who touched her life. I have had Montgomery's book The Soul of an Octopus on my to-read list for a while now, so when the ARC of this title tumbled into my hands, I just had to read it!This book is super-engaging. From the start, you're completely drawn into the stories, and not only do we learn a lot about Montgomery's life, but we learn a lot about the wonderful animals who inspired her and helped her grow as a person.While a good chunk of t A sweet and tender memoir of a woman and the animals who touched her life. I have had Montgomery's book The Soul of an Octopus on my to-read list for a while now, so when the ARC of this title tumbled into my hands, I just had to read it!This book is super-engaging. From the start, you're completely drawn into the stories, and not only do we learn a lot about Montgomery's life, but we learn a lot about the wonderful animals who inspired her and helped her grow as a person.While a good chunk of the stories are about dogs, I loved that the author focused on animals we don't normally think of (or don't think highly of) such as spiders and octopuses. Some of the stories are going to be a little bit sad at times, so I wouldn't recommend this to everyone, but all in all, I thought this was a wonderful collection, and I can't wait to see what else Montgomery has to offer!
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    Sy Montgomery's love of animals is emitted from every page of everything of hers I have read. She writes with wonder at all her encounters, which is the basis of this whole book. Beginning with her deep connection to her childhood dog, Molly, Sy discusses the animals that have impacted her life the most. I wanted to meet the 3 Emus about whom she developed a study, just so she could follow them around. I loved the moment she realized that Clarabelle the Tarantula is really just an animal like ev Sy Montgomery's love of animals is emitted from every page of everything of hers I have read. She writes with wonder at all her encounters, which is the basis of this whole book. Beginning with her deep connection to her childhood dog, Molly, Sy discusses the animals that have impacted her life the most. I wanted to meet the 3 Emus about whom she developed a study, just so she could follow them around. I loved the moment she realized that Clarabelle the Tarantula is really just an animal like everyone else. I wanted to meet Christopher Hogwood, her 750 lb pig and her super-smart Border Collies. Her writing is always a perfect selection for animal lovers, and I know I will recommend this one widely.
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  • Gerri
    January 1, 1970
    Anyone who has ever loved an animal will love this book. I related so much with the author, Sy Montgomery, in her love for and curiosity about the animals in her life - and not just the ones that she lived with, also the ones that she encountered in her years as an author, naturalist and adventurer. While she still can't convince me about the upside of spiders, I now have an even greater curiosity about many other creatures.Sy captures so well how animals have unique personalities and how each t Anyone who has ever loved an animal will love this book. I related so much with the author, Sy Montgomery, in her love for and curiosity about the animals in her life - and not just the ones that she lived with, also the ones that she encountered in her years as an author, naturalist and adventurer. While she still can't convince me about the upside of spiders, I now have an even greater curiosity about many other creatures.Sy captures so well how animals have unique personalities and how each teaches us lessons on how to be a good creature, and simply put, lessons on being.
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  • Cherie
    January 1, 1970
    Disclosure: Advanced Reader’s Copy received from EdelweissPlus in exchange for an honest review. "How to Be a Good Creature" is as much a memoir about the creatures that made the most significant impact in her life as it is about Sy Montgomery. Much of the book centers around the lives and deaths of Montgomery's pig, Chris, and her dog, Tess. However, you can really feel the connection she had with each creature she encounters as she describes their behaviors and eccentricities.A wonderful explo Disclosure: Advanced Reader’s Copy received from EdelweissPlus in exchange for an honest review. "How to Be a Good Creature" is as much a memoir about the creatures that made the most significant impact in her life as it is about Sy Montgomery. Much of the book centers around the lives and deaths of Montgomery's pig, Chris, and her dog, Tess. However, you can really feel the connection she had with each creature she encounters as she describes their behaviors and eccentricities.A wonderful exploration of love and loss with a variety of creatures, packaged in a quick read.
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  • Samantha Fraenkel
    January 1, 1970
    This is a beautiful book! I loved the writing, full of emotional connections with different animals as well as really interesting facts about them (I never knew tarantulas were so fascinating!). The illustrations are lovely and playful and the overall theme of how our relationships with the animals we encounter in our lives can shape who we are as a person is a powerful one. Really enjoyable and highly recommended!ARC Provided by Raincoast Books
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  • CJ
    January 1, 1970
    Montgomery's memoir honoring some of the creatures that have shaped her adventures and life, is truely beautiful. It is a heartwarming collection that will make you smile and laugh and cry. I've always found that the wee beasties whose lives become entwined in ours, haunt our memories just as much as humans. That's how we know they are special - they leave a mark.Recommended for animal lovers.Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC.
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  • Kristina
    January 1, 1970
    I almost feel like a monster for giving this a two star rating, but truthfully I only enjoyed the illustrations. I’ve never read anything by Sy Montgomery before, and her writing here did not interest me whatsoever. It was too simplistic and dull.
  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    Very SweetThis quick read is like dry-cleaning my soul.It is warm, sweet, abundantly with love, caring, empathy, from a perspective I can totally understand.Thank you for writing it.
  • Terzah
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this sweet meditation on animals from nature/environmental writer Montgomery. Clearly a sensitive soul, she has an amazing eye for description and a sharp instinct for the emotions and intelligence of other creatures.
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the format of this scientist's story, which was based on her interactions with animals at pivotal points during her life. It was personal and moving, and it would be a great suggestion for students who enjoy the Scientist in the Field series.
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  • Lauren Watts
    January 1, 1970
    A touching, heartwarming account of Sy Montgomery and her life spent with her pets. Each chapter recounts stories or her pets and how they shaped her into the woman she is today. You will smile, you will cry, and you will hug your pets a little tighter!
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  • Ampersand Inc.
    January 1, 1970
    So sweet and sincere! The author’s love of all creatures, big and small, emanates from the pages. The illustrations are super charming; they make even Clarabelle the tarantula look cute and cuddly, which is appropriate as the author finds nearly all creatures lovable!
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  • Stephanie Gillman
    January 1, 1970
    Simple. But charming AF.
  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    Heartwarming, affirming, and a great one-evening, feel-good read.
  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    Thoroughly enjoyed!
  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    Received an ARC from the publisher.Really enjoyed this cute and heartwarming memoir. The illustrations of the animals were beautifully drawn.
  • Nichole Midgett
    January 1, 1970
    Fast, entertaining, quick read. Must say I got teary eyed a couple of times.
  • E.B.
    January 1, 1970
    OBSESSED.
  • Book Seller GV
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully illustrated and charmingly written, Montgomery's stories of some of the animals in her life reminds us why we love animals and all that they teach us.
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