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How to Be a Good Creature

A Memoir in Thirteen Animals
Written by: Sy Montgomery
Narrated by: Sy Montgomery
Length: 3 hrs and 42 mins
5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 13 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.

©2018 Sy Montgomery (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Hearing Animal Hearts

Montgomery has given us a collection of stories that stars a single creature, possibly one we might not have found attractive before. Narrowly escaping cloying recounting, she introduces us all as equal. I would not have considered a tarantula a pink ballerina, but her descriptive writing makes that possible. Though some books do not suit audio, "How to Be a Good Creature" benefits here because her voice offers the more exact measure of her emotion. As well, animal sounds, in particular of the pig, are difficult to describe with letters. There are thousands of anthologies of animal stories, some by breed, by species, others on their environment. This audio presentation allows us a look into 40 years of the personal life of a scientist and creature lover. We hear her heart and theirs. Without maudlin narration, we learn that in her earliest years, she was the unloved creature, but that she went on loving, and was loved, even through loses. This may be the best gift for someone who has lost an animal, or even a human, in their own life.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rory
  • 2019-01-02

Enchanting Start To 2019....

Every year I pick a book, usually to start on New Years Eve, to begin my reading journey for the year to come.
This book, I came across some weeks back and put in my audible wishlist, as not only did it sound delightful, but the cover art pulled me in. However at the time, I was already deep into several other books, several tv shows, and not looking forward to the upcoming holidays. So into my wishlist it went, for another day.
This past year has been one of changes, growth, and new developments, still I always believe that I can become a better creature, and that the lives around me too can be changed for the better by my never ending growth.
This book, is and was a very enchanting way to start my new year.
Not only did it make me, laugh, cry, think, feel, but remember the many furry friends I’ve had, have, and feel great joy for those I hope to have in the future.
This book also made me think about all the many species and creatures, in a whole new light.
That someone out there is always writing about and recording the lives and habits of the many different beings that exists in the world. And the amazing way all creatures are different, and alike, and the love and care that can be shown between species.
I started this book early this morning New Years Day, because I had today off of work.
I am so happy I did! Even though I had to pause this book several times throughout the day, I finished it in less than 8 hours.
With its managable 3 hours and 42 minute length, and a whole day in which I could; the day seemed even more thrilling with a cozy bed, and then a cozy couch to spend the day relaxing and listening to one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.

While the book was pure delightful, the narration, read by the author herself, made the book sing!
I highly recommend this audible version of the book.
I most definitely plan to buy an actual copy however, to not only see the stunning design that gets mentioned a few times, but to hopefully get it signed by the author.
I have yet to read any other of the authors works, and now have added several other audible versions of them (also read by her) to my wishlist.
And now thus begins my reading journey for 2019, in a beautiful and enchanting way.
I hope you enjoy it too!

97 of 104 people found this review helpful

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  • Jami
  • VICTOR, NY, United States
  • 2018-10-29

All Creatures Great and Small

I listened to this on audible, and it was narrated by the author; in this case, the author's narration worked well. I enjoyed the stories, especially the parts where I got to revisit Christopher Hogwood (from One Good Good Pig) and the ladies (chickens). I was fascinated with the octopus; who would have thought that they loved to play with legos?

I also can relate to her feelings about losing Christopher, Tess, Sally and others, but the theme of the book is not about loss. Rather, it is more about what other creatures can teach us, if we just stop to listen, look and learn.

65 of 70 people found this review helpful

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  • Vicki
  • 2018-12-12

Sy is a simply awesome creature

Great book but honestly hearing it spoken in her own voice is just exceptional. Hearing her voice describe her feelings brought smiles to my face and tears to my eyes. Whole family loves Sy!

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Marsha L. Woerner
  • Chicago area
  • 2019-03-07

Animals and pets MAKE life

(As posted in GoodReads)
The book was short, but the author showed a vast love and respect for animals and their effects on her every day. I'm not sure about the title: "How to Be a Good Creature" is, I suppose, an overall goal of everyone, and people's relationships with animals definitely affects that, but it was more "How Animals Are Wonderful". And I really appreciated the wide variety of pets that she had an animals with which she had interactions..

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Skip
  • 2018-12-30

Loved it

Great book, her narration was the best I’ve ever heard. If you love animals it’s a must read.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Watermark
  • 2018-10-03

Very emotionally moving...

Sy writes and narrates with very emotionally moving words!

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her memories (both happy and sorrowful) of her experiences with wonderful creatures.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-10-18

Beautiful. Honest. Emotional. Relatable.

Loved listening to these touching stories; the experiences and emotions, the learnings and love. I know I have the same heart for animals as Sy, but often can’t explain how much my pets have impacted my life (beyond the time I shared with them on earth) and how much joy they have brought me. And continue to bring me, as I remember them fondly. Someday I hope to write about their stories too.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • j
  • 2019-04-22

GREAT read!

I'm a better person for listening to this. Thanks, Sy I could listen to you all day!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • P. K. Bellville
  • Galt, CA United States
  • 2019-04-04

The Fourteenth animal.

I expected remarkable insights into animal behavior. The book is more about the author than animals. It is a little narcissistic. I had the same trouble with another book of hers about a pig. The pig stories are in both books which I felt was redundant.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary Christine Delea
  • USA
  • 2019-03-26

How To Be a Good Memoir

Great book for any animal lover, person with pets, and folks who love interesting memoirs.

In this book, you'll meet dogs, tarantulas, a pig, a couple of octopuses, chickens, and more. You will also get to know the author (after all, this is her memoir), her parents, husbands, and many others who love animals and work with animals.

Ultimately, this book celebrates animals and the very special bonds people and animals can share. Yes, there are sad moments in this book--animals have shorter lifespans than humans do, so it's a given--but the book is uplifting and positive.

The author's tone is perfect, the chapters focus on a different animal topic so the book moves at a perfect pace, and at the end Montgomery provides a list of other books on animals that she enjoys.

This book made me cry a few times, recalling the death of a favorite cat the book reminded me about, but at the end it made me feel grateful and pleased to have had the relationships with all of my cats that I have had. In fact, this book made me want to get out into the world and forge more bonds with the birds at our feeders, the squirrels in our yard, and other animals I cross paths with.

I definitely recommend!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful