Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Golden Retrievers, Angels, and a Big Little Life

On Black Friday I go to the bookstore. They have autographed editions of bestselling books at Barnes & Noble. I like to pick up a couple to give as Christmas gifts to my favorite people. Like myself. Normally I do this one for you, one for me thing.

First I pretend I'm just getting only a few books and I try to carry them in my arms. After I hit the journal section, and I'm dropping things, I get a basket to drag. 

This year the store manager spotted me and asked if I'd be willing to sign copies of my angel book as they were selling like hotcakes. 

Cue me standing there blankly running through all my books in my mind, and wondering which one she thought was about angels. Both angels and my books selling like hotcakes is what threw me. My books don't sell like hotcakes. When I think about my books I think about my novels or memoir. I've got immortals, warriors, assassins, a bitch witch, and dementia. We walked over to the bookcase where they keep my books and looked at it. 

That's when I spotted the angel book.

It's an anthology.

That's right! I have a story in the new Chicken Soup for the Soul book, Angels All Around. Suddenly it all made sense. Chicken Soup for the Soul books and books about angels make excellent Christmas gifts. I'm not surprised it was selling. Happily I signed every copy in the store before continuing my book-gathering extravaganza. 

After loading so many books into the basket that I had trouble even dragging it, I spotted one more.

A Big Little Life a memoir of a joyful dog named Trixie caught my eye because it was shelved under Philosophy, had been written by Dean Koontz—who writes suspense—and I have a huge weakness for Golden Retrievers.

Years ago when my husband and I were in the middle of moving from Boston to Dallas, he came home with a surprise. It's been ages, many states and babies ago, but I still remember him walking through the door and unzipping his jacket. A Golden Retriever puppy poked his head out. 

We named him Maximillian. He lived in our first house with us and I loved him beyond reason. Goldens are kind and smart. I just visited a friend in Boston who has a Golden. I sat beside it and petted it the entire visit. It was bliss.

It was easy to justify buying another book. I'd give it as a Christmas gift to someone. As soon as I got home I peeked inside and read the first couple of pages. It wasn't what I thought. I expected something sappy and cheesy. I have this thing against stories that are designed to play with your emotions. I swear I can tell a genuine story from one manufactured to sell and become a Major Motion Picture. 

Within an hour I quit trying not to bend the spine too far so that I could still gift the book. This might change how you feel about this writer, but I have a tendency to devour my books. I reread a lot and I multitask. Most of my favorite books look slightly abused, worn, and have a few tea stains on them. 

Go ahead and judge me. It's all true. 

A Big Little Life a memoir of a joyful dog named Trixie by Dean Koontz is surprising. It's not cheesy or campy. It's smart, philosophical, deep, and clever. I absolutely loved it. Trixie was a retired service dog. I liked learning about CCI, Canine Companions for Independence

My all-time favorite Dean Koontz book is Watchers. It's a story about a Golden Retriever who was raised in a lab and has human intelligence. If you haven't read it, it's the kind of book you will want to reread regularly. As I read the memoir I assumed that Trixie is who inspired the author to write Watchers. But Watchers had been written many years before Dean Koontz had a dog. 

If you need some holiday escapism and want to give yourself a treat, read them both. Now that I've mentioned Watchers, I guess I need to read it again too. 

I wish I'd thought to take a selfie with my friend's Golden, Kona. Here's a picture of Kona though, and that's the important part.

If you read the books, let me know what you think, and if you'd like to keep up with my big little life, be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter (via the contact form, bottom right of this blog).

Wishing you joy in your own big little life, until next time.