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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 67/100: Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa

Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat - David Dosa

I enjoyed this book more than I expected to. Mainly I listened to it because the book I really wanted to read, Cat Daddy: What the World's Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean, wasn't available, and I've been craving books that demonstrate an appreciation for the role cats play in human lives ever since one of my cats died -- reading these books, much like reading marriage books when I was engaged -- validates my experiences and brings me a lot of comfort.

This book is better than a lot of books in which a story that gets a lot of media attention is adapted to a full-length book. I first learned about Oscar when my mom gave me a short article about his ability to "predict" death and stay with the dying person in nursing homes several years ago. When I started this book, I wondered how this fact, fascinating though it is, would manage to stretch into a whole book.

Here is how: Dr. David Dosa, the author, carefully and sensitively portrays the personalities, lives, and passings of his dementia patients and those who love them. In his quest to understand Oscar's "abilities," he interviews many families who were impacted by Oscar. At first, his attitude of grumpy skepticism felt a little forced, as though its primary purpose was to create an interesting character arc as he came to appreciate Oscar more and more. Still, this book that I firmly expected to be in three-star territory, brought tears to my eyes and touched me unexpectedly deeply. I loved that Oscar was a "grouchy" cat in all incidences except when he was sitting with a dying patient and his or her family; this kept Oscar from being overly romanticized (as I sort of felt happened in Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World and he felt real to me. I also loved the perception that even less-than-perfect cats can play an important roles in our lives.

This is one of those books that will stay with me, and I think it would be enjoyable for anyone who has an interest in or experience with nursing homes or dementia. Dr. Dosa is a better writer than most "non-writers" who take on these types of projects (or he had a very good ghost-writer at his side), and he comes across both as believably flawed and ultimately kind-hearted. The quotes about cats that open each chapter are a lovely perk for those of us who are cat lovers, too.