The Diary of a Mad Legal Secretary by Eve Halliburton

The Diary of a Mad Legal SecretaryThe Diary of a Mad Legal Secretary by Eve Halliburton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stephen King said that people love reading about what others do for a living because it’s so entertaining and thrilling at the same time with subject matters being closed to the real world. It gives readers a sense of realism or verity in which we all are rooted because work is what ties to us in reality where we face existential absurdities in dealing with human imperfections in conjunction with performing demands imposed on our daily tasks at work.

Hence a story of a neurotic legal secretary who has good heart but is driven to a borderline madness by witnessing the idiosyncratic characters she encounters in the office: The bumptious boss, the snobbish lawyers and their ilk, the ingratiating and ruthless HR personnel, the pitiful and sometimes cunning co-workers. Reading this story is like watching a black comedy which induces both pathos and satirical comedic relief.  In fact, this diary seems to be more of a therapy journal in which the narrator purges out her hidden innermost feelings and emotions about her work and the people at it; it’s a Punch-like compendium of caricatures in word format.

Ms. Halliburton could have written this hilarious book as her memoir of a seasoned legal secretary in a prestigious Manhattan law firm. Or more likely than not, the author might have written this diary as a way of releasing her own stress and distress. For whatever reason it might be, Stephen King was right in saying that we enjoy stories of others in relation to their jobs because this book is easy to read and enjoyable, providing the reader with the kind of pleasure a Peeping Tom indulges in by peeking at what others do and feel about their work  with a telescope.

Through a Dog’s Eyes by Jennifer Arnold

Through a Dog's EyesThrough a Dog’s Eyes by Jennifer Arnold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are a dog person, reading this book will make you become better understanding of your dog or just any dog in sight – in his perspective. This book is written with knowledge and heart by Jennifer Arnold, the Executive Director of Canine Assistants, a school for educating dogs to help people with disabilities, including epilepsy, paralysis of broken spinal cords, and others that prevent them from functioning their ordinary tasks of daily lives . The author specifically emphasizes on the word “education” of her dogs, not “training” because the student dogs are taught to respond to foreseeable/unforeseeable situations that require their immediate problem-solving skills for the safety of their human partners based upon the author’s belief on ethology, the scientific and objective study of animal behavior, by incorporating Operant Conditioning method to modify a behavior by reinforcement and
punishment.

What Ms. Arnold avers in the book actually corroborates what I have always believed to be true: (1) that dogs do have feelings without filtering them through the intellect, which can be found in the cerebral cortex of human. But because of this absence, dogs are artless in expressing their emotions toward us; (2) that dogs’ characteristics of being loyal and empathetic indicates that consciousness, the state of being awake and aware, enables them to do what’s in the best interest of others; (3) that in no way, is a concept of “alpha dog” in a human-canine relationship useful or even sensical; and; (4) that operant conditioning with positive reinforcement (rewarding with a treat)  and negative punishment (not giving it) works the best to reinforce intended behaviors.

You will find a kindred spirit in this book filled with laughters by the wonder dogs at the Canine Assistants, tears by the pains of those who were and are in need of their canine assistants, heartaches by those fallen dogs because of misunderstanding on our human parts, but most of all, joy by understanding our fido friends in their own paws.

My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen

My Life in Dog YearsMy Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this book is like listening to Mr. Paulsen’s tale of wondrous dogs he has encountered in his life: His colloquial English writing style is all the more realistic and straightforwardly addressed to readers’ hearts, leaving strong imprints in their minds without elaborate metaphor. Mr. Paulsen introduces his readers to the dogs that have provided his life with compassion, loyalty, faithfulness, and joy, the virtues which only humans are thought to be endowed with. Take Ike, the black Lab who appeared out of the blue to console the author’s lonely heart and become a good friend; and Josh, an incredibly smart and remarkably faithful Border Collie, who was not only a good herding dog but also a loyal friend. I would dare say that these wonder dogs were his saving grace that helped him to find his calling as a fine American writer.