With "Marley & Me" leading the way at the box office and the book on which it's based again moving up book-sales lists, here's a sample of some of the best books for animal lovers this season:
• "Hip-Hop for Dogs" by Janet Perr (Simon & Schuster). Is your dawg Da Bomb? Is he stylin'? Then help fit him into the pop-culture scene du jour with this handbook of hip-hop for hounds. It's a clever little gift book filled with the kind of pictures dog-lovers love - pooches decked out as humans.
• "The Devious Book for Cats" (Villard). Devised by first-time authors Fuffy and Bonkers (with utterly unnecessary help from humans), this parody of "The Dangerous/Daring" books for people brings forbidden knowledge to the world of cats. Topics include "Getting Away With It," "Human Hair Chewing and Licking" and "Climbing the Drapes."
Things get really devious when the authors discuss "making the most of superstitions."
• "Happy Dog, Happy You" by Arden Moore (Storey). If Fido ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, as pet-lovers know. So this book supplies a treasure trove of tips for keeping everyone's tail wagging.
This is Moore's 18th pet book, and her knowledge is deep and wide-ranging. Some of her ad-vice may be new even to veteran pet owners, including the ins and outs of pet doors, proper dog-bath techniques and the strange hazards of pennies. This book is a keeper for all dog owners.
• "On Cats" by Doris Lessing (HarperCollins).
Lessing won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature with her celebrated writing on social issues. But she also wrote about cats in her life, and this book revisits her previously published memories about them.
Lessing's prose catches at the heart with close-ups of cats in unforgettable word paintings.
• "Dogology" by Vicki Croke and Sarah Wilson (Ro-dale). Are you a dynamo? A master? A buddy? A free spirit? A doggie soul mate?
This new system claims to top every other oology - astrology, phrenology - in helping you understand your own personality type. Of course, you'll not only need this book, you'll also need a dog to interact with.
"Dogology" is a fun read, especially the psychological breakdown of dog-park regulars, both four- and two-footed. Beware, dog walkers. You may recognize yourself in these pages.
• "Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Trans-form" by Karin Winegar (Da Capo Press). Keep the hankies handy while reading this moving collection of stories. Love wins out over tragedy here, with inspiration delivered courtesy of the three-legged Great Pyrenees who brings joy to a nursing home, the mutt who led his new family out of a fire and the fawn who saved a troubled man from himself.
• "Bird Brain Teasers" by Patrick Merrell (Storey). Sure, birds may be small today, but their ancestors were dinosaurs. So bird lore goes back millions of years, and this book packs a heap of avian trivia, puzzles, pictures and quotes into one tome.
Among the best bits: a roster of White House bird pets from Washington's Polly the Parrot to Teddy Roosevelt's one-legged rooster.
• "Cat Capers: Catitude for Cat Lovers" by Gandee Vasan (Andrews McMeel Publishing).
This lavish cocktail-table book pairs cat-themed quotes with gorgeous close-ups of fabulous felines playing, charming and looking disdainfully at humans. Cat definitions and cat classifieds fill other pages, along with caterwauling from a feline keeping a cat diary.