6 must-read cult classics whose titles confound cats …

… and the books they think we should read instead!

Last month I started compiling a list of cult-classics that I’d like to read again, without the stern face of my Eng.Lit. teacher glaring down at me. And it was whilst amassing these iconic books that I spotted a number whose titles would pique the unassailable intrigue of many a curious cat. How disappointed they would be to find the enclosed pages devoid of mockingbirds, cuckoos, or mice, in this feline-flummoxing half dozen …

#1 Cat Among the Pigeons

Agatha Christie

Late one night, two teachers at an exclusive girls’ school investigate a mysterious flashing light in the sports pavilion, while the rest of the school sleeps. There, among the lacrosse sticks, they stumble upon the body of the unpopular games mistress – shot through the heart from point blank range. The school is thrown into chaos when the ‘cat’ strikes again. Unfortunately, schoolgirl Julia Upjohn knows too much. In particular, she knows that without Hercule Poirot’s help, she will be the next victim.

… but the cats say to read this instead: Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

#2 Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck

The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world.  George is “small and quick and dark of face”; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Drifters in search of work, they have nothing in the world except each other and a dream — a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength. 

… but the cats say to read this instead: Homer’s Odyssey

#3 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Ken Kesey

Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind-numbing medication and the threat of electric shock therapy. But her regime is disrupted by the arrival of McMurphy – the swaggering, fun-loving trickster with a devilish grin who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow inmates. His struggle is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a seemingly mute half-Indian patient who understands McMurphy’s heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them imprisoned. Ken Kesey’s extraordinary first novel is an exuberant, ribald and devastatingly honest portrayal of the boundaries between sanity and madness.

… but the cats say to read this instead: The Guest Cat

#4 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Tennessee Williams

A sizzling drama of desire, avarice and deception set in the American Deep South. ‘Big Daddy’ Pollitt, the richest cotton planter in the Mississippi Delta, is about to celebrate his sixty-fifth birthday. His two sons have returned home for the occasion: Gooper, his wife and children, Brick, an ageing football hero who has turned to drink, and his feisty wife Maggie. As the hot summer evening unfolds, the veneer of happy family life and Southern gentility gradually slips away as unpleasant truths emerge and greed, lies, jealousy and suppressed sexuality threaten to reach boiling point. Made into a film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a masterly portrayal of family tensions and individuals trapped in prisons of their own making.

… but the cats say to read this instead: The Art of Purring

#5 The Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger

Originally published in 1951, with its frank, open delivery and subject of teenage alienation, The Catcher in the Rye instantly became a touchstone for disaffected youth. Holden Caulfield, the maelstrom of contradictions and repressed rage at the tale’s centre, emerges as an everyman for a disaffected generation, a boy adrift in time. Through a series of encounters – old friends, random strangers – Caulfield’s story is that of coming of age, a young man profoundly shocked by the understanding that all innocence must end.

… but the cats say to read this instead: The Dalai Lama’s Cat

#6 To Kill A Mockingbird

Harper Lee

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. The converging tales within To Kill a Mockingbird can briefly be summed up as: the story of six-year-old Scout Finch and her brother Jem, who are obsessed with sighting the reclusive Boo Radley; and the story of their father Atticus, a noble lawyer who defends a black man in a rape case brought against him by a young white woman.  Mockingbird has since been placed above the Bible on the list of books every adult should read before they die and, having never gone out of print, staunchly remains a feature on high school reading lists. Its themes cover racial injustice, gender, the loss of innocence and class and the complexity of social codes. 

… but the cats say to read this instead: The Travelling Cat Chronicles

… but these are the books our cats think we should be reading instead …

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

T.S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot’s playful cat poems have delighted readers and cat lovers around the world ever since they were first published in 1939. They were originally composed for his godchildren, with Eliot posing as Old Possum himself, and later inspired the legendary musical Cats. The full book consists of 15 very short poems, most of which describe a distinct personality of cat. There’s the cat who can never be pleased, for example, the thieving cat, the old wise cat. Each cat has a creative name which mirrors their personality.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles

Hiro Arikawa

Nana the cat is on a road trip. He is not sure where he’s going or why, but it means that he gets to sit in the front seat of a silver van with his beloved owner, Satoru. Side by side, they cruise around Japan through the changing seasons, visiting Satoru’s old friends. He meets Yoshimine, the brusque and unsentimental farmer for whom cats are just ratters; Sugi and Chikako, the warm-hearted couple who run a pet-friendly B&B; and Kosuke, the mournful husband whose cat-loving wife has just left him. There’s even a very special dog who forces Nana to reassess his disdain for the canine species.  But what is the purpose of this road trip? And why is everyone so interested in Nana? Nana does not know and Satoru won’t say. But when Nana finally works it out, his small heart will break…

The Art of Purring

David Michie

What makes you purr? Of all the questions in the world, this is the most important. It is also the great leveler. Because no matter whether you are a playful kitten or a sedentary senior, a scrawny alley Tom or a sleek-coated uptown girl, whatever your circumstances, you just want to be happy. Not the kind of happy that comes and goes like a can of flaked tuna but an enduring happiness. The deep-down happiness that makes you purr from the heart.  Before leaving for a teaching tour to America, the Dalai Lama poses a challenge to his beloved feline, HHC (His Holiness’s Cat): to discover the true cause of happiness. Little does she know what adventures this task will bring! A hair-raising chase through the streets of McLeod Ganj leads to an unexpected revelation about the perils of self-obsession. An encounter with the mystical Yogi Tarchen inspires a breakthrough discovery about her past – one with dramatic implications for us all. And overheard conversations between ivy-league psychologists, high-ranking lamas, and famous writers who congregate at the Himalaya Book Café help her explore the convergence between science and Buddhism on the vital subject of happiness. Sparkling with wisdom, warmth, and a touch of mischief.

The Guest Cat

Takashi Hiraide

A bestseller in France and winner of Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, The Guest Cat, by the acclaimed poet Takashi Hiraide, is a subtly moving and exceptionally beautiful novel about the transient nature of life and idiosyncratic but deeply felt ways of living. A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo; they work at home, freelance copy-editing; they no longer have very much to say to one another. But one day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. It leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. Soon they are buying treats for the cat and enjoying talks about the animal and all its little ways. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife — the days have more light and color. The novel brims with new small joys and many moments of staggering poetic beauty, but then something happens …

The Dalai Lama’s Cat

David Michie

“‘Oh! How adorable! I didn’t know you had a cat!’ she exclaimed. ‘If only she could speak,’ continued the actress. ‘I’m sure she’d have such wisdom to share.’

I am always surprised how many people make this observation. Why should His Holiness not have a cat? And so the seed was planted . . . 

I began to think that perhaps the time had come for me to write a book of my own—a book that would convey some of the wisdom I’ve learned sitting not at the feet of the Dalai Lama but even closer, on his lap. A book that would tell my own tale . . . how I was rescued from a fate too grisly to contemplate to become the constant companion of a man who is not only one of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate but also a dab hand with a can opener.” Warmhearted, irreverent, and wise, this cat of many names opens a window to the inner sanctum of life in Dharamsala. A tiny spy observing the constant flow of private meetings between His Holiness and everyone from Hollywood celebrities to philanthropists to self-help authors, the Dalai Lama’s cat provides us with insights on how to find happiness and meaning in a busy, materialistic world. Her story will put a smile on the face of anyone who has been blessed by the kneading paws and bountiful purring of a cat. 

Homer’s Odyssey

Gwen Cooper

The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight. Everyone warned that Homer would always be an “underachiever,” never as playful or independent as other cats. But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo, a tiny daredevil with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night. Homer’s Odyssey is the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion. It celebrates the refusal to accept limits—on love, ability, or hope against overwhelming odds. By turns jubilant and moving, it’s a memoir for anybody who’s ever fallen completely and helplessly in love with a pet. 


12 thoughts on “6 must-read cult classics whose titles confound cats …

    1. It’s like a distillation of the pleasure we get from sharing our lives with these enigmatic little giants. It’s told with kindness. Thank you for taking the time to comment, and for your kind feedback x

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  1. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is our favorite. You got a key & a free book download as a gift for being a New Member of our site. We’re trying to make sure our members don’t miss the freebie because it expires on Monday 😉

    Like

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