Today I have a review of Our Symphony with Animals by Aysha Akhtar, M.D., available now from Pegasus Books! A huge thank you to Wunderkind PR for sending this special book to me.
Dr. Aysha Akhtar is a neurologist and leader in the field of animal ethics. This book is her memoir combined with scientific fact and a deep love for animals. Reading this, I felt instantly understood by Dr. Akhtar, and I learned a vast amount.
At the heart of the book is her research on the connection between animals and humans and how it mutually improves well-being and quality of life.
Dr. Akhtar was abused and bullied as a child, and she shares how a dog named Sylvester, also abused, changed her life.
It is fascinating when Dr. Akhtar describes how we are neurologically wired to empathize with animals. Also, how the love we give to animals and vice versa is reciprocated over and over again. Akhtar describes the moral evolution of our species including a profound compassion for animals. I loved this.
Literally, as I type this review, I have a cat on my legs, and two kittens about two feet away, all sleeping. I am comforted having them all here with me like this. It’s bliss. Animals have always been in my home, from childhood until today. I can’t imagine my life without a loyal friend who makes me laugh or smile (and, hey, keeps me pretty busy with their care; they are family members, after all!).
Overall, I feel like giving Dr. Akhtar a high five. She not only “gets” it about animals; she has the science to back it all up.
Just a note: there are some difficult scenes in this book when animals are mistreated. I was given fair warning, which I appreciated, and it did not detract from the message of the book or my takeaway from it.
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
About the Book:
A leader in the fields of animal ethics and neurology, Dr. Aysha Akhtar examines the rich human-animal connection and how interspecies empathy enriches our well-being.
Deftly combining medicine, social history and personal experience, Our Symphony with Animals is the first book by a physician to show how deeply the well-being of humans and animals are entwined.
Interwoven throughout is Dr. Akhtar’s own story of being a young girl who was bullied in school and sexually abused by her uncle. Feeling abandoned by humanity, it was only when she met Sylvester, a dog who had also been abused, that she found strength for both of them.
Against the backdrop of her inspiring story, Dr. Akhtar asks, what do we gain when we recognize our kinship with animals? She travels around the country to tell the stories of a varied cast of characters―including a former mobster, an industrial chicken farmer, a Marine veteran―and comes face to face with a serial killer.
Through storytelling that is entertaining, profound, and touching, Dr. Akhtar reveals what happens when we both break and forge bonds with animals. She demonstrates how humans are neurologically designed to empathize with animals, and how violence against them goes against our nature. In equal measure, the love and friendship we give to other species biologically reverberates back to us.
Humanity’s compassion for animals is the next step in our species’ moral evolution and a vital component of our own health. Our Symphony with Animals is the definitive account for why our relationships with animals matter.
8 pages of color photographs
“Our Symphony with Animals is a beautiful, compassionate, and important book. Dr. Akhtar deftly weaves her personal and professional experiences into the scientific story of how humans are designed to bond with animals–and the cost, to us and to the rest of animate creation, of breaking that bond. Her wonderful book is at once intimate and global, and its message is crucial: empathy with our fellow animals is vital for the health of humans and non-humans alike.”
– Sy Montgomery, author of ‘How to Be a Good Creature’
Have you read Our Symphony with Animals, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR