Non Fiction

The Social Lives of Animals by Ashley Ward

In November, I usually look back at all the non-fictions I have read, and I think this would probably be the year I finally hit a much higher number than I usually do.
Given the content, this book has a more generic cover than I think appropriate. The author begins by putting forward his stance on the concept of humans as social animals by providing personal anecdotes that outline the theory. It is a good jumping-off point to the animals’ social structures because, at each stage, we return to the book’s central theme. Each creature is part of a very different society, and it was extremely fascinating once I got into the groove of reading it. In the very beginning, I felt the content was a little dense. As I kept reading, however, I got used to the author’s style and started to focus more on the contents. I am a fan of factoids that I can regale people if I am ever in a social setting that might appreciate such facts. This book is not conducive to individual facts being taken out and examined. It is best understood (at least it was by me) as part of the whole.
There is not much more that I, as a layperson, could talk about a non-fiction title. The writing was interesting, and the combination of that and the content had me enjoying this entire book.
One main thing I took away was that I never really registered that termites were vegetarians while ants are not! Thinking back, this distinction makes sense, but it came as a big surprise for some reason.
I have read/listened to quite a few standard and anecdotal books on animals this year, and this definitely tops the list of the ones I would recommend for people to keep on the shelf to peruse at leisure. Each individual creature can be taken as a chapter distinct from the rest, making it easier to read a book like this.
I received an ARC thanks to Netgalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.


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