Book Club Reflection: The Rise of Wolf 8 by Rick McIntyre

16 Nov

My book club met last week to talk about our latest read, The Rise of Wolf 8 by Rick McIntyre. This was a read I listened to, mostly while moving and driving back and forth between my apartment and my new house so I was able to get through it rather quickly. It wasn’t one I particularly enjoyed but, as I suspected, I was the minority when we met to talk about it.

McIntyre clearly knows a lot and understands wolves well. He’s able to describe the narrative of wolf interaction and is a gifted storyteller. Now, he’s not going to win a Nobel for his writing, but it was still more engaging than most naturalists can probably tell a story about non-verbal animals. Sometimes, he walked a line between telling a story and sharing his research. But his connections to the wolves are strong and he shows his passion. The second book in this series, The Reign of Wolf 21, came out this past September and there’s a planned third book to finish the series.

The reader who most liked this book already liked wolves and dogs. It did get one reader to have a greater affinity for wolves than she’d had before. Many with pet dogs were able to compare the behavior to their dogs. One thing that didn’t come across as well in the book was the size of Yellowstone. A few of our members had visited the park and they said you couldn’t imagine the range of the park and by focusing on the wolves, you didn’t always get a sense of how far apart they were. The Wolf Project is a big undertaking for the park, which is funded with public funds. Some questioned if the public supported the project enough to justify the cost. It seems like McIntyre’s arguing that the additional revenue to Yellowstone is enough to pay for the project and that it’s also supported surrounding businesses.

We had a few criticisms that were shared almost universally. One is that the middle of the book seemed repetitive and long. I noticed this myself and was glad I wasn’t alone. The second was that with the animals being numbered it was easy to forget the relationships and who packed with who if you didn’t read the book daily. I heard the print version contained a family tree that I would have found immeasurably helpful. We heard that the rationale for numbering the wolves is to keep the researchers from getting so attached to the animals. Though, McIntyre seems to do this anyway. Jane Goodall was criticized for naming the chimps she studied since the generally accepted practice is to use numbers.

We’re going to continue to meet virtually so I plan to continue attending. Once this group meets in person again, I’ll likely drop off since it’s now quite far from me.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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