As a freelance book critic, it’s rare that I read more for pleasure than for work, but rarer still that I am able to write simply to entice readers to read a certian book rather than dissect its parts–what makes it fall apart, and what makes it work for readers. I was able to do that recently when I wrote a short piece on Amy Sutherland’s new book What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers, the follow up to her hit 2006 New York Times Article.

I occasionally write articles for a new Hawai`i email magazine Lei Chic–kind of a local version of Daily Candy, and on the 15th my article “Planet of the Apes” ran. (See below.) I was chuffed to receive an email from Sutherland a few days later thanking me for the fun piece, with the subject line: A bucket of mackerel for you!

Planet of the Apes
February 15, 2008

Your dad warned you—men are animals. But women are too. So, what if you stopped thinking of the man in your life as from another world, and instead considered him a related subspecies: the stubborn, loveable American Husband/Boyfriend? Then you could stop taking his annoying habits personally, and help him become a more live-with-able cage mate with some targeted animal training.

Journalist Amy Sutherland did just that. Researching an article on exotic animal trainers led her to try some of their practices on her husband—a life-altering experience detailed in her new book What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage, an expansion of her hit 2006 New York Times article.

She began by simply rewarding behaviors she liked and ignoring ones she didn’t. That meant giving him a kiss when he picked up even just one dirty item off the floor and holding back the sarcastic comments when he lost his keys, again. The results were so remarkable, at first Sutherland didn’t realize she was also training herself—to be more patient and accepting, of everyone.

The anti-self help book, Shamu is a fresh, candid story about changing our outlook for the better.

Because male or female, we are from the same planet, after all.

Available at your favorite local or online bookstore.