Reading: We Bought a Zoo, and knitting Rook-y

Well, Typepad has just changed its interface and I just published a blank post. So I’m going back to fill in some information. Apologies for any weirdness in the appearance of the blog.


I’ve spent the past few evenings reading We Bought a Zoo, by Benjamin Mee. It’s a memoir about a family that acquired, against many odds, a decrepit private zoo in rural England and brought it back. Events are all relatively recent—the purchase occurred in fall 2006 and the zoo opened to the public again just last summer. Mee’s a professional writer, which is why he could get the story told so quickly and so well.

Here are a couple of quotes:

  • “Throwing yourself into worthwhile, fruitful hard work that you believe in, as much as you can handle and more, is a kind of luxury not everyone gets to experience. It is also exhausting.” (p. 179)
  • ” . . . [I]t was a one-way journey we were on, and most of the problems we faced, for once, really could be solved by throwing money at them. I was just acutely aware that once the money was spent, there wasn’t going to be any more. And if we failed to get the park open with it, the level of disaster would be unthinkable. Probably many animals would die, and many people (including those who had left good jobs to work for us) would be unemployed. And the family assets, which my parents had worked so hard all their lives to build up, with be in tatters. ‘But at least no one’s shooting at us,’ my mum would say. Brought up in Sheffield during the war, [she] . . . knew from direct personal experience that things could be considerably worse.” (p. 205)


Buying a falling-down zoo is an even wilder idea than taking on a small, independent publishing company. I don’t have to worry about the animals dying, which would be the worst, and I have no employees depending on me, just a family.


And as you can see, the Rook-y project (Socks That Rock) is coming along very nicely. It’s going to work. Here’s more of a close-up, for the wonderful, subtle colors:


I’m going to have to get used to this new composing/editorial interface.


Computer and book progress: Although the software is still throwing in odd character shifts, I have been able to override them. The author’s and proofreader’s changes are in the file, and I’ve requested print bids. I am babying this along, with the goal of getting it into PDFs that the printer can use, despite the corruption in the file. I still don’t have the index or the back cover (both are in the hands of freelancers right now).

And so I can take a short break: I’m leaving town this morning for an unprecedented interlude. Four cousins (all in our 50s) are taking our mothers (ages 84 and 86) on a road trip to a place where they lived during the Depression. Some of us have not seen each other in forty years, and we have never done a trip even remotely like this before.

And now I need to go get ready to pick up the next-in-line cousin, so we can drive to Denver and rendezvous with the youngest cousin in the group (we consist of all the women on that side of the family) and my aunt (who both live there) as well as my sister and mother, who flew in last night.

It should be interesting.


6 thoughts on “Reading: We Bought a Zoo, and knitting Rook-y”

  1. Safe journey! I hope this break is good for you…and how interesting to go check out how things look now as compared to how they looked during the Depression with two folks who were there! I was lucky enough to see my great-grandmother’s NJ chicken farm before it was sold to become the grounds of an enormous corporation. I think back on those farm memories a lot.

    I don’t know that I could manage a zoo. A farm, maybe, but I don’t think I could deal with the people bothering my animals all day and putting their arms into the tiger enclosure…

  2. Rook-y looks amazing! Way better than a pair of socks, I admit it.

    That first quote you included is great; I can see why it resonated with you!

    Have a safe trip. Did I count right? (6 women in a car on a long road trip) Oh boy. You’re a brave woman.

  3. Six women in TWO cars. Big difference!

    That bit about bothering the animals is covered in the book. Nicely dealt with. Also the arms in the tiger cages (or, more likely, jaguars getting altogether out of their cages . . . when it was a rundown zoo).

  4. I made that trip (shorter) with my husband and my Aunt and Uncle. We learned so much about them and their life. Great fun. Enjoy

  5. I’m so glad you can connect with family. Yes, if you do not know one another it’s a bit of a crapshoot, but if you didn’t do it you would regret having given up the chance.

    Have a pleasant getaway.


Comments are closed.