You Need More Sleep: Advice From Cats, by Francesco Marciuliano
As someone who has read a few of the author’s books , this book is something that I was very much prepared for. That is not to say that the book was anything less than enjoyable, only that the author has demonstrated his capacity to draw very intriguing and thought-provoking and sometimes chillingly relevant insights from animals in his poetry and I had no doubt that he would be able to do so in portraying cats as advice columnists. What proved to be most worthwhile, at least to me, was the way in which much of this advice from cats applies to me, which means that perhaps I am more standoffish and schizoid in my approach to relationships and intimacy than is perhaps desirable for me. If my approach to such matters resembles that of a cat who is deliberately trying to inflict Stockholm Syndrome on others (!), then such an approach is troublesome and problematic for me and for others, and what is true of me is also true of other people as well. This is a book that you may be tempted to laugh at, if only to avoid thinking more seriously about one’s own struggles in dealing with other beings.
As is common for the author, this book of a bit more than 100 pages is richly photographed with cats and is divided into four sections after an introduction that counsels the reader to listen to the cats and what they have to say. First, there is a section on personal relationships where the cat(s) talk about their enjoyment of keeping people guessing and avoiding being too closed to loved ones and maintaining an air of mystery (1). After that we move to advice about social interaction (2), which includes advice to work contrary to the schedules of others, clear one’s desk every morning, eliminate rivals, and not letting anyone talk in lolcats for you. After that, the cats advise the readers on career advice (3) that includes finding a safe hiding place, showing up to work naked, and being a closer. Finally, the book closes with a chapter on self-absorption (4) with advice on being independent until one needs something, keeping one’s sense of wonder, and being a bit bad every now and then. All in all, the advice sounds exactly like one would expect from cats, and all too often fits our own habits, whatever we would advise others to do.
I must admit that I felt a lot kinder about this book than I would a book that was more direct in its approach. As a reader I tend to be rather harsh on those books that show themselves as coming from a hostile worldview, but a great deal kinder on those books which are designed to be unsettling but which require empathy on the part of the reader to have a sting. There are many readers who would simply read this book and laugh at the silliness of cats, without thinking that the cats’ advice in any way would be relevant to the way we live our lives as human beings. And to be sure, the author makes some subtle digs at the way cats talk in memes here, which should lead to some humorous beef between the author and others. That said, this is a book which has a great deal to say about people for those who are interested in taking the time and showing the interest in reading what it has to say and then applying those to one’s own relationships and one’s own struggles. Perhaps we are not so different from cats after all, and more like those standoffish pets than we often let on.
 See, for example:
Two more reviews forthcoming