Following Atticus

[This blog is posted under my name, but was written by my wife Lizby.  -- Mark]

Because my husband works at Lemuria, my addiction to reading has a constant stream of books to feed it. Needless to say, I read quite a bit, and it’s always easy to choose my next indulgence, because my husband picks out books for me. He’s awfully good at it, but recently he outdid himself when he placed a book in my hand called Following Atticus. He bought it because the pictures on the cover and in the center fold were so darn cute, but as soon as I began to read, I realized what a gem he’d hit on.

Every once in a while, I find a book so compelling, that once I’ve read it I find myself unable to stop pestering friends to read it, too. This is one of those books. This true story is about a twenty pound miniature schnauzer and a middle-aged, overweight man and their attempt to hike all forty-eight of the deadly four-thousand foot white mountains in New Hampshire. In the wrong hands this could have been a sappy, cliched, cloyingly sweet story perfect for Disney to take on as their next animated feature. Fortunately, when Tom Ryan authored this book, he did it so masterfully that it transcends the simple plot and becomes so much more than a book about a little dog climbing big mountains.

What made the book so good was the love that Ryan clearly has for three things: literature, nature, and, of course, man’s best friend. As I read, I put a sticky note on every page with a quotation from other authors. By the time I was done there were so many bits of paper sticking up out of the top of the book that it looked like it had a mohawk. I got the sense that Ryan was so intimately familiar with the works of Kipling, Lewis, Frost, Emerson, Thoreau, and countless others, that quoting their words came as naturally as breathing. His descriptions of the mountains made me long to be back in my native New England, and see the those mountains again for myself. His account of his faithful companion captured the essence of “dog-ness” as only a real dog lover could.

In the Prologue of Following Atticus, Ryan says “I have come to judge a good story as one that makes me feel as if I’m losing a friend when I read the final page, close the book, and put it down for the last time”. This was one of those books for me. But here’s the best news – when I finished reading, I discovered that it wasn’t actually over. Little Atticus is still climbing mountains, and he has a blog with beautiful writing and photographs. So buy the book, check out the blog for pictures of all of Atticus’ adventures, and I hope you will be as enchanted by Following Atticus as I was.

Written by Mark

12 thoughts on “Following Atticus

  1. Jan

    Thanks so much for getting the word out about this wonderful book. New England already knows about it, but the rest of the country is missing out on a great read.

  2. Mary

    I read this book because it was by a local author and about the mountains I have hiked and loved. I had the great privilege to meet Tom & Atticus and listen to a presentation at my church. It is one of the few books I am planning to read again because I think there is so much in it one needs to read it more than once.

  3. Cheryl

    Thank you for your great review…this book needs all the attention we can get it. Word of mouth is the best endorsement so keep bugging your friends to read it! Atticus M. Finch and his friend Tom deserve to be at the top of the best sellers lists.

  4. Joyce

    Thank you for an excellent review of Following Atticus. I can honestly say this is one of the best books I have read and have been telling others about it. Is there any possibility that Lemuria might invite Tom and Atticus for a reading and signing? Thanks again for your review.

  5. Marie

    My sentiments exactly! I don’t know when I’ve enjoyed reading anything so much! My friends have given up, read it, and thanked me.

  6. William

    This is a great review for a wondeful book! I finished Following Atticus and immediately started reading it all over again. I’ve been telling everyone I know that they should read this book. Following Atticus should be on every best sellers list in the country!

  7. Ann

    I bought this book because my cousin recommended it, and I was intrigued that Atticus looked exactly like my own mini. But I discovered this really isn’t a “dog” book. It’s about courage, pushing your limits, and finding friendship and comfort in unexpected ways. Since reading it I’ve given copies to several friends!

  8. Robert Plamondon

    Great review! Following Atticus is a wonderful read, one that I have been telling everyone about. My wife and I have had the opportunity of meeting Tom and Atticus at a book signing, and we are big fans…..
    Do yourself a favor and read the book!

  9. Tasha Burnett

    As a Miniature Schnauzer mom, the cover of the book is what first drew my attention to the book. But once I started reading, I realized that it’s about so much more than a story about a man and his dog. It’s a “must read” in my opinion. I’ve recommended it to so many family & friends. Considering that I live in Hattiesburg, I would love the opportunity to attend a book signing and meet both Mr. Finch and Mr. Ryan.

  10. Sarah

    What a great book. I cried, laughed out loud and was so inspired,it was the best. I can’t stop talking about the book. I will most likely read it again. I also own a Miniature Schnauzer, Jaeck, 13 years old. That is what made me by it. But now I want to Follow Tom and Atticus some more. Waiting for Book #2. Please.

    Sarah B.

  11. Elaine

    What a lovely heart felt review of a wonderful book. Having found this book to find out that at the end of it the dog is still alive and doing more adventures is oe of he things that made me buy it as will as beening about schnauzer. Loved your review looking forward to reading the next one

  12. Lori

    I absolutely love and adore Tom and Atticus! It has been a breath of fresh air for me. Best read this year! I was delighted there was a blog to follow as I just didn’t want to stop hearing about their amazing adventures!


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