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An inspired combination of art and thought...

  • Dec 30, 2009

I found this book by chance, and am so glad that I did. It made me smile, and I couldn't wait to share it as soon as I finished reading it.

The book is comprised of a three-and-a-half page introduction by the author herself and seventy-nine pages of sayings and watercolor paintings of cats, as well as a brief explanation of  the Chinese seals used in the paintings and a biographical paragraph about the author. The quotations used in the book are from well-known Chinese figures such as Confucius, Sun Tzu, and Feng Menglong, and the paintings were done by the author herself. There is one quotation per page, with a painting of a cat on the page opposite each one. The book is brief enough to read in one sitting, yet enough to instill casual pondering as you attempt to apply each quote's message to the painting of the cat opposite it. One complaint that I do have is that not every painting reflects the meaning of the quote it is paired with, and some of the paintings are very sloppy.

While each of the quotations are thought-provoking, these two especially struck me:

"Ancient scholars studied for self-fulfillment;
Today's scholars study for fame."
- Confucius

"I beg you do not love your golden dress,
Rather value your youth.
Collect sweet blossoms while you can,
Do not wait till the branches are bare."
- Chinese poem

While many of the passages within this book deal with respect, honor, and knowledge, there are some that are touching as well, such as one that reads, "A friend who truly knows you is always with you" and is coupled with an adorable painting titled "Two Brothers" that shows two young black cats admiring a flowering plant. I suppose you would have to see it to know what I mean, but it is really sweet. The story behind this book is just as touching as many of the paintings and passages within it, as Kwong Kuen Shan describes how a stray cat helped her to overcome her phobia of cats and inspired her to create The Cat And The Tao.

Overall, I would say that if you love and adore cats, as I do, then you will probably love and adore this book, especially if you are interested in art, watercolors, and/or eastern philosophy. It is a lovely little book that can be shared with others or that you can enjoy on your own time and again. In short, it is beautiful, and would make a perfect little coffee-table book.

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January 03, 2012
April 23, 2010
I'm not a cat fan, but I love Chinese philosophy and art, so this sounds charming. If I'm not mistaken, you included some of these quotes on your MySpace page...
January 05, 2010
I like watercolors more than I like cats...but cats are okay, too (they just aren't dogs...the superior pet). Hehe. Good review.
December 30, 2009
I've been hearing a lot of stuff about this review, nicely done. I may check this out real soon. Thanks for sharing!
December 30, 2009
Really? I hope you do, it's sure to brighten your day, even just a little.
December 30, 2009
Just ordered the book on Amazon.
December 30, 2009
Really? I'm sure you'll love it. I'd love to hear your thoughts after you finish reading it.
December 30, 2009
Cat fan over here! Landlord doesn't allow them in the new apartment so lately have been gushing over cat books. This will have to be one of them.
December 30, 2009
I'm sorry that you aren't allowed to have cats. I'm not really supposed to have them either, but I kind of got away with it, luckily!
December 30, 2009
This sounds adorable and oh-so tranquilizing and inspirational, especially for pet lovers.  Thanks for sharing! :)
December 30, 2009
You're welcome! It is a very tranquil read, and I highly recommend it.
January 05, 2010
Awesomeness! By the way, did you notice that your review was featured in the newsletter that @jrjohnson sent out yesterday? :)
January 05, 2010
I did notice! I was very surprised. I'm going to look at the other reviews that were in the newletter soon.
More The Cat And The Tao reviews
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
This is a cute coffee table book. The artwork is cool to look at and the sentiment is perfect for a cat lover like myself. It makes me smile at the end of a rough and reminds me to be more patient with my crazy cat.
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GCS ()
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My user-name was derived from the title of a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. I came to Lunch with the hopes of publishing reviews that would be appreciated by others and reading the reviews of others that hope … more
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About this book


The Cat And The Tao is a timeless treasure that artfully fuses the elegant and playful beauty of cats with the quiet power of ancient Chinese wisdom in a book sure to touch lovers of cats, art, and eastern philosophy.

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ISBN-10: 0743453352
ISBN-13: 978-0743453356
Author: Kwong Kuen Shan
Genre: Eastern Philosophy, Art
Publisher: Atria
Date Published: November 5, 2002
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