Shop Tails: The Animals Who Help Us Make Things Work

$ 29.00

You can download an excerpt of this book here. Order the book before Nov. 12, 2021, and you will receive a free pdf of the book at checkout.

By Nancy R. Hiller

In this singular collection of essays, Nancy Hiller relates the ways in which non-human animals – some companions, others wild or raised on farms – have provided warmth and comfort, prompted laughter and offered examples of courage or composure in the face of distressing events.

“Shop Tails” is a loving tribute to the animals whose lives have been intertwined with Hiller’s own and taught her lessons about relationships, loyalty, illness, joy, death and (also important) pudding. It is also an unflinching look back at old wounds that have played their own part in making Hiller the person she is; she documents her efforts to prove her worth to others, as well as herself, in the workshop and beyond. In doing so, she discovers the empowerment that can come from honoring the life you’ve made in response to the hand you’ve been dealt. Every one of us will at some point experience challenges that feel insurmountable. We can only exert so much control over circumstances and events, but more often than not, we have the capacity to decide how we will respond.

Her 21 essays within will make you laugh. They will make you angry. They will inspire you to create something beautiful (a piece of furniture, a garden, a better relationship, a home). They will break your heart. And they will stay with you.

Ten percent of net profits from the sale of “Shop Tails” will go to The Ranch Cat Rescue (

“It’s hard to describe these essays without lapsing into the kinds of qualifiers that
usually sound (but definitely are not, in this case) overblown: breathtaking, searing,
hilarious, intricate, and above all else, wild and original, like nothing else I’ve read.”
— Edith Sarra, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Like all Lost Art Press books, “Shop Tails” is produced and printed in the United States. The book is 368 pages and measures  6" x 9". The text is printed on acid-free paper in signatures. These signatures are sewn and reinforced with fiber tape. The interior is then wrapped in hardcover boards and cotton cloth, and protected by a tear-resistant dust jacket.

Erratum for the first edition: On page 15, Hiller writes that her diagnosis is “adenoma of the pancreas.”  The correct name is "adenocarcinoma."

“I couldn't put it down… The mix of humor, vulnerability, and such humanity is very compelling. It made me feel more alive to read it.”
—Jane Goodman, Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University.

“When I got to chapter 21, I got a different view of you, your outlook and life philosophy. You're a strong, talented, and thoughtful woman, a real mensch. The older I get the more I appreciate thoughtful, genuine friends.  I don't have that many. We're privileged to know you, even though our relationship has been mostly through books, articles and emails.”
Christian Becksvoort

“Honest, insightful, joyful and wrenching. I love the way you run ‘headlong and reckless’ into your fears and deftly turn pain into purpose.”
—Rachel Berenson Perry, author of “The Life and Work of Felrath Hines: From Dark to Light,” “William J. Forsyth: The Life and Work of an Indiana Artist” and “T.C. Steele and the Society of Western Artists, 1896-1914.” (Quoting Emily Scott Robinson from “Lost Woman’s Prayer”)

“Just finished Nancy’s Shop Tails after receiving it Thursday afternoon – WOW is all I can say – captivating as usual with Nancy – autobiographical as to Nancy – biographical as to her family of humans and pets – all intertwined – and as always bare honesty with regard to her living of her life and the joys/tears of that journey.”
—Bill Morris, via Instagram.

"[H]its the mark of why you are who you are what you are, reminding me of James Krenov’s writings. I want to know what makes creative people tick. I’m one too, but need to know I’m not crazy…"
—Lyn Baker, via Instagram

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