Okay, so maybe you don't know anyone whose true pet passion is the pig. That should not deter you from picking up The Whole Hog: Exploring the Extraordinary Potential of Pigs, a lovely yes, lovely book from the Smithsonian Institution. This well-researched and beautifully illustrated volume is crammed with facts about pigs, from the domestic pink pig to more exotic varieties. Author Lyall Watson displays a charming enthusiasm for swine (his childhood pet was an orphaned warthog called Hoover in honor of his vast appetite), and the book is chock-full of his own pig anecdotes from decades as a zoologist.

Watson's love of this highly intelligent animal is contagious. "There is something cryptic about them," he writes, "a mystery waiting to be resolved, a sense of intellectual potential that will not be denied, no matter how hard some people try to relegate them to the farmyard as ignorant oinkers.' " Read this book and you'll never look at bacon the same way again.

Amy Scribner is a writer in Olympia, Washington.

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