With pets making up such a huge part of our families and lives, it’s no wonder that there are so many great books written about animals. Whether fiction or not, these books all provide a great way for us to understand and appreciate a little better, not just our furry friends, but also ourselves.
Some of these books highlight the wonderful relationship between a pet and its owners, while others are there to teach you how to be a better owner yourself. Some are classics that comment on the human condition, using our relationship with animals as a method to illustrate these ideas.
So get out your reading classes, because here are 15 of the best animal and pet books ever written (in our opinion).
Many children have no doubt been traumatised by the violence depicted in the animated version of this story, but Watership Down was originally written as an adventure novel. Writer Richard Adams said it was based on a series of stories he used to tell his daughters.
Another book that was taken to the big screen, this is a heartfelt and heartbreaking memoir of a family and their loveable but poorly behaved dog, Marley. It’s a book about acceptance and commitment to those we love, including our pets.
A true classic, not just of animal literature, but of modern literature in itself. This book is an allegory for the state of Russia around the time of the Russian Revolution. Famous for many reasons, one of which is the line: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.
A bestselling novel about a teenage boy with a social disorder who sets out to solve the murder of his neighbour’s dog. Christopher has a better understanding of animals than he does people, perhaps because he can relate to not being able to fully understand the world around him.
A boy is stranded on a boat in the ocean, with only a single companion that happens to be a Bengal tiger. Throughout their journey, they come to have a mutual respect and understanding on a spiritual level.
This is a collection of slightly biographical stories about a country veterinarian and the animals with which he works. The stories also serve as a great document of a period when veterinary practices were being pulled into modern times.
Roald Dahl has written many wonderful children’s stories, and Fantastic Mr. Fox is no exception. As is a recurring theme in Dahl’s books, Mr. Fox and his family work to outwit the more powerful farmers who are causing them to starve.
Part Game of Thrones, part Harry Potter, and part Lord of the Rings. Redwall and the series of books that followed it are about kingdoms filled with talking mice, badgers, and squirrels who battle for supremacy of their realm.
Another classic. Moby Dick is the white whale that Captain Ahab has been trying to catch since it caused his leg to be amputated. Among other things, the novel is a brilliant commentary on the truth and perception of what we experience, as highlighted by the chase at its centre.
Charlotte’s Web is a delightful children’s tale about the friendship between a farm pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte. Charlotte writes messages praising the pig in her webs, to convince the farmer not to slaughter him.
Dogs is a photo collection of vintage pictures of dogs in their homes and with their families. It serves almost as a family photo album for dogs, and highlights their role in our families and our lives.
12. Dog Years – Mark Doty
This is the story of a man who takes over dog-walking duties after his wife passes away. Along the way, him and her faithful dog lean on each other to cope with loss and mourning.
As the title suggests, this book provides 97 unique suggestions to brighten your dog’s day. Browse through the suggestions to find different ways to bond with your pup.
14. Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behaviour Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet – John Bradshaw
This book gives the reader a glimpse into the mindset of your dog so that you can better understand and connect with them. It delves deeply into the science behind dog instinct, and gives fantastic insights into why they behave and feel the way that they do.
This is a book that tells a story of the relationship between a man and his dog from the perspective of the dog. It’s poignant and comical, and gives a feel for what we imagine might be going through our dog’s head when it gives us those funny looks.
These selections will surely keep you busy for a while. Grab a spot on the couch, snuggle up with a furry family member, and start reading!