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  • Writer's pictureTerrie

12 Must Read Books That Feature Animals

There are so many great books about animals or that have a strong animal character and we want to share some of our favorites with you. Donna and I put our heads together and came up with this selection of excellent books.

On this and all our upcoming lists, we'll be featuring books we've actually read so we recommend them wholeheartedly. We've noticed that many Must Read book lists feature LOTS of new releases. That's great - it's fun to get excited about the shiny new book from a favorite author or one that's receiving lots of buzz. BUT, there's a place for those gems of back list titles as well - and that's what our lists will consist of..... many back list books that you can easily find at the library without a long wait or that won't break the bank to buy (you may even readily find them on thrift shelves). The following list is alphabetical by author.

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Genre: Classic, Fantasy

Published 1972, 476 pages

Synopsis: Imminently readable and a classic about rabbits who are forced to leave their warren and find another; there are challenges along the way and some interesting societal corollaries. I'm telling you, it's better than you think!

The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron

Genre: General Fiction

Published 2013, 233 pages

Synopsis: A man who has never wanted a dog finds an abandoned pregnant dog and rescues her. Once the puppies arrive, he asks for help at the local shelter where he meets a woman and falls in love - just as he's falling in love with the puppies that have changed his life. Wonderful depiction of the playfulness of puppies. (DW)

The Dog Master: A Novel of the First Dog by W. Bruce Cameron

Genre: Historical Fiction

Published 2015, 416 pages

Synopsis: Reviewed here. Early tribal man, interactions with a sacred wolf, tribal strife and challenges was SO interesting, developing friendship with wolf well told.

Amazing Gracie: A Dog's Tale by Dan Dye & Mark Beckloff

Genre: Nonfiction

Published 2003, 256 pages

Synopsis: Dye adopts a Great Dane puppy that is deaf and blind in one eye and it changes his life forever; a humorous, touching, inspiring story from the founders of Three Dog Bakery. (DW)

The Lion is In by Delia Ephron

Genre: General Fiction

Published 2012, 304 pages

Synopsis: Two girlfriends who pick up an older woman hitchhiking and they all end up stranded in a small town with a circus lion. I absolutely loved Marcel, the lion! (DW)

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher

Genre: Dystopian

Published 2019, 365 pages

Synopsis: Reviewed here. The tale of a boy chasing the man who stole his dog through a dystopian wasteland and he's led further from home than he's ever been - fear and bravery, perseverance and love, excitement and action.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

Genre: Nonfiction

Published 1999, 457 pages

Synopsis: Whether or not you "like" horses or racing, you should pick up this book. All about the details of Seabiscuit and the remarkable winning journey of this underdog horse; it reads like a novel.

A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog by Dean Koontz

Genre: Nonfiction

Published 2009, 288 pages

Synopsis: Reviewed here. A heartwarming story of Trixie, Koontz's beloved golden retriever filled with loving tales of all the ways she brightened and changed the lives of him and his family. Keep the tissues handy for those touching tears.

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen

Genre: Nonfiction

Published 1995, 272 pages

Synopsis: A fascinating story of a man who decided to run the Iditarod on a whim - starting from the beginning and choosing and training his dogs (whatever could go wrong, did) and then the hardship of the actual race. A quick read that is unputdownable!

Dogtripping by David Rosenfelt

Genre: Nonfiction

Published 2013, 278 pages

Synopsis: Rosenfelt (author of the Andy Carpenter series) writes the story of the trip he and his wife take moving from California to Maine with a mere 25 rescue dogs, 11 volunteers, and 3 RVs. Humor and warmth pervade this inspiring story.

Play Dead (#6 Carpenter) by David Rosenfelt

Genre: Mystery

Published 2007, 308 pages

Synopsis: Carpenter saves a dog's life in court then realizes he holds the answer to a murder and he must convince the jury to believe the dog's testimony. As with most Carpenter mysteries, the dog plays a pivotal role.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Genre: General Fiction

Published 2008, 321 pages


As he nears death, a dog reflects back on his life with his owner, a racecar driver - a life of fun, loyalty, hope and ups and downs. (warning, you'll have a good cry with the ending)

We really hope you find some old favorites and some new possibilities in this list. What book would you add to this list? Let us know your thoughts - did any make it to your TBR? Let's Talk Books!

Welcome to Bookshelf Journeys.

It's my goal to provide real reviews of the books I read without totally rehashing every plot. I'll never spoil a story by giving away a plot twist! Hopefully you'll find one or two of interest and will discover a new book or author to add to YOUR TBR list.  Take a moment to explore, read a couple reviews, and let me know what you think.


For your convenience, I use #hashtags in the reviews and when you click on one, you'll find more books with that theme. Hopefully you'll find it a helpful way to navigate the site and find books you'll enjoy. I've also recently added tags that will show up at the end of each review that serve the same purpose.

The review ratings are based on a 5 star  (1/2 stars sometimes) system with a 3 being an average read for me. I hope you find that helpful. Knowing, of course, that all opinions are just that - my opinion!  Let me know if you agree or disagree - I'd love to hear from you.

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