There are so many books about dogs that a dog-loving reader could spend years engrossed in them. Here are the ones you won’t want to miss and some worth trying. Such a short list is bound to omit someone’s favorite. What are some of the books you would recommend to other dog lovers?
Classics for Dog Lovers of All Ages
There are many wonderful children’s books that are great for dog lovers of all ages — you’re never too old for a classic!
White Fang, Jack London
Following on the success of “Call of the Wild,” Jack London wrote this book as a companion piece. It’s almost the reverse story of its predecessor, following the part dog-part wolf from the wild through the cruelty of humans and finally, to the healing power of human kindness. Although often considered a book for kids, “White Fang” has a depth and scope all readers can appreciate.
Lassie Come-Home, Eric Knight
You’ve seen the movies and TV shows, but perhaps it’s time to give the book another read. Originally published in 1940, this story of the Collie that does everything she can to reunite with her beloved human never gets old. Readers discover the book when young and return to it again and again, often sharing it with their own children and grandchildren.
Currently available only on Kindle, it’s worth the download to read stories from the master. The author who brought us “Lad: A Dog” wrote other classic dog stories and there are seven of them in the collection. His abiding love and knowledge of Collies come from his real-life experience as the owner of Sunnybank Kennels, which is now Terhune Memorial Park, in Wayne, New Jersey
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster, with illustrations by Jules Feiffer
One can debate whether this is a kids’ book or for adults, but it would be far better to pick up a copy and get lost in the fantasy adventures of Milo and Tock, a dog is who is literally a watch-dog. The wondrous illustrations and witty wordplay have been entertaining kids from ages eight to 80 since the book was first published in 1961.
Adult Fiction for Dog Lovers
Once you’ve visited — or revisited — the classics, why not try some contemporary fiction for dog lovers? Some of these are hilarious, some heart wrenching, and some both.
The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein
Told by Enzo, a pup with deep thoughts and insight, this 2008 novel tells the story of a racecar driver and his shotgun-riding canine. It’s got it all: humor, drama, beautiful prose, and some tears.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, David Wroblewski
This 2008 debut novel is more than a mystery and legal thriller, it’s also a coming of age story about a mute boy and the (fictional) breed of dog his family raises. Kirkus Reviews calls it, ‘“A stately, wonderfully written debut novel … a boon for dog lovers, and for fans of storytelling that eschews flash. ”
Jonathan Unleashed, Meg Rosoff
When everything goes wrong for Jonathan, including an awful job, a sketchy apartment, and a girlfriend who leaves him, his life is changed for the better when he dog sits for his brother’s Border Collie and Cocker Spaniel. Critics call it hilarious, screwball, smart, and lovable.
Lily and the Octopus, Steven Rowley
This is an enormously creative and heart-breaking novel about the truest of true love, between a man and his dog. Steven Rowley wrote this book to express his own grief at the loss of his dog and readers call it “gut-wrenching” and “amazing.” The Washington Post says it’s, “this ultimately breathtaking novel was a very profound experience…”
Timbuktu: A Novel, Paul Auster
A man and a dog on a road trip—a classic setup in fiction and non-fiction. In the hands of Paul Auster, an author known for his highly literate and unconventional fiction, the quest undertaken by Mr. Bones and his human is both funny and tragic. Mr. Bones is a compelling narrator of what a reader describes as “a charming novel by an unpredictable author.”
Even if you haven’t seen The Oatmeal (aka Matthew Inman) on social media, you’ll love his volume of dog-centric comics that muse on important issues like why does your dog chase animals three times his size and what’s so great about rolling in horse poop? With around four million Facebook fans and raves from critics, The Oatmeal’s new book is sure-fire entertainment for dog lovers.
Adult Non-fiction for Dog Lovers
Sometimes our real-life experiences with dogs are stranger, funnier, and more enriching than fiction, as these books prove.
E.B. White on Dogs, Martha White
E.B. White is best known for his children’s books, especially “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little.” But he also wrote about what he loved best—his dogs. Now White’s granddaughter has compiled his New Yorker essays and other writings about dogs into a witty collection that showcases both his love of dogs, and his masterful writing.
Off the Leash: A Year in the Dog Park, Matthew Gilbert
Owning a dog, especially for the first time, can lead to odd behavior changes, and nothing is much odder than hanging out in an open space with total strangers and their assorted dogs. Gilbert, a TV critic for the Boston Globe, chronicles his first year as a dog owner and dog park habitué. Humor, compassion, eccentricities, and companionship (both human and canine) are all described with wit and charm.
My Dog Tulip, J.R. Ackerley
Some come to love late in life, as did the British man of letters, J.R. Ackerley, when he rescued Queenie, a German Shepherd. Ackerley wrote this loving tribute to his “ideal friend” and her eccentricities and blatant misbehavior. The New Yorker called it “one of the bona-fide dog-lit classics,” and a reader comments that, “Reading between the lines a bit, for he isn’t in the least objective, nor tries to be, she was a holy terror. Thus his devotion to her is all the more touching.”
Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
Known as a renowned author of American fiction, in this memoir Steinbeck tells a classic road story of his travels across the country with his French Poodle, Charley. From coast to coast, Steinbeck discovers America in the tumultuous 1960’s, learns much about himself, and that a dog is the best possible travel companion. Critics called the book “evocative,” “profound,” “sympathetic,” and “pure delight.” If you only know Steinbeck’s fiction, you’re in for a treat.
A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog Named Trixie, Dean R. Koontz
Many are familiar with this best-selling author’s suspense novels, but Koontz gives us something completely different with his loving tribute to Golden Retriever Trixie, a retired service dog he and his wife adopted. She changed their lives with her joy and intelligence, inspiring the author to write his first non-fiction book, expressing the transformative nature of the relationship between a human and his dog.
Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love, Larry Levin
What happens when an abused and battle-scarred (literally) dog finds the family that can really love him? This is the story of Oogie, rescued by Larry Levin, his wife, and twin sons. Oogie had been used as a bait dog and left to die when he was brought to an animal shelter in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. For Levin and his sons, it was love at first sight and this story is redemptive, warm, and, be warned, a tear-jerker.
More Books for Children Who Love Dogs
Here are a few more books to add to your kids’ reading experience.
The Shiloh Collection, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Including the original “Shiloh,” the collection includes four stories about the dog and boy who save each other. Amazon calls it “Lassie for a new generation,” and “Shiloh is” indeed a classic for young readers.
The Poet’s Dog, Patricia MacLachlan
This Newberry Prize-winning author, who wrote “Sara, Plain and Tall,” tells the story of a dog raised in the woods by a poet, who, because “only poets and children” can understand when dogs talk, is able to rescue two lost children in a storm. Narrated by Teddy the dog, there’s a strong human-canine bond to restore our faith in goodness and hope. The School Library Journal wrote, “though this contemplative fantasy explores grief, it is also about overcoming loss and is resolved in a way that will comfort sensitive readers.”
Lulu Walks the Dogs, Judith Viorst
Take one stubborn, enterprising little girl, three dogs and combine well. You get a funny, attitude-filled story full of mishaps and wisecracks. Written by master storyteller Judith Viorst, this is the perfect chapter books for young readers. It’s further enlivened with entertaining illustrations by Lane Smith.
Floaty, John Himmelman
For dog lovers too young to read yet, this picture book about a grumpy old man (like Ed Asner in “Up,”) and the dog that just happens to float on the ceiling, will be a delight. School Library Journal writes that it “will beguile young audiences,” and readers and their kids seem to agree.
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