Animals and books…

July 10, 2009 | At Home | 3 comments

I did a panel a few months back about animals in fiction…or something like that. It was a surprisingly full room with surprisingly lively interaction between panel and attendees.

But then again, maybe it wasn’t surprising. We humans as a rule are quite geeky about our animals. And animals are a very popular theme in books. It starts when we are kids…classics like Black Beauty, The Call of the Wild and Misty to more modern tales like Hoot, The Tale of Despereaux and the Geronimo Stilton series. But animals aren’t just in kids’ fiction. We adults love them too. Look at the success of Marley and Me. How about Lillian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who series? Or even the George R.R. Martin books with his dire wolves?

Let’s face it we love animals, especially animals the characters in the book love, and frequently are willing to risk a lot to save.

Why is it? On the panel I argued it was the love we feel and have felt for our own animals that attracts us to these books. We understand the emotions the characters feel, the desperation they go through when the animal is threatened. It’s primal and universal. We get it.

We also frequently see animals we have loved and lost in these fictional creatures. I for one ADORE Susan Conant’s malamute mystery series, because I owned and adored my own malamute. Reading her stories reminds me of him, takes me back to the time I had him. What more can I ask for?

What about you? Do you love books with animals? What are some of your favorites? Why do you think they speak to you?


  1. Karin

    Aside from animal shifters, I’m not sure I’ve ever really paid that much attention to the animals in a story. It could be because I’m not really a big pet person. I don’t mind visiting people with pets, but I don’t know that I could ever have one in my house again. Perhaps it’s that aversion to having another pet, stemming from some past experiences that were both good and bad, that keeps me from really paying much attention to the animals in stories.

  2. Jacqueline L.

    I’m going to assume shifters don’t count. So, whether I like them or not probably depends on the animal and what part they play in the story. I love Mouse and Mister from The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. As a kid, I was pretty obsessed with The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. Oh and if dragons count, I love dragons in books. Why do I like ’em? Aside from some fish(that weren’t actually mine), and a little turtle and a baby crayfish for awhile, I never really had pets. My mum was not a pet person and I’ve got allergies so despite really liking animals, I probably won’t ever have a pet. Animals in books are probably the closest I’ll ever get. :D

  3. Lori

    Karin, hugs for whatever your bad experience was. :sad:
    I’ve always had animals. I can’t imaginge life without them.
    Jacqueline, Mouse and Mister are great examples! I had forgotten about them, but they add a real element to how we see Harry, don’t they? Actually the newest Harry Dresden book is next on my TBR pile.