It’s the Chinese year of the dog, so why not add a book about dogs to your reading list? Dr Alex Hobbs, Associate Lecturer on the AA100: The Arts Past and Present and EA300: Children’s Literature module, has hand-picked these nine canine-led page-turners. Warning: some titles may induce weeping!
1) The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
A novel from the point of view of, Enzo, a truly loyal family pet. Enzo’s understanding of his family’s ups and downs are insightful, funny and heart-breaking, all at the same time.
2) The Call of the Wild & White Fang by Jack London
In The Call of the Wild, Buck, a domestic pet, is taken from his family home and forced to pull sleds in frozen northern Canada. The story shows how the dog becomes progressively dependent on his wild instincts to survive. Almost the reverse of this journey is explored in White Fang, where the titular wild wolf-dog learns to trust humans and live by their rules. Both are classic adventure romps but explore serious themes of trust, morality, and dependence.
3) The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
Everyone knows the Disney film but the novel is a complete joy, too. And if you enjoy the caper, there’s a sequel that picks up as this story ends – The Starlight Barking.
4) Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
A travelogue of Steinbeck’s journey around America in the early sixties, the book captures a lost era. In his twilight years after penning several state-of-the-nation novels about dustbowl America, Steinbeck decided to try to re-discovery his homeland on a road trip in the company of a standard poodle. He has some sharp observations, all made in his trademark sparse prose.
5) Peggy and Me by Miranda Hart
Miranda Hart is funny, and reading about her trying to get to grips with dog administration (dog-min) when she first gets her rather difficult puppy, Peggy, is hilarious. Any dog owner will recognise the mayhem, frustration, but utter joy a dog can bring to life.
6) Love is a Four-Legged Word by Michele Gorman
A witty romantic comedy about dog walkers, their spoiled canine charges, and their often clueless dog owners.
7) Julius Winsome by Gerard Donovan
In this novel, Donovan explores the very real anguish of losing a best friend. Julius Winsome lives alone with his dog and his books in remote Maine. He wakes one morning to find his dog has been purposefully shot dead; he then embarks on a mission to find and avenge the death. It’s a stark and beautiful tale of love and revenge.
8) Nigel by Monty Don
Another celebrity dog memoir, this book traces a life through dogs owned and loved. Monty Don highlights our emotional attachment to our canine pets and, as Miranda Hart does, shows how they are not only companions but an excellent source of solace and therapy.
9) The Goodness of Dogs by India Knight
If reading about all these dogs has made you long for a dog of your own, then India Knight’s book, subtitled The Human’s Guide to Choosing, Buying, Training, Feeding, Living with and Caring for your Dog, should give you a bit of a guide on your journey to and through dog ownership.
Find out more:
- Read: 11 books that challenge gender stereotypes
- Read: 11 tips to help you read outside your comfort zone
- Study AA100: The Arts Past and Present
- Study EA300: Children’s Literature
- World Book Day – free courses and news articles on OpenLearn