6 Books for Dog Lovers.

Via Erica Leibrandt
on Oct 28, 2013
get elephant's newsletter

Me and my dog.

I love dogs.

I have two of them, and despite their smell, the permanent swath of fur which envelopes my house and the humiliating task of cleaning up after them, I am a devoted mother. Considering they both have incurable ailments which can only be controlled by daily medication and exorbitant trips to the vet every other day or so, I’d better be.

As with other spiritual experiences people have in life, we dog owners search to understand the intangible magic every dog possesses.

Well, almost every dog. Maybe not poodles. But I digress.

Following are six books that illuminate that search in various ways. I have chosen pieces with the greatest cross section of people in mind, including serious readers, beach readers, teen readers and kids.

If you can’t find a book on this list to give to your dog-loving friend, then you’re probably lacking what I call “the dog thing,” which simply refers to dog owner’s obsessions with their pets.

If that is the case, I only ask one thing: Don’t give out books about cats.


White Fang by Jack London

The main character of this riveting book is a wolf—who is also one quarter dog.

Considered a companion book to Call of the Wild in which the main character is primarily a dog born with some wolf blood, it is the story of White Fang as he struggles to find his rightful place in the world. The most striking thing about the story is Jack London’s ability to make you feel White Fang’s animal heart. Whenever I read this—and I have many times—I feel the aching intelligence and loyalty of canine animals who live in the human world or the natural one, and I am always left heartbroken that there is such  terrible difference between the two.

This is an incredible read for anyone, but particularly teens, who will find the story primal and mesmerizing. A great choice for a kid who doesn’t necessarily love to read as well, since the language is simple yet elegant.

The Legend of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

An unwieldy book with occasionally uneven storytelling, The Legend of Edgar Sawtelle nevertheless manages to shed light on the evolution of domestic dogs as well as the profound bond between dogs and humans.

The main character, Edgar, is a mute child who lives on his parents dog breeding farm. His ultimate task is to create the most intelligent and loyal dog ever born. Edgar’s muteness affords him a visceral connection to the dogs they breed and he is able to do and perceive things with and about them that are extraordinary.

Based on Hamlet—a fact I didn’t know until after I read it—it is one of many re-tellings of that classic story and one of the most unique.

This is superb read is for someone with a little extra time on their hands and a literary background, both of which will maximize their enjoyment of the book.

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

This one is near and dear to my heart, combining as it does two subjects I love: reincarnation and dogs.

In this terrifically written novel, as in White Fang, the main character is a dog. This narration, however, is even more true to that premise, as the dog is routinely unaware of human motivations and logic. In other words, he is less anthropomorphized.

The story unfolds as a series of lives lived by one dog who finds himself reborn over and over again, only to die and wonder what the point of his life was. Like humans who ponder this great question, he never stops searching for the answer.

This is profound for anyone who has ever loved a dog, particularly those who have loved and lost.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Hardly a literary tour de force, this book nonetheless holds it’s reader captive.

The main character, as in “White Fang” and “A Dog’s Purpose,” is a dog, this time named Enzo. Enzo, although having distinct canine sensibilities, also serves as a chorus to the story, an interpreter of the other characters emotions and a philosopher of sorts.

The book traces the events in the dog owner, Denny’s life, a single race car driver, who marries a woman and then finds out she has terminal cancer. Seen through the eyes of Enzo, Denny’s life is what all humans lives are to all good dogs, utterly absorbing and mysterious.

More human-centric than the other books I mention here, this nonetheless serves up some real canine gems, and is a must-read for anyone who imagines their dog to have a rich interior life–and what dog lover doesn’t?

Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman

Without a doubt my very favorite book about dogs, this children’s classic is as exuberant as a child itself, and perfect for the beginning reader. Parents will likely have read this one themselves, and will squirm with glee along with their kids at the ending (spoiler alert)—a big dog party!!

Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant

My sister sent me this gorgeously illustrated children’s book when my first great dane, Bowie, died. I still have trouble reading it without choking up.

The premise is simply a description of where dogs go after they live their lives.

The final few pages read:

“Dogs in Dog Heaven may stay as long as they like and this can mean forever. They will be there when old friends show up. They will be there at the door. Angel dogs.”

If you ever loved a dog, you will love this book too.

All of these books are vastly different from one another, though they all share the same theme. For one genius Christmas present, buy all six and put your dog-adoring friends and family into a tail spin—pun intended, woof woof.

Want 15 free additional reads weekly, just our best?

Get our weekly newsletter.

Ed: Sara Crolick


About Erica Leibrandt

Erica Leibrandt is a licensed mental health clinician, certified yoga instructor, and mother to six heathens who masquerade as innocent children. If she occasionally finds herself with a fried egg on her plate or dancing until dawn, she asks that you not judge her. Life is short, she knows the chicken that laid the egg, and we can never dance too much. Connect with Erica on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr. And visit her website.


14 Responses to “6 Books for Dog Lovers.”

  1. Malia says:

    The book I cannot stop recommending and talking about is 'Merle's Door The Journey of a Free Thinking Dog' by Ted Kerasote as well as 'Pukka's Promise', which is the "follow-up" to Merle's Door. I never thought a book would effect me as much as 'The Art of Racing in the Rain' until I read 'Unsaid' by Neil Abramson.

    These 3 will not disappoint!

  2. Carolyn says:

    Yep, no dog book list is complete without "Merle's Door'.

  3. Phoebe says:

    Merle's Door- cannot agree more!

  4. Courtney says:

    Travels with Charley!!!

  5. Sharon Cormier says:

    Another great and wonderful book series is by Spencer Quinn – he writes a mystery/detective series written from the viewpoint of the dog. The first is Dog On It and it will make you laugh as well as give you a good story.

  6. Erica says:

    Yay! More reading ideas! Thanks guys, keep 'em coming! Erica

  7. Randi says:

    The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone – A four-legged approach to enlightenment by Michael J. Chase

  8. Stacey says:

    A nonfiction book that is wonderful and really helped us to understand our three dogs (a collie, a cavalier King Charles spaniel and a borzoi) is Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz. She is an ethologist and studies dogs. She pulls together research as well as anecdotes about her own dog, and the book is fascinating.

    Another great thing for dog-lovers to know about is the PBS Nova edition called Dogs Decoded (you can see it on Netflix or probably on PBS.org). It is FASCINATING. I watched it on the treadmill once and was absolutely riveted. Then I made my husband watch it, too!

  9. Anne says:

    The Art of Racing in the Rain! Loved that book.

  10. nile says:

    Poodles are way magical. Don't let the fluff fool you…..

  11. lucasneetham says:

    nice post

  12. toko buku says:

    Yeah, I can understand that. To be honest, I didn't love the last seasons. But overall it's a great show!
    Round about now us bookish types tend to find ourselves out scouring the retail world
    not for flowers, not for chocolates
    but for the Valentine’s Day gift we know our sweeties will really like best: a book.
    After all, how better to convey our affection than with something romantic between two covers?

    Thank you for the great information!

  13. elephantjournal says:

    Another of my favorite dog books is The Dogs of Babel, by Carolyn Parkhurst.

  14. Guess who says:

    I love all the new suggestions.