I was sick recently and off work for a few days. I read several books during this time, and my cat, Ginger, kept me company. She’s the best cat ever. She’ll sleep with you all day long and this made me think about the best books about animals I’ve read. By far, my favorite is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. On the surface, this novel appears to be about a marriage and auto racing, but it’s really about love, loyalty, and the bond between a dog and his special person. It’s also one of those rare books told from the perspective of the animal.
If you have ever lost a beloved pet or person, this more recent novel, Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley, is well worth listening to or reading. Sensitively written, humorous, and emotionally moving, it is based on Rowley’s own experience. Lily has a tumor on her head that looks a lot like an octopus. In fact, her owner can’t believe he didn’t notice it long before. Ted can’t say out loud the “C” word, so he calls it the Octopus and personifies it. This title is memorable in many ways, but for me, it’s the sea battle between the Octopus, Lily, and her owner Ted that I remember vividly. It’s worth reading just for these exquisitely written passages that are both exciting and excruciating to read. Lest you think this title is too sad, I’ve had some significant losses in my life and I am so glad I read this title. I found it comforting.
And, to round out my list, here’s an oldie but goodie, All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. The author, now deceased, was a country vet in the UK. This humorous and poignant series, beginning with All Creatures…, introduces the reader to the quirky denizens of Yorkshire, both animal and human. It begins with Herriot as a young man as he is first beginning to practice, having to make do with old equipment, minimal resources, and learning to adapt to an unfamiliar dialect and culture. I hope you enjoy these!