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6 Novels for Dog Lovers to Complement Your Fur Baby Obsession

by  | April 10
Dog licking person's face with book

I don’t know about you guys, but these past couple of weeks have been rough on me. However, one of the greatest comforts I have found is in Harry, my in-laws’ Australian labradoodle. Between using him as an excuse to take a (socially distanced) walk in the fresh air, and seeing his excitement every morning when I come down the stairs for breakfast, I just cannot help but feel better around his fluffy presence. It’s like this puppy was created to make me feel happier. All of which got me thinking, what types of books would I want to read curled up on the couch with Harry?

Go ahead, feast your eyes on his adorably expressive face and cute little paws, and then get to reading these six awesome books that feature the unique relationship between humans and the animals they keep as pets. P.S. I am not endorsing a Tiger King scenario; let’s keep big cats wild.

Swimming for Sunlight

Swimming for Sunlight

by Allie Larkin

Throughout this heartwarming and hopeful novel, I really connected with Katie Ellis’s love for her rescue dog, Barkimedes. I mean, how can you dislike a character who chooses to give up almost everything in a divorce settlement just so she can keep custody of her dog? Together with Bark, she decides to go stay with her grandmother Nan in Florida as she figures out her next steps. Even though she is facing a crippling fear of water, her relationship with Bark helps her to better understand her own anxieties. This becomes especially important as Katie struggles to help her grandmother reunite with her old mermaid-performer friends, so they can put on a reunion show. After reading this novel, you’ll think deeper about different kinds of friendships—those we hold near, and those we decide to pursue after years of distance.

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Lily and the Octopus

Lily and the Octopus

by Steven Rowley

Okay, so this book is equal parts laughing and equal parts crying. I warned you. In this emotional roller coaster of a novel, Ted Flask is a gay struggling writer who cannot seem to connect to others, especially when it comes to intimacy. However, the one defining relationship in his life is his companionship with Lily, his elderly dachshund, the love of his life, his fur baby and, most of all, his best friend. With a touch of magical realism, the story describes the fierce octopus, Lily’s illness, that is threatening to break Ted—and their relationship—apart. At its heart, this novel is about a selfless and loving relationship between a man and his dog, and it will make you want to cuddle into your fur baby as well.

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The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild

by Jack London

In case you (somehow) haven’t yet read The Call of the Wild, this classic, which was first published in 1903, is based on author Jack London’s experience during the gold rush that occurred in Yukon, Canada, ten years earlier. The novel centers around a dog named Buck, and that era’s exploitive demand for sled dogs. As Buck experiences the harshness of human civilization, and ultimately breaks free, he becomes a part of the wilderness, and learns to rely on his instincts, taking command of the wild. This is a masterpiece, guys. You should read it. Especially now that Harrison Ford is starring in the movie adaptation of the novel. You’ll want to be able to see it in a movie theater someday—and who doesn’t love to comment on what the film captured right and wrong from the book.

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The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain

by Garth Stein

First of all, you animal lovers will enjoy the fact that this book is written from the perspective of a dog, Enzo, who is in many ways intelligent, hilarious, and introspective about the way he sees the world. Indeed, this novel serves as a dog’s meditation on life as he draws nearer to the end of his. Although he listens closely to his human mentor, Denny Swift, a race car driver, Enzo learns that life is not all about rushing to the end of the finish line, but rather about cherishing those around you. With a deep love for his human family, Enzo cannot help but believe that in his next life he will be human—and I think we all kind of feel the humanness in our pets. Though the ending might not feel like a surprise to some, the journey is definitely worth it.

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A Dog's Purpose

A Dog's Purpose

by W. Bruce Cameron

Also narrated from a dog’s perspective, this novel focuses on Bailey’s quest to find existential purpose throughout all his reincarnated lives. Each time he comes back, either from living as a stray, or with good owners, Bailey tries to understand why he is the way he is, until, one day, he meets Ethan, an eight-year-old boy who represents the type of unbreakable love that exists between man and dog. As time passes, Bailey begins to see the world differently, and to understand concepts such as loyalty, love, and friendship. This novel has also been adapted to the big screen, so once you’re done reading it, you can rent the movie online, and watch it on your couch at home.

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The Friend

The Friend

by Sigrid Nunez

This novel won the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction, so there’s the proof you need for how great this book is. In an innovative twist on storytelling, The Friend doesn’t reveal the name of the female narrator, or most of the other characters. When the narrator’s mentor of many years dies, she is all of a sudden pressured into keeping his left-behind Great Dane, Apollo. Although both woman and dog are mourning for their lost friend, at first, they mourn separately. But as time passes, with many ups and downs in their relationship, woman and dog turn to each other for healing. This is a book about loss, about the writing life, about friendship, and especially about new beginnings after grief.

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Estefania Acquaviva is currently an MFA-Fiction student at Columbia University. She recently graduated from Villanova University with a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish Literature, with minors in Creative Writing and Business. Although she was born in Quito, Ecuador, she moved to the United States when she was in second grade. Away from her home country, she began to write stories to blend her Spanish and English lingo. Though she left Ecuador at a relatively early age, she never stopped loving the culture of her roots. The more she read, the more she wanted to share her own writing, book reviews, and book suggestions. You can find more of her work at www.estefania-acquaviva.com.