13 Books Every Dog-Lover Should Read

What is it about our pups, those drooling, panting, fur balls, that makes us turn into piles of mush the minute we see them? Is it their enormous cuddle-factor? Their loyal companionship? Their zen ability to relax us or their eagerness for play?

All of these works of fiction and memoir try to tap into the mystery of our adoration for those sweet hounds that share our homes. Even if you don’t own a dog and are just dreaming of the day when your rental allows pets, these books will poke at the soft spot you have for adorable pooches.

Image: Fotolia

by Johanna DeBiase

'Travels with Charley: In Search of America' by John Steinbeck

This book is Steinbeck’s memoir/travel journal of his long road trip across the country with his clever poodle, Charley. If you’ve ever road tripped with a dog, you’ll enjoy Steinbeck’s insights into dog behavior as well as American behavior in the 1960s (hint: we haven’t changed much.)

Click here to buy.

'Timbuktu' by Paul Auster

Written from the dog’s eye view, this novel is the story of a dog who belongs to a dying homeless man and loves him dearly because he knows no other life. A great perspective on why dogs are the mythological symbol of loyalty.

Click here to buy.

'The Call of the Wild' by Jack London

Even if you read this in junior high school, it’s worth taking another look. A coming of age story for a dog that takes place in the Alaskan frontier. Learn where the term “buck wild” comes from, too!

Click here to buy.

'Good Dog. Stay.' by Anna Quindlen

A memoir of one dog’s life from a great writer, Quindlen draws parallels between her own life and that of her dog and the lessons she learned from her devoted canine.

Click here to buy.

'Art of Racing in the Rain' by Garth Stein

Another novel written from the perspective of a dog, Enzo, a highly intelligent pooch, learns what it means to be part of a family through good and bad times. When you’re done reading this one, you might find yourself fantasizing that your own dog thinks just like Enzo.

Click here to buy.

'The Incredible Journey' by Sheila Burnford

Get ready to tear up as two dogs and their clever cat companion go on a long journey home through the wilderness. This novel is unique as it imagines the love that exists not just between dogs and their humans, but between family pets.

Click here to buy.

'What the Dog Did: Tales from a Formerly Reluctant Dog Owner' by Emily Yoffe

This book is great for people who may be considering adopting a dog because it doesn’t sugarcoat the difficult aspects of dog ownership. Yoffe, Slate’s Dear Prudence advice columnist, creates an episodic memoir filled with her usual humor and wit.

Click here to buy.

'The Dogs of Babel' by Carolyn Parkhurst

For those interested in something a little darker, this suspenseful thriller might do the trick. When a husband comes home to find his wife mysteriously deceased, he is so desperate to learn the truth that he tries to teach his dog, the only witness to her death, to talk.

Click here to buy.

'Where the Red Fern Grows' by Wilson Rawls

Another classic you may have read and remember fondly from childhood. Based on a true story, this middle grade book is about a boy who works hard to raise money to buy two hunting dogs with whom he goes traipsing unsupervised through the Ozarks.

Click here to buy.

'Dog Years' by Mark Doty

The author of this memoir adopts a dog to serve as a companion to his partner dying of AIDS. With a poetic voice, Doty takes a sentimental look at what our dogs give to us… and our measly means of giving back.

Click here to buy.

'A Dog’s Purpose' by W. Bruce Cameron

For those who prefer more speculative fiction, this story sticks with one dog as he is reborn again and again allowing us to learn about human relationships through his eyes. A charming page-turner, be prepared to have your heart warmed.

Click here to buy.

'The Story of Edgar Sawtelle' by David Wroblewski

In this work of literary fiction, a young mute boy takes comfort in his specially bred, family hounds when his household starts to fall apart and he decides to run away. Loosely based on Hamlet , you’ll fall in love with the canine character Almondine, one of those old-soul dogs. Just remember, Hamlet was a tragedy. :(

Click here to buy.

'Flush' by Virginia Woolf

If you’re a fan of Woolf’s writing style and her social commentary, you’ll enjoy Flush, a pseudo-biography of the late Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel. Amid Flush’s life and adventures, there’s a great story of the courtship between Elizabeth and Robert Browning, too.

Click here to buy.