Karen B. London
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Dog Book Recommendations For All
What titles do you pass on to friends?

My sister recently requested a few suggestions for dog books to read because this month, the theme for her book club is pets.

Her book club has the world’s coolest system for choosing what to read. You can sum up their strategy with the phrase, “Every woman for herself!” because each member chooses a different book to read. Choices are organized around themes, such as banned books, band books, magic, rituals, comics, award-winning books, oceans, travel, vampire sex, holidays, movies and books with red covers. Occasionally, more than one person reads the same book, but that is only if they happen to choose the same one by accident.
This book club has been running for years, with part of that staying power likely stemming from their unusual system of book selection. With my sister’s taste in mind, I recommended three books to consider for “pet month.”

These books were the first ones I thought of, so this is not by any means a comprehensive list. These three came to mind because they are great books whether you are an animal lover or not. My sister likes dogs, but she is not a “dog person” the way you and I are. These books are great for dog lovers, but their appeal extends far beyond people like us. They are great stories and beautifully written.
What books would you recommend from the dog world to people who may not be as immersed in it as we are?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Anonymous | March 4 2011 |

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Submitted by whitney | March 4 2011 |

Turning in circles before laying down
This is a great book I read a couple years ago. There are so many I have read and loved but are awful about remembering the names!

Submitted by Steve Hayes | March 4 2011 |

I would recommend Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote. As a dog lover I really enjoyed it, but I am sure it would appeal to non-doggy types as well!

Submitted by Rich | March 4 2011 |

"A Dog's Purpose" by W. Bruce Cameron!

Submitted by GatorCindy | March 4 2011 |

Merle's Door by Ted Kerasote.

Submitted by jtinsky | March 4 2011 |

The Art of Racing in the Rain and One Good Dog are both fun and touching.

Submitted by Courtney | March 4 2011 |

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Its a major tearjerker, and I have recommended it to both dog lovers and non-dog owners. Its a really moving story that shows the bond between dogs and owners, but also the ups and downs of getting older, marriage, personal changes, etc.

Of course, Marley and Me is a top contender for one of my favorites. The movie was really cute, but the book is even better!

Submitted by Tegan | March 4 2011 |

I read with much love "My Family and Other Animals" by Gerald Durrell. It is a brilliantly funny auto-biography, that examines his childhood on a Greek island - and all the 'pets' that he brings into the home.

I am also surprised "Marley and Me" wasn't on your list! Another hilarious book I spent my time laughing through, and then stopped about 2/3rds of the way into trying to delay the inevitable demise of Marley. A very touching book, and definitely not just for 'pet people'.

Submitted by Pauline Tilbe | March 4 2011 |

Free to a Good Home by Eve Marie Mont and Stay by Allie Larkin!

Submitted by Pamela | March 4 2011 |

If fiction is acceptable, I might suggest My Dog Skip by Willie Morris. It's a terrific story about growing up that I think many people could relate to. I think the best dog stories are the ones about people and dogs together.

I think Carolyn Knapp was a great suggestion too.

Submitted by Alice Knapp | March 4 2011 |

Thank you Karen... I love this book club, even though I don't get there often enough. I might read "Pack of Two" just because the author has the same last name as I do. I like your blog also. Alice

Submitted by Frank Eshelman | June 12 2011 |

Pack of Two is on my dog recommendation list. Definitely read it. I have a bunch of recommendations of books I have finished on my hypoallergenic dog food blog. Take a peek if you are interested. Enjoy your summer reading. I know I will.


Submitted by Jane | March 6 2011 |

I've read all the books suggested and would add to the list "Sighthound" by Pam Austin. It is fiction but has a similar vibe as The Art of Racing in the Rain.

Submitted by Kimberly B. Lawler | March 7 2011 |

DOG YEARS by Mark Doty; WOMAN'S BEST FRIEND, WOMEN WRITERS ON THE DOGS IN THEIR LIVES edited by Megan McMorris; AMAZING GRACIE, A DOG'S TALE by Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff; DOG IS MY CO-PILOT from the editors at BARk; and, A BIG LITTLE LIFE, A MEMOIR OF A JOYFUL DOG by Dean Koontz are some of the "dog lit" books I have happily recommended or loaned to friends.

Submitted by Emily | March 8 2011 |

Hi I just read a really great Dog & Family book "oogy" by Larry Levin I'm telling every one about it so enjoyable. Thanks Emily

Submitted by Anita | March 11 2011 |

I just finished Secrets of a Working Dog (www.bellatheboxer.com) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Figured other dog lovers would enjoy it as much as I did!

Submitted by Marla London (K... | March 19 2011 |

My book group met this week. As usual, some of us interpreted the theme very liberally, and some shared more than one book. We had a fun discussion and several books went home with someone other than the person who brought them.

Books that someone read that really were about pets:
* Carl Goes Shopping by Alexendra Day (yes, a picture book)
* Making Rounds with Oscar: the extraordinary gift of an ordinary cat by David Dosa
* The Cat who said Cheese by Lilian Jackson Braun
* Scent of the Missing: Love & Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog by Susannah Charleson (one of Karen's recommendations that was much-enjoyed)
* Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs by Caroline Knapp (another of Karen's recommendations)
* The Black Cat by Martha Grimes
* Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper
* The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
* Lucky Dog by Mark Barrowcliffe

Books that someone read that had pets in them:
* The Reserve by Russell Banks (there were Irish setters in the story)
* The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (there was a cat in it)
* A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller (there was both a dog and a horse in it)
* the Harry Potter Books (lots of pets in them)

Books that weren't about pets:
* A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (does a main character named "Katz" count?)
* The Last Time they Met by Anita Shreve

Submitted by Liz B | March 24 2011 |

Amazing Gracie by the founders of Three Dog Bakery precious!

Submitted by Colleen | October 11 2011 |

Highly recommend "Real Dogs Don't Whisper" http://www.realdogsdontwhisper.com

Very well written; it is a true story about special need dogs and the life lessons that they have taught the owner. And, the co-author is a spunky Lhasa Apso, Mr MaGoo, he is hysterical, and always enthralling.

Found on Amazon too

Submitted by sarahdg | January 22 2012 |

I would add to the list "Bark if You Love Me" and "Dreaming in Libro" both by Louise Bernikow. Also "What Wendell Wants" by Jenny Lee is hilarious. "Pack of Two" is on my list of favorite books ever!

I'm wondering if anyone can tell me the name of a book I read a few years ago and am desperate to find again. It's a fiction book about a group of neighbors who live all on the same block in a city. Many of the neighbors have dogs, and the story follows their lives and interactions together. There is one dog-hating neighbor, and in the end she makes a surprising 180* turn in her attitude. I would really like to read it again, but I can't remember the name of it. It's possible that it was recommended in Bark magazine at one time (or maybe not). Can anyone help?

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