If tucking your toes under a comfy blanket and settling in with a good book sounds like an ideal way to spend an evening, try adding your furry best friend to the picture. Inviting four paws and a wet nose into your lap is like adding sprinkles to a sundae or Beyoncé to a Super Bowl—it makes everything better. Finding a book that speaks to your dog-loving soul is easier than you think. Whether you’re into romance, action, or prefer the allure of a good mystery, there are books for dog lovers in every genre. The best ones will make you both laugh and cry, and they’ll all have you spoiling your dog with her favorite things and pulling her closer to your side. If you’ve ever experienced an emotional connection with a dog, these six books need to find their way to your shelf.
- A Dog’s Purpose
Maybe you’ve seen the movie that came out in 2017, but A Dog’s Purpose (the book) by James Cameron should be at the top of every dog owner’s list. It tells the story of a dog named Bailey and tackles one of the biggest philosophical questions out there: “What is the purpose of life?” Don’t worry, this isn’t Freud or Nietzsche. A Dog’s Purpose is one dog’s journey while he’s reincarnated over and over into different lives with different families. With each new life, Bailey delves deeper into what he believes is a dog’s purpose. It’s funny, heartwarming, and even a little inspirational. By the last chapter, you’ll be hugging your dog close while you reach for a tissue to dab away your happy tears.
- The Incredible Journey
Another book for dog lovers that’s been made famous by a movie is The Incredible Journey. Doesn’t sound familiar? You might know this story better as Homeward Bound. That’s right, the tear-jerker tale of how two dogs and a cat travel hundreds of miles to be reunited with their family was a book long before Disney made its adaptions. The Incredible Journey was written by Scottish author Sheila Burnford and published for the first time in 1963. If you’ve seen either of the two movies (the 1963 version or the more popular remake from 1993) you should know the book version is slightly different. The general plot, however, is the same. Burnford wrote the fictional story using her own pets as inspiration. She uses her three furry main characters to express the true loyalty pets feel toward their favorite people. It’s an emotional story full of harrowing adventure and bonds that can’t be broken.
- Where the Red Fern Grows
You’ll see Where the Red Fern Grows on school book lists across the country, but don’t let that scholastic reputation scare you away. Educators knew what they were doing when they decided students needed to know about Billy and his two Coonhounds, Old Dan and Little Ann. Billy and his beloved dogs work together to become the best hunting team in the Ozarks, and they do a lot of learning about life in the process. When tragedy strikes, Billy’s bond with Old Dan and Little Ann is more than even an eager young Billy would have expected. It’s a story of love, hope, and most importantly, friendship. It’s a short, easy read, but it can be argued that grown adults with dogs of their own and facing the hardships of everyday life get more out of the story than school kids sitting in class. Like all the best books for dog lovers, the story gets better every time you read it.
- Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love
As both a New York Times Bestseller and a true story, Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love has touched the hearts of countless dog lovers. Author Larry Levin tells the story of how fate and an unusual dog changed his family forever. Found abandoned, the dog later to be named Oogy was barely alive. He was rushed to an emergency veterinary hospital where a special woman intervened to give him the life-saving care he needed. His left ear was missing, most of his jaw was damaged beyond repair, and his face was so cut and swollen it was impossible to tell what kind of dog he actually was. It was determined Oogy had been used as bait in a dog fighting ring, and it was a miracle he survived his injuries. It was an even bigger miracle that the exact right family found him just in time. The Levin family took the heavily disfigured dog home and made him part of the family. Even Larry Levin admits Oogy looked “grotesque” in the early days before his many surgeries, and many people expected him to be traumatized, fearful, and aggressive. Oogy proved everyone wrong, however, and his perseverance and personality inspired Levin to tell his story. It’s one of those books for dog lovers you won’t want to put down.
- The Art of Racing in the Rain
Grab a big box of tissues before you sit down with your pup to read the classic book called The Art of Racing in the Rain. The story may be fictional, but the relationship between a canine named Enzo and his favorite human is one that every dedicated pet owner can relate to. Instead of seeing the dog/canine bond through the eyes of the human-like what we’re used to—this book is narrated by Enzo on the eve of his death. It’s a look back on Enzo’s lifetime as he learned all about life and what it means to be human. He reflects on his regrets as well as his hopes and wishes as he leaves his world behind and says goodbye to the family he loves. Like a lot of books for dog lovers, you’ll shed more than a few tears. But author Garth Stein also throws in a fair share of comedy. Enzo is obsessed with opposable thumbs and like most dogs, has a weakness for tasty treats. Overall, The Art of Racing in the Rain is uplifting and inspiring. It shows there’s a lot we humans can learn from our dogs, and lifelike racing—isn’t all about going fast.
- Lily and the Octopus
Another book for dog lovers on the National Bestseller list is the emotional story of an elderly Dachshund and the man who loves her. The author of Lily and the Octopus, Steven Rowley, wrote the book as a method of coping with the grief he felt after losing his dog, and his poignant, yet hilarious, tale has connected with millions of pet owners. The book blurs the line between reality and fantasy, and at its core, it’s a heroic love story. Rowley manages to delve into the emotional depths of love and loss while keeping readers buoyed with too-true anecdotes of life with a dog. Lily has a personality every dog lover knows well, and it’s easy to relate to the relationship she shares with her person. You’ll have to read the book for yourself to learn where the octopus comes into this heartwarming tale.
Whether you want to laugh, cry, or feel all warm and fuzzy inside, these books for dog lovers are where you want to start. Grab your favorite fur friend and settle in for many more nights together with a good book.