“Discussing our reading habits” was a phrase that my fifth-grade teacher used to describe a meeting with me and two of my friends. In a gentle but strong manner, she told us that we must cease and desist from reading about animals. We were required to read a book with a human protagonist at the very least. I’m quite sure all we did was stare back at her, completely unimpressed. No, I don’t think so. When could we be reading about horses and other animals, which are the subject of many excellent books? It didn’t make any sense whatsoever.
As a child, did you read a lot of animal non-fiction? If so, you’re definitely looking for a list of the best adult animal non-fiction novels. I grew up reading a wide variety of books on animals as a kid. Usually, the books were about cats, wolves, mice, or any other animal that was a fighter as well. However, every now and again, a book like Diana Wynne Jones’ Dogsbody would appear about a famous person who is reborn in the form of a common dog. Jean Craighead George’s Frightful’s Mountain is a great example of a book about a falcon living her own life. Gradually, but steadily, I ceased reading primarily about fantastical warrior beasts. I began reading books about animals that acted like real-life creatures before eventually moving on to reading nonfiction books about animals. Real creatures are just as fascinating as the fictitious ones, I discovered. In spite of what my fifth grade instructor had in mind, I decided to do this anyhow.
Check out these genuine stories about animals from all over the world if you’re an animal lover looking for some fresh reading material:
Born Free by Joy Adamson
The story of an animal being nurtured in captivity and then released into the wild is a common theme in many literature. This, on the other hand, is the first book to tell the story of a wild animal that was rescued and released back into the wild. And if you don’t shed a few tears, you’re probably a machine. An enchanting tale of how lion kitten Elsa grows into a formidable lioness is told in this book. As a tribute to environmentalist efforts around the world, it is also a love letter.
Grayson by Lynne Cox
Aside from the English Channel, this author has also swum over the Catalina Channel (nbd). This book, however, begins with Lynne Cox as an adolescent swimmer who discovers she has company while swimming off the coast early one morning. After following a befuddled baby whale for a little time, she must now decide whether to return home and risk the baby whale pursuing her into dangerously shallow water, or to attempt to return the baby to its family at great personal risk (you can guess what she chooses).
My Life with the Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall
A must-read for everyone who enjoys reading about primates (except humans, of course) is this classic book. With good cause, Jane Goodall is one of the most well-known naturalists in the world. She’s always had a soft spot for animals, so when she was twenty-six, she decided to spend some time with chimpanzees in their natural habitat for the first time. As a result, we have this intriguing portrait of a phenomenally brilliant and emotionally evolved species.
Death at Seaworld by David Kirby
Honestly, I haven’t watched or read any of Blackfish yet, and I generally steer clear of books that make me want to throw up and cry all at the same time. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a book that will make you feel sick to your stomach while also being brutally honest about animal abuse, this is it. Orcas in captivity are subjected to horrendous conditions, and the film shows how this has an adverse effect on both the animals and the trainers. It’s impossible to put down (or ever set foot in Sea World again).
The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes: And Other Surprising True Stories of Zoo Vets and their Patients by Lucy H. Spelman
The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes is a great book if you’d rather read about animal specialists being kind to their creatures. Some of the animals treated by the veterinarians that wrote this book had unusual medical conditions, such as eating disorders, such as anorexia, and other conditions such as dental problems, such as white-tailed deer ears pierced with earrings. Real-life stories shared by zoo veterinarians are at times heart-pounding, disgusting, and charming (just like the animal kingdom itself).
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
It’s rare to come across a memoir like H is for Hawk that really resonates with you. Falconry, sadness, and literature are just a few of the many topics covered in this book. With a dash of Arthurian legend, it’s the perfect blend of nature literature and personal memoir. Helen Macdonald’s memoir of training a ferocious goshawk is filled with wit and heart, as well as reverence for the world’s deadliest raptors.
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
When it comes to horse racing, Seabiscuit is a household name. With crooked legs and a gawky start (underhorse?) this book tells the story of how the legendary horse rose to the top of the racing world. Despite the fact that each member of his human squad is as eccentric and implausible as he is, they all came together to train the best horse in the game.
Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland
Interspecies friendships between animals are not uncommon. Is there anything else I can tell you? As stated, this is a book about animals becoming friends.. From lions and gazelles to hippos and tortoises, these unlikely friendships surpass all expectations. It’s also quite endearing.
Kangaroos in the Kitchen: The Story of Animal Talent Scouts by Lorrain D’Essen
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I don’t know how difficult it is to obtain a copy of this book. A library trash can saved my life. But if you can locate one, you should read it, since it’s a true account of Lorrain D’Essen and how she housed all manner of kangaroos, llamas, lions, bears, and so on in her New York apartment back in the early 1950s. Her memoir will make you wish that keeping a personal zoo in your flat was still legal and/or a smart idea because she unwittingly established the career of animal talent scouting.
Felines of New York by Jim Tews
Despite the fact that it’s not strictly non-fiction, this book is absolutely charming and filled with photographs of cats. While it’s true that the internet is replete with free images of cats, have you seen Humans of New York? In this book, though, cats are involved. And a good dose of levity. It’s adorable, hilarious, and very smart in its spoofing of the HONY franchise.