Dog Books – My Top Ten

I’m the person sobbing in the theater because the horse fell down.  I refuse to read or see Marley & Me because I’ve heard how it ends.  I’m a huge animal lover. 8921

So when someone suggested I do a top ten of books with dogs in them for my weekly, summer top ten, I panted at the chance.  (Um, sorry.)  So here, in no particular order, are my top ten favorite books that feature dogs.

1.The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth SteinI reviewed this book almost two years ago, and I’m happy to say it stands up to time.  I love the story. I love the narrator. I love the relationship between the narrator and the human.  (See, it’s an unusual book.)  It’s well worth your time. . . if you love dogs, if you love racing, if you love powerful love stories, if you love great plotting and character development.

2. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls – Mrs. Painter read this book to 5th grade class, and while it is devastatingly sad, the story is beautiful and folklorish.  This may be where I got my love for hounds.

3.Murder, She Meowed or any other mystery by Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie Brown – My mom turned me onto these fun mysteries that involve the help of Mrs. Murphy – a tabby cat, Pewter – a portly Russian Blue, and Tucker – a Welsh Corgi. While Pewter is my favorite animal character in these books – I just have a soft spot for chubby creatures – these books are well-told, fun, and set here in my part of Virginia.

4. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson – Another classic that is quite sad, but also beautiful.  There’s a truth to this book that we often hide behind the walls of veterinary offices today, a truth we might do well to see baldly again.

5. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski – This book broke my heart perfectly.  It’s a beautiful tale of the love of dogs, the brokenness of family, and the challenges of communication, no matter who we are.  One of my favorite dog books.

6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – If you want a study in point of view, Haddon’s book is perfect. Told from the perspective of a boy with autism, the book is part mystery, part quest, and part love story.

7. Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin – I love Temple Grandin’s work to make slaughter houses more compassionate, and I love this book because it helps me understand why I love animals so much and why I often feel intense, immediate sadness when one of them suffers.  This is a fascinating read.

8. The Harry Potter Books by J. K. Rowling – Fang is my favorite, but I also love Sirius Black’s animagus, Padfoot.  Big and slobbery but kind – that’s how I love my dogs.

9. White Fang by Jack London – Okay, White Fang is a wolf, but we all know that wolves and dogs are kin.  Plus, this book is powerful, raw, and loving.  If you haven’t read it since junior high, pick it up again. It’s worth it.

10. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – This may be the first dog story I ever read, and boy it is a doozy.  Mystery, intrigue, Sherlock. . . enjoy.

I notice two things about my list – most of the books I’ve read about dogs are written by men and most of them have some element of tragedy. I wonder why that is.  Any thoughts?

If you’d like a fuller list, this one from Goodreads has some great titles.  Or add your own to my list by commenting below.

What dog books do you love? 


This post is part of the Super Summer Reading Program. I hope you’ll join us, and if you’re already reading away, feel free to share your list so far in the comments below. 

  • Sarah @WordHits

    GREAT list! You can manage Edgar Sawtelle AND Old Yeller AND Where the Red Fern Grows but not Marley? Haha. Sawtelle was a tour de force, but ripped me emotionally. I think Yeller and Red Fern made me cry more than Marley. Oh, I just loved LOVED the Red Fern Grows and kids aren’t as familiar with it nowadays. Harry Potter III w/Sirius is my fav!! Thx for the rec on the Temple.

    Nice post on doggie books!

  • LarryTheDeuce

    Where The Red Fern Grows is sentimental because my 5th grade teacher read it to us. Then I watched the 1970’s movie. Like Sarah I’m curious how you can get through Old Yeller and Red Fern, but not Marley?

    • Andi

      I think my struggle is that the only things I’ve heard about Marley and Me have to do with the ending. I don’t hear many people raving about the writing or the story, so it’s hard for me to justify that kind of emotional strife without some sort of payoff in the writing. But maybe I should give it a go? And Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows were books I read or had read to me as a child, before I carried the grief of life too heavy with me.

  • Sharry

    Where the Red Fern Grows is one of the few books I’ve reread, at least 15 times. The last time, many years ago, I started crying on page two and didn’t stop until I finished. If you haven’t read Rawls’ Summer of the Monkeys, you should. It will make you laugh and cry in equal proportions.

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