This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
As a dog owner and animal lover, I have always wondered what my dog or the animals around us had to say. Would they have great insights to share with the world? Maybe something like slow down and enjoy the world? Or would it just be a litany of feed me, feed me, feed me? The field of animal consciousness is now exploding as previous paradigms of what it means to be human are being dissolved and we are discovering that different species can do impressive things, from using tools to recognizing oneself in a mirror – just to name a few. to name.
In literature there are books, possibly children’s or YA books, that present the world from an animal’s point of view. Many classic children’s books feature animals, such as Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series or Richard Scarry’s books. But there are also adult books written from an animal perspective, which excites me. And it’s not just books from the point of view of cats and dogs – although I definitely don’t get along with those books – there are books about various animals, from polar bears to bees. These storytellers can shed light on humanity in a way that a human storyteller cannot. Some of these books show animal storytellers living human-like lives, while others focus on the animal world.
Here are 10 of the best of these animal storytellers books.
A Dog’s Life by Peter Mayle
Although he is best known for his non-fiction work A Year in Provence, Mayle has written a delightful comedy in the eyes of a dog named Boy. Though he doesn’t know much about his pedigree, this erudite dog explores his native Provence, everything from its food and tempting treasures to its enemies. With his perceptive eye he gazes at the follies and weaknesses of mankind.
Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada, translated by Susan Bernofsky
While human celebrity memoirs are all the rage, this one takes a different turn by focusing on polar bears. Told in three parts, it begins with grandmother Polar Bear, a famous writer, who emigrated to Canada from the Soviet Union, her daughter Tosca who joins the circus, and grandson Knut at the Berlin Zoo. Tawada said she was inspired by an actual polar bear of the same name in the same zoo.
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
Can someone save the world by watching TV? ST, a Big Jim crow, may have to. Something is wrong with his owner – his eye popped out – but nothing seems to help. He learns from his friends that something is very wrong in the human world, so ST has to go out and try to make things right. Armed with his knowledge of television programming and an ironic view of the world, ST fights the apocalypse while garnering plenty of laughs from readers. There are so far two books in the series.
I Am a Cat (I am a Cat #1-3) by Natsume Sōseki, translated by Aiko Ito, translated by Graeme Wilson
Finally we have a cat book! As we have seen with A dog’s lifeanimal storytellers were a great way to analyze and critique human society. Sōseki does this effectively through the eyes of a cat who can point out the contradictions of human society in Meiji-era Japan. It’s perfect for people who want the cat’s perspective and/or want to read 20th century Japanese literature.
The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa, Daniel Hahn (translator)
We’ve had birds, dogs, cats and other remarkable mammals. Now it’s time for a reptile. This is told through the eyes of a lizard that lives on the wall of Felix Ventura just after Angola gained independence from Portugal. While the fires are still burning politically, some people want to revisit their past given the political uncertainty of the time. All this is told through the eyes of a lizard.
The Bees by Laline Paull
As a bee lover, I was thrilled to discover this work from the point of view of Flora 717, a sanitary bee in a beehive. Flora 717 discovers that she is not like her sisters and must hide her qualities at the threat of death. She steadily rises through the ranks of the nursery, becomes a collector and even secures herself a position in the Queen’s court. Can she survive among enemy agents who want to remove her? Or can she find a place to live her life to the fullest?
Me Cheeta: My Life in Hollywood by James Lever
Like Memoirs of a Polar Bear, i cheetah is another take on celebrity memoirs. This special animal memoir is told from the perspective of Cheeta, referred to as the world’s funniest animal. Cheeta, who survived his Tarzan co-stars, describes his life from his childhood in the jungles of Liberia to his time in Hollywood and his retirement. In addition to writing his memoirs, he is now an abstract painter. It’s a fun read to see the world of one of our closest ancestors, as well as a glimpse into old Hollywood.
Brilliant white peaks of Teng Rong
If you want something a little more raw, this is the book for you. It features two wolf siblings who must fight their way through the wild. The story explores the glory and cruelty of the natural world as the two siblings try to find their parents. Perfect for wolf lovers everywhere.
Nezumi’s Children by TL Bodine
Last but not least, here’s one that focuses on pet store rats. When their prophet Nezumi passes, she tells them to watch out for the Great Water. Soon, her prophecies come true with water everywhere. Can the rats survive this disaster? How will it affect their view of the world?
Three bags full by Leonie Swann, translated by Anthea Bell
Ending the list is a murder mystery… from the perspective of a flock of sheep. One day the sheep discover their shepherd dead from a spade. These sheep are not going to accept this lying down. A team of sheep, including Miss Maple, the clever sheep, and Zora, a thoughtful sheep, come together to find clues to track down the killer. It’s a new take on the mystery genre; I can only hope we get more mysteries from non-human perspectives.
For people who want feel-good nonfiction books, this list is for you! Here’s a list for people who want more adult books about animals!