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Best animal fiction books, in our opinion

The members of Braden Run all love to get lost in a good book. Below are several books that we all recommend reading. Some are funny some are sad and all of them are worth the read!

Let us know which ones you want to read, which ones you have read, and if we missed any!

The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain is one of the rare books about animals that do not come across as twee or written for little children (which is an art form in its own right). It's about the life of a man and his dog, narrated from the dog's point of view. Enzo, named for the F-1 racer, is the kind of dog that we all imagine that we own: wise, mordant, genuine, loving, kind, comical. Enzo makes a gentle critic of our foibles, and as we fall in love with the narrator's voice, we get back in touch with the gentler sides of ourselves.

Seabiscuit: an American Legend

Fast-paced nonfiction sounds like an oxymoron, but Seabiscuit is it — a literal dark horse story of one of the unlikeliest sports heroes in American history. She brings a unique period of history to life and makes you really understand Seabiscuit and his sport from an insider's perspective. Also as a side note, the movie is pretty great too!

Because of Winn-Dixie

I just reread Winn-Dixie for the first time and fell in love with the story all over again. It's a timeless coming-of-age tale with something for everyone — a cast of quirky characters, a young girl trying to understand her broken family, and a big, goofy dog to help bring everyone together. If you're looking for a heartwarming read, this is it.

Black Beauty

Any self-respecting animal lover has to have read Black Beauty. It was one of — if not the — first book written directly from an animal's point of view. It is by turns heart-wrenching and cheerful and shows that animals, just like people, deserve to be happy and to be loved. On a side note, the Disney adaptation will make you cry.

H is for Hawk

Oh my god, H Is for Hawk left me wrecked.

In the wake of her father's sudden death, Macdonald, an experienced falconer, set out to train one of her sport's most vicious predators. Her relationship with the bird develops so extraordinarily, and her account of grief and growth is so unflinching and rich — this book is unlike anything I've ever encountered.

The Elephant Whisperer

What's it like to live among and learn to communicate with a herd of wild elephants? Lawrence Anthony has done it and lived to tell the tale. His memoir draws together incredible stories and the lessons he learned from these majestic beasts. I was so moved by his recollections and insights, and have a new respect for animal conservation work being done around the globe.

Marley & Me

This is journalist John Grogan's autobiographical account of the 13 years he and his family spent with their yellow Labrador Retriever, Marley. It is a journey filled with excitement, joy, and sadness, which I guarantee will blow your mind. Treasure the moment with it and, afterward, you'll find life is just so much more beautiful and meaningful. This book left me laughing out loud and crying when it was finished. The way he describes the relationship with Marley can be felt by any pet owner.

A Dog's Purpose

A Dog's Purpose and its sequel, A Dog's Journey, are in my head and heart forever! They follow the soul of a dog through several reincarnations as it lives with different people in a wide variety of circumstances. Told from the dog's point of view, these books are both heartbreaking and triumphant. They made me smile, cry, and hug my dog.

All Creatures Great and Small

I really enjoyed James Herriot's books. He pulls back the curtain on the life and day-to-day dramas of a practicing vet with loving and hilarious insight — a worthwhile read for sure.

These are Dr. McMillen's favorite books!

Dewey the Library Cat

The book is about a cat who is abandoned and found by a librarian. The cat becomes an icon in the library but develops an unusual and bad habit. I think the book really connects with you as an animal lover as you can really experience Dewey's emotional growth very young age to death.

Animals in Translation

Temple Grandin makes some fascinating connections between the worlds of autism and animals. This is a very interesting read, with lots of amazing stories and anecdotes. It's the one book I've been telling people to read for the last ten years.

One Good Dog

One Good Dog is one of my all-time favorites EVER. It's the story of a man who has everything and loses it, a dog who has nothing and loses it, and how they come together. Bring tissues — that's all I'm gonna say...

Where the Red Fern Grows

I first read this as a child but, even now, it never fails to make me laugh and cry. From Billy's inspirational quest to get his two hunting dogs to the unbreakable bond they share, to the heart-breaking tragedy they endure, to the remarkable ending.

Misty of Chincoteague

Misty was inspired by a real-life Chincoteague Pony of the same name. The actual Misty was foaled in domesticity in 1946, on Chincoteague, at the Beebe Ranch, not in the wild on Assateague Island as told in Henry's novel. As in the book, however, she was in fact sired by a chestnut pinto stallion named Pied Piper, from a smokey-black pinto dam called Phantom. Although these horses also were domesticated in real life, they too provided inspiration to Henry for the wild ponies portrayed in the novel. This novel is a feel-good story for all ages to enjoy!

Homer's Odyssey

When Gwen Cooper adopted a blind kitten, she couldn't have anticipated all the roles he would fill — as a friend, child, life-saver, and an inspiration to all he meets. He also, somehow, is a flycatcher, leaping six feet in the air to snag the pesky bugs. That just blew my mind. But Gwen and Homer's love for each other is so evident on the page — this book may very well make you a cat person.

To All the Dogs I've Loved Before

First love gets a second chance when a mischievous dog finds a way to keep fetching the town librarian’s high school sweetheart in this charming small-town romance. This is a feel-good romance novel where the main character's dog, brings her together with a lost love.

My Family & Other Animals

When his family moves to the Greek isle of Corfu, young Gerald sets off to explore the land with his faithful dog. Throughout the book, he collects a wonderful variety of pets with very distinct personalities — who come to take over the family home. It is wildly funny and very sweet at the same time, and will keep a grin on your face from start to finish!

Dog on It

I am hooked on the Chet and Bernie series by Spencer Quinn, starting with Dog On It. Bernie is a private investigator, and Chet, the narrator, is his dog. They are so funny together; Chet is adorable, and the books are exciting and entertaining from start to finish.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

An extraordinarily brilliant and witty story about Mr. Fox and his family who try to survive starvation against three wicked yet foolish farmers. Mr. Fox's ideas will twist and enthrall you on how he outwits these farmers and how he protects his family from starving.


Crazy legends, wild adventures, massive battles, ghosts, a big ol' forest, some magic & other stuff. Except all the characters are charming little talking mice and squirrels and badgers. This universe is so lush and richly imagined. Some would compare it to the Harry Potter Series.

The Good Good Pig

Ms. Montgomery had enough animals in the house but was moved to take in the runt-of-all-runts — Christopher Hogwood. This book recounts the life of Christopher and how he not only affected the lives of his owners but the lives of his neighbors and an entire town. He was a sweet, smart, and stubborn pig and I loved how everyone who met him seemed to so unabashedly accept and appreciate him.

Dog Tripping: 25 Rescues, 11 volunteers, & 3 RVs on our canine cross-country adventure

The story of how writer David Rosenfelt and his wife became rescue parents to multiple dogs and moved them in RVs from California to their new home in Maine. Funny and moving!

The Call of the Wild

The journey the dog lives through in this book is one of hardship and trouble, but London knows how to describe the nature of the dog in such a beautiful realistic, and natural way, you feel like you are on the snowy flats in Alaska side by side with the dog pulling the sled. London also has an impeccable style in describing the harsh natural world. No one else can describe the sensation of an entirely frozen world and what snow does to a landscape. You immediately understand and hear the call of the wild. It is by far a real classic and should be read by all!

The Dog Who Loved Too Much

Dr. Dodman is a veterinarian who treats animal behavioral problems as psychological problems. Focusing on dogs, this book tackles the myriad problems dog owners face regarding dogs with severe separation anxiety, phobias, dominance aggression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and so on.


"As a veterinarian, Helena had mercifully escorted thousands of animals to the other side. Now, having died herself, she finds that it is not so easy to move on..."

Enslaved by Ducks

How did Bob Tarte's home become the dumping ground for animals that people didn't know what to do with? This is his hilarious account of learning to live with and survive among an outrageous menagerie of animals.

A Street Can Named Bob

A stray cat helps a struggling street musician turn his life around — what's not to love? A perfect story of perseverance that I can't stop telling people about. Please read!

Wesley the Owl

"On Valentine’s Day 1985, biologist Stacey O’Brien adopted Wesley, a baby barn owl with an injured wing who could not have survived in the wild. Over the next 19 years, O’Brien studied Wesley’s strange habits with both a tender heart and a scientist’s eye — and provided a mice-only diet that required her to buy the rodents in bulk (28,000 over the owl’s lifetime)."

This book is heartfelt proof of how much we can — and need — to learn from the animals with whom we share this earth.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Get off your butt and read Jonathan Livingston Seagull already, OK? Jonathan maybe just a single gull, but his journey to think and fly differently than the rest has a lot to teach us about the power of ambition and thought itself. This is one of the easiest, fastest books I've found to lift my spirits — at just over 100 pages, what have you got to lose?

Old Yeller

Old Yeller is the quintessential "boy-meets-dog" story. It's also just cover-to-cover pure Americana — like, late-1800s Texas hill country childhood adventures...What more could you ask for in a heartwarming YA animal read?

The Fur Person

Sarton so perfectly captures the inner life of a cat — The Fur Person is all sorts of clever and cute. A must-read for anyone really trying to understand — and laugh along with — their feline friends.

Charlotte's Web

I don't really have to say anything about this one, do I? a Mysteriously-literate spider saves the life of an adorable pig. Everything is beautiful. This should be, required childhood reading for everyone.

Warriors: The Series

Can a house cat become a warrior among the feral gangs that roam the forest? Young Rusty is about to find out. This series is a must-read, and might just convert a dog lover to a dog — and cat—lover. This series is a fun read, it paints feral cats as gang members that have turf wars.

Magic Kingdom For Sale-Sold

Landover was a genuine magic kingdom, complete with fairy folk and wizardry, just as the advertisement had promised. But after he purchased it for a million dollars, Ben Holiday discovered that there were a few details the ad had failed to mention. Such as the fact that the kingdom was falling into ruin. The barons refused to recognize a king and taxes hadn't been collected for years. The dragon, Strabo, was laying waste to the countryside, while the evil witch, Nightshade, was plotting to destroy no less than everything. And if that weren't enough for a prospective king to deal with, Ben soon learned that the Iron Mark, terrible lord of the demons, challenged all pretenders to the throne of Landover to a duel to the death - a duel no mere mortal could hope to win. But Ben Holiday had one human trait that even magic couldn't overcome. Ben Holiday was stubborn.

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