More animal novels
November 11, 2012 11:22 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find more "animal fiction" like this?

I've always loved fiction featuring animals as the main characters. Another close genre to that would be books where the story is told from the perspective of humans, but is really about animals. The Incredible Journey, Plague Dogs, Black Beauty, White Fang/Call of the Wild, etc.

What books of this type would you recommend?

I generally prefer books in that sort of older, more charming category than more modern books, but it's the general feel of the language and setting time period combined that is most enjoyable to me. So books written more recently but with that same charm are welcome as well.
posted by Urban Winter to Society & Culture (39 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't read it yet, but a friend recommend to me The Art of Racing in the Rain, which has a canine narrator.
posted by Specklet at 11:56 PM on November 11, 2012

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
posted by Wordwoman at 12:02 AM on November 12, 2012

Oh, I love books with animal protagonists!

Tailchaser's Song
The Redwall stories (primarily aimed at kids?)
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
Watership Down (obv)
posted by thylacinthine at 12:35 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

everything written by Marguerite Henry
Raptor Red by Robert Bakker
Kingdoms of Light by Alan Dean Foster (slight spoiler: the animals are transformed into human bodies at the beginning of the book, but there are constant references to them really still being animals, also this is a very light/fluffy fantasy novel)
posted by anaelith at 1:22 AM on November 12, 2012

The Silver Brumby series is set in the Snowy Mountains and follows the life of Thowra, a magnificent brumby stallion and his decendents.
posted by the fish at 2:12 AM on November 12, 2012

The Crow Chronicles by Clem Martini. Fairly newly written, but they have a lovely atmosphere and truly inspired world building.
posted by harujion at 2:28 AM on November 12, 2012

Tarka the Otter?
posted by Grangousier at 2:30 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Watership Down is really great and has a very good charming style.
posted by chiefthe at 2:59 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh oh you need to read Animal Land by Margaret Blount -- out of print but can be found pretty easily on Abebooks or similar. It's a book about animal books-- from Aesop, to 18th-century moral fables, to White Fang etc-- beautifully written, most definitely in the 'older, more charming' vein. It's one of my favorite hot-chocolate comfort reads.

Animal Land led me to Paul Gallico's Jennie, Felix Salten's Bambi, a whole swarm of mouse books (more anthropomorphised than what you're looking for probably), and some of out-of-print discoveries--

Wild Animals I Have Known
Lives of the Hunted
The Dog Crusoe
posted by Erasmouse at 3:01 AM on November 12, 2012

- The Wild Road and sequel The Golden Cat, by Gabriel King
- The Firebringer Trilogy, by Meredith Ann Pierces
- The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin. It has a sequel, The Book of Sorrows, which I admit to avoiding for years because it's apparently mind-bogglingly sad. I'll get to it someday.

The following two may be tricky to get your hands on, but worth it:
- The Silver Tide, The Second Wave, and The Golden Flight, by Michael Tod. He also wrote Dolphinsong, which I haven't read.
- The Fox and the Hound, if you're okay with somewhat dark and depressing. Yes, it's very different from the Disney movie.

- Seconding Tailchaser, Bambi, all of Marguerite Henry and Raptor Red. Watership Down is one of my favorite novels ever and if somehow you managed to read The Plague Dogs without getting to that one first, read it now. Adams also wrote Traveller and Shardik, neither of which I have read but star or co-star animals.
posted by bettafish at 3:11 AM on November 12, 2012

The graphic novel We3 is excellent and affecting.
posted by nicwolff at 3:17 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

See if your library or bookstore has anything by Thornton W. Burgess. They're children's stories, but written so as to incorporate a lot of nature lore. Particularly check out the Mother Westwind series.
posted by wjm at 3:21 AM on November 12, 2012

Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story by Leonie Swan. Sheep solve a murder mystery. I was surprised to find I'd learned a bit about rare breeds of sheep, that I later identified on a local farm.
posted by SandiBeech at 3:48 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Duncton Wood. There are 2 sequels and 3 other books in the series. I've only read the first and I remember really liking it but I didn't remember it was about moles.

Dragoncharm, Dragonstorm, Dragonflame by Gordon Edwards
posted by jaimystery at 3:50 AM on November 12, 2012

My family and other animals by Gerald Durrell, and all of his other books. Absolutely beautiful, and funny too. I give them to every young animal lover I know, but they also stand up well re-read as an adult.
posted by indienial at 4:17 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also-- if you haven't read the original 101 Dalmatians, it's very charming.
posted by Erasmouse at 4:27 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Beatrice & Virgil by Yann Martel
posted by Neeuq Nus at 5:37 AM on November 12, 2012

Marryat, Snarley-yow, the Dog Fiend (1837). Kind of awesome for its time.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:53 AM on November 12, 2012

It sounds from your question that you would love T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats -- I admit that it's not a novel, but apart from that it meets all your criteria.
posted by No-sword at 6:03 AM on November 12, 2012

Oh, and The Jungle Book and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.
posted by Specklet at 6:19 AM on November 12, 2012

Julie of the Wolves is excellent.
posted by ecsh at 6:36 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

If fantasy animals and humans are both allowed, then Temeraire.
posted by elizardbits at 6:41 AM on November 12, 2012

Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton!
posted by tomboko at 6:42 AM on November 12, 2012

You mention The Plague Dogs, which strikes me as kinda more harsh than charming; Paul Auster's Timbuktu has a more modern tone, but was about as harsh as Plague Dogs and struck me.

Seconding Tarka the Otter.

Adding Randall Jarrel's The Animal Family, the book Ring of Bright Water, and Never Cry Wolf for the "people among animals" category.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 AM on November 12, 2012

Garry Kilworth's books, particularly Hunter's Moon. One of my favourite books ever.

You might also enjoy James Herriot's stories about being a farm vet.
posted by randomnity at 7:14 AM on November 12, 2012

Oh! if you like James Herriott after all, you may like All My Patients Are Under The Bed - another vet's memoir, but this one was based in New York City and so the bulk of his stories are about cats.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 AM on November 12, 2012

Frog and Toad - animals as main characters

Where the Red Fern Grows - about a boy's dogs - incredible
posted by Kruger5 at 8:45 AM on November 12, 2012

For kids, but don't forget Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle and its sequel, Runaway Ralph.
posted by Occula at 8:45 AM on November 12, 2012

I don't think I've seen these mentioned yet:

The Dog Who Wouldn't Be

Owls in the Family

by Farley Mowat. Foggy memory tells me one of these was written for a younger audience (Owls?) while the other had more detail, was meant for an older audience, and had more of the sad times included with the good.
posted by instead of three wishes at 9:21 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Watership Down.
posted by michellenoel at 9:45 AM on November 12, 2012

Thirding Watership Down. It's an absolutely fantastic book.
posted by zug at 10:09 AM on November 12, 2012

Pride of Baghdad will break your heart.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:02 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Felidae and its sequels are mysteries by Akif Pirincci; the protagonist is Francis, a cat.

Rita Mae Brown has written a whole series of 20 mysteries starring two cats, a dog and their human owner: The Mrs. Murphy books. I like the setting in small-town-USA and the recurring characters.
posted by amf at 12:25 PM on November 12, 2012

posted by anaelith at 1:09 PM on November 12, 2012

the dog who wouldn't be
pretty much anything by jim kjelgaard

and they're kids books, but i cannot recommend the "henry" books by mary calhoun enough.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 4:57 PM on November 12, 2012

Traveler, the story of Robert E. Lee's horse as told by himself. Much the best Richard Adams book.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:56 PM on November 12, 2012

I loved Beem when I read it umpteen years ago. Beem, the dog, narrates.
posted by booth at 7:14 AM on November 13, 2012

Check out books by Albert Payson Terhune.
posted by deborah at 6:40 PM on November 13, 2012

My Friend Flicka
posted by dizziest at 6:21 AM on November 15, 2012

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