Calling all animal lovers! Animals have taken center stage in numerous novels throughout the years. They have captured hearts, gone on journeys, taken part in historic events, and have become memorable companions. You may already have your favorite animal tale, but the novels, The Art of Racing in the Rain, All Creatures Great and Small, and Seabiscuit: An American Legend, have become classics, even being made into movies and television shows. Ready for your next animal themed book? Take a look at the plots of these three books to find your read.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Inspired by the documentary, State of Dogs, and the poem, “The Revenant” told from a dog’s point of view, author Garth Stein published his book, The Art of Racing in the Rain in 2008. This novel focuses on race car driver Denny Swift. Denny is convinced that his dog, Enzo, will be reincarnated as a human in his next life. Enzo’s time is spent watching T.V., other humans, and Denny, all the while trying to learn as much as he can. Throughout the novel, readers follow Denny and Enzo as Denny gets married, has a daughter, watches his wife battle brain cancer, and wins a custody case over his daughter, Zoe, from his in-laws. While seeing everything unfold, Enzo develops a mantra to live by “that which you manifest is before you.” The book, promoted under the phrase “Meet the dog who will show the world how to be human,” The Art of Racing in the Rain can be described as a story of love, loyalty, and courage. A complete must-read for animal lovers.
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Based on the true story of English veterinarian Alf Wight, All Creatures Great and Small follows the journey of Wight’s career, his work with animals, and their owners. Author James Herriot, who is actually the pen-name for the real-life Alf Wight, takes up a job in Yorkshire Dales in England. There he discovers that in reality, practicing as a veterinarian is very different than being in school. Herriot describes to readers stories about people losing their beloved companions to funny stories and finally stories of sacrifice, such as poor farmers doing all that they can to provide for their working animals. Along the way, Herriot gives reflections about the wonderful animal world and its forthcoming challenges. Once you have finished this novel, read the other four books in the series. After you are done with the series, you can watch the stories play out in the PBS television show of the same name.
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The year is 1938 and there is one animal receiving more world news coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. That animal is the legendary thoroughbred American race horse, Seabiscuit. Born in 1933, Seabiscuit’s racing history came at a surprise thanks to the dedication of three men. Charles Howard may have brought the automobile to the western part of the United States, but he became Seabiscuit’s owner in the 1930s. Together, with horse trainer Tom Smith and jockey Red Pollard, they led Seabiscuit to history in a span of four years. Seabiscuit: An American Legend is not just for horse lovers; it is a tale for sports fans and animal fans alike. It is also one that readers will want to enjoy over and over again. There are also versions of Seabiscuit’s story available for kids.
These books aren’t the only animal themed ones in the novel world, but they are a great place to start. Even if you aren’t an animal lover, The Art of Racing in the Rain, All Creatures Great and Small, and Seabiscuit: An American Legend are wonderful books.