Animals make for fascinating characters, for they connect us with the natural world while also endearing themselves to our humanistic selves. Here is a list of 10 best books featuring animals as characters – either as narrators, aides to the protagonist or even just as allegories.
10 Best Books Featuring Animals As Characters:
- The Travelling Cat Chronicles
- Flush by Virginia Woolf
- The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Stuart Little by E B White
- The Master and Margharita by Mikhail Bulgakov
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder
- The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
- The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak
The Travelling Cat Chronicles
Satoru, and his cat Nana, travel through Japan, through its changing seasons and shifting landscapes, in this heartbreaking yet heartwarming novel. They meet eccentric people, such as the couple Sugi and Chikako and the hard-hearted farmer Yoshimine. They also meet a loving dog who forges a reluctant friendship with Nana. But if Nana realizes the purpose of this trip, he’s going to be devastated.
Flush by Virginia Woolf
Flush is the heartwarming biography of the brilliant poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning from the eyes of her cocker spaniel, Flush. As Flush has regular dog experiences with other dogs and maids, he also provides insight into the life of his mistress. The dog’s perspective seems so real and so endearing, that one feels warm in the heart and the tummy after reading this book.
The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna
This eccentric but beautiful ode to nature and its overflowing abundance, follows a journalist on an assignment. On a beautiful country road, he meets a hare and befriends him. The hare inspires him to seek solitude within. Soon, leaving the world behind, the journalist and his hair voyage the countryside.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
This parable which is actually an allegory for the Russian Revolution, centres around the animals on a farm who overthrow their cruel human master. They soon establish their supremacy through democracy. But the most intelligent of the lot – the pigs – become even more cruel than their human masters, in this ghoulish critique of totalitarianism.
Stuart Little by E B White
This is a children’s classic, but is definitely worth visiting and revisiting time and again. Following the adventures and escapades of a house mouse who sets off on a quest to recover his disappeared aviary friend, this book is as wholesome as it gets.
The Master and Margharita by Mikhail Bulgakov
This wild ride of a book has several eccentricities to it, but not the least of them is its sentient demonic beast, Behemoth. Behemoth is a sarcastic, alcoholic cat who is a part of Satan’s entourage. His personality belongs literally to a theatre of absurd, which makes him so iconic.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
This landmark animal fantasy novel tells the story of a Tamilian boy from Pondhicherry ‘Pi’ Patel and a Bengal tiger. Together, they are stranded on an a boat after a shipwreck, and the bond they form is ineffably beautiful.
Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder
This haunting tale of motherhood, love, heartbreak and art tells the story of a new mother who starts believing that she is a dog. Full of an incisive commentary on motherhood and isolation, this vividly original novel tackles themes of mental health. Animals appear only in an anthropocentric way, but still steal the show.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
This heartwarming story of feline love explores the wonderful relationship between a dog and his master. We journey through their lives and the trials and tribulations they brave together. Enzo as a dog is witty, funny, adorable and affable. His human is a race car driver, who is going through a rough patch in his life.
The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak
In this historical fiction that unfolds during the reign of the Ottoman empire, we follow the animal tamer protagonist. As a member of the Sultan’s menagerie, he looks after the exceptionally smart elephant Chota. This is a warm story of friendship and the connect between humans and animals. And even though it is only a subplot among many others, it stands out.