A winter reading list for dog lovers
By Patrick Cullen
David Wroblewski The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
The author’s debut has been dubbed a must read by professional critics and my dog-loving/bookworm family members alike. The story has been called a retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet based in Wisconsin. The protagonist, Edgar Sawtelle himself, was born mute into a family of dog breeders and prefers to interact with dogs instead of other people. Everything seems to be going well for the Sawtelle’s until Edgar’s uncle Claude arrives. When a member of the family is killed, Edgar retreats to the woods with his favorite dogs to try to solve the mystery of the death that could be pinned on him. While the book, by most accounts, seems to be a must read, it is 570 pages long. The hope is, it’ll be good enough to have you hoping for a longer winter just so you can finish it.
Jack London White Fang
On our last list, we included London’s The Call of the Wild, so it’s only right that we now urge you to consider reading White Fang. Whereas the last novel follows a dog welcoming a life in the wilderness, White Fang tells the story of a wild wolf-dog as he is domesticated. London, having the two novels mirror one another in theme, implies that one of these cannot be read without the other. If you took our advice and read The Call of the Wild somewhere under the sun during the summer months that now seem so far away, you will not be disappointed by it’s companion novel.
Elizabeth Mary Thurston The Lost History of the Canine Race / Rebecca Frankel War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love
Thurston is an anthropologist who recognized the significance dogs have served to humans throughout our history. She believes that in order to understand our development, spiritually, emotionally, and so on, as a race, we must understand ourselves historically with dogs by our side.
Frankel reports on the roles dogs have played in the US military throughout time, from the Civil War to the War in Iraq. From their ability to sniff out bombs and sense injury or emotional trauma in their handlers, the importance of dogs to our soldiers is not understated in this read. As noted, these books may not be for everyone, but if you have an interest in nonfiction, these are winning reads.
Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs are Smarter Than You Think
If you have ever heard someone (especially during a cat vs. dog debate) refer to dogs as dumb, slobbering, or make any other knock to their intelligence, this book is the perfect counter argument. Researchers Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods report on their findings from the Duke Canine Cognition Lab. While the results may intimidate you as they have indicated that the majority of people have certainly underestimated their loving companions, they will also open your eyes to new truths regarding dogs, allowing you to better your relationship with them. The Genius of Dogs is a New York Times Bestseller.
Garth Stein The Art of Racing in the Rain
Another New York Times Bestseller, told from the perspective of Enzo, a dog who enjoys racing and cars as much as his owner, Denny. The book recounts Enzo’s life, experiences, and observations as he comes to terms with his nearing death. He became learned in people’s tendencies over time by paying close attention to his owner and other humans and by educating himself, mainly by watching TV. Covering human concepts such as love, family and beyond, the perspective of the book gives us an interesting look at ourselves as a philosophizing dog sees us.
Matthew Inman My Dog: The Paradox: A Lovable Discourse About Man’s Best Friend
The Oatmeal: If you can sit down fireside and read any of the above books to completion, you should reward yourself by checking out The Paradox. As a print version of The Oatmeal’s online comic series, it will make a great coffee table topper and will surely provide a few laughs anytime you need it.