Uh-ho. It’s crunch time. You have very little time left before the big day, and you’re still not sure what to get the dog lover on your list. Lucky for you, dog lovers can be pretty easy to shop for. Curling up with your dog, and a good book, can be just about the best part of anyone’s day, so long as the book is good.
We’re here to help you pick out the best book to get your dog lover. And of course, these are all dog books.
1. Huck: The Remarkable True Story of How One Lost Puppy Taught a Family – and a Whole Town – About Hope and Happy Endings, by Jane Elder.
True stories are usually more gripping (if told well), and Huck is told extremely well. What works about this story is that (aside from being true) it follows a family after losing their dog (who happens to run away). A lost dog is one thing no dog owner wants to experience, but can’t help but think about. Huck (the lost dog in the story) was added to the Elder family after the writer, Janet, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She decides to let her son get Huck to help cheer him up and distract him, but after losing Huck, she, and the rest of her family, learn that he means so much more than just some distraction. It’s relatable, heart-gripping, and a relatively easy read.
2. Dog Years, by Mark Doty.
At only 256 pages, Dog Years seems like a short and easy read. But Doty is, quite honestly, as magical with a string of words as a conductor is with a string quartet. Poignant yet not painstakingly flowery, Doty (a poet and memoirist) captures the true meaning of life with dogs, represented in a simple yet profound line: “To choose to live with a dog is to agree to participate in a long process of interpretation.” While Doty faces his own personal setbacks and struggles, it is his relationship with his dogs that help him march on, including his beloved shelter dog Beau who, “carried something else for me, too, which was my will to live. I had given it to him to carry for me, like some king in a fairy tale …” One of the most beautifully written books – dogs or not – you can get this year.
3. Sophie: The Incredible True Story of the Castaway Dog, by Emma Pearse.
Anyone who’s lost a dog will relate to this book, which chronicles the survival tale of Sophie, a 3-year-old Australian cattle dog who didn’t just get lost, but fell overboard while on a boating trip. After somehow surviving the waters surrounding the Great Barrier Reef, she washed up on an island. There she survived on birds, goats and butterflies, all the while waiting out for rescue by her family (she even avoided the humans on the island, because they weren’t her family). Four months she spent on that island, and in the end … well, it’s a happy and true ending.
4. A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron.
While not the newest book on the shelf (published in 2010), it is unique and a must-read for any dog lover. Its approach could easily have been a bust, but Cameron delivers it with success – this is a story of one dog who tries to find his purpose … spanning several lifetimes. The story begins with Bailey surprised that he’s now a golden-haired puppy, since he was just a stray mutt. This cycle of rebirth happens a few times, all the while Bailey is well aware that changes are made in his life – he’s just not sure why. It may sound a bit strange, but what it’ll do is force you to think about the age-old question: Why are we here?
5. The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein.
Following the spirit of A Dog’s Purpose, we’ll end this with an oldie but goodie. The Art of Racing in the Rain also chronicles the life (and perspective) of a dog – Enzo. But unlike Bailey, Enzo is far more humanistic in his views, and thus also as philosophical. Anyone who has read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance will be familiar with the expanded metaphor approach Stein uses between race car driving and life. Using a dog’s outside view approach, coupled with the life of Enzo’s owner, Denny Swift, we learn a great deal about the human condition from perhaps the most unexpected sources – a dog.