The best books about dogs and their people

The Books I Picked & Why

Travels with Charley in Search of America

By John Steinbeck

Travels with Charley in Search of America

Why this book?

It’s a classic. Travels with Charley may have been published in 1962, but many of Steinbeck’s observations of America, collected during his journey from Maine to California’s Monterey Peninsula, are as relevant today as they were six decades ago. And then there’s Charley, the French-born Standard Poodle who served as Steinbeck’s sidekick and sole traveling companion. “A dog,” wrote Steinbeck, “is a bond between strangers.”


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain

By Gregory Berns

How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain

Why this book?

I am forever wondering what goes on in the deep recesses of my dogs’ brains. (Except if it’s 5:00 p.m. and my Labrador-mix locks eyes on me. Then, I know it’s dinner time.) It’s this desire to peer into my dogs’ heads that attracted me to Gregory Berns’ pioneering research. In 2011, Berns came up with the radical notion that dogs could be trained to enter an MRI machine and remain still long enough to have their brains scanned and thus, studied. Many doubted him, but Berns and his Terrier-mix Callie proved them wrong. This is their incredible story.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Friend

By Sigrid Nunez

The Friend

Why this book?

How is one to mourn the sudden death of a loved one? For the novel’s narrator, whose best friend has taken his own life, there’s writing. There’s therapy. And there’s the unexpected responsibility of caring for the friend’s one-hundred-and-eighty-pound harlequin Great Dane. Infused with wit and humor, the novel is a meditation on the friendship between people and between people and their dogs, who, the narrator says, “may well, in their mute unfathomable way, know us better than we know them.” I’m not alone in my praise. The Friend won the 2018 National Book Award for fiction.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Why this book?

When a book with a canine narrator makes you laugh and cry, you remember it. The narrator is an aging Lab-mix named Enzo who tells the story of his beloved owner, an aspiring race-car driver who befalls tough times in life and love. There are plot twists that will keep readers turning the page and moments of levity mixed with the deepest despair. It’s both heart-wrenching and heartwarming.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Landfill Dogs: True Portraits of Shelter Pets

By Shannon Johnstone

Landfill Dogs: True Portraits of Shelter Pets

Why this book?

You will likely never see finer photographs of shelter dogs than those inside Shannon Johnstone’s exquisite book. The photographs capture the dogs’ character, grit, and heart as they run, jump, fetch, or simply stare into the distance. Their faces are joyful, wistful, earnest. In most cases, these photographs saved lives. Posted on a North Carolina shelter’s website, the dogs captured the imaginations of those who would adopt them. Photographs of dogs with their new families cap off the book.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Distantly Related Book Lists

Random Book Lists