The best books about people with other animals in the mix

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former independent publisher and current writer of memoir and fiction. My degree was in zoology (animal biology), which got me my first job in educational publishing. After a solid career in textbooks, I switched over to trade publishing and finally writing. I may have left the "hard science" behind, but I continue to be fascinated by human and animal behavior, which shows up in my reading and writing. 

I wrote...

The Year Mrs. Cooper Got Out More: A Great Wharf Novel

By Meredith Marple,

Book cover of The Year Mrs. Cooper Got Out More: A Great Wharf Novel

What is my book about?

My debut novel, set in a small town in Midcoast Maine, details a year in the life of an accomplished, now-retired empty nester at a turning point. Other players in the story, nearly all kind-hearted, have their own needs and motivations. A moose and a cat play cameo roles while psychology, friendship, lust, healing potions, and love all boost and complicate the humans' lives. Personalities and goals rule the plot in this award-winning, non-formulaic mystery.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Loop

Meredith Marple Why did I love this book?

The animal is a parrot who shows up suddenly, has been around, and won’t leave. The human is a thirty-year-old male who works alone in a night job with the Texas highway department and thinks he likes being a loner. A quirky, touching novel. It’s one of those books I look forward to reading again; it left me feeling so satisfied.

By Joe Coomer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Loop as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lyman, a thirty-year-old orphan, is sipping coffee on the front steps of the trailer he calls home one morning, when a ninety-year-old parrot arrives with a beakful of cryptic sayings -- such as "That which hath wings shall tell the matter" -- and a mysterious past. Convinced that heeding the bird's wisdom will lead him to answers about himself he so desperately seeks, Lyman combines his night job as a courtesy patrolman, circling the highway that loops around Fort Worth, with days in the library. Together with Fiona, the loquacious librarian, he traces his adopted pet's origins, and while what…

Book cover of Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

Meredith Marple Why did I love this book?

The animal is a spunky blind cat. The human is his adoptive mother who can’t resist adding the three-week-old kitten to her household of two other cats while trying to heal from a recent breakup. A memoir with a cool twist. You never know when you adopt a pet, how its personality will unfold; it was fun to read how memoirist Cooper struck paydirt with Homer.

By Gwen Cooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Homer's Odyssey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. But Homer was no ordinary cat. He was a three week old, abandoned, eyeless kitten and Gwen was unable to resist his charm. It was love at first sight.

Homer, tagged as an 'underachiever' from day one, quickly proved his doubters wrong revealing himself to be a tiny dare devil with a giant heart and a passion for adventure. The kitten they said would never be as independent or as playful as the other cats…

Book cover of Deadly Trespass

Meredith Marple Why did I love this book?

The animal is a wild pack of gray wolves. Also a dog. The human is a capable and complex fifty-year-old divorcee who is determined not to let politics defeat the wilderness in her state of Maine. A vibrant and educational novel. Though I live in Maine part-time, I’m an indoorsy type. Author Neily is an outdoorsy type, and she proves it with her plots, settings, and characters.

By Sandra Neily,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deadly Trespass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner: Mystery Writers of America McCloy Award. National finalist: Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest.

Cassandra Patton Conover is about to become an outlaw. Searching for her wayward dog in Maine’s dense woods, she finds her best friend Shannon crushed under a tree. Then she finds tracks larger than any animal she knows and a mystery only wild animals can help her solve.

Before she can absorb the loss of her friend, Patton is hired to guide a surly reporter who suspects extinct wolves have returned to Maine, but the forest has too many agendas. A billionaire hopes wolves…

Book cover of The Art of Racing in the Rain

Meredith Marple Why did I love this book?

The animal (and in this case a trustworthy narrator) is a very old, very wise dog. The human is a race car driver who knows to keep his eyes on the road(s) he wants to travel despite obstacles. Get your tissues out for this poignant read. When I finished it, all I could think about was how much I’d underestimated my own, now deceased dog. I knew she was smart, but this book had me thinking how I might have communicated even better with her.

By Garth Stein,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Art of Racing in the Rain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major motion picture, this heart-warming and inspirational tale follows Enzo, a loyal family dog, tells the story of his human family, how they nearly fell apart, and what he did to bring them back together.

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: he thinks and feels in nearly human ways. He has educated himself by watching extensive television, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo realizes that racing is a metaphor: that by applying the techniques a driver would apply on…

Book cover of Horse Heaven

Meredith Marple Why did I love this book?

The animal is a number of racehorses. The human is a collection of owners, trainers, jockeys, and more, yielding a comprehensive look at human and animal behavior in the horse racing industry. A strong, intimate novel. I used to ride but never very well, and I’ve always wondered what a horse’s “thoughts” involved. Author Smiley gave me a feel for that as she applied her own assumptions to one horse in particular.  

By Jane Smiley,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Horse Heaven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



of craft and an uncompromising vision that grow more powerful with each
book . . . Racing's eclectic mix of classes and personalities provides
Smiley with fertile soil . . . Expertly juggling storylines, she
investigates the sexual, social, psychological, and spiritual problems
of wealthy owners, working-class bettors, trainers on the edge of
financial ruin, and, in a typically bold…

You might also like...

The Midnight Man

By Julie Anderson,

Book cover of The Midnight Man

Julie Anderson Author Of The Midnight Man

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical crime fiction, and my latest novel is set in a hospital, a real place, now closed. The South London Hospital for Women and Children (1912–1985) was set up by pioneering suffragists and women surgeons Maud Chadburn and Eleanor Davies-Colley (the first woman admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons) and I recreate the now almost-forgotten hospital in my book. Events take place in 1946 when wartime trauma still impacts upon a society exhausted by conflict, and my book choices also reflect this.

Julie's book list on evocative stories set in a hospital

What is my book about?

A historical thriller set in south London just after World War II, as Britain returns to civilian life and the men return home from the fight, causing the women to leave their wartime roles. The South London Hospital for Women and Children is a hospital, (based on a real place) run by women for women and must make adjustments of its own. As austerity bites, the coldest Winter then on record makes life grim. Then a young nurse goes missing.

Days later, her body is found behind a locked door, and two women from the hospital, unimpressed by the police response, decide to investigate. Highly atmospheric and evocative of a distinct period and place.

The Midnight Man

By Julie Anderson,

What is this book about?


Winter 1946

One cold dark night, as a devastated London shivers through the transition to post-war life, a young nurse goes missing from the South London Hospital for Women & Children. Her body is discovered hours later behind a locked door.

Two women from the hospital join forces to investigate the case. Determined not to return to the futures laid out for them before the war, the unlikely sleuths must face their own demons and dilemmas as they pursue - The Midnight Man.

‘A mystery that evokes the period – and a recovering London – in…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in satire, Texas, and cats?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about satire, Texas, and cats.

Satire Explore 150 books about satire
Texas Explore 206 books about Texas
Cats Explore 190 books about cats