The best books that make you want to hug an animal

Carol Bradley Author Of Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top
By Carol Bradley

Who am I?

When two dog breeders were caught coming into Montana with 180 shivering and malnourished collies stacked in crates inside a tractor-trailer, my heart stopped. Those dogs looked like scrawnier versions of my two shelties. I was a newspaper reporter at the time, and covering the exhausting rescue and rehabilitation of those collies awakened me to the suffering so many animals undergo at human hands. My first book, Saving Gracie: How one dog escaped the shadowy world of American puppy mills, was inspired by that case. Ever since, I’ve made it my mission to shine the light on the mistreatment of animals, to try to capture the indomitable resilience they are able to summon when given the chance.


I wrote...

Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top

By Carol Bradley,

Book cover of Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top

What is my book about?

Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top tells the story of an abused elephant who spent 23 years performing one-foot handstands and other tricks in the circus before she rebelled. She was taken off the road and housed in a cold barn for 11 more years until, finally, she was rescued. Last Chain chronicles the history of elephants in America and Billie’s rehabilitation at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where—despite lingering anxieties—she will live out her life cared for and surrounded by nature.

The books I picked & why

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Chosen by a Horse

By Susan Richards,

Book cover of Chosen by a Horse

Why this book?

Lay Me Down, a former racehorse afflicted with pneumonia, an eye infection, and malnourishment and nursing a young foal, goes home with her new owner, who’s also struggling to overcome life’s setbacks. This moving memoir charts how, in spite of everything they’ve been through, horse and human find the courage to embrace contentment and hope in the day-to-day.

Chosen by a Horse

By Susan Richards,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Chosen by a Horse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When she agrees to take on one of the abused horses just rescued by the local SPCA, a new chapter opens in Susan Richards's difficult life.

She lost her mother at the age of five and was raised by uncaring relatives; she married unhappily and divorced; and she'd been an alcoholic. Now, at the age of forty-three, she lives with three horses who keep her company: the diva-like Georgia, boyish Tempo and hopelessly romantic Hotshot.

While trying to capture another horse assigned to her, Lay Me Down, a skeletal mare, walks into Susan's horse trailer of her own volition. When…


Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process

By Irene Pepperberg,

Book cover of Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process

Why this book?

Most of us think of parrots as amusing creatures capable of repeating sometimes embarrassing utterances in hilarious falsettos. Alex & Me goes beyond that superficial understanding; it reveals the multifaceted personality of one African Grey parrot and the connection he developed with a psychologist who was struck by and deeply moved by the bird’s remarkable intellect.

Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process

By Irene Pepperberg,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Alex & Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption

By Jim Gorant,

Book cover of The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption

Why this book?

The arrest of NFL player Michael Vick for operating a dog-fighting ring drew attention mostly for the ramifications Vick faced. The Lost Dogs spotlights the fate of the fifty-one pit bulls left traumatized by Vicks’ brutal operation: how, thanks to a combination of therapy and new doting humans, they regained an indomitable sense of trust.

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption

By Jim Gorant,

Why should I read it?

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


Running with Sherman: How a Rescue Donkey Inspired a Rag-Tag Gang of Runners to Enter the Craziest Race in America

By Christopher McDougall,

Book cover of Running with Sherman: How a Rescue Donkey Inspired a Rag-Tag Gang of Runners to Enter the Craziest Race in America

Why this book?

Author McDougall took a mistreated donkey—with hooves left untrimmed for so long he could barely walk—restored him to health and trained him to run alongside McDougall in a burro race. The contest had them scaling mountains and fording streams, something the author wasn’t certain Sherman could pull off. McDougall recalls with humor how the donkey gained confidence and developed a faith in humanity as a result.

Running with Sherman: How a Rescue Donkey Inspired a Rag-Tag Gang of Runners to Enter the Craziest Race in America

By Christopher McDougall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Running with Sherman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Allowed to Grow Old: Portraits of Elderly Animals from Farm Sanctuaries

By Isa Leshko,

Book cover of Allowed to Grow Old: Portraits of Elderly Animals from Farm Sanctuaries

Why this book?

Ever seen a really old farm animal? Most of us haven’t, and that’s because they’re “harvested” before they have a chance to grow old. The photos in this book poignantly capture the rare pigs, chickens, cows, and other animals allowed to live out their lives at sanctuaries. The dignity displayed in the images is truly profound.

Allowed to Grow Old: Portraits of Elderly Animals from Farm Sanctuaries

By Isa Leshko,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Allowed to Grow Old as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There's nothing quite like a relationship with an aged pet-a dog or cat who has been at our side for years, forming an ineffable bond. Pampered pets, however, are a rarity among animals who have been domesticated. Farm animals, for example, are usually slaughtered before their first birthday. We never stop to think about it, but the typical images we see of cows, chickens, pigs, and the like are of young animals. What would we see if they were allowed to grow old?

Isa Leshko shows us, brilliantly, with this collection of portraits. To create these portraits, she spent hours…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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