The best books on what animals feel and think

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been passionate about nature since childhood. In my youth, I spent many summers on a pristine shore in Sardinia, snorkeling in a sea full of life. Later on, I became a scientist, conservationist, and author. My research on dolphins in California represents one of the longest studies worldwide. I co-wrote Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins, authored Dolphin Confidential, and Stranded, and written for many media, including National Geographic. My goal is to share my love for nature and what I have learned from it, with the hope to instill a deeper appreciation for wildlife and involve others in the protection of our planet.


I wrote...

Stranded: Finding Nature in Uncertain Times

By Maddalena Bearzi,

Book cover of Stranded: Finding Nature in Uncertain Times

What is my book about?

When pandemic lockdowns stopped the world on a dime, seafaring scientist Maddalena Bearzi went from exploring the mysteries of the marine mammals teeming off the shore of the City of Angels to a life marooned on land. Having fought to save our imperiled seas for over twenty years, Bearzi knows the burnout of constant battle. When the pandemic’s paralysis took her out of action, she returned to the curiosity that drove her into ecology. She charts this journey back to daily wonder at the natural world with warmth, charisma, and an activist undercurrent in Stranded: Finding Nature in Uncertain Times.

As Sylvia Earle, author of Sea Change wrote “Every dog, every dolphin and every human should read this book!” 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us

Maddalena Bearzi Why did I love this book?

I truly believe this book is a must-read for anyone interested in better understanding how other non-human animals see the world with their own senses.

It’s not a quick read for sure, but the author excels in explaining how we can grasp how dogs, cats, flies, elephants, seals, and mice live by just looking outside our own “sensory bubble” and stretching the boundaries of what we believe to be true.

Young is certainly a master at revealing the magnificence and the secrets of other creatures. And he shares some amusing stories too! I loved it.

By Ed Yong,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked An Immense World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Wonderful, mind-broadening... a journey to alternative realities as extraordinary as any you'll find in science fiction' The Times, Book of the Week

'Magnificent' Guardian

Enter a new dimension - the world as it is truly perceived by other animals.

The Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, electric and magnetic fields. But every animal is enclosed within its own unique sensory bubble, perceiving only a tiny sliver of an immense world. This book welcomes us into previously unfathomable dimensions - the world as it is truly perceived by other animals.

We encounter beetles that are…


Book cover of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

Maddalena Bearzi Why did I love this book?

This is another amazing nonfiction book by ecologist and New York Times bestselling author Carl Safina.

With his usual exquisite prose, the author delves deep into the lives and feelings of other beings, from elephants to dolphins. And once again, Safina does an outstanding job in uncovering the secrets of the natural world that surrounds us using many of his personal experiences in the wild and his wonderful ability to tell stories to the general public.

By Carl Safina,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Beyond Words as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that for a scientist was forbidden fruit: Who are you?

Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina's landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge the fixed boundary between humans and animals. Travelling to the threatened landscape of Kenya to witness struggling elephant families work out how to survive poaching and drought, then on to Yellowstone…


Book cover of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Maddalena Bearzi Why did I love this book?

Many people still believe that we are the only intelligent species on this planet, but every single day other non-human animals are showing us differently.

Thought-provoking, compelling, scientifically sound, and backed up by evidence, this book is a journey into the fascinating world of animal problem-solving. As Carl Safina, renowned biologist Frans de Waal is a fantastic (and funny) storyteller and one of my favorite authors of popular science books.

By Frans de Waal,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed as a classic, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? explores the oddities and complexities of animal cognition-in crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, chimpanzees, and bonobos-to reveal how smart animals really are, and how we've underestimated their abilities for too long. Did you know that octopuses use coconut shells as tools, that elephants classify humans by gender and language, and that there is a young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame? Fascinating, entertaining, and deeply informed, de Waal's landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you…


Book cover of Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

Maddalena Bearzi Why did I love this book?

When we think about brainpower, we (even scientists!) usually think of ourselves, other terrestrial or marine mammals like elephants, chimps, dolphins, and whales, and perhaps a few birds like magpies and crows.

Not too many believe that cephalopods (which include cuttlefish, octopuses, and squids) can be smart in their own way! In this book, the author crafts a very persuasive case for intelligence outside our own species, including alien-looking species such as octopuses.

I enjoy that Peter Godfrey-Smith draws on both, the latest and most accurate scientific research and his adventures as an avid scuba diver to make his case for consciousness and cleverness in the ocean.

By Peter Godfrey-Smith,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Other Minds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Brilliant' Guardian 'Fascinating and often delightful' The Times

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2017 ROYAL SOCIETY SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE

What if intelligent life on Earth evolved not once, but twice? The octopus is the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien. What can we learn from the encounter?

In Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith, a distinguished philosopher of science and a skilled scuba diver, tells a bold new story of how nature became aware of itself - a story that largely occurs in the ocean, where animals first appeared.

Tracking the mind's fitful development from unruly clumps of seaborne cells to…


Book cover of Animals Matter: A Biologist Explains Why We Should Treat Animals with Compassion and Respect

Maddalena Bearzi Why did I love this book?

I couldn’t conclude this selection without citing this book by Marc Bekoff.

Marc has dedicated most of his life to teaching others animal compassion and respect. In Animals Matter, this Colorado-based author and renowned scientist, explains how non-human animals have many of the same feelings we do. And he teaches us how to respect and love other beings we share the planet with.

The author is informative and at the same time easy to understand for the general public. Icing on the cake, Jane Goodall wrote the foreword of this book. So, read, enjoy, and share!

By Marc Bekoff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nonhuman animals have many of the same feelings we do. They get hurt, they suffer, they are happy, and they take care of each other. Marc Bekoff, a renowned biologist specializing in animal minds and emotions, guides readers from high school age up—including older adults who want a basic introduction to the topic—in looking at scientific research, philosophical ideas, and humane values that argue for the ethical and compassionate treatment of animals. Citing the latest scientific studies and tackling controversies with conviction, he zeroes in on the important questions, inviting reader participation with “thought experiments” and ideas for action. Among…


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Subjugation: Zanchier

By SG Boudreaux,

Book cover of Subjugation: Zanchier

SG Boudreaux

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Harper Brinley is running for her life.

After escaping from a government holding facility where she, along with other scientists, was being forced to build a deadly weapon. She headed for the most remote place she could think of, the wild Xantifal Mountains.

The one place where no one would think to search for her. There, she found a massive hollowed tree in which to survive the harsh mountain winter. If she can survive the four-legged, fire-breathing firebirds and the equally large wildcats of the mountain ridge, then maybe she can find her way back to her children. She was…

Subjugation: Zanchier

By SG Boudreaux,

What is this book about?

Harper Brinley is running for her life. After escaping from a government holding facility, where she along with other scientists were being forced to build a deadly weapon, she headed for the most remote place she could think of, the wild Xantifal Mountains. The one place where no one would think to search for her. There she found a massive hollowed tree in which to survive the harsh mountain winter. If she can survive the four-legged, fire-breathing firebirds, and the equally large wildcats of the mountain ridge, then maybe she can find her way back to her children. She was…


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