My Family and Other Animals

By Gerald Durrell,

Book cover of My Family and Other Animals

Book description

The inspiration behind ITV's hit family drama, The Durrells.

My Family and Other Animals is Gerald Durrell's hilarious account of five years in his childhood spent living with his family on the island of Corfu. With snakes, scorpions, toads, owls and geckos competing for space with one bookworm brother and…

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

Why read it?

8 authors picked My Family and Other Animals as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I was nine and still getting used to life in America after moving from Iraq five years prior, when my family moved us to Saudi Arabia. Scared and lonely, I felt more like an outsider than ever before and reading became my solace. I discovered this hilarious book and instantly fell in love with it; mainly because it depicted the author’s dysfunctional British family during their time living abroad in Corfu. In addition to the humor that naturally comes from “fish out of water” stories, it was the first time I’d read a literary account about a family as colorful…

Speaking of books I read when I was growing up that had a profound effect on my life, Gerald Durrell’s autobiographical tale of his oddball family’s move to Corfu in the 1930s is near the top of my list. At age 10 he viewed the Greek island as an environmental wonderland, and his quick transformation from studious lad to semi-feral naturalist made me think maybe I wasn't so weird after all. It’s funny, poignant, and rife with stories of extreme personalities attempting to coexist. And just like the author, I grew up to be a writer who works with wildlife.

Many enjoyed The Durrells of Corfu TV series, and Gerald was the young man so obsessed with local wildlife he eventually created a private zoo. He put his and his family's years in Corfu into this memoir combining his love of Nature with sharp-edged portraits of family members. He creates a vision of an 'earthly paradise,' and his contrasting evocation of those around him to that paradise immediately felt at home to me. I survived my childhood in part by turning to the natural world, not to classify but simply to become part of its own natural rhythms which I…

I’m a popularist. My passion is communicating and sharing information on a level that engages, entertains, and informs. Gerald Durrell does just that wrapped up with ribbons of humour and compassionate observation. With effortless ease, you are there in his company, his armadillos or relatives. His characters come to life, including his own young self, as alive as the elder teller of the tale. You feel you know them. He has the same compassion and empathy for the natural world and immediate location as he does for the zoo of his family gathered round the table at feeding time. Of…

Some of it may seem fantastical, but Durrell claims it’s all perfectly true. Decide for yourself which bits are exaggerations, but this is the book I’d take if exiled to a distant planet.

In 1935, ten-year-old naturalist, Gerald Durrell, moves with his eccentric family from wet, gray England to the island of Corfu and finds himself in a sun-dazzled paradise of olive trees, animals, and insects. He spends his time collecting a zoo of tortoises, seagulls, toads, praying mantises and geckos, driving his family to distraction. The scorpion, he stores in a matchbox until someone opens it, looking for a…

Gerry Durrell was a gifted and hugely entertaining writer and, as with all good naturalists (which of course he was – he eventually founded his own Zoo on the Island of Jersey), a keen observer (not only of Nature, but of his fellow human beings). This book is a wonderful evocation of his childhood spent on the Island of Corfu in the 1930s. Leaving cold and rainy Bournemouth (south coast of England – near where I was brought up as a lad) his family upped sticks and headed to Corfu. The sheer joy and excitement of Gerry’s Corfu life, the…

From David's list on stretching your imagination.

While writing my own memoir, Durrell’s classic was recommended to me as a great example of how a writer can make every little occurrence meaningful, deploying sharp dialogue and near poetic prose. I confess I picked up this book more as an assignment than for pleasure. But the author’s first paragraph was so hilarious in an understated English way, I was hooked by line four. Durrell writes engagingly of six years of his childhood in Corfu from 1933 to 1939, whereas a boy, Gerald discovers zoology and a unique love of animals. I never thought I’d be glued to a…

As an animal-lover who has spent many blissful years on holiday in Greece, I had wanted to read this much-loved classic for ages. Gerald Durrell writes about his life in Corfu with brilliant humour. Vignettes about his unconventional family and that strange assortment of hangers-on who keep appearing had me in stitches. These, and the accounts of intrepid expeditions to pursue new creatures for his collection, fill the book with colour. I found his portrayals of Corfu and its locals utterly captivating. His romance with the island is enough to inspire anyone to pluck up the courage and move abroad.

From Beth's list on moving abroad to Europe.

Want books like My Family and Other Animals?

Our community of 10,000+ authors has personally recommended 100 books like My Family and Other Animals.

Browse books like My Family and Other Animals

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in childhood, Greece, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about childhood, Greece, and presidential biography.

Childhood Explore 191 books about childhood
Greece Explore 162 books about Greece
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography