Watership Down

By Richard Adams,

Book cover of Watership Down

Book description

One of the best-loved children's classics of all time, this is the complete, original story of Watership Down.

Something terrible is about to happen to the warren - Fiver feels sure of it. And Fiver's sixth sense is never wrong, according to his brother Hazel. They had to leave immediately,…

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Why read it?

13 authors picked Watership Down as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I’m an animal lover, and a book about really smart, interesting, brave, adventurous…rabbits!...had me hooked from the start.

What’s also really great is how the authors were able to impart a good deal of real-world knowledge about the habits of rabbits and habitats that rabbits favor while at the same time unspooling a really fine adventure story. 

Imagine the Iliad, only with bunny rabbits.

Watership Down is one of those novels that really shouldn’t work at all. It has what on first glance would look like a trivial or even a ridiculous premise – it’s about rabbits; some of them with psychic powers, for Pete’s sake – but it is done with such conviction, written so beautifully, and imagined so fully that it’s nothing short of majestic. There is real violence and peril in it, and there is sublime pathos too.

It tells about loyalty, leadership, ingenuity, courage, and trauma, and it persuades you to take…

At first glance, it appears to be a book about rabbits but it’s much more about humanity.

Watership Down was my childhood favorite story. Its themes of home, overcoming incredible obstacles, and finding a few good friends along the way are lessons I still carry with me. When I first read it as a young boy, I was lost in the gaps of the foster care system.

This book gave me a vision – and a plan – for how to overcome it. Those lessons apply to all of us and are desperately needed in a world that too often…

Though I am an animal lover, and when I first heard about this book, I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. I had expected something light and fluffy. OMG! The animal characters and the darkness of the tale (Tail?) drew me in like a cold winter's breath. When I wrote my first book my memory of Watership Down, helped me ease my characters down some pretty dark alleys.

Another of my selections is a literacy classic for children, Watership Down, a book that had me entranced when I was young. We follow an adventure where a group of rabbits is searching for a new home after Fiver realizes there is a great danger to their home warren. The book encompasses an idyllic rural landscape and a story that is emotionally moving as this brave band of rabbits face many challenges in their search for a new life and new beginnings.  

I had a pet rabbit that died when I was a kid. Ever since then, I’ve had an affinity for small hopping mammals. So, when an animated film about rabbits popped on my TV screen, I was hooked. But the book the movie is based on, Watership Down, is so much deeper than your average children’s yarn. It’s one of those books that forces you to ask, “how did something like this get published?” While seemingly meant for children, Richard Adams tackles heavy-handed material like war, death, and love—and he does it all through the eyes of rabbits. I…

From Nick's list on fantasy to defy the genre.

As I look at this book where it sits on the kitchen table across from me, I can feel my nose and eyes prickling with tears. It is so sad. But I am convinced that reading sad books, especially when they are so brilliantly written, can be helpful for processing those feelings. I love the character of Fiver who has a special sense of what’s coming. My mum had a dog called Sheba who always knew when mum was on her way home and would suddenly jump out of her bed and wait by the front door. Five minutes later,…

From Virginia's list on told from the point of view of animals.

Maybe I am prejudiced by the fact Richard Adams was nice enough to call my first novel one of the best anthropomorphic stories known to him, even if I don’t like the word much. But Watership Down, that epic tale of rabbits and the psychic, vulnerable Fiver, was most certainly an inspiration. Again, another great bridge into adult reading, with each chapter framed by quotes from world drama, stretching back to the Greeks. It is of course Adams’ skill at getting inside animals, giving them unique characters, reflecting our own, while staying true to animal habits, but also his…

This is a story about a group of homeless rabbits forming a new family.

Wait a second.



Driven from their old warren, the small group of rabbits is out in the wide world looking for a place to make a new home for themselves. Although only two of them are related by blood, the whole group of them are going to have to cover for each other, support each other’s weaknesses, and rely on one another’s strengths if they want to survive. If that doesn’t sound like family, I don’t know what does.

Bonus: You get to learn…

I never thought a tale about rabbits on the run could reach the heights of epic adventure, but Watership Down is just that. This one-off novel of Lord of the Rings scale builds an entire world and theology around the plight of Hazel and his small band of rabbits as they struggle to survive in a vast and forbidding universe. Hazel’s arc from unassuming furball to great leader is awe-inspiring. Still no worthy screen adaptation to date, though several have tried. 

From Thomas' list on fantasy adventures for the ages.

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