22 books directly related to anthropomorphism 📚

All 22 anthropomorphism books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

The Human Nature of Birds: A Scientific Discovery with Startling Implications

By Theodore Xenophon Barber,

Book cover of The Human Nature of Birds: A Scientific Discovery with Startling Implications

Why this book?

Yes, it’s a bit dated, but it was a bold, pioneering book for its day. Barber doesn’t shrink from describing birds as they are: intelligent, flexible, emotional animals with lives and personalities.

Friends of Interpretable Objects

By Miguel Tamen,

Book cover of Friends of Interpretable Objects

Why this book?

Unable to finish a manuscript? This delicious book came about (I’m told) by accident, when its author, struggling with his vast magnum opus, decided to put it down, almost randomly, into a little book of startling essays. The result is an eye-opening study of how “things” need “persons” to speak on their behalf, becoming personable. Includes amazing insights into iconoclasm, ecological litigation, and the legal fight of Abolitionists. And teaches how to write less, cut more, and edit with creative abandon.

The Rich Man's House

By Andrew McGahan,

Book cover of The Rich Man's House

Why this book?

McGahan is one of my all-time favourites for numerous reasons. When I was a baby writer just getting started, I was so excited to have McGahan writing about my home city of Brisbane, showing all its scars and burn marks. He has an incredible knack for writing across genres, something that I think more writers should aspire to. In this case he turns his hand to an elegant take on the supernatural thriller. The supernatural elements here are uniquely and beautifully presented. There are no vampires or magic, just nature in a primal and anthropomorphic capacity. Many books are described as ‘man vs nature,’ but that relationship has never been more savagely explored than in this book. It also has the most bittersweet author’s note I’ve ever read. Gets me every time. 

The Bun Field

By Amanda Vahamaki,

Book cover of The Bun Field

Why this book?

The Bun Field is a dream journey of a genderless child. It has a strange and nightmarish feel to it; the protagonist is being so vulnerable and kind of hurt, but it is not without a constant dark sense of humor. Dark as the country Finland in wintertime. It has a delicious pencil-smudged style as the school of Feuchtenberger has influenced many northern artists, myself included. 

The Magic Pudding: The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum

By Norman Lindsay,

Book cover of The Magic Pudding: The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum

Why this book?

When I was a little girl, I remember being given this book, and I loved it. I read it from cover to cover, again and again, which fired my fascination for Australia. Seriously, who wouldn’t be enthralled by a bad-tempered pudding with impossibly skinny arms and legs, called Albert?

Perhaps The Magic Pudding had a large part in my choice to leave Europe and put down roots in the fabulous country of Australia. The book was first published in 1918 but that just proves how well it has stood the test of time.

The Only Good Indians

By Stephen Graham Jones,

Book cover of The Only Good Indians

Why this book?

I haven’t seen evidence that the Elk-headed woman is actual folklore of the Blackfeet, though elk-based legends and anthropomorphic animals are certainly common across Native American stories. This horror novel is another example of a genre book weaving relationships with a literary flair but also a spare, gut-punch writing style as it explores themes of regret and revenge. By the end of chapter one, I knew it would end up on my favorite books list.

Lassie Come-Home

By Eric Knight, Marguerite Kirmse (illustrator),

Book cover of Lassie Come-Home

Why this book?

No list of dog books would be complete without this classic. We’re all familiar with the story, but it’s been presented so many times in a bowdlerised, Disneyfied fashion. The original book is a must-read for the dog lover. There’s no anthropomorphising, no sophisticated soliloquies, and almost no dialogue—certainly none from the main character, who is above all a dog, and purely a dog. Her stolid, stubborn, indomitable perseverance is the essence of dogness; it’s beautifully done, and the terrible limitations of a non-human protagonist are squarely met and wonderfully dealt with. It’s a classic for a reason. 

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

By Beatrix Potter,

Book cover of The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Why this book?

This was one of the first stories I remembered my parents reading to me when I was little. I liked Peter Rabbit immediately, despite his bad habit of disobeying his mother, and I loved the sweet and colorful illustrations that go along with the story. When poor Peter Rabbit became trapped in Mr. MacGregor's garden, I found myself riveted, unable to put the story down. Poor Peter, stuck in MacGregor's garden, not knowing how to get out! Children will love cheering for Peter as he is mercilessly pursued by the malicious MacGregor, trapped under a flower pot, frightened by a cat, and robbed of his coat and shoes, all while trying to find a way to escape the terrifying labyrinth of Mr. MacGregor’s garden! 

Little Fox in the Forest

By Stephanie Graegin,

Book cover of Little Fox in the Forest

Why this book?

Stephanie Graegin’s art is warm and welcoming. I was already familiar with the adorable anthropomorphic characters in her other books when I discovered Little Fox in the Forest. She seems to have created an entire world all her own that translates so well from book to book. You can always expect caring, kindness, and friendship in Stephanie’s world. 

The wordless story introduces two friends, a girl and a boy. When a cute little, sweatered fox snatches the girl’s favorite stuffed animal from the playground, her friend helps her try to find it. They run into the woods together and happen upon the most amazing alternate universe.

The girl and boy locate the stuffed animal only to discover that the little fox who found it seems to need it so much more. Through a happy ending, we learn that sharing can feel rewarding too.

Our Tree Named Steve

By Alan Zweibel, David Catrow (illustrator),

Book cover of Our Tree Named Steve

Why this book?

I did not buy this book because I thought it was a grief book. I got it to do a tree unit for my kids’ preschool. But a year after my father-in-law (also named Steve) died unexpectedly, I couldn’t finish reading this book aloud without crying.

While not a traditional grief book, this is the story of a tree that has become inextricably intertwined with a family’s daily life, until one day a storm blows it over and the children come home to Steve in a new form, as a treehouse. A great way to discuss how we can find our lost loved ones in new ways.

Killing Sophia: Consciousness, Empathy, and Reason in the Age of Intelligent Robot

By Thomas Telving,

Book cover of Killing Sophia: Consciousness, Empathy, and Reason in the Age of Intelligent Robot

Why this book?

Telving’s book is ahead of its time in exploring the deep questions of what our humanity is, with perspectives on our future life with AI and intelligent robots. I was particularly intrigued by the ways that the author explores how we evaluate our own consciousness, how we tend to anthropomorphize animals and objects, and the tricky ethical questions around how to legislate a life with robots. Telving deals with one subject that had been far off my radar in the form of the difference between the hard and easy problem of consciousness. It’s a very philosophical question, but in today’s world, where our values, beliefs, and interactions are in mutation, this understanding of consciousness is ever more pertinent.

Diary of a Wombat

By Jackie French, Bruce Whatley (illustrator),

Book cover of Diary of a Wombat

Why this book?

There are loads of great picture books that feature Australian animals but one of my favorites is Diary of a Wombat. It’s a very simple story told from the perspective of a wombat and it highlights their adorable, but also irascible and fairly destructive personalities. It’s incredibly difficult to pull off an ‘animal voice’ without it sounding like a person or a bit patronising, but Jackie French really nails it in this book, probably because of her extensive experience with looking after wombats. And the illustrations by Bruce Whatley are full of fun and joy. It makes me laugh every time I read it.

If wombats read books, I think this is the one they would love best, and what book about animals needs a better endorsement than that? 

How Animals Grieve

By Barbara J. King,

Book cover of How Animals Grieve

Why this book?

This book describes observational evidence in non-human animals showing grief-related behavior after one of their own dies. There are captivating anecdotal stories. One: after Honey Girl, a sea turtle is killed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, her mate climbs out of the water, up onto the beach to a huge photo memorial to Honey Girl. King describes how he parked himself in front of the photo, staring at it for hours. King asks, was this grief in a reptile? She describes how the behaviors of animals who lose a mate or companion are noticeably distressed. These behaviors and what looks like a complex range of emotions in non-human animals suggest that they also experience grief. Charles Darwin acknowledged that grief is among the emotions that have a universal expression and cuts across species.

King’s book helped with my research for chapter one, “The Evolutionary Origins of Grief.”

The Pervert

By Michelle Perez,

Book cover of The Pervert

Why this book?

A truly singular book that details a semi-fictionalized account of a transgender sex worker surviving in Seattle. Depicted as a cute anthropomorphic dog-like creature, the story follows her as she meets with various clients and navigates her own identity struggles and in-progress transition (not to mention her own safety in her dangerous line of work). A deeply emotional and raw story that still manages to retain its own dark sense of humor throughout.

(Deals with themes of drugs, sex, and violence. 18+ only.)

King Solomon's Ring: New Light on Animal Ways

By Konrad Lorenz,

Book cover of King Solomon's Ring: New Light on Animal Ways

Why this book?

This is a classic account of animal behavior by the man who founded the modern field of ethology. His careful and detailed accounts of his time living with graylag geese, crow-like jackdaws, and even cichlid fish are not only scientifically fascinating but filled with wonder and love for each animal as an individual—a creature who loves his or her life as much as we love ours.

Lena's Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-Of-School Dilemma

By Keith Calabrese, Juana Medina (illustrator),

Book cover of Lena's Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-Of-School Dilemma

Why this book?

Lena isn’t worried about the first day of kindergarten - but her shoes are. In this clever story we see various parts of Lena’s wardrobe taking on various personalities, possibly mirroring parts of Lena’s own personality. Her outgoing blue dress is ready for a new adventure, her friendly headband wants everyone to work together, of course, her fearful footwear wants to stay home. But when Lena threatens to wear her slippers to school, will her shoes muster the courage to march forward? A creative and witty book about facing your fears.

The Mushroom Fan Club

By Elise Gravel,

Book cover of The Mushroom Fan Club

Why this book?

The Mushroom Fan Club is a quirky nonfiction book about hunting for mushrooms that will make you laugh! The mushrooms “look like aliens from outer space” and the illustrations prove it.  Facts, diagrams, and fun incidents the author has experienced with her children encourage the reader to try mushroom hunting. But even if you don’t want to hunt, mushroom by mushroom, Gravel will convince everyone that mushrooms are indeed very cool.

The Silver Brumby

By Elyne Mitchell,

Book cover of The Silver Brumby

Why this book?

A kid’s novel about wild horses (known as brumbies in Australia) might seem a strange choice for recommendations about Australian animals, but Elyne Mitchell’s The Silver Brumby was the first book I read that really captured the Australian landscape and its plants and animals. It was also one of the few books that told a story from the perspective of a wild animal without anthropomorphizing.

It’s a wonderfully evocative homage to the Australian alps and the creatures that live there and it reflects a lot of the dilemmas facing Australian conservation today. Wild horses, or brumbies, do a huge amount of environmental damage in Australia and yet a lot of people love them. In some ways, this book is symbolic of the difficult decisions we have to make to rectify some of the damage we have done, and continue to do, to our wildlife.

Bowling Alley Bandit: The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut

By Laurie Keller,

Book cover of Bowling Alley Bandit: The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut

Why this book?

This book is hilarious! Arnie the Doughnut is at the bowling alley cheering on his friend, Mr. Bing, in a bowling tournament when Mr. Bing starts throwing gutter balls and his team is about to lose. Arnie figures out that Mr. Bing’s bowling ball is being disguised as his new bowling ball and saves the team’s score. There are tons of funny side comments and the story is told with lots of energy. Kids will love this early chapter book.

Watership Down

By Richard Adams,

Book cover of Watership Down

Why this book?

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 have to admit that the end of the book—this unassuming book about animals and their struggles—had me tearing up, and that’s a rare thing for me.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

By Robert C. O'Brien, Zena Bernstein (illustrator),

Book cover of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Why this book?

Like many members of my generation, I came across this story through its film adaptation. It wasn’t until I began writing a middle grade novel that I finally gave the book a try. The simplicity of the story pulls you in: humble field mouse Mrs. Frisby needs help, and her only hope lies in a nearby rat colony. As she descends into their eerily civilized community, we learn that this is not another cute novel for children about anthropomorphic animals. The rats are the product of an experiment designed to enhance their intelligence. Their newfound ingenuity has gifted them with culture and science, but also with greed and politics. To save her family, Mrs. Frisby must learn to navigate this treacherous world, even if it means becoming more like the rats. 

My Dirty Dumb Eyes

By Lisa Hanawalt,

Book cover of My Dirty Dumb Eyes

Why this book?

I wanted to recommend a couple of funny graphic novels to help stave off dread, and this book by Lisa Hanawalt is simply the funniest graphic novel I have ever read. The author is perhaps best known as one of the co-creators of Bojack Horseman (with her signature animal characters) as well as Tuca & Bertie. It’s a collection of musings and essays, told through Lisa’s incredible artwork. She has such an unexpected left-field sense of humour that is sharp but somehow always warm, underpinned by her beautiful illustrations. This book is like riding on a strange multicoloured rollercoaster though a candy dreamland, but you’re very securely fastened into your seat and feel very snugly held throughout.