The best Anthrozoology books

21 authors have picked their favorite books about Anthrozoology and why they recommend each book.

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When Species Meet

By Donna J. Haraway,

Book cover of When Species Meet

Haraway’s When Species Meet offers a fascinating sociological exploration of human-animal relationships. Haraway’s notion of “companion species” challenges conventional ways of thinking about humans and other animals as two sides of a binary split, with humans/men and rationality on one side, nature (and women), other animals, instincts, and things of the body on the other side. Haraway refuses this dualism and argues that we are all inextricably connected. We are nature, and it is us. And as all things in life (and death) grow and change, forever becoming something else, we grow and change in relationship with all that is around us; we become in the midst of relationships, including relationships with nonhuman animals.


Who am I?

Jean Halley is a professor of sociology at the Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island of the City University of New York (CUNY). She earned her doctorate in sociology at the Graduate Center of CUNY, and her master’s degree in theology at Harvard University. Halley's book with the University of Georgia Press about girls who love horses, Horse Crazy: Girls and the Lives of Horses, came out in 2019. She and her horse grew up in the Rocky Mountains. Today she lives in New York City.


I wrote...

Horse Crazy: Girls and the Lives of Horses

By Jean O'Malley Halley,

Book cover of Horse Crazy: Girls and the Lives of Horses

What is my book about?

Girls love horses, but why? What does this love say about what it means to be a girl? And what does it say about the meaning of horse lives?

I explore these meanings, and this love, of girls with horses in the United States. I am interested in the girls’ experience of the horse-girl relationship. I am also interested in what the lives of horses are like, and what their lives reveal about the significance of horses in human lives. The love of horses and the girl-horse relationship in some ways reproduce traditional gender norms. In other important ways, I claim that girls’ experience of riding horses and their love of horses offers a challenge to sexist ways of thinking about being female, and to mainstream ideas of girlhood. This book combines traditional scholarly research with personal narratives about horses and girls, including stories from my own life growing up, completely horse crazy, in the rural Rocky Mountains with my horse.

Made for Each Other

By Meg Daley Olmert,

Book cover of Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond

In this fascinating book, Meg Daley Olmert explores the biological element of human relationships with other animals, and in particular the role of the hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin helps humans and other animals feel calmer, allowing us to be more curious and friendly. Oxytocin lowers one’s heart rate and reduces stress hormones. Humans who live with or regularly spend time with nonhuman animals live longer and stay healthier. Further, contact with animals can elicit oxytocin in both of those involved, human and nonhuman.


Who am I?

Jean Halley is a professor of sociology at the Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island of the City University of New York (CUNY). She earned her doctorate in sociology at the Graduate Center of CUNY, and her master’s degree in theology at Harvard University. Halley's book with the University of Georgia Press about girls who love horses, Horse Crazy: Girls and the Lives of Horses, came out in 2019. She and her horse grew up in the Rocky Mountains. Today she lives in New York City.


I wrote...

Horse Crazy: Girls and the Lives of Horses

By Jean O'Malley Halley,

Book cover of Horse Crazy: Girls and the Lives of Horses

What is my book about?

Girls love horses, but why? What does this love say about what it means to be a girl? And what does it say about the meaning of horse lives?

I explore these meanings, and this love, of girls with horses in the United States. I am interested in the girls’ experience of the horse-girl relationship. I am also interested in what the lives of horses are like, and what their lives reveal about the significance of horses in human lives. The love of horses and the girl-horse relationship in some ways reproduce traditional gender norms. In other important ways, I claim that girls’ experience of riding horses and their love of horses offers a challenge to sexist ways of thinking about being female, and to mainstream ideas of girlhood. This book combines traditional scholarly research with personal narratives about horses and girls, including stories from my own life growing up, completely horse crazy, in the rural Rocky Mountains with my horse.

Until Tuesday

By Luis Carlos Montalván, Bret Witter,

Book cover of Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him

I debated whether to include this book because the author, Iraq war veteran Luis Carlos Montalván, apparently took his own life a few years after it was written, just before the sequel was published. Does that mean Tuesday didn’t “save” Montalván as the title says? I finished this book wishing that every returning service member could be given a service animal to help navigate their lives after experiencing psychological and often physical trauma. I didn’t warm up to the story right away, because it begins with a description of Tuesday’s training before the author knew him. Tuesday comes alive as a character when Montalván describes their strengthening relationship. Regardless of how the story ended, the healing power of their bond is miraculous and Tuesday did enrich Montalván’s life for the years they were together.

Who am I?

I made so many mistakes with my first German shepherd, Isis, that I wrote a book about her in hopes of saving other people from the same heartbreak and frustration. Then I wound up living with two more German shepherds with similar challenges. Our current dog, Bailey, was undersocialized before we met her, but our past experience showed us how to help her live her best life anyway. My dogs have enriched my life so much that my favorite books are about the ways they save us as much as we save them. 


I wrote...

Bark and Lunge: Saving My Dog from Training Mistakes

By Kari Neumeyer,

Book cover of Bark and Lunge: Saving My Dog from Training Mistakes

What is my book about?

How do you make sure the dog you love never bites anyone (again)? Kari and Rob are as devoted to their German shepherd puppy, Isis, as two dog parents can be. Kari’s the disciplinarian, struggling to follow every instruction to the letter. Rob’s the laid-back dad, more of a littermate, happy as long as he can practice jiu-jitsu with the dog.

As she grows, Isis’s behavior escalates from frustrating to dangerous when she bites someone. Kari and Rob learn that some of the old-fashioned advice they followed may have contributed to Isis’s aggression. Eventually, they’re shown a better way to calm an anxious and fearful dog.

Wild Souls

By Emma Marris,

Book cover of Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World

This is a very important work in which the author marries philosophy and cutting-edge conservation science. Using a series of charismatic animals as her vehicles, she unravels the fuzzy thinking around the concepts of 'wild' and 'nature', leaving the reader's concepts of these, if not forever changed, then at least forever deepened.


Who am I?

Menno Schilthuizen is a Dutch evolutionary biologist and ecologist with more than thirty years of research experience under his belt, feeling at home in tropical rainforests as well as in urban greenspaces. He writes in a humorous and accessible manner for the general public about the ways in which the world's ecosystems are shifting and evolving under an increasing human presence. He works and teaches at Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Netherlands.


I wrote...

Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution

By Menno Schilthuizen,

Book cover of Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution

What is my book about?

We are marching towards a future in which three-quarters of humans live in cities, and a large portion of the planet's landmass is urbanized. With much of the rest covered by human-shaped farms, pasture, and plantations, where can nature still go? To the cities -- is Menno Schilthuizen's answer in this remarkable book. And with more and more wildlife carving out new niches among humans, evolution takes a surprising turn. Urban animals evolve to become more cheeky and resourceful, city pigeons develop detox-plumage, and weeds growing from cracks in the pavement get a new type of seeds. City blackbirds are even on their way of becoming an entirely new species, which we could name Turdus urbanicus.

Menno Schilthuizen shows us that evolution in cities can happen far more rapidly, and strangely, than Darwin had dared dream.

The Old Man and the Penguin

By Julie Abery, Pierre Pratt (illustrator),

Book cover of The Old Man and the Penguin: A True Story of True Friendship

The Old Man and the Penguin is based on a TRUE story of how a Brazilian man, João Pereira de Souza, rescued and cared for a Magellanic penguin caught in an oil spill. It’s 1-part rhymed picture book + 1-part fascinating nonfiction + 2-parts sweet story of friendship that shows the importance of environmental awareness and stewardship. I can see kids reading it over and over, like I have. I bet it would start wonderful discussions about how human activities often threaten Earth’s wildlife—and how we might change that. 


Who am I?

I am a teacher, author, & parent, determined to help keep our earth healthy for future generations. A few Earth Days ago, my students asked why we only set aside one day a year to practice eco-healthy habits. Good question! As a teacher, I know how crucial it is for authors to get our facts right. Before writing Dear Earth… I read stacks of books and articles on our environment. I am indebted to science expert & author Melissa Stewart, and my friend Patricia Newman (Plastic Ahoy!; Planet Ocean / Lerner), as well. I sincerely hope Dear Earth… and the books on my list inspire Earth Heroes everywhere--every day.


I wrote...

Dear Earth...from Your Friends in Room 5

By Erin Dealey, Luisa Uribe (illustrator),

Book cover of Dear Earth...from Your Friends in Room 5

What is my book about?

Dear Earth…From Your Friends in Room 5 begins when the students in Room 5 write a letter to Earth, asking how they can help our planet, and --spoiler alert—Earth writes back. Their monthly exchange of ideas grows into a lasting friendship, a school club with a surprising president, and, hopefully, lifelong Earth-smart habits.

P.S.  Check out the book jacket that reverses to become a cool poster with twelve months of Earth Hero activities!

Pax

By Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen (illustrator),

Book cover of Pax

Another fox book! Such a wonderful story of love between a boy and a wild creature. Pax’s relationship with the rest of the foxes is so brilliantly told – he longs to belong with them, but he’s still so closely woven with Peter, his boy. The strange, jarring background of war adds so much tension to this story too – no one can be safe. Utterly gripping.


Who am I?

My first animal story, Lost in the Snow, was based on stories that my mum and I invented together when I was very small, about our stray cat Rosie. She walked into my dad’s office and sat down in his chair when he was out at lunch! I loved imagining her adventures as a stray kitten, and those stories could be scary, sad, emotional as anything – because we knew she came home to live safe and happy with us. I’ve been creating stories about animals ever since. 


I wrote...

The Story Puppy

By Holly Webb, Sophy Williams (illustrator),

Book cover of The Story Puppy

What is my book about?

Jack is having a hard time at school, as he’s struggling with his reading. No one seems to understand how he feels – until he visits the animal shelter where his sister Mattie works and meets Daisy, a tiny white puppy who’s been abandoned by the roadside. Daisy is terrified of people, but she’s desperate to be loved too. When Jack practices his reading sitting by her pen, a bond begins to grow between them.

Free Days with George

By Colin Campbell,

Book cover of Free Days with George: Learning Life's Little Lessons from One Very Big Dog

This has to be the coolest story of reinvention – man gets unexpectedly dumped by his wife, moves to a California beach town, rescues a 140-lb neglected Newfoundland, and teaches him how to surf with him on his longboard. Man and dog are both traumatized, and the scenes of their slow dance around one another in a tiny apartment are so sweet and awkward, like the slapstick 80’s sitcoms I grew up watching. I love stories like this that make me believe in fate, that Colin and his dog George were destined to give each other a second chance. When they start winning dog surf competitions, I was cheering out loud. It’s quirky, brilliant, and badass all wrapped in one. 


Who am I?

I’ve spent the last 21 years in the company of a golden retriever, all through my career as a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer – and ever since I left the paper in 2015 to write memoirs. I wrote a memoir for an Iranian child soldier, a memoir about my childhood beekeeping with my grandfather in Big Sur, and it was only a matter of time before I turned to my dog for inspiration. After two perfectly happy golden retrievers, Edie’s extreme anxiety baffled me: I hired trainers, behaviorists, specialist veterinarians, read everything I could on the canine brain, tried CBD oil, and even a pet psychic to understand her emotions.  


I wrote...

Loving Edie: How a Dog Afraid of Everything Taught Me to Be Brave

By Meredith May,

Book cover of Loving Edie: How a Dog Afraid of Everything Taught Me to Be Brave

What is my book about?

Loving Edie is the story of how my wife and I came to love our golden retriever puppy because of, not in spite of, her anxiety disorder. Edie can’t handle sidewalks, or traffic, or crowds, or umbrellas, or thunder. She’s a country dog who needs solitude - and daily Prozac - to cope. Although she was the not the dog we wanted, she turned out to be the dog we needed, teaching us to slow down our lives along with hers.

Animal Intimacies

By Radhika Govindrajan,

Book cover of Animal Intimacies: Interspecies Relatedness in India's Central Himalayas

I have two pets cats, and my relationship with them is pretty straightforward—I care for them to the point of being obsessive about meeting their every need. Unlike me, the communities described in this book have a range of relationships with the non-human species they share space with. Care of course, and kinship, but also relationships of conflict and violence. Complex themes such as animal ethics, Hindu nationalism, the politics of exclusion, conservation, and even inter-species love are written about against the backdrop of the everyday lives of the villagers. The binary of domestic cow and the wild bear and the pigs that fall in between are all a part of this narrative of the tangled relationship between humans and animals. For those of us who balk at reading anthropological works, this book is a pleasure and easy read for the relatable style of writing.

Who am I?

I have had an affinity for nature since my childhood, but I did not train as an ecologist. An increasing concern about the environment, and the people more adversely affected by ecological degradation, made me switch careers early. I have worked on issues around conservation, land and forest rights of indigenous communities, and on the importance of nature in cities. Today I am an educator with a responsibility to communicate not only about environmental issues, but why it is a priority for communities in India. I am proud to be a part of the community of women writers on the environment in India whose voices and experiences need to be heard.


I wrote...

Cities and Canopies: Trees in Indian Cities

By Seema Mundoli, Harini Nagendra,

Book cover of Cities and Canopies: Trees in Indian Cities

What is my book about?

What lies at the intersection of history, culture, and ecology in urban India—trees.

Native and imported, sacred and ordinary, culinary and floral, favorites of different kings and commoners over centuries, trees are the most visible signs of nature in cities. They fundamentally shape a city’s identity. Trees are storehouses of the complex origins and histories of city growth, coming as they do from different parts of the world, brought in by various local and colonial rulers. Trees in India have served, above all, as memory keepers. They are our roots: their trunks our pillars, their bark our texture, and their branches our shade. Drawing on extensive research, Cities and Canopies is a book about both the specific and the general aspects of these gentle life-giving creatures.

Homer's Odyssey

By Gwen Cooper,

Book cover of Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

The animal is a spunky blind cat. The human is his adoptive mother who can’t resist adding the three-week-old kitten to her household of two other cats while trying to heal from a recent breakup. A memoir with a cool twist. You never know when you adopt a pet, how its personality will unfold; it was fun to read how memoirist Cooper struck paydirt with Homer.


Who am I?

I’m a former independent publisher and current writer of memoir and fiction. My degree was in zoology (animal biology), which got me my first job in educational publishing. After a solid career in textbooks, I switched over to trade publishing and finally writing. I may have left the "hard science" behind, but I continue to be fascinated by human and animal behavior, which shows up in my reading and writing. 


I wrote...

The Year Mrs. Cooper Got Out More: A Great Wharf Novel

By Meredith Marple,

Book cover of The Year Mrs. Cooper Got Out More: A Great Wharf Novel

What is my book about?

My debut novel, set in a small town in Midcoast Maine, details a year in the life of an accomplished, now-retired empty nester at a turning point. Other players in the story, nearly all kind-hearted, have their own needs and motivations. A moose and a cat play cameo roles while psychology, friendship, lust, healing potions, and love all boost and complicate the humans' lives. Personalities and goals rule the plot in this award-winning, non-formulaic mystery.

City of Beasts

By Thomas Almeroth-Williams,

Book cover of City of Beasts: How Animals Shaped Georgian London

One of the cliches of historical fiction is that it can bring the past to life in a way that factual historical books can’t. If you read the superb City of Beasts you’ll think again! The book studies the many ways in which animals contributed to and shaped eighteenth-century London. History has largely overlooked their presence – but Almeroth-Williams puts them back in all their noisy, smelly, messy, toiling existence. Here, too, are the men and women who worked with them - the drovers, milkmaids, grooms, and pig keepers whose lives don’t often find a place in the history books. If you want sights, sounds, and smells, here they are in plenty. Few books I’ve read, fact or fiction, have given me such a vivid impression of the every day, working life of Georgian London.


Who am I?

I write historical fiction, non-fiction, and biography. My historical fiction is set in the eighteenth century, which is often pictured as a time when people swanned about in fancy clothes, lived on country estates, travelled in gleaming carriages, and dined and danced their nights away in glittering assembly rooms. But most people didn’t live like that at all, although they are the ones who made the clothes, worked on the estates, drove the carriages, cooked the food, and cleaned the rooms. The books on my list focus on history from their point of view. In my own work – fiction and non-fiction – I’m also interested in telling the stories of so-called “ordinary” people.


I wrote...

The Fatal Coin: A Dan Foster novella

By Lucienne Boyce,

Book cover of The Fatal Coin: A Dan Foster novella

What is my book about?

In the winter of 1794 Bow Street Runner Dan Foster is assigned to guard a Royal Mail coach. The mission ends in tragedy when a young constable is shot dead by a highwayman calling himself Colonel Pepper. Dan is determined to bring Pepper to justice, but the trail runs cold. Four months later Dan is sent to Staffordshire to recover a recently excavated hoard of Roman gold which has gone missing. Here he unexpectedly encounters Colonel Pepper again. The hunt is back on, and this time Dan will risk his life to bring down Pepper and his gang. 


The Fatal Coin is a prequel novella to Bloodie Bones, the first full-length Dan Foster Mystery, which was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016.

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