The most recommended books on cougars

Who picked these books? Meet our 13 experts.

13 authors created a book list connected to cougars, and here are their favorite cougar books.
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What type of cougar book?


Book cover of The Puma Years: A Memoir

Ellen Dee Davidson Author Of Wild Path to the Sacred Heart

From my list on women’s true stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a woman, I am passionate about valuing the voices of women equally with those of men. When we listen to each other, we will be able to come into a better balance that will help us restore ourselves and our Earth. We need the visions of women to help guide us through these challenging times! I’m also passionate about the wild beauty of nature, especially trees, and spend lots of time hiking and meditating in the ancient redwood forests near my home. This has helped me heal and expanded my perception. In a way, being in the forest has brought me home to myself. 

Ellen's book list on women’s true stories

Ellen Dee Davidson Why did Ellen love this book?

After running into 5 mountain lions while hiking alone in the ancient redwood forests near my home, I was really blown away reading The Puma Years about Laura Coleman's relationships with the big cats. I cannot imagine getting as close to one of them as she does in her memoir about spending time in the middle of the jungle in Bolivia taking care of wild pumas. Set against a background of logging destruction of habitat and illegal wild animal poaching, the author valiantly tries to rehabilitate damaged pumas. The relationships she and her volunteer colleagues have with the big cats are astonishing. They take them out for walks! The author is so candid about how broken she feels in our environmentally and often socially broken world, and yet in the end still manages to leave me with hope and belief in the human spirit.

By Laura Coleman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Puma Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this rapturous memoir, writer and activist Laura Coleman shares the story of her liberating journey in the Amazon jungle, where she fell in love with a magnificent cat who changed her life.

Laura was in her early twenties and directionless when she quit her job to backpack in Bolivia. Fate landed her at a wildlife sanctuary on the edge of the Amazon jungle where she was assigned to a beautiful and complex puma named Wayra. Wide-eyed, inexperienced, and comically terrified, Laura made the scrappy, make-do camp her home. And in Wayra, she made a friend for life.

They weren't…

Book cover of Endangered

Margaret Mizushima Author Of Standing Dead

From my list on mysteries transporting you into the great outdoors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by the mountain wilderness and national parks of my home state, Colorado. In my younger days, I hiked to the mountain lakes of the Sangre de Cristo range near my hometown and then later the high-country trails of northern Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. When I began writing the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, I combined my experience as a veterinarian’s wife with my love of the great outdoors and dogs to create Killing Trail, book one of eight in my series that features Deputy Mattie Cobb, her K-9 partner Robo, and veterinarian Cole Walker. Together they solve mysteries in the fictional mountain community of Timber Creek, Colorado.

Margaret's book list on mysteries transporting you into the great outdoors

Margaret Mizushima Why did Margaret love this book?

I love mysteries that are set in the great outdoors, and Pamela Beason’s books definitely fill that bill.

Endangered was the first book of hers that I’ve read and I immediately fell in love with Summer “Sam” Westin, the protagonist of the Sam Westin Mystery series. Sam’s eclectic background combining experience with animals and wilderness environments has landed her an assignment to report on cougars at a Utah park.

When a young child goes missing, the cougars she’s been observing are blamed and Sam embarks on a quest to save both the child and the big cats she’s come to admire. This book taught me about cougars and their habitat and provided a tense whodunit to enjoy.

By Pamela Beason,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Summer "Sam" Westin's assignment to report on cougars in a Utah park goes horribly awry when a child vanishes from a campground and the TV news focuses on the local mountain lions as the likely culprits.

As days tick by with no sign of the missing boy and media coverage continues to inflame the public, pressure grows for the park administration to kill the cougars. But Sam was one of the last people to see the child, and she has good reason to suspect a man she spotted in the shadows as little Zachary Fischer ran away from her.


Book cover of Track of the Cat

Tina O’Hailey Author Of Dark Drink

From my list on unconventional, stubborn, loyal characters with explorer’s hearts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I chose my favorite books, and through careful psyche analysis, I see a theme in them: stubborn characters who persevere through miserable elements. I cave, hike, kayak, motorcycle, etc. A lot of it is not comfortable. It starts with having an explorer’s heart. It isn’t glamorous. It is 90% talking yourself into the fact that you can do something you at first don’t believe you can do. The similar-minded friends that one finds along the way are lifelong, and there’s a bond that forms from crazy people like this. That comes through in my writing – companionship against a backdrop of stubborn exploration in an indifferent environment.

Tina's book list on unconventional, stubborn, loyal characters with explorer’s hearts

Tina O’Hailey Why did Tina love this book?

It’s the love and respect of nature that gets me. First, the main character is a park ranger who is often out in the field alone. I wish I had known that was a career option as a kid. Second, she is courageous, headstrong, and dangerously stubborn—all my favorite traits.

I love a thriller that keeps the pace moving and ends each chapter with a sharp stab to the soul.

By Nevada Barr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Track of the Cat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The fascinating hero of Nevada Barr's award-winning series-park ranger Anna Pigeon-has brought an unyielding love of nature and sense of fair play to the mystery genre. Track of the Cat is the acclaimed novel that first introduced readers to Anna, as a woman looking for peace in the wilderness-and finding murder instead...

Patrolling the remote West Texas backcountry, Anna's first job as a national park ranger is marred by violence she thought she had left behind: the brutal death of a fellow ranger. When the cause of death is chalked up…

Book cover of Off Leash

Kim McDougall Author Of Dragons Don't Eat Meat

From my list on urban fantasy with marvelous monsters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Have you ever pretended to be a superhero? What was your special ability? Mine was always the ability to talk to animals. What an amazing world that would be if I could chat with the squirrel nesting in my shed or the stray cat trotting through my yard! Animals of all kinds have always been part of my world, from my own pets to animals that came through rescue ranches where I volunteered. So it’s no wonder that I seek them out in fiction. For my own books, my love for cats and dogs was easy to translate into a love for dragons and hellhounds. 

Kim's book list on urban fantasy with marvelous monsters

Kim McDougall Why did Kim love this book?

There just isn’t enough Urban Fantasy written about cats. Off Leash, with its nerdy human guy turned mountain lion, satisfied my craving for kitty lit. This story takes off like a rocket, and what a ride! It’s full of unique magic, talking animal familiars, and snappy one-liners. Daniel Potter really nails the feeling of what it would be like to live as a big cat. If you’re looking for a fast-paced story of the “all slaying, no laying” kind, this is it.

By Daniel Potter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We all have bad days.

Ever have one so bad that it changes your entire life?

A day so bad that talking cats, magical inquisitors, and werewolves now seem normal?

For Thomas Khatt that day was today. From one moment jobless to the next being awakened into a brand new form. Now he has a murder to help solve, a girlfriend to help with family problems and a boss that is just a bit more than your normal hothead.

What would you do in his paws?

Click the button and read this adventure today!

Book cover of Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood's Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife

Erica Silverman Author Of Wake Up, City!

From my list on celebrating cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an award-winning author of picture books and early readers. I have set my stories in many kinds of locations, including a haunted house, an Eastern European shtetl, an English Renaissance village, and a working cattle ranch. For Wake Up, City, I turned to the setting I know best, the city. I drew on memories of walking to kindergarten in early morning Brooklyn. This book is my love song to cities everywhere. As a lifelong city dweller, I worry about the impact of urban spread on the planet, but I feel hopeful, too, because many cities are becoming more nature and wildlife-friendly. The books I'm excited to share celebrate city wildlife. 

Erica's book list on celebrating cities

Erica Silverman Why did Erica love this book?

A true story about my favorite cougar. P-22, (Puma 22) became famous when he miraculously managed to cross four freeways and make his home in a big city park near downtown Los Angeles. His fame inspired a campaign to build a wildlife crossing between two mountain ranges, over one of the world’s busiest highways. This book tells of P-22 and the scientists who are creating a better future for wild creatures and the humans who love them. I’ve been a fan of P-22 for many years and was thrilled to read this wonderful book about him. 

By Meeg Pincus, Alexander Vidal (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cougar Crossing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Discover the amazing true story of P-22, the wild cougar living in Los Angeles, in this inspiring picture book.

P-22, the famed “Hollywood Cougar,” was born in a national park near Los Angeles, California. When it was time for him to leave home and stake a claim to his own territory, he embarked on a perilous journey—somehow crossing sixteen lanes of the world’s worst traffic—to make his home in LA’s Griffith Park, overlooking the famed Hollywood sign. But Griffith Park is a tiny territory for a mountain lion, and P-22’s life has been filled with struggles.

Residents of Los Angeles…

Book cover of Driftless

Maggie Ginsberg Author Of Still True

From my list on the essence of small town Wisconsin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve only ever lived in small Midwestern towns. I grew up there, raised my kids there, recovered from a divorce there, remarried there. I’ve had the same best friends for 40 years. I’ve paid and bartered for my classmates’ trade services. I’ve argued with them in churches and cafes, rooted for and against their kids at high school basketball and football games all over the state. We’ve celebrated and buried each other’s loved ones. I’ve run hundreds of miles of Wisconsin trail, soaked in her waters, marveled at her sunsets. It’s as home to me as my own body, and I’ll never tire of reading about it. 

Maggie's book list on the essence of small town Wisconsin

Maggie Ginsberg Why did Maggie love this book?

I was working part-time at an independent bookshop in 2008 when this book arrived in the latest shipment. In addition to the title—named for Driftless Region near where I grew up—the author’s personal comeback story was a novel in itself: Iowa Writers Workshop graduate Rhodes published three books in quick succession in the 1970s, then promptly fell off the face of the earth until, decades later, fledgling Milkweed Editions tracked him down and learned he’d been paralyzed in a motorcycle accident but was still very much alive (and writing) in a small farmhouse in rural Wisconsin. Hooked, I read the book—and was moved to my core.

Nobody captures the particular quirkiness, heart and faith of the people that make up tiny Wisconsin communities better than Rhodes.

By David Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A fast-moving story about small town life with characters that seem to have walked off the pages of Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology.”—The Wall Street Journal

The few hundred souls who inhabit Words, Wisconsin, are an extraordinary cast of characters. The middle-aged couple who zealously guards their farm from a scheming milk cooperative. The lifelong invalid, crippled by conflicting emotions about her sister. A cantankerous retiree, haunted by childhood memories after discovering a cougar in his haymow. The former drifter who forever alters the ties that bind a community. In his first novel in 30 years, David Rhodes offers…

Book cover of The Dark Heart of Every Wild Thing

David W. Berner Author Of The Islander

From David's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Teacher Journalist Musician Poet

David's 3 favorite reads in 2023

David W. Berner Why did David love this book?

The Dark Heart of Every Wild Thing is a compelling parable about forgiveness while evoking both the dangers and the beauty of nature and faraway places.

The author, Joseph Fasano, is an acclaimed poet whose prose rings like poetry—stunning and poignant. Much of the story takes place in remote places, places I have always loved and longed for, and destinations where one can retreat from the world.

These places are sometimes called “thin places,” places writer Mark D. Roberts described as “where the boundary between heaven and earth is especially thin, a place where we can sense the divine more readily.”

When I was growing up, the Pennsylvania forest was near, and I loved walking alone in it with my dog, sometimes disappearing for hours, worrying my mother. Fasano’s novel reminded me in many ways of those times when I longed to lose the world for a while. And at…

By Joseph Fasano,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dark Heart of Every Wild Thing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fiction. Deep in the mountains of British Columbia, across an unforgiving landscape, one man's pursuit of a fabled mountain lion leads him into the furthest reaches of himself. As he struggles to confront the wilderness surrounding him--from the baying hounds to the relentless northern snows--he journeys into his own haunted memories: a life of wild horses and ballet, fishing skiffs and blizzards, tropical seas and dolphins. Through wind, snow, and the depths of grief, he asks what price he is willing to exact on a world that ravages what we love, and whether redemption awaits those who learn to forgive.…

Book cover of Open Throat

David P. Barash Author Of OOPS! The Worst Blunders of All Time

From David's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Trouble-maker Puckish Accessible Informed Engaged and Engaging

David's 3 favorite reads in 2023

David P. Barash Why did David love this book?

There’s something compelling about a novel written from the perspective of an animal, yet it’s terribly difficult to pull it off without making it a book—however wonderful—more suitable for children than for adults (Watership Down was an exception).

This book threads this needle. Its prose verges on poetry as it opens the reader to the world of a lonely, thoughtful cougar living outside Los Angeles. Especially terrific and unique in my reading experience is how we get a new view of our own species through the eyes of this struggling, sometimes perplexed, but always compelling great cat.

By Henry Hoke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize. “Open Throat is what fiction should be.” ―The New York Times Book Review

One of Elle’s Best Summer Books of 2023, and one of i-D’s Fiction to be Excited for in 2023. Named a Most Anticipated Book by The New York Times, Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, The Boston Globe, Nylon, Alta, Shondaland, Chicago Review of Books, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Literary Hub.

A lonely, lovable, queer mountain lion narrates this star-making fever dream of a novel.

A queer and dangerously hungry mountain lion lives in the drought-devastated land under the Hollywood sign. Lonely…

Book cover of After Dark: Poems about Nocturnal Animals

Matt Forrest Esenwine Author Of Flashlight Night

From my list on children’s poetry collections about nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since my parents gave me a copy of Dorothy Aldis’ The Secret Place and Other Poems, I have enjoyed a lifelong love of poetry. Now, as a traditionally-published children’s author, I have had numerous books and poems published over the years, including books that began as poems, like Flashlight Night (Astra Young Readers, 2017) and Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2021). My poems can be found in various anthologies including The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Children's Books, 2015).

Matt's book list on children’s poetry collections about nature

Matt Forrest Esenwine Why did Matt love this book?

Like Joyce Sidman, it’s very difficult to nail down one of David’s animal poetry books as ‘best,’ but After Dark is certainly a must-have. With poems like “Posted Property” (about the cougar), which is broken up over the course of three separate panels picture-book style, and “No Fooling” (about the raccoon), which readers will discover on the back cover, this book features fun, ingenious poetry and sidebars – and is educational yet never didactic

By David L. Harrison, Stephanie Laberis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This collection of 22 poems explores the fascinating lives of North American nocturnal animals.

When the sun goes down, many animals come out. Crickets chirp their crickety song hoping to attract a mate. Cougars bury their leftovers for later, leaving few clues for others to follow. Armadillos emerge from their dens to dig for worms, leaving holes in the lawns they disturb. This collection of poetry from acclaimed children's author and poet David L. Harrison explores the lives of animals who are awake after dark. Stephanie Laberis's beautifully atmospheric illustrations will draw in readers, and extensive back matter offers more…

Book cover of The Bangtail Ghost

Bill Lynch Author Of Mekong Belle: Love's Impossible Choice

From my list on time travel on lonely roads.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a family of journalists. My great-grandfather, grand-aunt, and father were newspaper editors and master raconteurs. I followed in their footsteps, spending 50 years as a small-town newspaper editor. Among family, friends, and neighbors, I was expected to know the stories behind the headlines, and in so doing, I became a raconteur. In a good story, there is a fine line between fact and fiction. The novels I chose for a long road trip are as believable as the true stories I was told and ended up telling when it was my turn. It only takes asking “What if?” to cross the line from fact to fiction.

Bill's book list on time travel on lonely roads

Bill Lynch Why did Bill love this book?

This book, like most of Keith McCafferty’s mystery novels, makes a long, tedious drive, something I look forward to. I’m immediately drawn into the tale, as though I’m looking over the shoulder of Sean Stranahan, the story’s protagonist/private detective/fly-fisherman.

McCafferty makes it possible to be in two places at once, one where I’m in my car with my eyes on the road while the rest of me is solving a murder alongside Sean and a Montana trout stream where we occasionally stop to cast flies to rising trout.

And there are plenty of engaging characters along the way, including Sean’s fiancé Sheriff Martha Ettinger, with whom he eventually brings the killer to justice. I want to keep driving until the case is solved.

By Keith McCafferty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bangtail Ghost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Montana's Gravelly Range, paw prints and a single whisker discovered at a scene of horrific violence suggest a woman has been attacked and carried away by a mountain lion. Sheriff Martha Ettinger employs her fiancé, sometimes-detective Sean Stranahan, to put a name to the gnawed bones comprising all that is left of the body. The woman's is the first of several deaths that Sean suspects are not as easily explained as they appear. 

As a reign of terror grips the Madison Valley, blood in the tracks will lead him from the river below to the snow-covered ridge tops, as…