The most recommended books about gorillas

Who picked these books? Meet our 18 experts.

18 authors created a book list connected to gorillas, and here are their favorite gorilla books.
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What type of gorilla book?


Book cover of Gorillas in the Mist

Sy Montgomery Author Of How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals

From my list on studying and writing about the natural world.

Who am I?

To research her 30 books, dozens of scripts, and hundreds of articles, Sy Montgomery has been deftly undressed by an orangutan in Borneo, worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes in Manitoba, and swum with piranhas, electric eels, pink dolphins, great white sharks and octopuses in various rivers and oceans. She writes for both adults and children, for print and broadcast, in North America and abroad, in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible at a critical time in human history. “Now is an exciting time to be alive,” she says. “We all have an opportunity, at this critical juncture in human history, to be part of the movement to save our sweet green Earth and all the wonderful creatures who bless our world by sharing it with us.”

Sy's book list on studying and writing about the natural world

Sy Montgomery Why did Sy love this book?

This is the first-person account of living among wild mountain gorillas by primatologist Dian Fossey, the second of the three woman scientists, all protogees of the paleontologist Louis Leakey, who conducted the first long-term studies of humankind’s closest living relatives, the great apes. She conquers the old myths depicting gorillas as King Kong monsters, and shows them as gentle vegetarians who are extraordinarily devoted to their families. Like the other books I mention above, I read this one when I was in my 20s. Dian’s memoir was then in its first edition and sported the most beautiful cover I had ever seen on a book. It featured a close-up, intimate portrait of one of the gorillas about whom she writes, Uncle Bert, his black face benign and thoughtful, his jet fur bejeweled with cloud forest raindrops. The back cover shows him from the back, accentuating the great dome of his…

By Dian Fossey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gorillas in the Mist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dian Fossey's classic account of four gorilla families - one of the most important books ever written about our connection to the natural world

For thirteen years Dian Fossey lived and worked with Uncle Bert, Flossie, Beethoven, Pantsy and Digit in the remote rain forests of the volcanic Virunga Mountains in Africa, establishing an unprecedented relationship with these shy and affectionate beasts.

In her base camp, 10,000 feet above sea-level, she struggled daily with rain, loneliness and the ever-constant threat of poachers who slaughtered her beloved gorillas with horrifying ferocity.

African adventure, personal quest and scientific study, GORILLAS IN THE…

Book cover of Good Night, Gorilla

Gibson Frazier Author Of Stop and Smell the Cookies

From my list on funny fables about mischief-makers.

Who am I?

As the father of a (currently) 11-year-old boy, and having been a boy once myself, I understand that mischief-makers can be a pain in the neck and drive adults crazy. But today’s little mischief-makers are tomorrow’s independent thinkers. And we cannot expect children to channel their rambunctious energies into positive outcomes without first giving them the tools to do so. That’s why I wrote Stop and Smell the Cookies, so that readers can actually take control before their emotions get the better of them. It’s also why I compiled this list. Perhaps, if the main characters in these stories had stopped and smelled the cookies, some of them might have avoided their literary fates. Enjoy!

Gibson's book list on funny fables about mischief-makers

Gibson Frazier Why did Gibson love this book?

Since primates make the best mischief-makers, it was inevitable that this book would end up on the list. As with Olivia, these animals, led by their fearless friend Gorilla, are driven by their curiosity. Just what is it like to sleep in a house? Their downfall comes because they are too polite and wish Mrs. Zookeeper a good night. I love that she’s so patient with them that she walks them all back to their enclosures, even holding Gorilla’s hand. 

By Peggy Rathmann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The ultimate bedtime read from the award-winning author of The Day the Babies Crawled Away.

'Good night, Gorilla,' says the night watchman as he finishes his rounds at the zoo. But Gorilla has other ideas, deftly pick-pocketing the watchman's keys and letting himself out of his cage, whilst letting Elephant, Lion, Hyena, Giraffe and Armadillo out too! The weary watchman makes his way home and into bed ... unaware that his friends from the zoo are right behind him!

Beautifully crafted illustrations and a calming, easy-to-follow text make this zoo story a delight for toddlers and young children aged 2+.…

Book cover of Little Beauty

Dee Leone Author Of Dough Knights and Dragons

From my list on picture books with unlikely friendships.

Who am I?

I've had 20 reproducible books published in the educational market, and more than 200 of my articles, word puzzles, poems, plays, and stories have appeared in magazines such as Highlights and on websites like the Disney-themed I enjoy creating book trailers and free activity kits which can be found on my website. One of my picture books is Dough Knights and Dragons. Curious about the origin of doughnuts, I created an imaginary tale about them with the goal of encouraging friendships of all kinds, setting children’s imaginations on fire, and motivating youngsters to always be hungry for books.

Dee's book list on picture books with unlikely friendships

Dee Leone Why did Dee love this book?

A sad gorilla who can use sign language asks the keepers for a friend. He’s given a kitten, and a wonderful cross-species friendship is born. I especially enjoyed the line “they did everything together,” which is accompanied by a humorous illustration showing the gorilla on a toilet and Beauty, the cat, in a litter box.

The artwork expressively captures the gorilla’s sadness, joy, worry, and anger. When a movie makes the gorilla so upset that he smashes the television, the keepers think they should take the cat away for her safety. However, Beauty hilariously changes their minds by signing that she broke the TV. This is a great story of loyalty and unlikely friendships.

By Anthony Browne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Little Beauty 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?

"No one renders primates with more faithful detail or surreal humanity than Browne." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A USBBY Outstanding International Book
An Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award Winner
Three starred reviews (Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal)

Once there was a very special gorilla who had almost everything he needed. There was only one thing he didn’t have: a friend. With no other gorillas at the zoo, the keepers try something new. Will the gigantic ape strike a bond with another sort of creature, one as tiny and innocent as a kitten? Sparked by the story of a…

Book cover of Ishmael

Arielle Ford Author Of The Love Thief

From my list on growing your soul and opening your heart.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved fairytales, whimsical stories, and mysteries. Plus, I’m passionate about mind-expanding, heart-opening books that offer me new ways to understand myself and the Universe we live in. And I particularly like books that show me ways to have more of what brings me joy and pleasure. When I can get all of this in a novel I’m in heaven.

Arielle's book list on growing your soul and opening your heart

Arielle Ford Why did Arielle love this book?

This is a very original book with deep wisdom delivered through a most unique relationship about a man and the Gorilla who becomes his Guru!

One of the most life-changing concepts I took from the book is that there are two kinds of people in the world: leavers and takers. I recognized that I am essentially a taker, but the book made me realize that to be a better person it was time for me to become a leaver.

By Daniel Quinn,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Ishmael as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most beloved and bestselling novels of spiritual adventure ever published, Ishmael has earned a passionate following. This special twenty-fifth anniversary edition features a new foreword and afterword by the author.

“A thoughtful, fearlessly low-key novel about the role of our species on the planet . . . laid out for us with an originality and a clarity that few would deny.”—The New York Times Book Review

Teacher Seeks Pupil.
Must have an earnest desire to save the world.
Apply in person.

It was just a three-line ad in the personals section, but it launched the adventure of…

Book cover of My Ishmael

Sarah Pegrum Author Of Break the Binds of Weight Stigma: Free Yourself from Body Image Struggles Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

From my list on getting perspective about life and be inspired.

Who am I?

I’m a clinical psychologist, which gifts me the experience of being part of people's journey of looking at their lives differently and transforming. Early in my career, throughout my academic studies, I was particularly curious about and drawn to existential perspectives. Sadly, with multiple losses of close loved ones, I was pushed into grappling with existential questions at a more personal level. Yet the pain of loss created shifts in perspective that have helped shape who I am, and the work that I do. I have found that connecting with people, travel, and books are avenues that help me continue to ask questions about life and inspire new directions. 

Sarah's book list on getting perspective about life and be inspired

Sarah Pegrum Why did Sarah love this book?

My Ishmael is a book that got my mind thinking. It raises many questions about how we live and whether that is the best way to live.

I enjoyed how these questions are explored through a relationship between a child and a gorilla as it holds the reader in a place of curiosity, as opposed to judgment. This approach sits well with my values and makes it an easy read. One of my favorite quotes is “The only way you can be insulated from harm is by not existing, and that's no way to live.”

By Daniel Quinn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Daniel Quinn's Ishmael was the winner of the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship, a prize honoring fiction that offers creative and positive solutions to global problems.  This extraordinary novel has become an underground bestseller and a testament for a burgeoning spiritual movement.  Mr. Quinn's new novel is a companion piece--not a story that follows the first but rather a story contemporaneous with the first.  In it, the Ishmael saga takes a startling direction that is in no way prefigured in the original.

The gorilla licked his lips--nervously, it seemed to me.  "I think we can safely say that I'm not prepared to…

Book cover of The Boy and the Gorilla

Nancy Bo Flood Author Of Walking Grandma Home

From my list on loss, grief, and healing.

Who am I?

Nancy Bo Flood earned her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology and Child Development at the University of Minnesota and has authored a variety of award-winning booksWalking Grandma Home came from her own experience as a child, as a counselor, and as a daughter. She has lived and taught on the Pacific island of Saipan, where she worked with teachers and parents to create resources and programs for students with disabilities, and for the past twenty years, she has taught in the Navajo Nation. With Native educators, she co-founded an early-literacy nonprofit, Read at Home, which encourages parents to read regularly with their children.

Nancy's book list on loss, grief, and healing

Nancy Bo Flood Why did Nancy love this book?

This book shows a child grieving after the death of his mother.  The gorilla is a subtle but strong metaphor about those who help us through the journey of grief. Words are spare; the illustrations are powerful. In this picture book, grief is shown as heavy, silent, and colorless.

Sometimes it can help to tend to gardens or fly kites or just think about something else.  But mostly, it helps to simply talk about it.” Words and images in this book show a comforting and caring relationship between a boy mourning his mother and an imaginary gorilla.  The gorilla encourages the boy to do the activities he once did with his parents – helping with the garden or flying kites. The gorilla helps the boy talk to his father about missing Mom, and in doing so, together, they find a way to heal.

By Jackie Azua Kramer, Cindy Derby (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boy and the Gorilla as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

This profoundly moving tale about a grieving boy and an imaginary gorilla makes real the power of talking about loss.

On the day of his mother’s funeral, a young boy conjures the very visitor he needs to see: a gorilla. Wise and gentle, the gorilla stays on to answer the heart-heavy questions the boy hesitates to ask his father: Where did his mother go? Will she come back home? Will we all die? Yet with the gorilla’s friendship, the boy slowly begins to discover moments of comfort in tending flowers, playing catch, and climbing trees. Most of all, the gorilla…

Book cover of Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer and the African Adventure the Victorian World by Storm

Bonnie J. Fladung Author Of When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer

From my list on obsession with African wildlife and adventure.

Who am I?

I am an author specializing in nature, travel, and adventure writing. I’ve been fortunate to travel to many of the places featured in my books – including Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. I even to travelled to Morocco to study the art of storytelling with the last of the great storytellers. I’ve always been intrigued by stories that tell a personal journey about overcoming obstacles, especially if the story takes the reader to exotic places. So no wonder I jumped at the opportunity to co-author a book with a game ranger and conservationist in Africa that combines historical perspectives, larger-than-life characters, and dangerous experiences with wildlife. 

Bonnie's book list on obsession with African wildlife and adventure

Bonnie J. Fladung Why did Bonnie love this book?

I love nonfiction adventure books that immerse you in the details of an adventure while providing enough background information to understand the historical, cultural, and scientific perspectives of an era. In the mid-19th century, Paul du Chaillu spent years in Western Africa tracking down the njena, the mythical beast. This book makes for interesting reading as the author weaves the true-life adventure story of the discovery of the gorilla with Darwin’s evolutionary debate, and the challenges a Victorian-era scientist faced to prove his credibility. 

By Monte Reel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Between Man and Beast as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1856, Paul Du Chaillu ventured into the African jungle in search of a mythic beast, the gorilla. After wild encounters with vicious cannibals, deadly snakes, and tribal kings, Du Chaillu emerged with 20 preserved gorilla skins—two of which were stuffed and brought on tour—and walked smack dab into the biggest scientific debate of the time: Darwin's theory of evolution. Quickly, Du Chaillu's trophies went from objects of wonder to key pieces in an all-out intellectual war. With a wide range of characters, including Abraham Lincoln, Arthur Conan Doyle, P.T Barnum, Thackeray, and of course, Charles Darwin, this is a…

Book cover of Dinocalypse Now

Jonathon Mast Author Of Stones and Swords

From Jonathon's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Dragon rider Father Teacher Reader Comic reader

Jonathon's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Jonathon Mast Why did Jonathon love this book?

The Century Club prevents the assassination of FDR, but then things get weird.

Warmongering gorillas riding psychic dinosaurs from the dawn of time attack New York City. Now, the pulp heroes of the Century Club must band together, travel to the future, and then to the distant past of Atlantis if they hope to save the world!

Look, having read that description, you already know if these books are for you. They are just as bonkers and amazingly action-packed as they sound. The first book, in particular, is so extremely gripping.

Wendig is an amazing author; I’ve read a chunk of his stuff and have never once been disappointed. 

By Chuck Wendig, John Adamus (editor), Christian N. St. Pierre (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When the Century Club is called in to prevent the assassination of FDR, it's just another day on the job - but what they discover puts not just the President, but the entire world in jeopardy. With psychic dinosaurs taking over Manhattan and beyond, it's up to Sally Slick, Jet Black, Mack Silver and the other Centurions to save humanity from extinction!

Book cover of The Murderer's Ape

Nadine Wild-Palmer Author Of The Tunnels Below

From my list on to escape reality.

Who am I?

I have always been a very imaginative individual and even now I think of my imagination as a place I can escape to. I build worlds and dimensions in my head and visit them often especially when I'm writing my own books, poems, or drafting characters. I'm a very visual individual and pay attention to detail so these imagined worlds can become quite complex and intricate. That's why I have always loved adventure, it's such a privilege to be given access to other worlds and minds through the medium of books. You get a chance to wander around someone else's imagination – what a way to escape, what an adventure in and of itself!

Nadine's book list on to escape reality

Nadine Wild-Palmer Why did Nadine love this book?

A real tour de force that for me was reminiscent of Phileas Fogg's adventures in Around the World in 80 Days. The story follows the life of an intelligent gorilla who although lacking the power of speech is an extraordinary, loveable protagonist. It is accompanied by black and white illustrations that feel like etchings and that only enhance the wistful and nostalgic window through which we observe this gorilla’s world and life experience. It's a lengthy book and so at first may seem like a big commitment especially as it is aimed at children (it also have some grown-up themes) but once you begin the journey I defy anyone to try and get off as the mystery and magic unfold alongside a powerful story of friendship and love. Another brilliant example of how to escape the reality of the every day and be whisked into a world of mystery,…

By Jakob Wegelius,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Murderer's Ape as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Sally Jones is not only a loyal friend, she's an extraordinary individual. In overalls or in a maharaja's turban, this unique gorilla moves among humans without speaking but understanding everything. She and the Chief are devoted comrades who operate a cargo boat. A job they are offered pays big bucks, but the deal ends badly, and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder.

For Sally Jones this is the start of a harrowing quest for survival and to clear the Chief's name. Powerful forces are working against her, and they will do anything to protect their secrets.

Book cover of The Year of the Gorilla

Erich Hoyt Author Of Orca: The Whale Called Killer

From my list on studying and living among wild animals.

Who am I?

I’ve spent most of my life since the 1970s working with whales and dolphins. I was lucky to get involved in one of the first field studies for killer whales and since then have led other research in the Russian Far East. I have worked with entomologists in Costa Rican rainforests, blue whale scientists in Québec and Iceland, humpback whale scientists in Hawaii. I’ve searched for rare North Atlantic right whales in the Bay of Fundy, measured Canada’s tallest trees in British Columbia and seen the wild plant ancestors of maize growing in the mountains of Mexico. Field research—studying and living in nature—makes us empathize with Planet Earth.

Erich's book list on studying and living among wild animals

Erich Hoyt Why did Erich love this book?

George Schaller’s pioneering popular Year of the Gorilla, set in Rwanda, is part history, travelogue, and accessible behavioral biology. This book was my model for how to write about my own seven summers living with killer whales off northern Vancouver Island, Canada. Travelling with wife Kay, Schaller in his mid-20s was among the first to get into the field with primates when few even considered it. Rich with stories, his book included his own beautiful line drawings of gorillas and tantalising maps. The story uncovers a misty kingdom—he climbed the volcanoes—as much as revealing the intimate details of the gorillas, with their food gathering, nest-building, relationships, their emotional lives. This book has human and gorilla characters. You feel like you are right there.

By George B. Schaller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This seminal work chronicles George B. Schaller's two years of travel and observation of gorillas in East and Central Africa in the late 1950s, high in the Virunga volcanoes on the Zaire-Rwanda-Uganda border. There, he learned that these majestic animals, far from being the aggressive apes of film and fiction, form close-knit societies of caring mothers and protective fathers watching over playful young. Alongside his observations of gorilla society, Schaller celebrates the enforced yet splendid solitude of the naturalist, recounts the adventures he experienced along the way, and offers a warning against poaching and other human threats against these endangered…