The most recommended books about human animal relationships

Who picked these books? Meet our 75 experts.

75 authors created a book list connected to human animal relationships, and here are their favorite human animal relationship books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of human animal relationship book?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of The Animals in That Country

Sophie Overett Author Of The Rabbits

From my list on strange and unusual families.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in the sub-tropics of Brisbane, there was a magic in the heat. It was one that spoke to me from a really young age, and I’d daydream about finding portals to secret worlds in the stutter of a sprinkler’s spray, or the ooze of a monster in mid-afternoon sweat. There was no way I couldn’t find a story in the oppressive swelter of year-round summers, and in my head, I’d cast roles for my family and my friends. Over the years, that bred into a love of writing and reading stories about strange families finding their own sorts of magic with each other and their environments, and the ways that little taste of the uncanny can reveal and conceal in equal measure. 

Sophie's book list on strange and unusual families

Sophie Overett Why did Sophie love this book?

There’s a lot of pandemic fiction, but rarely are they as creative and thrilling as this. The zooflu that rips through Australia allows people to talk to animals while they’re sick, and when it inches towards the family-run zoo at the heart of this novel, tensions rise and bonds are tested, especially between addict Jean, her granddaughter Kimberley, and prodigal son, Lee. 

By Laura Jean McKay,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Animals in That Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD

A SUNDAY TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR

Out on the road, no one speaks, everything talks.

Hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, and allergic to bullshit, Jean is not your usual grandma. She's never been good at getting on with other humans, apart from her beloved granddaughter, Kimberly. Instead, she surrounds herself with animals, working as a guide in an outback wildlife park. And although Jean talks to all her charges, she has a particular soft spot for a young dingo called Sue.

As disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country, Jean realises this is…


Book cover of Unsaid

Jessica Ingold Author Of The Spirit Catchers

From my list on contemplating your own mortality.

Why am I passionate about this?


Jessica's book list on contemplating your own mortality

Jessica Ingold Why did Jessica love this book?

Told from the perspective of Helena, a veterinarian whose career was cut short by—you guessed it!—cancer, this book explores the ethical implications of testing on animals while unpacking the messy reality of grief. As Helena’s husband, David, struggles to care for his late wife’s houseful of beloved animals, ghost-Helena reflects on the meaninglessness of her existence. I think we all like to believe we leave some kind of impact on the world, but what if we don’t? And who are we to call ourselves superior beings when other creatures are forced to suffer at our expense?

By Neil Abramson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

UNSAID is told from the perspective of Helena Colden, a veterinarian who has just died of breast cancer. Helena is forced to witness the rapid emotional deterioration of her husband David. With Helena's passing, David, a successful Manhattan attorney, loses the only connection that made his life full. He tries to carry on the life that Helena had created for them, but he is too grief stricken, too angry, and too quickly reabsorbed into the demands of his career. Helena's animals likewise struggle with the loss of their understanding and compassionate human companion. Because of Helena, David becomes involved in…


Book cover of The Black Stallion

Caroline Akervik Author Of A Horse Named Viking

From my list on animals and their people connection.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an animal lover, a former professional equestrian, an elementary school librarian, and an avid reader. Reading is definitely my superpower. I don’t so much read as devour books of all kinds. As a district library coordinator, I read all levels of books, from board to picture, to middle grade, to chapter, to YA and adult. Books and animals are my jam. 

Caroline's book list on animals and their people connection

Caroline Akervik Why did Caroline love this book?

This is one of those books that helped me fall in love with reading. It is the story of a young boy named Alec who becomes stranded on a deserted island with a wild black stallion. Over time, the two form a deep bond, and upon their rescue, Alec trains the stallion to become a racehorse. 

I think this was the first series I ever got hooked on. These are oldies but goodies. As a young horse lover, I believe I read all of them. This book helped to start my passion for reading and writing.

By Walter Farley,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Black Stallion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

First published in 1941, Walter Farley's best-selling novel for young readers is the triumphant tale of a boy and a wild horse. From Alec Ramsay and the Black's first meeting on an ill-fated ship to their adventures on a desert island and their eventual rescue, this beloved story will hold the rapt attention of readers new and old.

This book has been selected as a Common Core State Standards Text Exemplar (Grades 4-5, Stories) in Appendix B.


Book cover of A Dog's History of the World: Canines and the Domestication of Humans

Jan Dohner Author Of Farm Dogs: A Comprehensive Breed Guide to 93 Guardians, Herders, Terriers, and Other Canine Working Partners

From my list on dogs domesticated humans irreplaceable partners.

Why am I passionate about this?

Coming from a family of dog lovers, I have lived a lifetime of loving dogs and reading (and writing) books about dogs. My childhood animal books were “dog-eared” for sure, but when I began to read dog books like those on my list, my relationship with dogs became deeper and richer beyond how a dog looks or acts; these books opened a door on our mutual history and how our lives fit together. As our oldest animal partner, dogs choose to travel this shared path with us. A gift to us, it is now our responsibility to honor them.

Jan's book list on dogs domesticated humans irreplaceable partners

Jan Dohner Why did Jan love this book?

I found this book to be a deeply humane exploration of our human-dog relationship from prehistory to the present. It presents the essential ways that dogs changed us and acknowledges the ever-lurking, awful temptation to exploit or harm our oldest friend.

Hobgood-Ostler weaves together canine-human archaeology, history, and literature to show us how we would not have flourished without our dogs, from the earliest days of our partnership to our current lives in which dogs have become actual family members, offering companionship, support, and love.

By Laura Hobgood-Oster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Dog's History of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Canines and humans have depended upon one another for tens of thousands of years. Humans took the initial steps of domesticating canines, but somewhere through the millennia, dogs began dramatically to affect the future of their masters. In A Dog's History of the World, Laura Hobgood-Oster chronicles the canine-human story. From the earliest cave paintings depicting the primitive canine-human relationship to the modern model of dogs as family members, Hobgood-Oster reveals how the relationship has been marked by both love and exploitation.Canines have aided and been heir to humankind's ever-increasing thirst for scientific advancements, empire building, and personal satisfaction. They…


Book cover of When Species Meet

Gísli Pálsson Author Of The Last of Its Kind: The Search for the Great Auk and the Discovery of Extinction

From my list on books that capture life on the edge.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by “nature” since childhood, growing up on an island south of Iceland and spending summers on a farm. As a teenager, I would explore my island in the company of friends, often with a binocular and a camera at hand. There was much to explore: a towering volcano above the local community, ancient lava flows, stormy seas – and an amazing variety of seabirds. I witnessed an island being born nearby during a stunning volcanic eruption. My life and career have been heavily informed by this experience, as an anthropologist and a writer I have always somehow engaged with connections between people and their environments.

Gísli's book list on books that capture life on the edge

Gísli Pálsson Why did Gísli love this book?

Haraway’s book struck me like lightning. Here was a book that seemed to address relations between species in terms usually restricted to humans.

Many people, including social historians, have meaningfully described social formations in terms of various kinds of dependency and collaboration, for instance, slavery, feudalism, and companionship. After all, human-animal relations deserve a similar perspective. Human relations with dogs, cats, and birds, for instance, could be described in terms of a diversity of ranks and hierarchies. For other contexts involving domestic animals (including cows, reindeer, and horses), the language of slavery and servitude might be more relevant.

Haraway’s approach not only helps to illuminate complex nuances of modern biotechnology, to me it also seems vital at a time of escalating extinctions caused by humans. 

By Donna J. Haraway,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked When Species Meet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"When Species Meet is a breathtaking meditation on the intersection between humankind and dog, philosophy and science, and macro and micro cultures." -Cameron Woo, Publisher of Bark magazine

In 2006, about 69 million U.S. households had pets, giving homes to around 73.9 million dogs, 90.5 million cats, and 16.6 million birds, and spending over $38 billion dollars on companion animals. As never before in history, our pets are truly members of the family. But the notion of "companion species"-knotted from human beings, animals and other organisms, landscapes, and technologies-includes much more than "companion animals."

In When Species Meet, Donna J.…


Book cover of Wild Magic

Anne Mollova Author Of Keeper of Scales

From my list on YA fantasy with magical heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved all things magical my entire life. I grew up leaving out food for the fairies and searching for gnomes in the woods, so it only follows that when I learned to read, I gravitated toward stories of fantasy and myth. I often felt that the worlds I read about matched my personality more accurately than the real world, and I longed to be one of the magically gifted heroines I encountered. I’m excited to share some of my very favorites with you, and hope they bring you as much joy as they did me!

Anne's book list on YA fantasy with magical heroines

Anne Mollova Why did Anne love this book?

Tamora Pierce was one of the authors that initially introduced me to my lifelong love of young adult fantasy, and all her books are wonderful. I picked Wild Magic because the protagonist has some really enviable magical abilities that I loved reading about and watching her develop. (True confession: I also may or may not have had a pretty tragic crush on the love interest in this book in high school...) This one will always be a favorite!

By Tamora Pierce,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wild Magic 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?

Discover a land of enchantment, legend, and adventure in this first book of the Immortals series, featuring an updated cover for longtime fans and fresh converts alike, and including an all-new afterword from Tamora Pierce.

Thirteen-year-old Daine has always had a special connection with animals, but only when she’s forced to leave home does she realize it’s more than a knack—it’s magic. With this wild magic, not only can Daine speak to animals, but she can also make them obey her. Daine takes a job handling horses for the Queen’s Riders, where she meets the master mage Numair and becomes…


Book cover of Bird Brain

Lynne Kelly Author Of The Secret Language of Birds

From my list on books for bird-loving kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by our connections to animals, our similarities and differences, and how we communicate. Large mammals have always been my favorites, but like many people, I started noticing birds in my backyard during the pandemic lockdowns. As an author of middle-grade novels, my stories have been inspired by something interesting I’ve learned about a particular animal. I started writing my novel after learning that whooping cranes had nested in Texas for the first time in over a century. I knew I had to give that momentous nest sighting to a bird-loving girl who’d appreciate the visitation by these rare and majestic birds! 

Lynne's book list on books for bird-loving kids

Lynne Kelly Why did Lynne love this book?

This book is a fun story that shows the ups and downs of middle school life and has some fascinating bird facts.

Though a parrot isn’t the pet that Arden wanted, it turns out to be the pet she needed, and I loved her scientific approach to figuring out why Ludwig the parrot is so smart.

I read this in one sitting, not only because it’s a quick read but because I had to find out how Arden was going to stand up to her bully and figure out the mystery tied to Ludwig’s brilliance.

By Joanne Levy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bird Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A bird and a BFF

Arden Sachs has always wanted a pet: a purring kitten or an adorable puppy, or even a fuzzy guinea pig. But living in a cramped condo with her mom and siblings means she’s unhappily pet-free. Then her Uncle Eli, a professor and scientist, asks Arden to look after Ludwig, his African Grey parrot, while he’s away on sabbatical in Guinea. A little afraid of the bird, Arden reluctantly agrees to prove that she can handle pet ownership.

But when Ludwig goes beyond his usual sounds and imitations to spout numbers and words that seem way…


Book cover of Catalyst

Carol Van Natta Author Of Pets in Space 6: A Science Fiction Romance Anthology

From my list on science fiction stories with pets.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hi, I'm Carol Van Natta, USA Today bestselling science fiction and paranormal romance author. I write the award-winning Central Galactic Concordance space opera series and the Ice Age Shifters® paranormal romance series. In addition, I edit the bestselling Pets In Space science fiction romance anthology. I share my home with several eccentric cats. If I ever get to explore the stars or visit a magical sanctuary town, I'm taking them with me. My reader candy is science fiction stories that include pets, so I have some recommendations for you. When I read them aloud to my cats (doesn't everyone do this?), these stories are the most appreciated.

Carol's book list on science fiction stories with pets

Carol Van Natta Why did Carol love this book?

Catalyst (and the sequel, Catacombs) are for anyone who cherishes cats. It’s obvious that McCaffrey and her frequent collaborator Scarborough know cats very well indeed. In this universe, a ship's cat has proven to be as essential a crew member as captain, navigator, or engineer. (I find this totally believable, as one of my cats has decided his job is to notify me when someone has left a package on my porch.) The cats in the story are evolving to be even more valuable to humans, especially when it comes to alien relations and saving a colony's livestock from destruction. Do yourself a favor and read Catacombs, too, to find out what happens when the Barque Cats meet a cat god.

By Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pilot, navigator, engineer, doctor, scientist—ship's cat? All are essential to the well-staffed space vessel. Since the early days of interstellar travel, when Tuxedo Thomas, a Maine coon cat, showed what a cat could do for a ship and its crew, the so-called Barque Cats have become highly prized crew members. Thomas's carefully bred progeny, ably assisted by humans—Cat Persons—with whom they share a deep and loving bond, now travel the galaxy, responsible for keeping spacecraft free of vermin, for alerting human crews to potential environmental hazards, and for acting as morale officers.

Even among Barque Cats, Chessie is something special.…


Book cover of Horses Never Lie: The Heart of Passive Leadership

Diana Kimpton Author Of There Must Be Horses

From my list on the relationship between horses and people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a writer for thirty years and a horse lover my entire life. When I decided to write There Must Be Horses, I set out to learn about natural horsemanship and the way horses and people relate to each other. Of course, I then needed to try out all those exciting ideas myself so I bought myself a horse to help with my research. That was my excuse anyway – in truth I was finally fulfilling my childhood dream of a pony of my own. I still have that horse and would never part with him. He’s an important part of our family. 

Diana's book list on the relationship between horses and people

Diana Kimpton Why did Diana love this book?

I discovered Mark Rashid’s books when I was researching horse whispering for my own book, and I was so entranced by what he was saying that I went to one of his workshops to watch him in action. I love both the way he writes and the way he teaches from his own experiences and mistakes. This is not a training manual – it’s a book that will improve your understanding of horse behaviour and emotions so that you can work with them without force. 

By Mark Rashid,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Horses Never Lie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here renowned trainer Mark Rashid introduces us to his revolutionary method for training horses. His sensitive, thoughtful approach emphasizes the importance of balance, and has led some to refer to him as a real-life horse whisperer.

"It has always been my contention that working with horses is, or at least should be, a delicate balancing act between finding how much or how little direction it will take to help the horse we are working with understand whatever it is we are trying to teach. Too little direction and our efforts might become ineffective. Too much direction and we may develop…


Book cover of The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks

Kate Foster Author Of All the Small Wonderful Things

From my list on middle grade about neurodivergent kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an autistic person and mother of an autistic child and a huge part of my book-loving life is finding characters like us. Up until the last few years that’s not been easy, but this lack of fair representation has driven me to seek out books that shine a spotlight on neurodivergent children, smashing stereotypes and harmful notions that continue to be promoted and adored via mainstream media. Recommending books that portray neurodivergent characters in a way that does more harm than good and reinforces the stigma and treatment of neurodivergent people in real life, so I use my platform to talk about the right books telling the right stories. 

Kate's book list on middle grade about neurodivergent kids

Kate Foster Why did Kate love this book?

A boarding school, mysteries, magic, and animals – another classic in the making as far as I’m concerned!

It stars an autistic girl who is reluctantly sent off to boarding school – but the school and her experience that follows is far from what you’d expect. Alice’s autism is portrayed authentically, and we get to climb right inside her mind to share her worries and anxieties and in turn her actions.

Her autism is intrinsic to her character and that’s what makes this book so real. But, for me, the most marvelous aspect of this book is that an autistic character plays the lead in an exciting fantasy any child would be thrilled to read. 

By Emily Kenny,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

"Has heart, soul and so much spirit." Lindsay Galvin, author of Darwin's Dragons

"Disappearing animals, twists and turns, and an amazing autistic protagonist." Rashmi Sirdeshpande, author of Dosh

"Exciting, deftly plotted and full of surprises." Sinead O'Hart, author of The Eye of the North

Alice Tonks would love to make friends at boarding school. And, being autistic, she just wants people to accept her for who she is. But after a rather strange encounter with a talking seagull on her first day, she suddenly has a new challenge and a lot of questions.

Animals are going missing and Alice can't…