The most recommended books on taxidermy

Who picked these books? Meet our 8 experts.

8 authors created a book list connected to taxidermy, and here are their favorite taxidermy books.
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Book cover of Éléphasme, Rhinolophon, Caméluche et autres merveilles de la nature

Becky Crew Author Of Creatura: Strange Behaviours and Special Adaptations

From my list on bizarre animal adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had a love for weird and wonderful animals. As a kid, I used to collect lizards, snails, beetles, and caterpillars. When I was 15, I hid a family of white mice under the house so my parents wouldn’t find them. We bred guinea pigs and rats for a time. It was almost inevitable that I would end up writing about animals. As a science communicator, I tell stories about how strange yet relatable so many of the creatures living among us can be. I also love an adventure, and I hope these books capture your imagination as they did mine! 

Becky's book list on bizarre animal adventures

Becky Crew Why did Becky love this book?

An obscure and fantastic book, Eléphasme, Rhinolophon, Caméluche et autres merveilles de la nature is a collection of illustrations of imagined beasts. From toads with feathery axolotl gills and seabirds with a probosci's monkey snout to a hairy chicken with hooves, these animals don’t make any sense, but they sure are beautiful to look at.

I stumbled on it back in 2012, during my first trip to Paris, visiting a singular shop called Deyrolle, which is filled with taxidermy, bones, bugs, and other curiosities. This book might be one of the most special things I own, and it’s almost impossible to find outside of France. For those who are determined to track it down, I can assure you, it’ll be worth it.

Book cover of The Best of Me

Paul Wood Author Of How to Escape from Prison

From Paul's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Psychologist Personal development fanatic Ex-prisoner Growth mindset Stress is enhancing mindset

Paul's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Paul Wood Why did Paul love this book?

Like all of his work, this book is laugh-out-loud funny. The situations that David Sedaris gets himself into and his oh-so-human responses connect on such a profound level.

So often, it feels like we are the only ones having such petty and self-centered perceptions. It is liberating to know that this is just the human experience.

It is also liberating to reflect on how I feel toward David reading about his life. I don’t judge him negatively or think less of him for his honesty and openness. The opposite is true. This is something I find comforting myself as someone who talks about my past and being a convicted murderer and drug addict. 

By David Sedaris (narrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What could be a more tempting Christmas gift than a compendium of David Sedaris's best stories, selected by the author himself? From a spectacular career spanning almost three decades, these stories have become modern classics and are now for the first time collected in one volume.

For more than twenty-five years, David Sedaris has been carving out a unique literary space, virtually creating his own genre. A Sedaris story may seem confessional, but is also highly attuned to the world outside. It opens our eyes to what is at absurd and moving about our daily existence. And it is almost…

Book cover of Comet in Summer

Genevieve Mckay Author Of Defining Gravity

From my list on about horse actually written by horse people.

Why am I passionate about this?

In addition to being a writer, I am an avid horse-person who has been obsessed with these amazing creatures my entire life. I was a pretty feral child so I spent my teen years riding bareback around the countryside, daydreaming about going to the Olympics or thwarting horse thieves or discovering a herd of Unicorns…the usual. I’ve worked at many barns, taken internships, volunteered, and have been lucky enough to own a few horses of my own over the years. The horse books I’m drawn to always have realistic protagonists who are also kind, empathic, and who understand how special and magical these animals are.  

Genevieve's book list on about horse actually written by horse people

Genevieve Mckay Why did Genevieve love this book?

This book is a great summer read. The relationship between young eventer Rio and her project horse is really special and the author does a good job of introducing us to this fun, quirky family, their many pets, and their dilapidated country house. The descriptions of the French countryside and the differences in how horses are cared for in France were really interesting. It is a fun, captivating read.

By Grace Wilkinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The moment Rio sees the skinny black gelding standing in the local meat man’s field, she resolves to save him. Gentle and exceptionally bred, Comet is the kind of horse Rio has always dreamed of owning - a horse to take on hacks through the vines, ride bareback at sunset, and maybe even compete in an event or two. Comet seems too good to be true, and Rio soon suspects that his past involved more than standing around in a field… But Rio has more to worry about than Comet. With five sisters to deal with - including Clemmie the…

Book cover of Kingdom Under Glass: A Tale of Obsession, Adventure, and One Man's Quest to Preserve the World's Great Animals

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 remember my first encounter with African wildlife. I was standing in front of a museum diorama, facing a lion standing full height, its glass eyes gleaming. These displays were crafted so carefully, the animals posed so perfectly, the backgrounds painted so realistically. But who turned these dead animals into works of art? This book describes the life of the man who traveled the world to find and preserve the best specimens. Carl Akeley’s journey is both gruesome and fascinating. 

By Jay Kirk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this epic account of an extraordinary life lived during remarkable times, Jay Kirk follows the adventures of legendary explorer and taxidermist Carl Akeley, who revolutionized taxidermy and environmental conservation and created the famed African Hall at New York's Museum of Natural History. Akeley risked death time and again in the jungles of Africa as he stalked animals for his dioramas and hobnobbed with outsized personalities of the era, such as Theodore Roosevelt and P. T. Barnum. Kingdom Under Glass is "a rollicking biography…an epic adventure…[and] a beguiling novelistic portrait of a man and an era straining to hear the…

Book cover of Pet Projects

Susan K. Harris Author Of Mark Twain, the World, and Me: Following the Equator, Then and Now

From my list on blending memoir, travel, and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always enjoyed books that introduce me to faraway places, cultural narratives, and the writers behind the stories. After retiring from college teaching, I decided to write one myself. I’m a Mark Twain scholar, so I followed Twain’s lecture tour through Australasia, India, and South Africa. One of my goals was to expose my research methods to my readers, and writing in the first person made that easy. What I hadn’t foreseen was how much the process would force me to confront my own past—exposing the radical differences between Mark Twain and Me. 

Susan's book list on blending memoir, travel, and history

Susan K. Harris Why did Susan love this book?

I love what Young is doing—breaking out of her “college prof” shell and talking directly to us about her life with animals—dead and alive. She starts with her dog Frankie’s cancer diagnosis and wraps her own reactions to his treatments into her study of 19th-century fiction that focuses on animals—like the famous horse narrative Black Beauty and the equally-famous-but-now-forgotten dog narrative Beautiful Joe. Her travels take her through both physical and imaginative time and place—from Beautiful Joe’s origins in Nova Scotia to her meditations on the art of animal taxidermy. I learned a lot about the history of animal/human relations from this book, and I really enjoyed Young’s voice and puns. It’s a great addition to our goal to bring academic knowledge out into the public sphere. 

By Elizabeth Young,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Pet Projects, Elizabeth Young joins an analysis of the representation of animals in nineteenth-century fiction, taxidermy, and the visual arts with a first-person reflection on her own scholarly journey. Centering on Margaret Marshall Saunders, a Canadian woman writer once famous for her animal novels, and incorporating Young's own experience of a beloved animal's illness, this study highlights the personal and intellectual stakes of a "pet project" of cultural criticism.

Young assembles a broad archive of materials, beginning with Saunders's novels and widening outward to include fiction, nonfiction, photography, and taxidermy. She coins the term "first-dog voice" to describe the…

Book cover of Mostly Dead Things

Paul Wilborn Author Of Florida Hustle

From my list on funny novels that won’t embarrass you.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my 25-year journalism career and now, in my books, I’ve specialized in telling powerful, human stories that are often humorous and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. To me, humor is an essential part of life. Real stories might make us cry, but just as often, they make us laugh. That’s the balance I try to achieve with all my writing.

Paul's book list on funny novels that won’t embarrass you

Paul Wilborn Why did Paul love this book?

There are a lot of books about Florida that are bad or shallowly written, but these days, some real writers are setting their books in the Sunshine State. Kristen Arnett, a Florida resident, uses the backdrop of a failing taxidermy business to write about a crazy family and an odd Central Florida town. 

As a fourth-generation Floridian, I found the book true to life and extremely funny. That’s quite an accomplishment.

By Kristen Arnett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mostly Dead Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Messed-up families, scandalous love affairs, art, life, death and the great state of Florida in one delicious, darkly funny package. Kristen Arnett is a wickedly talented and a wholly original voice' Jami Attenberg

What does it take to come back to life?

In the wake of her father's suicide, Jessa-Lynn Morton has stepped up to manage his failing taxidermy business while the rest of the Morton family falls apart. Her mother starts sneaking into the shop to make alarming art with stuffed animals; and while her brother Milo withdraws, his wife, Brynn - the only person Jessa's ever been in…

Book cover of The New and Improved Romie Futch

Lee Rozelle Author Of Ballad of Jasmine Wills

From my list on contemporary Southern Gothic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was lucky enough to land a job teaching English at the University of Montevallo, a small public liberal arts college where I have had the opportunity to explore my strange academic interests and teach classes with titles like “Am I Human?” and “Southern Neogothic II: Disability, Hicksploitation, Meat.” When I got tenure, I also had the time and freedom to try my hand at writing the kind of Southern Gothic, Bizarro, and Horror tales that I have always adored. From Mad Magazine to MaddAddam, I have always craved dark satire, body horror, and the grotesque. It’s in my blood. 

Lee's book list on contemporary Southern Gothic

Lee Rozelle Why did Lee love this book?

I love this novel because it mixes Southern Gothic with speculative fiction in a hilarious epic struggle between man and hog. When middle-aged taxidermist Romie Futch becomes a research subject in the shady Center for Cybernetic Neuroscience, he becomes both super genius and guinea pig, his middle-aged brain now brilliant beyond comprehension. Troubled by errant downloads that track his thoughts and actions, Romie turns taxidermy into pop art as he hunts down the legendary super pig “Hogzilla.” This is the funniest, wittiest book I’ve read in a long time. 

By Julia Elliott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New and Improved Romie Futch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of The Wilds, which Publishers Weekly called “a brilliant combination of emotion and grime, wit and horror,” comes a debut novel that is part dystopian satire, part Southern Gothic tall tale: a disturbing yet hilarious romp through a surreal New South where newfangled medical technologies change the structure of the human brain and genetically modified feral animals ravage the blighted landscape.

Down on his luck and still pining for his ex-wife, South Carolina taxidermist Romie Futch spends his evenings drunkenly surfing the Internet before passing out on his couch. In a last-ditch attempt to pay his mortgage,…

Book cover of Beatrice and Virgil

Chris Turnbull Author Of The Vintage Coat

From Chris' 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Beekeeper Reader Dog owner Traveler

Chris' 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Chris' 12-year-old's favorite books.

Chris Turnbull Why did Chris love this book?

After reading Life of Pi many years ago (before the movie came out) I never found myself reading another Yann Martel book, which is strange as I loved the Life of Pi so much.

Back in March of this year I stumbled across a copy of Beatrice and Virgil in an old bookshop in Paris, and was instantly drawn to it, not only from the author's name, but the blurb intrigued me terribly.

Yann Martel has this brilliant way of turning a story that can often seem random and unusual, into something you simply have to know what is going to happen next. Typically, I am a slow reader, but with this I just couldn’t put it down. 

By Yann Martel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fate takes many forms. When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey - named Beatrice and Virgil - and the epic journey they undertake together.

With all the spirit and originality that made Life of Pi so treasured, this brilliant new novel takes the reader on a haunting odyssey. On the way Martel asks profound questions about life and art, truth and deception,…

Book cover of Lessons in Taxidermy: A Compendium of Safety and Danger

Karen Havelin Author Of Please Read This Leaflet Carefully: Keep This Leaflet. You May Need to Read It Again.

From my list on to help you keep on living with chronic illness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like my main character, I’m a Norwegian writer with ties to the US, who grew up with various chronic illnesses. I discovered the reason for much of my trouble when I was diagnosed with endometriosis. Isolated and in pain, I have always turned to books. I craved seeing my life reflected. Since Please Read This Leaflet Carefully came out, I’ve heard from many readers. I hope that it can help people who haven’t seen themselves in art before. This list addresses the needs of a life with chronic illness and pain: guidance, darkness, humor, comfort, and poetry. I hope these books will help you as much as they did me. 

Karen's book list on to help you keep on living with chronic illness

Karen Havelin Why did Karen love this book?

This is the first book where I read about experiences of childhood illness similar to my own. Reading it was both shocking and deeply cathartic in a way that felt almost dangerous. It is also a cold hard look at class, age, and intergenerational trauma in relation to health and healthcare in the US. It exists in its own category in my mind. All I can say is read it, just not on a bad pain day. 

By Bee Lavender,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Diagnosed with cancer at age twelve and perilously pregnant at eighteen, surviving surgeries and violent accidents: sometimes you can't believe Bee Lavender is still alive; sometimes you think nothing could kill her. Bee Lavender holds nothing back as she recounts her life spent in and out of hospitals and her subsequent dissociation from her own body and emotions. She struggles with health problems from birth, which are compounded by her surroundings, including frequent encounters with street fights, domestic violence and poverty. Her voice is as strong as the front she puts up for the multitude of doctors she sees, and…