Purrfectly Pawsome - Read 20 Books That Celebrate Man's Best Friend, our Feline Overlords and More Uncommon Companions

As much loved family members, pets hold a very special place in our hearts. Here are twenty books, both fiction and non fiction, featuring pets or at least those animals that we would like to consider as pets. Cats in particular would potentially sneer at being labelled and I hesitate to call Terry Pratchett’s Greebo a pet, but then again, he is a big soft ball of fur to Nanny Ogg. We have a few unusual animals in the mix here, an alligator and a hawk are included alongside the more traditional dogs, cats, fish, and hamsters. There is a whole heap of love to be found within the pages, but occasionally a few tears too. One thing is for sure, the animals within this collection are absolutely fabulous (even Greebo!).

Fishbowl

Fishbowl

Author: Bradley Somer Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2016

A dive in head first and refuse to come up for air book - it’s unique, clever and quite quite wonderful. If at first you just dip your toe in and wonder where on earth you're being taken, don't bail out, as this quickly becomes a delightful and compelling read. Meet some of the occupants of the apartment building of Seville on Roxy, they are everyday typical people (apart from Ian the skydiving goldfish), however this 30 minute peek into their lives makes you feel as though you are simultaneously viewing the whole world. With beautiful compassion, Bradley Somer allows you to observe people from a different perspective. The short chapters, capable of evoking an assortment of emotions, flow as quickly as Ian does past each window. This isn't about answers or knowledge, instead Fishbowl encourages you to open your eyes, to ponder, to smile, to mourn… and applaud this refreshingly quirky tale. ~ Liz Robinson One of our Books of the Year 2015.

eBooks of the Month
Nala's World

Nala's World

Author: Dean Nicholson Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/08/2021

Instagram phenomenon @1bike1world Dean Nicholson reveals the full story of his life-changing friendship with rescue cat Nala and their inspiring adventures together on a bike journey around the world. When 30-year-old Dean Nicholson set off from Scotland to cycle around the world, his aim was to learn as much as he could about our troubled planet. But he hadn't bargained on the lessons he'd learn from his unlikely companion. Three months after leaving home, on a remote road in the mountains between Montenegro and Bosnia, he came across an abandoned kitten. Something about the piercing eyes and plaintive meowing of the bedraggled little cat proved irresistible. He couldn't leave her to her fate, so he put her on his bike and then, with the help of local vets, nursed her back to health. Soon on his travels with the cat he named Nala, they forged an unbreakable bond - both curious, independent, resilient and adventurous. The video of how they met has had 20 million views and their Instagram has grown to almost 750k followers - and still counting! Experiencing the kindness of strangers, visiting refugee camps, rescuing animals through Europe and Asia, Dean and Nala have already learned that the unexpected can be pretty amazing. Together with Garry Jenkins, writer with James Bowen of the bestselling A Street Cat Named Bob, Dean shares the extraordinary tale of his and Nala's inspiring and heart-warming adventure together.

Star Books
Carrying Albert Home

Carrying Albert Home

Author: Homer Hickam Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/06/2016

One of our Books of the Year 2016. A beautifully quirky, yet at the same time completely logical love story (well it is logical once you've realised that you too, have fallen in love with an alligator). ‘Carrying Albert Home’ is a nine part tale, detailing an odyssey that took place during the 1930’s, interspersed with snappy little introductions to each part of the story by the author. As Homer (the elder) and Elsie his wife, adventure their way down the east coast from West Virgina to Florida, with Albert the alligator and the Rooster, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Homer Hickam (the younger and author) is telling the ‘somewhat true’ story of the early years of his parents marriage, surely this is the most fantastical tale ever told! I believe that John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway would remember their parts in this tale with glee, who wouldn't want to have been introduced to the charming and rather glorious Albert? I quite simply devoured this enchanting book in one sitting, and I will want to read it again and again. One of our Books of the Year 2015. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Finding Gobi

Finding Gobi

Author: Dion Leonard Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/06/2017

June 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. A book to put a great big beaming (and somewhat tearful) smile on your face. ‘Finding Gobi’ documents the quite amazing story of one man’s quest to find the little dog who had stolen his heart. Dion Leonard was a serious ultra marathon competitor in a race through the Gobi Desert, when a little street dog joined him, running by his side. We hear about Dion’s childhood, why he started running, what it takes to be an ultra competitor, and we meet Gobi, the dog with eyes that appear to see into your soul. You may already be aware of this story, as it took social media by storm, if like me, you weren’t, then the prologue sets your mind at ease before you start this simply sensational story. ‘Finding Gobi’ joins man and dog in a story to warm the cockles of your heart, I absolutely adored it. It is worth noting that a children’s version of the story is also available. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

Author: Ruth Hogan Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/05/2018

From the bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan, comes another irresistible novel of unexpected friendships, second chances ... and dark secrets. Gloriously gorgeous in every way.  After tragedy crashed into her life, Masha often sits on the bottom of the pool at the local lido, unable to look forward, to join in. Sally Red Shoes and Kitty Muriel nudge Masha’s awareness, and life begins to look interesting again. I absolutely adored ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’ which was one of my books of the year 2017, so looked forward with relish to Ruth Hogan’s next offering. ‘The Particular Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes’ is just as special, and cements this particular author as one of my firm favourites. Ruth Hogan has the very special ability to look beyond the veil of unremarkable to find a sometimes painful, yet beautifully quirky existence. Each character (and I include the dogs in this), is fully realised and absolutely essential to the storyline. Kitty and Sally are so stuffed full of life I found myself wanting them in my life too. Words such as enchanting, captivating, and charming are spilling out of my mind, yet this is not a sickly sweet tale, also added to the mix are poignant, emotional, heart-ache…and I both laughed and cried, sometimes at the same time. Quite simply, ‘The Particular Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes’ is a must-read, and I adored every single second of it. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Star Books
Wyrd Sisters - Playtext

Wyrd Sisters - Playtext

Author: Terry Pratchett, Stephen Briggs Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/05/1996

Terry Pratchett takes Shakespeare's Macbeth and then turns it up 'till the knob comes off. It's all there - a wicked duke and duchess, the ghost of the murdered king, dim soldiers, strolling players, a land in peril. And who stands between the Kingdom and destruction? Three witches. Granny Weatherwax (intolerant, self-opinionated, powerful), Nanny Ogg (down-to-earth, vulgar) and Magrat Garlick (naive, fond of occult jewellery and bunnies). Stephen Briggs has been involved in amateur dramatics for over 25 years and he assures us that the play can be staged without needing the budget of Industrial Light and Magic. Not only that, but the cast should still be able to be in the pub by 10 o'clock! Oh, and a world of advice omitted from the play text: LEARN THE WORDS Havelock, Lord Vetinari

Saving Missy

Saving Missy

Author: Beth Morrey Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2021

A debut novel to read slowly, to savour, to adore. Yes, this is a rather special and beautiful read, and I want to climb a few rooftops to shout about it. Missy Carmichael is lonely, she lives by herself in a huge house, when opportunities arise for friendship and more, can she reach out and take them? I admit to having fallen in love with Missy, she isn’t perfect and she makes mistakes (who doesn’t!), yet there is something about her that tiptoed into my heart and soul and has taken up residence. So often we just see a snapshot of someone, a moment or period in their life, however not here. Beth Morrey has not only brought her to life, but by also dipping into the past, we discover the gems that make Missy, well, Missy! The surrounding characters are a wonderfully quirky bunch, and Bob is an absolute delight. I laughed and I cried (oh how I cried). Saving Missy meanders gently, poignantly, beautifully, to what was for me, a perfect ending. I adored meeting Missy and so have chosen this lovely debut novel as one of our star books.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Audiobooks of the Month
Happiness for Beginners

Happiness for Beginners

Author: Carole Matthews Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/05/2019

What a lovely, charming, friendly read this is, an enticing ‘will they, won’t they’ romance is equally matched by the story of animals in need and children requiring an alternative learning environment. Molly Baker runs her beloved farm as a school, when a new student arrives, Molly’s life is turned thoroughly upside down and in to a roundabout spin. I adored the explanation at the beginning of the novel by Carole Matthews that Hope Farm is based on the real Animal Antiks Farm. The first sentence had me chortling and I settled further down into the comfort of my sofa to enjoy the read. Molly tells her own story, I could really hear her voice and her personality shines through. Can I say that the animals very nearly steal the show for me, having had a downright grumpy (read that as flesh tearing vampire) rescue cat myself, their individual quirks made me smile. ‘Happiness for Beginners’ is entertaining, heart-warming and ever so readable, I raced through in one sitting and enjoyed every second. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Audiobooks of the Month
When Harry Met Minnie

When Harry Met Minnie

Author: Martha Teichner Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/11/2021

You will know Martha’s name for her insightful and trustworthy reporting on the run up to the Iraq war, the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the life and death of Nelson Mandela and so much more, for CBS News and as a contributor on CBS Sunday Morning, in a journalistic career that has won her 10 Emmys and 5 James Beard Foundation Awards.  What you may not know is that Martha has been a committed, long term owner of Bull Terriers, the egg-headed, pointy-eared dogs that are full of playful, eccentric character and who, when they don’t want to go anywhere, lower their “leg at each corner” centre of gravity, like a Citroën DS, and firmly stay put. In this beautifully written memoir, at times both tear-inducingly heart-wrenching and profoundly heart-warning, Martha introduces us to the dogs that have kept her company and along the way recounts how adopting Harry, whose owner, Martha, had been diagnosed with a life shortening liver cancer, gave rise to extraordinary canine and human friendships. While Minnie and Harry are very much the lead characters, it is Martha herself who steals the show, with beautifully evoked scenes of her Leelanau County, Michigan childhood and her NYC adult home and life, revealing her to be the loyal and committed friend we would all like in our lives. From the endless, and eyewatering, vet bills, to dog au pairs, and from Manhattan farmer’s markets to South Carolina beaches, Martha tale of friendship and of death is actually a profound celebration of  the happy coincidences of fate and of lives lived with love and style, whether you have four legs or two.  The LoveReading LitFest invited Martha Teichner to the festival to talk about When Harry Met Minnie.  The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member.

Star Books
Rescue Me

Rescue Me

Author: Sarra Manning Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/01/2021

A sparkling bright and entertaining contemporary romance, and just to make you smile even more there’s a rescue dog who shares (steals) the limelight. When Margot and Will meet and both fall in love with Blossom at the rescue centre, they reluctantly agree to share custody. Sarra Manning has the most wonderfully light touch, she adds notes of sunshine to proceedings even when darkness threatens. With poo bags, dog treats, and increasingly bad behaviour Blossom is an absolute delight. Margot or Will head each chapter with each given equal billing, they feel entirely relatable, flaws and all. The background characters add colour and vibrancy to an already lovely novel. This really is the perfect read for anyone wanting to escape from reality for a while. So, wrap yourself up in the comforting embrace of an uplifting modern romance and sit back and relax with Rescue Me.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
A Beer in the Loire

A Beer in the Loire

Author: Tommy Barnes Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/06/2019

A sharply amusing and captivating memoir based on the attempt of the author to make a new life in France. Tommy Barnes and his girlfriend escape the 9-5 of the UK after being made redundant. Surrounded by animals, friendly locals, and stunning countryside, Tommy struggles to start a micro-brewery in the heart of the Loire Valley. The author is more than happy to poke fun at himself, he is also incredibly honest. His writing ensured I didn’t feel too badly as I chortled, smirked and raised my eyebrows as he somewhat stumbles through life. Rather stealing the show is Burt the dog, described by Tommy as squat, surly and defiant, Burt makes it his life mission to cause chaos wherever he is. I also just have to mention the gorgeous cover, which most definitely called out to me. ‘A Beer in the Loire’ is an engaging, ever so entertaining read, oh, and there are several recipes for beer too, how fabulous!  

Why Mummy Swears

Why Mummy Swears

Author: Gill Sims Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/12/2018

You don’t have to be a Mummy to read this, or in fact to absolutely adore it. I am not a member of the Mummy club, yet I laughed hard, I smirked, I felt the pain, and the love too. This is set over a year in the life of frustrated mum Ellen, who has an eleven and a nine year old (oh and a husband and dog who convincingly add to the chaos). I would imagine there will be parents breathing a huge sigh of relief as they think, ‘I’m glad it’s not just me’. Just in case you aren’t keen, yes there is a fair bit of swearing, including some fantastically imaginative pairing of words that I definitely want to remember. Gill Sims keeps the tone light and bright, yet the pressure of balancing work and children can definitely be felt. I feel as though Ellen could be my friend, I could hear her voice as clearly as anything as I read. I actually could have been on the phone to Ellen, with her offloading her woes (while I tried unsuccessfully to stop snorting with laughter). I simply raced through ‘Why Mummy Swears’, it is a knockout read, great fun, full of empathy, and highly entertaining. 

eBooks of the Month
My Family and Other Animals

My Family and Other Animals

Author: Gerald Durrell Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2016

I first read these as a young teen, and as an owner of a variety of animals myself, felt a particular affinity with Gerry. I re-read the books in my early twenties while in Corfu, and of course the age difference added depth and location even more colour. These are books you can read at any age, wonderfully evocative they whisk you back in time. There is a lightness of touch that charms, while the humour delights. Simply gorgeous! Books in The Corfu Trilogy: 1. My Family and Other Animals 2. Birds, Beasts and Relatives 3. The Garden of the Gods Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.

eBooks of the Month
H is for Hawk

H is for Hawk

Author: Helen Macdonald Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/02/2015

Shortlisted for the The Bookseller Book of the Year 2015. Winner of the Costa Book of the year 2014. Winner of the Costa Biography Award 2014. Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize 2014. Owning and training a hawk has been a life-long dream for Helen Macdonald, she accomplishes her dream as she tries to deal with the anguish of her father’s death. She buys a Goshawk, Mabel and the monumental task of training of this wild bird begins. There are some heart in the mouth moments, sadness too not only in her own grief but the tortured soul of T H White, the author who inspired her with Goshawk, his own record of trying to train a Goshawk.  A compelling story that follows Helen Macdonald from dark to light in her quest to let go and become as one with the hawk. ~ Sue Baker   The Costa Judges said Macdonald's book was “a beautifully-layered memoir centred on nature and survival in superlative and original prose.”   Like for Like Reading Falconry & Hawking by Phillip Glasier The Peregrine with The Hill of summer by J. A. Baker

eBooks of the Month
The Cat Who Saved Books

The Cat Who Saved Books

Author: Sosuke Natsukawa Format: Hardback Release Date: 16/09/2021

An absolute little treasure! After the death of his grandfather, Rintaro finds himself on an adventure with Tiger the talking cat, to help books that desperately need saving. This incredibly quirky and beautiful novel highlights the importance of books, friendship, and self-belief. The simplicity of the story highlights the warmth, the love, and the true power of books. It also encouraged me to explore my own relationship with books. Sosuke Natsukawa painted images straight into my thoughts, simple, clear, vividly bright, they still sit in my minds eye. A shout out to the translation by Louise Heal Kawai, as I felt as though I was reading the original Japanese version. If you, like me, think of books as being more than words on paper, if you talk to them and pat them, are moved by them and have thoughts altered by them, then I recommend The Cat Who Saved Books with my heart and soul. Chosen as one of my Liz Picks of the Month, it really would make the perfect gift, either for you, or another book-lover in your life.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Never Leave the Dog Behind

Never Leave the Dog Behind

Author: Helen Mort Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/10/2020

This small yet perfectly formed book covers personal thoughts, poetry, and the relationship we develop with dogs when roaming, hiking, and running through our wild places, in particular hills and mountains. Helen Mort discusses photography, historical records, research, and shares her experience of her own four-legged friends. She also takes a fascinating look at the dogs bred to be our companions in hills and mountains such as Huskies and St Bernards. Even though this is non-fiction, there is a beauty to the writing, with moments that really made me stop and think. The author is a poet and as she wanders through her own thoughts, pondering, considering, and analysing, she lets us into her soul. Never Leave the Dog Behind would make a lovely little gift, if you adore dogs and nature, then this is the book for you.

The Dark Room

The Dark Room

Author: Sam Blake Format: Ebook Release Date: 07/01/2021

If you want to escape reality for a while you can just throw yourself into this diverting mystery. Two women find themselves at Hare’s Landing in West Cork for very different reasons and join forces to investigate some strange links to the house, including two suspicious deaths and a missing persons case. A number of plot lines all rather gleefully twist together and once the main characters are together in Ireland the story really comes together. Sam Blake writes short intense chapters, encouraging thoughts to whip and spin. Rachel and Caroline investigate with determination, though I have to admit that Jasper the dog was my particular favourite! The hint of ghostly goings-on play with the atmosphere, but it is very much the humans in this tale that you need to keep an eye on. Entertaining and twisty, The Dark Room slots together to a satisfying end.

eBooks of the Month
The Dog Share

The Dog Share

Author: Fiona Gibson Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2021

If you’re in need of a truly lovely and heart-warming relationship tale then I can recommend that you stop right here. If the thought of a rescue dog and a Scottish island also appeal, then you really have come to the right place. An abandoned small terrier enters the lives of residents and visitors on the Island of Sgadansay. I do so love Fiona Gibson’s writing, as I’ve said before, she writes with empathy, and the extra sparkle of romance and wit is just delightful. Her tales feel as though they are grounded in reality and I always find myself really connecting to her characters. This is a multi-generational tale and we meet 10 year old Arthur through to 78 year old Harry. Suzy and Ricky who are both in their late 40’s head the chapters, each telling their own tale and living life with its ups and downs. I love the dog sharing aspect of this story, connections form, seconds chances beckon, and friendships begin to flourish. There may well be a heart-stopping moment or two to encounter, but ultimately this is as feel-good as it gets. As a ray of sunshine to combat darkness, The Dog Share is a wonderfully engaging and entertaining read.

Books of the Month
A Thousand Roads Home

A Thousand Roads Home

Author: Carmel Harrington Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/08/2019

A truly gorgeous and inspiring read, it may well make your heart ache, but also fill with love too. Ruth and her son DJ are struggling to find a home in Dublin when Dr O’Grady and his dog Bette Davis come into their lives. Several very current issues, including homelessness, are explored. I’d rather let you enter the tale without filling in too much detail, as this feels like a journey to be undertaken without preconceived ideas. I love Carmel Harrington’s writing, as I have said before, she deals with provocative issues with thoughtful consideration. The story slowly and beautifully comes together, the words opened my heart and mind, and encouraged me to explore and consider. I fell in love with the characters, I’ve welcomed them into my thoughts and they remain, keeping me company. The note from the author at the end is fascinating, particularly when she explains the background to, and research she made for the book. A Thousand Roads Home is a lovely, compelling, very readable tale (with a perfect title) and I have chosen it as one my picks of the month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month

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