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Six Life-Changing Stories for Animal Lovers

Whether it’s the joy of a new puppy, the ferocity of an untamed beast, or the grief of a beloved pet laid to rest, most of us have had an encounter with an animal that transformed us. The relationship between humans and animals can be powerful and our books agree. Heartwarming, heartrending, and heart-racing, there’s something here for everyone.

Horse | Talley English

“Brilliantly written, and ruthlessly felt.” —Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls’ Rising

When Teagan’s father abruptly abandons his family and his farm, Teagan finds herself wading through the wreckage of what was once an idyllic life, searching for something—or someone—to hold on to. What she finds is Ian, short for Obsidian: the magnificent but dangerously headstrong horse her father left behind. But even as she grows close to Ian, patiently training him, trying to overcome her fear of him, Teagan is learning that life and love are fragile.

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The Call of the Wild and White Fang | Jack London

The canine hero of The Call of the Wild is Buck, a pampered pet in California who is stolen and forced to be a sled dog in the Alaskan wilderness. Then there is White Fang, a fierce wolf-dog hybrid born in the wild who is eventually tamed and rescued. Jack London’s two most beloved tales of survival in Alaska were inspired by his experiences in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush. Both novels grippingly dramatize the harshness of the natural world and what lies beneath the thin veneer of human civilization.

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The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse | Alexander McCall Smith

“An excellent old-fashioned storyteller.” —The Gazette

Val Eliot is working on an English farm during the war when she meets Mike, a U.S. Air Force pilot stationed nearby. The two become close, and after Val rescues a border collie named Peter Woodhouse, who is being mistreated by his owner, she realizes the dog would actually be safer with Mike. Infused with Alexander McCall Smith’s renowned charm and warmth, The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse is an uplifting story of love and the power of friendship to bring sworn enemies together.

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The Mare | Mary Gaitskill

“Extraordinary. . . . [A] magnificently hopeful novel.” —The New York Times Book Review

When Velveteen Vargas, an eleven-year-old Fresh Air Fund kid from Brooklyn, comes to stay with a family in upstate New York, what begins as a two-week visit blossoms into something much more significant. A stirring and deeply felt novel, The Mare is Mary Gaitskill’s most poignant and powerful work yet—a stunning exploration of a girl and her horse, and of the way we connect with people from all walks of life.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time | Mark Haddon

“Gloriously eccentric and wonderfully intelligent.”  —The Boston Globe

A bestselling modern classic—both poignant and funny—about a boy with autism who sets out to solve the murder of a neighbor’s dog and discovers unexpected truths about himself and the world.

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My Dog Skip | Willie Morris

“A rich experience all around….” —Bruce McCall, The New York Times Book Review

In 1943 in a sleepy town on the banks of the Yazoo River, a boy fell in love with a puppy with a lively gait and an intelligent way of listening. The two grew up together having the most wonderful adventures. A classic story of a boy, a dog, and small-town America, My Dog Skip belongs on the same shelf as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Russell Baker’s Growing Up.

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