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10 books every dog lover should read at least once

Curl up with a good dog-themed book this fall and find some lesser-known classics on this list.

As the anticipated autumn book releases start popping up this month, we here at OhMyDog! thought we’d publish our list of outstanding books every dog lover should have on their shelf.

Of course, there are too many books starring dogs to consider - from old school stories like Lassie to modern classics like Marley and Me. But hopefully readers will discover an untapped gem here that will affirm the hold dogs have on all of us.

1. The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein

Written entirely from a dog’s point of view, The Art of Racing in the Rain tells the story of Enzo, a philosopher of a pup who understands the world through watching TV, the outdoors, and his race car driving owner. This immensely popular novel is equal parts profound, comical, and heart-wrenching. Every dog person will be emotionally invested, more than a little teary, and take away a long-lasting message from this one-of-a kind canine character.

2. Lily and the Octopus

By Steven Rowley

You’ll need another box of tissues for this one, but it’s worth it. Rowley’s magical tale about an aging dachshund and her owner is an outstanding narrative about love and letting go. The bond and banter between human and dog will resonate with every dog owner - and even though the story of loss tugs hard at the heartstrings - the warmth and humour of Lily the dog will stay with you for a very long time.

3. A Dog’s Purpose

By W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog’s Purpose is an entertaining deep dive into the meaning of life through the soul of one pup who has undergone many lives through reincarnation. Cameron’s book asks the big life questions like “what is our purpose?” and confirms for dog lovers what they’ve always known: our pets have profound feelings and thoughts we may never know.

4. Jonathan Unleashed

By Meg Rosoff

This quirky, witty, and romantic book is one dog owners will definitely relate to. Set in Manhattan, a young man who is reluctant to grow up, finds a cocker spaniel and border collie just might be the key to getting out of his rut. A literary book disguised as a light read, Jonathan Unleashed is a wealth of laugh-out-loud one-liners and world wisdom.

5. When Friendship Followed Me Home

By Paul Griffin

Falling in the Young Adult category, When Friendship Followed Me Home is equally lapped up by adult dog lovers just the same. Ben, a 12-year-old orphan who doesn’t fit in at school, is trying to find his forever home when he befriends an abandoned dog and the school librarian’s big-hearted daughter. This book has everything: BFFs, bullying, magic, foster homes, love, heartbreak, and a character you will root for from page one onward..

6. Off The Leash: A Year at the Dog Park

By Mathew Gilbert

Long-time TV critic and journalist Matthew Gilbert chronicles his year as a rookie to dog park culture with his new yellow lab puppy. Here, the true-life humour and drama of the people and pets of this Boston dog park act as a microcosm and metaphor for life itself. Within the borders of the dog world, Gilbert fights to fit in with the eccentric clique of dog owners, and in the meantime, finds wisdom, friendship, and a whole new social subculture.

7. The Incredible Journey

By Sheila Burnford

Sure it’s a classic children’s tale, but we had to include The Incredible Journey on our list because it’s still beloved by dog lovers way into adulthood. The inspiration for the movie Homeward Bound, this emotional story follows a Labrador retriever, a bull terrier, and a Siamese cat through the Canadian wilderness to find their way home to the family they love. This 1961 book about strength and survival will never get old.

8. Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love

By Larry Levin

Stories about the cruelty of dog fighting rarely end well, so this true account of Levin and his (adopted) twin boys adopting a dog on the brink of death is restoring and inspiring. Oogy (the family’s fun pronunciation of “ugly”) is missing an ear, has a face full of scar tissue, and quite a few behavioral issues. But against all bets, Oogy rises above a cruel past to become a loving, funny dog any reader would want to meet. This is a story of rescue, rehabilitation, and redemption.

9. One Good Dog

By Susan Wilson

Everyone deserves a second chance. When a rich, arrogant businessman finds his life turned upside down, he comes into contact with a beaten down Pitbull named Chance who gives him a new lease on life. This is a page-turner that shows you how man and dog can escape poor places and reach new heights together.

10. E.B. White On Dogs

By E.B. White and Martha White (Editor)

Literary hero E.B. White is best known for giving the world Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, but he was also a giant dog nerd throughout his life. In this collection, White’s granddaughter has compiled the letters, poems, and essays about the dogs in E.B.’s life, many reprinted from The New Yorker magazine. White’s dry wit and brilliant wordplay shine through every story that is linked by a four-legged friend.


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