To say that pets play a significant part in our lives would be an understatement as they can make our lives fuller and more complete. When the world becomes unkind, prodigal kindness comes back to us in the form of pets. During the worst of times, we have our pets to turn to. And during the best of times, our pets celebrate our wins with us. To live in a world bereft of joy makes no sense as we only have one life. This is why we need pets.
Fiction finds a way to celebrate the pets in our lives by making them central to its plot. For those of us who never got to have our own pets and had to make do with the dogs, cats, and rabbits of our friends, fiction where pets play a crucial role is a saving grace. It reminds us that unconditional love and kindness do exist in the world and for us to experience it, we may need to become friends with more animals. Humanity often loses perspective of what it takes to live a good life: love. Fiction based on pets reminds us that it really doesn’t take all the riches in the world to make us happy and having a non-human friend can solve most of our problems.
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
When a woman loses her best friend and mentor, she is left with his dog. The dog’s suffering for his owner amplifies her own grief. Dogs are prohibited in her apartment building yet she takes him in. This is a love story about a grieving woman and a dog in mourning who find each other during one of the worst phases of their lives. Together, they try to gain some semblance of normalcy and forge an inseparable bond.
Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Elizabeth Zott is a scientist and she is not going to let anyone convince her otherwise. Despite facing extreme sexism at her workplace, she stands tall in the face of adversity. Her dog, Six Thirty, adores her and will do anything to protect her and her daughter. From running for miles to learning new words, he has a keen desire to impress Elizabeth. He sees Elizabeth for who she is and not as the submissive person society wants to make of her.
The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (Translated by Eric Selland)
A couple in their thirties live in the quiet part of Tokyo. They don’t have much to say to each other and spend most of their time working as freelance copy editors. When their lives are engulfed by drudgery, a cat enters. It keeps coming back every day and very soon the couple’s lives start revolving around their new guest. The color that has been lost from their lives makes a comeback, much to their dismay.
If Cats Disappeared From The World by Genki Kawamura (Translated by Eric Selland)
Our narrator is living on borrowed time. He is estranged from his family and lives alone with his cat, called Cabbage. The doctor says he only has months to live. Before he can get to his bucket list, the Devil appears and tells him that he will be allowed to live one extra day. But for that to happen something needs to disappear as well. Our narrator and his beloved cat will reach the brink while dealing with the Devil. What actually matters in the end? How do we separate things we love from who we are?
The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (Translated by Philip Gabriel)
Nana the cat doesn’t know why his owner, Satoru, is taking him on a trip. They ride a silver van exploring Japan and meeting Satoru’s old friends. From a farmer to a warm-hearted couple running a pet-friendly B&B, they meet a vivacious group of people. But what actually is the purpose of this road trip and why is everyone suddenly so interested in getting to know Nana?
The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein
Enzo knows he is not like other dogs. He is born a philosopher and has the soul of a human. He has educated himself by watching television and following his master, Denny. Through Denny, Enzo has learned that life, like racing, isn’t simply about rushing forward. It’s about careful calculations, empathy, and loving and being loved. On the eve of his death, Enzo ponders on what he and his human family have gone through together.
Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score
YouTube star Maggie arrives in tiny Kinship, Idaho, to restore a dilapidated Victorian mansion. She has her team and her to-do lists to help her execute her plan. Enter Silas, a man whose flirting game throws Maggie off her tracks. He and his service-school dropout dog persistently try to woo her, but Maggie isn’t seeking anything long-term. But she doesn’t know what plans fate has for her and very soon her summer fling will transform into something else.
The Unexpected Inheritance Of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan
The day Inspector Ashwin Chopra retires, he inherits two things: the mysterious case of a boy’s death and a baby elephant. Seems like no one is at all bothered about the young boy’s suspicious death. With the help of his elephant, he plunges deep into this case and traverses the city of Mumbai, India with the hope of uncovering what truly went down. Animals are way smarter than the human world gives them credit for and this book bears testimony to that.
Want to read more books featuring animals? Please check out this list of lovely stories about animals!