I planned to read 50 books in 2020. I set that goal back in December of 2019 when I assumed that 2020 would somewhat resemble “normal.” You’d think that because of the pandemic and stay home orders, I would have had plenty of time to work my way through that goal, right? Well, I didn’t even come close. Sure, I started a lot of books, but I struggled to finish them. Not because they weren’t good, in fact, they were amazing. I just couldn’t focus long enough. That, and I was super overwhelmed with pivoting my business through everything. Recently, I hit an emotional wall that has forced me to take a hard look at what matters in my life in terms of my well-being. I was working too much without enough downtime to do things that fill my cup in other ways. Don’t get me wrong, my work as a pet photographer and small business owner here in Seattle fills my cup with so much joy. It just can’t be all that fills it. So, I’ve decided that I’m going to take some time off in December to read. Yes, a vacation for reading. It’s the first thing that came to my mind, and the first thing that provided me with a reason to exhale through the anxiety of everything that 2020 has thrown at us.
This morning, I woke up early to do some searching for new books, and I realized that maybe some of you in my community are also feeling the need to take a vacation to read. Or, perhaps you like the idea of learning about some great books to gift to someone you love. This list of 15 books could have easily been a list of 50 books, but I’m learning that less is indeed more right now. I did add a few extras to the Seattle Pet Collective 2020 Holiday Gift Guide, so after you’ve looked at this list, go check out all the awesome gift ideas over there.
I should note that the links to each book on this list take you to a site where you can search for an independent bookstore near you. Please, please support your local bookstores by purchasing your books through them. It makes a difference, so thank you for supporting local.
My list of 15 books to buy for people who love cats and dogs:
For Our Future (the children)
In my childhood, I was surrounded by animals and stories. I do not remember a time when either of those things were not a part of me. I know without a doubt, that who I am as a person is a direct result of the animals I grew up with, both real and imagined. This is the gift we can give our children to help them grow to be good, kind and loving people. The following stories of dogs and cats are only a few of the many I found, but they are sure to become favorites.
Title: Can I Be Your Dog?
Author: Troy Cummings
Why: It’s about a dog who takes matters into his own paws to find his furever home through letter-writing. My heart is melting, and your kids’ hearts will too.
Title: A Cat Story
Author: Ursula Murray Husted
Why: It’s a graphic novel about two cat friends searching for their furever home! I need it!
Title: Gooseberry Park
Author: Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard (Illustrator)
Why: It’s a story about three very different animal friends working together to help unite baby squirrels with their mother. Your children’s imaginations will adore this!
Title: Find Cranky Cat! Search Fun for Cat Lovers
Author: Jana Broecker
Why: If you were a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ fan, and you love cats, then this book is for you. I think it’s great for any age, but could be a fun activity to search for Cranky Cat with your kids.
Title: The Old Woman Who Named Things
Author: Cynthia Rylant and Kathryn Brown (Illustrator)
Why: A beautiful story about an old woman who names the things around her to feel less lonely, but won’t name a puppy because she’s afraid she’ll outlive it. I’m ordering this one right now.
For Us (the grown-ish folks)
The decision to read a book is a gift in itself. A gift of time, imagination and freedom to get lost in story. I hope that you will give yourself this gift through one of these books. Yes, these are great ideas for gifts for other people, but what I really want is for you to do this for you. I made this list for myself first, and now I am sharing it with you so that you can take time to get lost in story.
Title: Dog Songs
Author: Mary Oliver
Why: This book of poems made me cry uncontrollably, in a good way. If you are a dog lover, and you don’t have this book, you need to get it for yourself and another dog lover you know. You don’t even need to be a fan of poetry to feel connected to the words in this book. I promise you, you’ll love it.
Title: A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World
Author: C.A. Fletcher
Why: A post-apocalyptic tale of a young man and his dog? Yes, please. I’m adding this one to my list to read in December.
Title: Nala’s World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride around the Globe
Author: Dean Nicholson and Garry Jenkins
Why: A man rescues a tiny kitten while on a bike trip around the world. This is their story, and I am so excited to experience it.
Title: Afterglow (a dog memoir)
Author: Eileen Myles
Why: This is about the author’s dedication to her dog, Rosie. Rosie is a pit bull, and that’s all I need to know to add this book to my collection. I’ll be reading this soon.
Title: The Travelling Cat Chronicles
Author: Hiro Arikawa and Philip Gabriel (Translated by)
Why: A story of a man and his cat seeking out a place to belong; a place to connect. Don’t we all need this right now? Adding to my collection in 3, 2, 1…
Title: Good Dogs Don’t Make It to the South Pole
Author: Hans-Olav Thyvold and Mary Ostby (Translated by)
Why: A story about a grumpy old dog and his human companion’s widow bonding after their loss. Yes, please, give me all the feelings.
Title: Chicken: a comic cat memoir
Author: Terese Jungle
Why: It’s a graphic novel about cats and people with extra stories hidden in the details of the artwork. Adding it right meow.
Title: Norton’s Philosophical Memoirs: The story of a man, as told by his dog.
Author: Hakan Nesser
Why: It’s told from the dog’s perspective, which I am a big fan of. Don’t we all wish we knew what they were thinking?
Title: What Cats Want: An illustrated guide for truly understanding your cat
Author: Dr. Yuki Hattori
Why: Want to know what your cat wants? This book from Japan’s leading cat doctor, just might be what you need.
Title: The Year of the Dogs
Author: Marie Sheva
Why: This is on my list to buy right now because it’s about overcoming addiction. This subject is important to me because I am six and a half years sober. My dogs were a big part of my recovery from alcohol abuse, and I share them in my stories with anyone who needs support in their own journey of sobriety. Whether you struggle with addiction or know someone who does, reading stories about this subject will help you gain perspective on what it takes to heal from the pain of losing yourself or a loved one in addiction.
Have another book you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!