Everything’s Better With Dogs…and Bacon

Ooooh, a challenge this week to be sure! The Broke & the Bookish has tasked bloggers to select a top ten list in any genre we choose. Anything from biographies to graphic novels is fair game. Basically any list is fair game so long as the ten works are in the same sphere.

I thought about romances, swashbucklers, books made into films, fantasy, and any and every other kind of list out there, but all of them led me to the same twenty or so books. Naturally, I couldn’t turn in pablum for this week’s list, so I thought I’d try something different. Ladies and gents, I give you my top ten list for this week…

The Top Ten Books Featuring an Animal


Watchers 
by Dean Koontz—You have to love a book featuring a Golden Retriever that can talk and is being followed by an evil genetically enhanced monster who seeks to destroy him! I bet I’ve read this book five times in my life, and it still makes me giggle in places. Many of the dog’s lines are classics, and our family passes them around like candy corn at Halloween.


The Metamorphosis
by Franz Kafka—“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a giant insect.” One of the best opening lines in fiction. He has a family who treats him like garbage, and when they’re asked to care for him the way he had for them, they show that they are the true low-life vermin. Such a heartbreaking piece…

Animal Farm by George Orwell—The first time I read this, I nearly lost my mind when Boxer died in the harness for a dream that was never intended for reality. Part political commentary, part Juvenalian satire—Orwell’s brilliant use of anthropomorphism is still unparalleled by any other work of fiction. It takes a harsh look at fascism in a way that makes it immediately accessible to younger readers.


Watership Down by Richard Adams—I’ll have to admit that I’ve never read this one in its entirety. However, I have taught snippets of it in creative writing classes and AP Literature test prep courses. It is quite literally on EVERY “animal book” list out there, confirming what I already know. I’ll likely be diving into this one before the month is out. (Hey! This will help me meet my “three classics quote” for the year!!!)
 

The Lion, the Witch, and Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis—I cannot tell you how many times I got in trouble for reading books from this series underneath my desk when I should have been learning unessential stuff. You know…like math and geography. I hold Lewis responsible for my inability to complete algebraic equations or to find Ghana on a map. However, I can tell you anything you want to know about fauns, satyrs, centaurs, and any and all talking “normal” critters.
 


Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes—I actually read this one for the first time a few years ago before I taught it to middle schoolers. It’s a sad work to be sure, but man can it generate a great discussion about genetic manipulation, the right to life, individually, being made the way God intended, and other important topics. The students who read it with me were deeply emotionally impacted by this work; it made them more kind to others and more cognizant of how they treated people.


Cujo
by Stephen King—I’ll be the first to say that Stephen King’s epic works (The Stand, Cell, The Dark Tower), the ones that are vast in scope are my favorite. However, they are not the most terrifying of his works. The small scale horror pieces, usually the ones that could plausibly take place, are the most unnerving. I’m thinking works like this one (normally gentle giant dog turned hound of hell), Misery (crazed fan controls you in total isolation), and The Shining (father hits rock bottom with alcohol in a nearly abandoned hotel) are truly gut wrenching.


Old Possum’s Book of Practical 
Cats by T.S. Eliot—There’s something so appealing about this little tome. Perhaps it’s because most of Eliot’s work is heavy and ponderous, caught up in the darker half of humanity, but the rhyming whimsy of this piece always makes me smile. It was Eliot who told us, “The naming of cats is a difficult matter, / it isn’t just one of your holiday games; / You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter / when I tell you a cat must have three different names.”


Black Beauty
by Anna Sewell—Every girl, for some inexplicable reason, goes through a horse phase. For some, the period only lasts a few months while others try to learn how to draw them as well as ride them as well as collect Breyer figures. (Guess which category I fell into?) This one was unlike all other horse books at the time because the pony in question gets to tell you about how it feels–how nice a nosebag of oats is and how hard life in front of a cart really is. For some reason, I adored this book as a little girl, but I doubt I’d feel the same about it as a grumpy thirty-something. 🙂


The Glass Menagerie 
by Tennessee Williams—Who says inanimate animals can’t qualify a book for this list? The fragile crystal collection is poor Laura’s only source of friendship and understanding. Like her favorite unicorn, she doesn’t quite fit with the rest. The symbolism of this play makes it like that little shelf of knick knacks–perfectly balanced, breathtaking, and multifaceted.

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11 thoughts on “Everything’s Better With Dogs…and Bacon

  1. You have some really terrific choices on this list…”Watchers” was the first Koontz novel I ever read, and I’ve been a fan ever since. I’d add any of Lillian Jackson Braun’s cat mysteries, featuring the supergenius Siamese cats, and of course, Moby-Dick. I had to write a whole essay on what that darn white whale meant, and I’m still not sure.

  2. Only you, Jamie!! Only you could connect such a vast array of genres and still stay within the rules of the game!!! I loved it!

    1. I love these lists. Kafka to Keyes, fiction is truly an interlinked web. We should play a six degrees of fictional separation to see if we can relate all books the same way we connect movie stars.

  3. Just for the sake of argument, my list….

    Top Ten SF Novels about War/Combat:

    The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/93142.The_Forever_War

    Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1496529.Starship_Troopers

    Hammer’s Slammers by David Drake
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1355339.Hammer_s_Slammers

    Bolo by Keith Laumer
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3360916-bolo

    The Regiment by John Dalmas
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2523067.Regiment

    Recall Not Earth by C.C. MacApp
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3464767-recall-not-earth

    Footfall by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10975424-footfall

    Warday and the Journey Onward by by James W. Kunetka & Whitley Strieber
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1538941.Warday_and_the_Journey_Onward

    Ranks of Bronze by David Drake
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2247046.Ranks_of_Bronze

    Trilogy: The Double Spiral War by Warren Norwood
    ~1~ Midway Between
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2155593.Midway_Between
    ~2~ Polar Fleet
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1961438.Polar_Fleet
    ~3~ Final Command
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59321.Final_Command

    1. I’ve only read one of those, I’m sad to say. I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, more of a fantasy girl. However, this is a nice list! You should start doing these book lists each week, Jim. Folks follow the links and exchange book ideas!

  4. Great list. I’ve read a lot of those. I haven’t read the Koontz book. But I might have put Fear Nothing on that list, though, the Christopher Snow story. Cats know stuff. Watership Down is definitely a good pick. Cujo! *shiver* Heh.

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