Our five favourite animal books
Ben Jeffreys
4 minutes

Over the years, the human race has always had a fascination with using animals to tell stories dating back to the oldest known human history. With this in mind, we had a chat in the office about our favourite and most influential books centred around animals. Here are some of our favourites! Note this is not a definitive list of the best books; this is only the opinions of the iRecall® staff as the books that stuck with us the most.

Animal Farm - George Orwell

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. You probably studied this book at school, or you will study it in the future but if you haven’t, here’s a brief history:

George Orwell’s 1945 novel Animal Farm is a retelling of the Russian revolution of 1917 leading to the Soviet Union. It tells the story of a group of farm animals in their effort to create their own society where animals can be equal, free and happy. If you’ve read up on your Russian history, you’ll know how the story goes. For those who have not, this is an excellent place to learn.

But why is it regarded as a classic?

Easy. It changed the way people viewed the USSR and Soviet Russia. It was written to be a political satire, to open people’s perspectives on communism, for all of its benefits and flaws. It had the power to change people’s view toward Stalin and leave its mark in history.

War Horse - Michael Morpurgo

Another obvious one. Morpurgo’s War Horse has been remembered as a legendary novel-turned-stage play-turned-film. People can’t seem to get enough of this and for good reason.

Told from the main character’s perspective, this book follows a young boy named Albert and his horse Joey through the horror of the First World War, with gut-punching emotional moments that are guaranteed to leave you in tears. The only catch is that the main character… is the horse!?

War Horse has been revered worldwide, in multiple different mediums of entertainment. Its timeless story that can still deliver emotional punch means it has the potential to adapt to the modern world, keeping it relevant and high-profile (In other words, you’ve heard of this novel!).

The Call of the Wild - Jack London

Jack London’s short adventure novel may have seen multiple adaptations to movies, but no one can deny the excellence of the source material. Set in the Yukon, Canada, the story focuses on a dog named Buck and his transition from civilian to primordial and even feral. This story can teach people about how your environment can shape you, bringing along some very poignant subliminal messages to make people ponder over.

This is a guaranteed tear-jerker for any dog person and a gripping story for everyone else. Not shying away from the ugly realities of nature, this narrative can be seen as a very effective tool for education.

The Snail and the Whale - Julia Donaldson

Switching gears a bit, we have an iconic children’s book that many people credit for the lesson of friendship. A short children’s book, this story documents a snail’s journey on top of a whale’s back.

Sounds simple, right?
It doesn’t need to be more complicated. With the hardships the pair go through, the reader is taught the importance of friendship and how they should treat others how they would want to be treated. A lot of people owe this book for teaching them this lesson and for that, we will be eternally grateful.

Black Beauty - Anna Sewell

Rounding out this list is one of the most well-known and moving stories ever told. Black Beauty is one of the best-selling novels of all time and is known as the founder of the pony book genre. Need I say more?

Told as an autobiography the titular horse, Black Beauty tells the life story of the working horse to the end with all of the hardships along the way. The book opened people’s eyes to the hardship working animals went through, becoming a classic and a book passed down through generations. This can be placed amongst the best books ever written.

Honourable mention: Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes

One book that deserves a quick mention for its cultural impact would be Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes. Known as one of the pioneers of the outdoor literature genre, this book recounts the journey of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 120-mile long hiking journey through the Cevennes over its rocky terrain with his donkey. If you would like to read the birth of a genre, look no further than this book.