13 September 2011

List love: 10 animal books I enjoyed, part 2: Anthropomorphised animals

I am not participating in the Top Ten Tuesdays meme this week, so here is a list of my own making:

Last week I posted a list of books about animals being animals. Now it’s time for animals being more or less human.
We have a strong tendency to ascribe human emotions, rationality and morals to animals, sometimes to the point where they really come across as little more than humans in animal suits. Often these are moral tales or fables, although occasionally an author is able to avoid that and simply write an entertaining tale. This list contains some of both.


  1. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. Although each chapter is in itself a moral tale, it never gets preachy or sentimental and it is at heart not a moral tale but a tale of friendship.
  2. Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. As a child I was enchanted by the tale of the The Cat That Walked by Himself, and later enjoyed reading the rest of these whimsical children’s tales.
  3. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. Another Kipling book, this one for older children and adults.
  4. Animal Farm by George Orwell. Possibly the greatest and most stinging animal tale ever told, and it isn't really about animals at all.
  5. Aesop’s Tales by Aesop. They are fables, but (at least in the edition I have) are not preachy but attempt to teach by example.
  6. Watership Down by Richard Adams. A tale in which that unlikely animal, the common rabbit, gets the literary treatment with enjoyable results.
  7. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Written as a condemnation of the ill-treatment of horses, this is an often harrowing story about the life of a horse, told by the horse himself in his old age.
  8. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett. Made intelligent and able to speak by magic, Maurice the con-cat and his rat companions travel around re-enacting the Pied Piper rat plague and making money off it, until one day they enter a town where they can’t play that game and have to fight to survive.
  9. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.Whimsical, fun and just a little bit creepy, he shows kids that it's all right to have some messy fun if you only clean up after yourself when you're done.
  10. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, specifically the edition illustrated by Edward Gorey. Whimsical and enjoyable verses about cats, some of whom are anthropomorphised and other who are not. I enjoyed the musical, but I love the book.

4 comments:

George said...

I was reading the latest issue of THE ECONOMIST and saw this review. I thought you might be interested. Here's a snippet:

Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything. By David Bellos. Particular Books; 400 pages; $20. To be published in America in October by Faber & Faber; $26. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
DAVID BELLOS is a translator and lecturer. His rendition of Ismail Kadare won the Albanian novelist who writes in French the first Man Booker International Prize in 2005. At the same time Mr Bellos won the accompanying translator’s prize, the most prestigious award to honour the importance and skill of translation.
But Mr Bellos’s new book, “Is That a Fish in Your Ear?”, is not just about literary translation: it is about all sorts of translation, and the unrecognised importance of the craft, from reading the instructions on an IKEA flat-pack to the gathering of world news, the translation of jokes, the difficulties and political pressures of simultaneous interpretation—and a whole lot more. In the guise of a book about translation this is a richly original cultural history, a journey from the days when the Greeks simply ignored other languages and the Romans forced all subject peoples to learn Latin, to Google Translate.
It starts with apparently simple questions. What is translation? What do translators do? What does this ability tell us about human societies? How do the facts of translation relate to language in general? It turns out that none of these questions has an obvious answer: the nuances of translation and the cultural expectations placed upon it are seemingly unending.

Bibliophile said...

Thank you, George. It would be worth buying for the title alone.

Yvette said...

WATERSHIP DOWN is my second favorite book of all time. WIND IN THE WILLOWS is another favorite.

Great list. Great topic. Why didn't I think of it? :)

Bibliophile said...

Yvette, there's no reason for you not to post a list of your own. As a matter of fact, I'd like to see it.