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There's nothing quite like spending a night or two with some of the best books about animals in your lap, and we're here to help you! Fascinate yourself with different wildlife facts and explore your favorite topics with these non-fiction animal books, perfect for lovers of all creatures, great and small.
Before judging what nonfiction books about animals are the best, first, we have to decide how to choose them. That being said, here are a few key elements that make a good animal book:
What’s the use of getting a book about animals if the information in them aren’t accurate? Good learning materials should provide factual and reliable knowledge and be well-researched and backed by the scientific community.
One thing that turns most people off from reading nonfiction is the dreary, droning writing style that usually accompanies these types of text. The best nonfiction is the one that can successfully retain the reader’s attention, and it is also something that most academics struggle with.
Animal books improve quality by including many photographs, diagrams, or illustrations. This is also helpful for readers who easily get bored poring through mounds of text.
A strictly informational book is all well and good, but injecting some perspective into the writing can improve the overall quality of the product. Incorporating real-world issues such as ethics, culture, and history makes for an enriching read.
Now that we’ve covered some basic elements of a good nonfiction book let’s proceed to the ones that have passed these markers!
Peter Wohlleben challenges the notion of trees being mere commodities in this fantastic book. He explores the interconnectedness found in the forest and the different processes involved in nature.
If you’re having difficulty connecting to nature, this is an excellent way to start. Although trees aren’t animals per se, Wohlleben does an excellent job of humanizing them for us to empathize with their plight.
If trees aren’t you’re your whole jig, then fret not, for it also sheds light on the many living creatures which make the forest their home. From bacteria to songbirds, you'll learn about how these beings live together in harmony, not unlike the communities we humans thrive in.
Some books are made with a call for action, and this is one of them. Elizabeth Kolbert covers the sixth extinction, the latest and most destructive disaster to have struck the Earth.
If you’re wondering about what the sixth extinction is, it’s basically about how humans have begun to drive other species to nothingness since the dawn of their existence, from big cats to small birds. It’s a good place to contemplate the purpose of our existence on this planet and whether or not we deserve to live in the first place.
The work also covers the different animals we have driven to extinction, from golden frogs to mastodons. Although the book's overall message might be depressing for some, it is worth a look over if you seek more information about the current state of the world.
When you hear the word bird, your mind probably goes next to adorable cockatiels or parrots, but what about ravens? German naturalist Berd Heinrich seeks to convince people to see beyond their undeserving reputation as harbingers of bad luck and instead as intelligent creatures just as interesting as us.
While the book's content is limited to this one bird, it is worth looking at as it gives a different and modern perspective into the life and behavior of ravens. Furthermore, one might agree that learning about one bird can also give you an insight into others.
Overall, if you’re a fan of these elegant dark-feathered beauties, then this book is definitely for you. Enjoy to your heart’s content a wealth of information and personal musings gathered from a lifetime’s worth of work.
The word animal whisperer might have brought you negative connotations from countless scams, but rest assured that the story presented in this book is very different. This concerns Lawrence Anthony, a South African conservationist, and his efforts to provide a home for some of the world’s biggest animals.
The conflict presented in this work has become even more relevant considering the results of the Great Elephant Census, where it was found that the African elephants continue to be on the verge of extinction due to inhumane practices like hunting and industrialization. This book chronicles the exhausting and rewarding work of connecting with these animals and providing them the respect they deserve.
If you love elephants just as much as we do, try dipping your toe into this amazing work. You won’t regret a single moment.
Too often have we heard the adage of dolphins being just as smart as humans (if not more). In this book, Diana Reiss presents her discoveries regarding dolphin consciousness, with additional information regarding conservation and abhorrent practices done to these magnificent creatures.
The book sets itself apart from most because much of the information is not speculative. This is because Reiss is an actual researcher specializing in dolphins, and the info she put here was gathered from observations she made through various scientific experiments.
While the text's tone might border on evangelical at times, it’s endearing to know the writer's passion and love for these animals, something she hopes to share with the readers. If you want to learn more about dolphins from the perspective of a scientist who loves them, then this is the perfect recommendation.
If reading too many pages is not enjoyable for you, how about trying The Serengeti Rules by Sean Carroll? Focused on educating a wider audience, Carroll sought to elucidate the very basic principles of ecology, specifically on the self-regulating pattern of nature.
This book also introduces the concept of keystone species, beings whose nature is necessary for the perpetuation of the environment they live in. This is a monumental discovery as it proposes that some animals, like the cute otters, are ecologically more important than others.
This work is a great place to start for anyone who’s just beginning their adventure into all things nature and animals. It also makes for a perfect gift for animal lovers if you want to switch it out from the usual rescue shirts.
As a final recommendation, I bring you this amazing work by Craig Childs, both a writer and a nature enthusiast. His book is a collection of essays describing forty different encounters with wild animals, written in such a way as to make each experience feel alive.
The book sets itself from others with how it was written, as it seeks to bait the reader’s attention more with its prose rather than information (although to be fair, there’s still a good amount of the latter). There are plenty of interesting encounters with wild animals found all over America, which is sure to tingle the animal lover sense in us all.
If you want to experience being thrust into the wild with other animals but don’t actually want the associated risks and expenses, then this book is as near as you can get. Learn more about the beauty of the local wildlife and gain more appreciation for our environment today.
Some child-friendly books about animals include the classic "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White, "Giraffes Can't Dance" by Giles Andreae, and "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak.
Some famous books about dogs are "Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog" by John Grogan, "The Call of the Wild" by Jack London, and "Old Yeller" by Fred Gipson.
Many of these are available to be ordered online from Amazon or other retailers, although you can also check your local bookstore or library.