Thursday, May 6, 2010

Collecting Dog Books: What's Your Genre?

In dog terms, the dachshund is my genre. Dachshunds chose me when I was an infant; I belong to the breed. But I read and collect beyond the scope of the sublime badger dog. I'm always looking for new niches to explore and recommend.

For entertainment, mysteries and thrillers probably lead the genre parade. There are the classics, often obtainable in old and not always expensive fine editions, and a constant crop of new tales. You can collect by author, series, breed, or such subgenres as the cosy (you've got to curl up with a dog to read these!). A dog's role in the action might also be your focus: there are dog victims and heroes, dogs whose mastery of human speech may tell the reader more than what any other character imparts, and the canine sidekicks of professional investigators and amateur sleuths.

In nonfiction, there are lives of dogs and lives of people devoted to them. Veterinarians, zoologists, explorers, dog breeders and trainers and behaviorists, authors and artists, hikers and hunters and mushers, names renowned in the world beyond dogs, and names known only to next-door neighbors are among those whose biographies or memoirs transport us to times, places, and events we might otherwise know little or nothing about, and where we'll meet memorable dogs. In canine biography, the possibilities include the companions of European monarchs, American presidents, and celebrities; dogs remembered for their immortal contributions in military service, space exploration, and other endeavors; dogs who have excelled in the performing arts; and pets who may never have left their backyards but have so much to share with us.

Whether you rate religion and fairy tales as unrelated or indistinguishable, you'll find illuminating stories of the dog in both fields. Investigate creation stories from every corner of the globe, and you may be surprised and humbled by how often the dog is present and significant. Similarly, "Little Red Riding Hood" and its wolf in grandma's guise is just one classic with equivalents in many cultures.

What’s your favorite corner of the dog reading world?


  1. I've enjoyed many dog books over the years... too bad I don't remember more titles! But I've read some good ones on dog sledding. I really liked "The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic" As a child, I read and re-read "Lad: A Dog"!

  2. This memorial Day I turn to the histories and stories of war dogs...especially those who served and saved in Viet Nam.

  3. I collect anything dog - paper ephemera, bookends, antiques relating to dogs, and especially books with dogs as main characters, fiction, non-fiction, a few how-to's. I have perhaps 75 to 85 in my collection. My very special love is my half-Jack Russell, half-Beagle, Parker who just turned 15 on Sept. 13th. This spring and summer, I read up on how to introduce him to boating - so we could take him out on the weekends with his own life jacket and towel. He is my inspiration to get out there and search for more dog finds.