Pet Memoirs are Taking the Literary World by Storm!

August 17, 2011

By Julia Williams

Our pets inspire and enlighten us in so many ways. They teach us important life lessons, and their very presence can help us overcome our struggles and bring about positive changes. Thus it should come as no surprise that countless pet owners with a story to tell have written books about their four legged friends. Moreover, the public is lapping up these heartfelt tales, and pet memoirs are dominating the publishing world like never before.

“The entire book industry has gone to the dogs,” said Diane Herbst in Newsweek. Books supposedly penned by the pets themselves are also barking and meowing their way onto bestseller lists in unprecedented numbers! These first person pet memoirs have effectively created brand new genres – they’re called “dogoirs” and “catoirs.”

How did the pet memoir trend start?

In the past, “dog books didn’t get on national bestseller lists,” said Publishers Weekly senior editor Dick Donahue. “That’s something we can credit Marley with.” He’s referring of course to the dogoir Marley & Me, John Grogan’s account of his family’s relationship with a mischievous yellow lab.

First published in 2005, the book went on to sell more than 6 million copies and was made into a movie starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. After the popularity of Marley, “People came out of the woodwork with their own dog stories,” said Susan Canavan, executive editor of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

More pet memoirs worth howling about

Bruce Cameron’s delightful dogoir A Dog’s Purpose has been on the New York Times bestseller list for six months and is slated to become a major motion picture. The book poses intriguing questions such as, What if dogs live multiple lifetimes, and remember all of them? What if every animal has a purpose, and your pet’s purpose is intimately bound to yours? A Dog’s Purpose is narrated by a wise and funny dog named Bailey who finds himself reincarnated. Bailey decides there must be a reason for his life, a purpose he must fulfill… and until he finds out what it is, he’ll continue to be reborn.

Remember Boo, the utterly adorable Pomeranian I wrote about a few months ago who is undoubtedly the most popular dog on Facebook? He has a new book out as well, called Boo: The Life of the World’s Cutest Dog. The hardcover 80-page book features exclusive photos of Boo doing all his favorite things: lounging around, playing with friends, exploring the world, and showing off his signature fluffy head and teddy-bear-like body. Boo has amassed 1.5 million Facebook fans now, so get ready to see his new book land on the bestseller list soon!

I am Maru is scheduled for release on August 23, 2011. Maru is a YouTube superstar who’s been featured in TV commercials and on popular pet websites like Cute Overload. This adorable Scottish Fold cat became an internet sensation in part because of his obsession with boxes and the many endearing ways he chooses to get into them. Maru’s book will give readers an inside look into the life of a celebricat.

Vicki Myron’s Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World became a No. 1 bestseller with nearly a million copies sold thus far. The 2008 book has spawned three children’s books and a sequel, Dewey’s Nine Lives. A movie reportedly starring Meryl Streep is in development.

Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper, is a must read for anyone who loves animals. It’s a moving story of an extraordinary cat who teaches his human companion the most important life lesson of all: that love isn’t something you see with your eyes.

Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz is currently #14 on the NY Times Bestseller list; it’s described as “the world from a dog’s point of view.” Julie Klam’s You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness, published in October 2010, is also a bestseller.

Other notable pet memoirs include Buckley’s Story by Ingrid King, A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog Named Trixie by Dean Koontz, Secrets of a Working Dog by Bella the Boxer, Amazing Gracie: A Dog’s Tale by Dan Dye, Maggie’s Book of Wisdom by Leland Dirks, and Finally Home-Lessons on Life from a Free-Spirited Dog by Elizabeth Parker.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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  1. Melanie Coronetz says:

    Why didn’t you mention “In the Shadow of Mercury, A Memoir of Mid-Life and Dogs.” Sure, it was self-published, but that was back in the days (2008) when agents weren’t so interested in dog memoirs. Read it for yourself. I think you will find it a story that no other book out there can match. Heartbreaking and elevating … it’s all true and it all happened right here in New York City.

  2. Melanie Coronetz says:

    Hoping someone will read my Indie memoir … “In the Shadow of Mercury, A Memoir of Mid-Life and Dogs.” Alas, I don’t see it on any “best seller” lists. 🙁

  3. I hope this trend growing since we’re working on a catmoir.

  4. This list of doggone meowvalous literature izza Catzowey!

  5. Well, *I* could write my catoir if only I had thumbs! My Human refuses to take that much dictation. Rats.

  6. Mr Puddy says:

    Mom got Dewey and Homer and she love da books !

  7. Fin says:

    Have you read my catoir? Maybe you’d enjoy it too. Julie, thanks for giving kitty authors the shout out!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Lianimal from the Concious cat, here…..LOVE Dean Koontz, I’ve read everything he’s written….sorry to find out he doesn’t like cats, though. I knew he was a fan of Golden labs since many of his characters have them. Does he ACTIVELY dislike cats? Or is he just more of a dog person?

  9. Brian says:

    Yes, and most of them are wonderful too. Thanks for featuring so many good ones!

  10. Simba says:

    Dewey was wonderful and the book about Homer is next on our list to read.

  11. Don’t forget your four-legged motivational writers; our job is to help humans unleash their potential and create success!

  12. Lori L. says:

    Julia, I just wanted to say I Loved your story today as always with your writing. I think Rocky needs to publish his own book. For some reason, it seems people really relate to their pets and maybe reading a book that has been written by a pet (lol) allows us to see things we believe our pets would be saying, if they could talk. Thank you very much. Lori

  13. meowmeowmans says:

    Thanks, Julia, for giving me some books to add to my “want to read” list! 🙂

  14. Ingrid King says:

    I’m honored that you mentioned Buckley’s Story along with all these other wonderful pet memoirs – I never thought I’d be mentioned in the same sentenced as Dean Koontz!

    I’ve read quite a few of the ones you mentioned, and the ones I haven’t read are going on my TBR list. Of all of these, Homer’s Odyssey is my favorite, followed closely by A Dog’s Purpose.