I’m lucky in my career to get to work with veterinarians from all over the world and to help pre-veterinary and veterinary students learn from their experiences. And while vets and vet students spend lots of time reading scientific literature in their field, there are also some excellent novels about animals and caring for them.
If you’re looking for the perfect literary gift for the veterinarian or animal-lover in your life, check out this list of some of our favorites.
Table of Contents
- 1. When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy
- 2. Unlikely Companions: Adventures of an Exotic Animal Doctor by Laurie Hess
- 3. Resurrection Science: Conservation, De-Extinction and the Precarious Future of Wild Things by M.R. O’Connor
- 4. Lucky Dog: How Being a Veterinarian Saved My Life by Sarah Boston
- 5. Unsaid by Neil Abramson
- 6. Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon by Nick Trout
- 7. Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence–and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene Pepperberg
- 8. All Dogs to Kevin: Everything Three Dogs Taught Me (That I Didn’t Learn in Veterinary School) by Dr. Jessica Vogelsang
- 9. Born Free by Joy Adamson
- 10. In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall
- 11. Death at Seaworld by David Kirby
- 12. The Rhino with Glue-on Shoes, And Other Surprising True Stories of Zoo Vets and their Patients edited by Lucy H. Spelman
- 13. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
While this book draws some seemingly-scientific conclusions from anecdotal data, it is still an eye-opener and a deeply interesting read.
This bestseller explores our understanding of animals and their inner emotions, and how we perceive those emotions. Anyone who loves animals and wants to think about our relationship with them and understanding of them might enjoy this book.
This book combines the interesting cases of the exotic animals that Dr. Hess treats with her personal story of managing a demanding career with her family life. Most of us don’t get the opportunity to work up-close with exotic animals, which makes this a fun and interesting read.
This book will appeal to science lovers and conservationists, and anyone interested in thinking about where our natural world is headed. Journalist M. R. O’Connor explores the extreme measures scientists are taking to try to save species on the brink, and how these actions affect these animals in the wild.
It takes us throughout history, from Neanderthal tools to DNA banks, to explore the philosophical questions of intervening in nature and helps explore how we can coexist with other species on the planet. This is a thought-provoking read and one that raises some big, broad questions and invites discussion.
Some people don’t know that the veterinary profession has specializations just like human medicine does.
Dr. Boston is a veterinary surgical oncologist, and this book explores her journey as she discovers a lump in her neck and explores the human medical world, comparing her experiences as a veterinarian.
This book is a sad one, but for people who love animals, it’s relatable and emotional. It’s the story of a veterinarian and many of the animals that have touched her life, and it presents an interesting perspective.
This is a great novel for anyone who wants to explore the powerful effects that animals have on our daily lives.
There are a number of books, both traditionally published and self-published, that detail the clinical experiences of veterinarians from their perspectives.
This one is a great example, as it shows how varied and hectic days can be in a veterinary hospital. For students who are wondering if the veterinary profession is for them, this can be a great read.
Another first-person account of working with animals: in this case, of working with a specific animal. Alex the African Grey Parrot is famous for his cognitive abilities and what he has to teach us about how much animals can know, learn, communicate, and understand.
This is an emotional and deeply interesting New York Times Bestseller that may appeal to anyone who loves animals.
This is a great autobiographical veterinary tale that shares some insight into veterinary medicine in a way that’s approachable for anyone.
It’s funny and sweet without being cloying or cliche, and a great read for veterinarians and the people who love them.
Published in 1960, “Born Free” is the story of a lion cub transitioning from captivity to the wild.
Beautifully written and wonderfully moving, it raises questions about our abilities to move between different worlds and about the future of wildlife in an increasingly developed world. Animal lovers and those who care about conservation and development will love this book, including its extraordinary photos.
Jane Goodall’s fame as a primatologist and conservationist is reason enough for any veterinarian or animal-lover to want to read her story of her work with chimps.
Her work is amazing, exciting, and inspiring, and makes for a great story, during which the reader will learn about chimps and their behavior and relationships. This book takes you through her travels, work, and wildlife research, and is readable for anyone interested in learning more (although it’s not a light read, it’s accessible without any prior knowledge of biology or animal research).
This is a tough read, and like David Kirby’s other books, it tells the story of the underside of an industry that you may prefer not to see. However, it’s an eye-opening tale and one that readers interested in animal welfare may find fascinating.
This interesting book is a collection of the stories of animals with unique and fascinating conditions and the vets that diagnose and treat them.
From an anorexic eel to an orphaned whal to a hippo who needs a root cana, “The Rhino with Glue-on Shoes” is full of captivating, fast-paced, and interesting true stories of wild animals, and sheds insight on our bonds with and understanding of animals.
This is a great read for zoo vets, science buffs, or anyone who loves animals.
Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize and Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Award in Nonfiction (and a number of other prestigious awards), “H is for Hawk” is a moving and beautifully written work of nonfiction.
It tells the story of adopting and raising a goshawk named Mabel and ties Mabel’s difficult emotional experiences to the author’s own. This is a moving tale sure to appeal to both lovers of literature and nature.