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