Feature

Rita Mae Brown's 7 favorite books about animals

The feline-loving author recommends classic tales of foxes, frogs, birds, horses, and more

Author Rita Mae Brown is crazy about cats and mysteries, authoring works with playful titles like "The Purrfect Murder", "Hiss of Death" and her latest novel "The Big Cat Nap".

Aesop's Fables (Penguin, $13). Aesop, who's said to have been a slave who lived during the 6th century B.C., laid the cornerstone for fiction about animals. His fables use the nature of various beasts — the fox being my favorite — to illustrate truths about human life. The beauty of his work is that he is so concise.

On Horsemanship by Xenophon (CreateSpace, $9). This Greek commander truly understood horses and wrote a manual about training them that can still be used as a guide. Dazzled though we are by technology, horses are not: You'd best do things their way.

The Birds and The Frogs by Aristophanes (Dover, $1.50; Focus, $10). These two plays, first produced in 414 and 405 B.C., demolish the pieties and expose the weaknesses of Athens's political leaders. Aristophanes wrote some of his most incisive plays during the struggle between Athens and Sparta. There is no way this brave soul would be able to write today unmolested, even in our so-called democracies.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (Signet, $5). Sewell's 1877 novel about a spirited horse revolutionized how English-speaking peoples relate to animals. Regarded as children's literature, Black Beauty is a resonant story for all ages. There's still much work to be done in learning how to share the earth with other sentient creatures, but thanks to Sewell, we're at least trying to understand other species.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (Dover, $3.50). This 1908 novel can be read as a send-up of Britain's class system. As in Aesop's fables, the character traits of Mole, Rat, Badger, and those dastardly weasels run fairly true to type. American poet Marianne Moore once said that poetry is "imaginary gardens with real toads in them." Well, The Wind in the Willows has a toad, and my, what a toad!

Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon (Faber & Faber, $15). A quiet, enchanting volume that allows you to grow with the writer, a lonely English boy who, through fox hunting, discovers horses, courage, and what it is to be a man.

Rita Mae Brown's latest novel, The Big Cat Nap, commemorates the 20th anniversary of her popular feline mystery series, "co-authored" by the author's cat, Sneaky Pie Brown.

Recommended

Britney Spears' new lawyer files to remove and suspend her dad from conservatorship
Britney Spears.
#FreeBritney

Britney Spears' new lawyer files to remove and suspend her dad from conservatorship

The daily gossip: July 26, 2021
Diane Sawyer.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: July 26, 2021

6 book recommendations from Richard Marx
Richard Marx.
Feature

6 book recommendations from Richard Marx

Most Popular

Tom Brady's 'gentle' roast of Trump at Biden's White House: 'Deeply vicious'?
Tom Brady, Joe Biden
Quotables

Tom Brady's 'gentle' roast of Trump at Biden's White House: 'Deeply vicious'?

GOP's Portman says mass transit holding up Senate infrastructure deal
Rob Portman.
sunday shows

GOP's Portman says mass transit holding up Senate infrastructure deal

Melania Trump reportedly tried 4 times to block an election night party at the White House
Donald and Melania Trump.
should have listened to her

Melania Trump reportedly tried 4 times to block an election night party at the White House