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Good Pets Make Better People

Jul 1, 2019

From The Art of Raising a Puppy (1991) to Hands-On Senior Horse Care (2001), Rogers Public Library has loads of information to help you take care of the animals you love. We are also lucky to have a large collection of resources that help us take care of ourselves. From cookbooks to anger management to meditation, we have access to a copious amount of books that can help us become better humans. In addition to all the books that teach us how to care for our animals and ourselves, there is an emerging genre of works that focus on a person’s personal growth through their connections with animals.

Sy Montgomery made waves when she chronicled her emotional relationship to Athena, an aquarium-bound octopus she studied, in Soul of an Octopus (2015). Montgomery explores and imagines the physical and emotional capabilities of the often-underestimated octopus and their connection to and affect on the humans they meet.

Book Cover for Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

Montgomery’s more recent How to be a Good Creature (2018) continues this theme by detailing the lessons she has learned from the various animals that have been part of her life. From her first pet dog to a jungle spider in French Guiana, Montgomery retells the lessons about how to live and love and grieve she has learned from the animals she encountered.

Book Cover for How to be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery

After years of studying his own cat, Stephane Garnier has gleaned lessons on relaxation, self-care, and honesty that he is ready to share in How to Think Like a Cat (2018). Garnier encourages practices that foster the same carefree confidence that many admire in their household felines.

Book Cover for How to Think Like a Cat by Stephane Garnier

In The Thing with Feathers (2014), Noah Strycker studies the outstanding intelligence that birds possess and their often-quirky characteristics. Strycker, a record-setting bird watcher, takes his study one step further by connecting the intelligence and quirks of these birds to their human counterparts.

Book cover for The Thing with Feathers by Noah Strycker

In Mama’s Last Hug (2019), Frans de Waal uses the death of Mama—a chimpanzee whose final goodbye to a scientist who had researched her went viral—to explore the emotional lives of animals. De Waal argues that Mama could understand the grief of the scientist who would mourn her because emotions are constant across species. From smiles to group politics, De Waal argues that animals can teach us a lot about ourselves and how we approach our world. De Waal explores similar themes in his Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (2016) where he discusses the often-underestimated intelligence of the animals we share our world with.

Book cover for Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal Book cover for Mama’s Last Hug by Frans de Waal


Rogers Public Library is full of animal lovers, so it is no surprise to us that animals can teach us to be better humans. Thanks to these authors and this recent surge of animal-focused self-help books, you can also learn the lessons these animals have to teach—without all the shedding!