Nonhuman animals are so much more amazing than we give them credit for. They lead deep and complicated emotional, social, and intellectual lives. They care for others, laugh, problem-solve, grieve, plan for the future, goof off, dream, and love.
Many people don’t want to consider the sentience level of nonhuman animals, probably because it may cause them to reevaluate their lifestyles. But for those of us who seek to understand our fellow earthlings better, these books are a great start.
1. The Emotional Lives Of Animals
Marc Bekoff is a scientist who has spent decades studying the behavior and the emotional and social lives of animals. In this book, Bekoff weaves stories of animals experiencing a variety of emotions and then connects them with the latest scientific research. He then spells out the ethical implications of our current treatment of nonhuman animals and why it matters. The Emotional Lives Of Animals costs $14.99 for a paperback copy on Amazon.
Glenn Melton says, “What a great read. Thank goodness people like Marc are coming out to raise awareness we all already knew deep down about the feelings, suffering, and emotional lives of animals. I now really understand why I don’t frequent zoos, pet stores, and the like. I must have connected with animals enough to know they were not happy.
Read the book and think about these revelations…”
2. Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are?
This book explores the strange, interesting, and complex cognition in a variety of animals. It illustrates how gravely human beings have misunderstood nonhumans and questions how we perceive the intelligence of our species. Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are? costs $12.99 for a paperback copy on Amazon.
Richard Bellows says, “If you’ve ever wondered why an animal acts as they do this book will give you a great insight to how animals think and why. I couldn’t help but smile with some of the scenarios given and how I could relate to those happenings. Animals may have no need for gods, but we have a great need for animals and need to give them the proper respect that they deserve. This book does give them great respect for who they are.”
Ingrid Newkirk and her co-author, Gene Stone, share a part of the massive amount of information humans have gathered in recent decades about who animals are and how they interact with the world. They explore their intelligence, complex communication networks, their amazing abilities, and more. Animalkind costs $12.36 for a paperback copy on Amazon.
Roger says, “I am enjoying this book immensely! Along with detailed information on the behaviors and oddities of a wide range of animals, this book speaks to your soul and brings a heightened awareness of what we can learn from the animal kingdom and how they should be respected and treated by humanity. Would recommend it highly!”
4. The Soul Of An Octopus
Source: The Soul Of An Octopus/Amazon
Sy Montgomery, a popular naturalist, takes readers on a journey to meet wild and captive octopuses from around the world. She befriends several octopuses and explores how each one has a unique personality and the different ways they display their intelligence. The Soul Of An Octopus costs $8.98 for a paperback copy on Amazon.
Carol Pfeil says, “Who knew octopuses (not octopi I learned) are so intelligent? They are such remarkable creatures. This book added to everything I learned from watching “My Octopus Teacher.” Watch it if you haven’t. It’s wonderful. I fell in love with each octopus the author talked about. What I learned about them made me want to “meet” one in person. This is a lovely book.”
5. Becoming Wild
Source: Becoming Wild/Amazon
Scientist Carl Safina shows readers that nonhuman animals develop cultures too. He examines the way individuals in these cultures interact, the traditions they have, and the behavior and skills these animals pass on to their communities. He also draws parallels between the behaviors of nonhuman animal cultures and human cultures. Becoming Wild costs $18.20 for a paperback copy on Amazon.
David says, “Safina explains that many animals pass on life skills and this constitutes culture. Most animals could not survive and certainly could not thrive using only the behaviors that are driven by instinct. Many of his insights are applicable to humans too.
This is an important book. Very highly recommended.”
6. When Animals Rescue
Source: When Animals Rescue/Amazon
It wasn’t until fairly recently that people began to understand that animals can empathize and act in ways that help others. This book highlights dozens of stories from a variety of animal species acting in heroic ways, sometimes helping those of other species too. When Animals Rescue costs $15.34 for a hardcover copy on Amazon.
Alisa Rettschlag says, “I’ve always thought about certain animals behaving empathetically. This proves it and then goes beyond by explaining why the empathy exists.”
7. Bird Brains
Source: Bird Brains/Amazon
Candace Savage, a popular nature writer, investigates the lives of several corvid bird species (crows, ravens, magpies, among others) and dismantles the pervasive notion that birds aren’t intelligent. In fact, their cognition is comparable to primates. Savage uses the most recent research to back her points, and the text is accompanied by a collection of beautiful photographs. Bird Brains costs $18.89 for a paperback copy on Amazon.
One Amazon reviewer says, “the book was well written, very well researched. The photos were astounding and I am thoroughly entranced. I knew corvids were smart but had no idea of their capacity for learning and teaching.”
8. When Elephants Weep
Source: When Elephants Weep/Amazon
This is a classic book on animal emotions. The book shares anecdotes and research that explore the inner lives of animals and has chapters on the different emotions they experience. The authors also offer a new paradigm for how society should treat animals in light of these findings. When Animals Weep costs $13.99 for a paperback copy on Amazon.
One Amazon reviewer says, “One of the best books ever arguing the point that animals truly are sentient beings and deserve to be treated as such. This author found great true-life stories to make the point. Grab a tissue as it’ll touch your heart. I read a library copy years ago. Now have a copy of my own.”
9. The Inner Life Of Animals
Source: The Inner Life Of Animals/Amazon
Peter Wohlleben, who is the best-selling author of The Hidden Life of Trees, uses his keen observation skills and the latest research to help illuminate animal behavior. Wohlleben shows us how animals experience grief, shame, regret, and many other emotions. The Inner Life of Animals costs $12.50 for a paperback copy on Amazon.
Erika Whitton says, “This book is a thought-provoking book for those that have never taken the time to see the other inhabitants on our planet: wild and domestic. And to understand that all living beings feel and have the capacity to think; we are not the only ones, and this is easily summarized by the fact that we too are animals.”
10. In The Shadow Of Man
Source: In The Shadow Of Man/Amazon
This book is one of the most important books on animal behavior ever written. Jane Goodall’s account of her time living among and studying chimpanzees in Tanzania explores their social hierarchies, the making and using of tools, and a variety of other complex behaviors which help connect us more with our animal cousins. In The Shadow Of Man costs $11.99 for a paperback copy on Amazon.
Jacquelyn G. Mitchard says, “This is a stunning book that really helps everyone to understand the importance of protecting other creatures and their habitat, not just for their survival, but for our own. Jane Goodall is not a scold. She is thoughtful, compassionate, erudite, the most significant naturalist of her generation.”
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