At Off the Shelf, we know that sometimes the greatest recommendations come from the cats and dogs (and chickens!) napping on the shelves. So we consulted some of the most knowledgeable furry booksellers and bookworms across the country to learn which books we should paw through next. We applaud their excellent and varied reading habits. Check out their recommendations and then visit some of these booksellers at the independent bookstores they call home.
Recommended by Zeus and Apollo, feline booksellers at the Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood, CA
If you ever see cats staring at something you can’t see, you know they’re watching ghosts, don’t you? Although Zeus and Apollo are disappointed that this otherwise fine history of their paranormal friends doesn’t specifically talk about this feline superpower, they still love cuddling and falling asleep after a good ghost story.
Recommended by Spike, feline bookseller at Left Bank Books in St. Louis, MO
“I’m sure most of you have a hard time seeing the correlation between the Meiji era in the early twentieth century and today. (I saw it right away, of course, but everyone knows we cats are the superior and more intelligent species.) However, I know you’ll relate to these cat’s-eye visions of the enduring value of family and work. And you look like you need a laugh. Trust me, I spend all day watching you.” —Spike
Recommended by Trini, feline bookseller at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, MN
It is said that seeing yourself represented in literature is incredibly important, and Trini is here to validate that claim with his favorite picture book!
Recommended by Gunner, canine sales rep at Simon & Schuster
During these dog days of summer, Gunner likes to revisit the classics. When he stumbled across this reimagined story from one of his favorite Brontë novels, he simply couldn’t resist diving into this tome. The fun in seeing another’s point of view in an already familiar tale—both broad in scope and ambitious in subject—keeps the pages turning well into the night. Though, he confesses to having dog-eared a page or two.
Recommended by Sounder, canine publicist at Scribner
Sounder never understood the human love of World War II fiction until his owner brought home a copy of SIRIUS. Now he won’t stop barking about what he calls a “delicious” novel about an extraordinary dog who helped his Jewish family escape Germany, became a Hollywood star, and even contributed to Hitler’s downfall!
Recommended by Keke, feline bookseller at Bookplate Bookstore in Chestertown, MD
VALIANT AMBITION recently won the George Washington Book Prize, conferred by Washington College in Keke’s quaint, colonial hometown. Washington College students who miss their pets often come to the store to play with her, so Keke knows that this book is a winner.
Recommended by Neil deGrasse Tyson (no relation to the astrophysicist), poultry representative at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, MN
Is it a dog? A cat? A monkey? Neil is very accustomed to being misidentified, but that doesn't stop this chicken from choosing I AM A FROG! as her staff pick.
Recommended by Desi, registered pet assisted therapy collie with Furry Friends Pet Assisted Therapy Service and canine bookseller at Read Booksellers in Danville, CA
Like many booksellers, when asked to name a favorite book (besides LASSIE), Desi couldn’t choose just one. His favorite activity is being read to and he recommends all these dog-and-cat-themed picture books and love to the children he works with.
Recommended by Huck and Pepper, canine publicity team at Gallery Books
If you’ve ever wondered what pets do while their owners are at work in their publishing offices, the answer is obvious: they form their own book clubs. Huck and Pepper devoured IN A DARK, DARK WOOD and were excited to sink their teeth into Ruth Ware’s new book. They say it’s about fascinating human concepts, like boarding schools, cliques, lies, and possible murder, with a nice dog cameo to start the story off right.
Recommended by Magic, feline Off the Shelf staffer
After getting over his initial disappointment that this book was not about birds—or cats, for that matter—Magic became engrossed in this story about two adult sisters living through World War II in occupied France. While he still insists the story needed more cats, he called the book “more suspenseful than the last time my food bowl was empty,” and highly recommends it.
With courage, grace, and powerful insight, Kristin Hannah illuminates an intimate and seldom seen part of World War II. Telling the stories of two sisters separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion, and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in war-torn France, this heartbreakingly beautiful novel celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.