2021 Reading Challenge: Read a Book About Animals

OPL invites patrons to take part in the 2021 Reading Challenge, opens a new window! For each challenge, OPL offers suggestions for titles to listen to or read. As you’re working through the challenge, feel free to tag @omahalibrary on Twitter, opens a new window, Instagram, opens a new window, or Facebook, opens a new window, to let us know which read you picked up this month!

Did you know that the oldest living Greenland Shark, opens a new window in 2016 was born somewhere between 1504 and 1744? How about that the sole exclusively-carnivorous primate can rotate its head 180°? It’s okay! Tarsiers, opens a new window almost never exceed a height of 6 inches. Our friend the Giant Ground Sloth, opens a new window, however, stood at least 12 feet tall, exceeded in weight in its time only by some—but not all—mammoth species.

To celebrate this years’ Summer Reading Program, opens a new window Tails and Tales theme, OPL’s “Read a book about animals, opens a new window” challenge invites you to spend a little literary leisure time with these or any other members of the fauna our world has to offer.

It’s impossible to start off with anything but some of the best nonfiction nature writing about animals. Sy Montgomery, opens a new window writes compelling, connecting stories about the diversity of animals she studies for both adults and children. Helen MacDonald, opens a new window has a brief, but exceptionally popular offering. And, of course, James Herriot, opens a new window’s anecdotes about his life as a veterinarian are beloved world-over.

Let’s head over to the fiction section of this book menagerie! Don't let the "pandemic involving animals" detail dissuade you from picking up "The Animals in That Country, opens a new window" by Laura Jean McKay, where a global flu has the bizarre side effect of understanding the language of animals. Are you in the mood for something so far out of left field it's not even in the stadium? Try  "The Album of Dr. Moreau, opens a new window" by Daryl Gregory, a science fiction police procedural that follows a "group of hybrids—part human and part elephant, ocelot, pangolin, bonobo, or bat—who have taken the world of boy bands by storm." "A Man & His Cat. 1, opens a new window" by Umi Sakurai is a quick, wholesome staff favorite at OPL, told from the point of view of a cat bonding with his grieving and generous new owner. For more wholesome content, take it easy with "To Fetch A Felon, opens a new window" by Jennifer Hawkins, a cozy mystery featuring a much more reassuring take on the talking-animals trope.

Personally, I plan to use this challenge as an excuse to read one of my favorite genre blends: part natural science, part memoir. Join me with "Why Peacocks?: An Unlikely Search for Meaning in the World's Most Magnificent Bird, opens a new window" by Sean Flynn, "The Dragon Behind the Glass: A True Story of Power, Obsession, and the World's Most Coveted Fish, opens a new window" by Emily Voigt, or "Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing A Backbone, opens a new window" by Juli Berwald.

Rounding out today’s herd, "Animals Strike Curious Poses, opens a new window" by Elena Passarello includes stories both mirthful and morose. Find poems about skunks, sea-turtles, blackbirds and coyotes in "Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, opens a new window". Ready for a deep dive? Pick up "The Evolution Underground: Burrows, Bunkers, and the Marvelous Subterranean World Beneath Our Feet, opens a new window" by Anthony J. Martin.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s tour of OPL’s animal offerings, and, don’t forget that patrons of all ages can participate in, and win prizes from, the Summer Reading Program, opens a new window!

For more ideas, check out this list, opens a new window, or request a custom reading list or book bundle, opens a new window, tailored to your interests by OPL librarians.

You may submit your completed reading log online, opens a new window or return a completed tracking sheet to any OPL branch to receive a pin and to be entered into a drawing for some fun literary-themed prizes! All completed tracking sheets or online challenge form entries must be received by December 31, 2021, to be entered into the prize drawing.