If there’s one thing people know about me, it’s—well, it’s that I love cats. All my clothes are covered in cat hair; you can’t miss it. But if there’s a second thing people know about me, it’s that I love books. Often my two loves come together when my silver tabby Daenerys sits on the book I’m trying to read, or my tiny calico Rey flips the pages on my Kindle by licking the screen.
Kittens will lick anything, but at least Rey has good taste. (Dany just takes what is hers, and any book I’m attempting to read is simply the throne from which she’ll demand my attention.)
In celebration of all you cat lovers for this Book Lovers Day, I’ve put together a few fantastic reads that’ll engage your love for our four-footed friends through iconic cat characters in our modern pop culture.
The Harry Potter Series
You thought those books were all about the Boy Who Lived and magic school misadventures, didn’t you? Nope. It’s about an enormous ginger cat with a squashed face named Crookshanks. (Don’t give me that look. You know that’s how Crookshanks would look at things!) Crookshanks may not show up until Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but he’s instrumental in defending Harry and his allies from a quite serious vermin. He’s also the Diagon Alley equivalent of a shelter cat, and hats off to Hermione for rescuing a feline in need.
Of course, cats have a special place at the heart of Hogwarts before Crookshanks even shows up – Professor McGonagall’s other body is a cat, you know!
The Fairyland Series
You’ve read the astounding series that begins with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, haven’t you? If not, you and/or similarly deprived children in your life are in for a treat! These books by Catherynne M. Valente follow in the wonderfully weird steps of Lewis Carroll and C.S. Lewis, and one girl’s trip to Fairyland begins when she hops on the back of the Leopard of Little Breezes – who just so happens to fly, and is the chosen mount of the Green Wind. Later, readers meet the Panther of Rough Storms, whose fur is full of magic, and then fierce sleeping lions – really, there are big cats all over the place, with parts to play that are as colorful as they are.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Speaking of the weird and wonderful, who can forget the Cheshire Cat? We were first introduced to this grinning cat in 1865, and Disney made him utterly iconic in their 1951 feature animation. You’re not likely to forget that grin-without-a-cat! Encountering this sinister yet beguiling fellow is as simple as picking up Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and turning to Chapter 6, where we can all feel as uncertain and out of place as Alice. (The trick is to make peace with feeling out of place; hanging out with cats helps since they rule all they survey!)
If you’re feeling a bit Gaston today and would like books with pictures, there are plenty of fantastic felines in comics and picture books as well! Garfield is the gold standard, of course, but I’d like to share a couple more favorites: Pusheen is an adorable fat cat with his own plushies and Facebook stickers. You can also giggle at Claire Belton’s Pusheen mini-comics in I Am Pusheen the Cat. And then there’s Akiko Ikeda’s Dayan, who’s my part-time Patronus (sorry Crookshanks): I fell head over heels for this grumpy illustrated cat when I first saw him gripping a mug of coffee.
If you’re an adult and enjoy science fiction, I recommend reading Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ comic series Saga — if only to meet Lying Cat, who is arguably the best cat character of the 21st century so far. (Hopefully, she’ll emerge as one of the most iconic 21st century cat characters!) We could all use a little Lying Cat in our lives.
There are so many more great characters and books I could mention, but let’s end with some real-world icons: did you know Grumpy Cat has her own line of Little Golden Books? She does! And Lil BUB has her own little book: it’s literally called Lil BUB’s Lil Book: The Extraordinary Life of the Most Amazing Cat on the Planet. Yeah, the title sounds like she’s a little high on herself – but why wouldn’t she be? She’s a cat.
It’s a cat’s world; we just live in it. Show them you appreciate that by giving them a great book with great cats to sit on and prevent you from reading this National Book Lovers Day.
(Oh, and share your own favorite cat books and characters in the comments!)