We love to anthropomorphize. If we see something that looks even vaguely human, we rush to assign our own traits to it. It starts when we are kids reading about cats named Pete, rabbits on a pilgrimage and codependent trees while holding stuffed animals on whom we’ve bestowed names, personalities and affection. While these tendencies fade away, we never seem to outgrow them completely. We name inanimate objects like our cars and we speak to our pets as if they know English as well as we do. I like to believe this stems from an innate sense of empathy, a desire to relate and connect with everything around us. We try to see from a different perspective. Consequently, there is a long list of books that satisfy Task #6 by taking on the point of view of non-human characters.
People bond closely to their pets, so naturally there are many books narrated by them. “The Art of Racing in the Rain” and “A Dog’s Purpose” are told from the perspective of dogs who love the humans that own them. I will give no further detail because I avoid Sad Dog Books at all costs. In a similar vein, “Laika,” a graphic novel, tells the story of the first dog in space. Abandoned as a puppy, Laika learns to trust the scientists preparing her to be launched out of Earth’s orbit. If you’re more of a cat person, “The Traveling Cat Chronicles” takes you on a road trip through Japan through the eyes of a cat. My childhood favorite, “Black Beauty,” follows a horse through his life as he encounters owners ranging from gentle and kind to cruel and abusive.
One of my favorite books I have read for this challenge (so far) has been “The Only Harmless Great Thing” (bonus: it’s a triple dipper for tasks #2 and #18). The narrative interweaves the perspectives of humans and elephants as they navigate through tragedy and abuse. Another book that entwines animal struggles and human greed is George Saunders’s “Fox 8.” By listening to bedtime stories from outside of a house, Fox 8 learns to communicate in “Yuman.” When his den and food supply are destroyed by a strip mall, he writes a letter to humanity asking why they have been so cruel.
Books told from the perspective of inanimate objects (also called it-narratives) are less common, but offer authors and readers an opportunity to embrace a completely unfamiliar perspective. “Visitation” is narrated by a house that details the lives of the twelve people who inhabit it over twenty years. Located just outside of Berlin, this house witnesses the Weimar Republic, World War II, The Socialist German Democratic Republic, the reunification and its aftermath. Mark Twain Award nominee “Wishtree” is narrated by a red oak tree and a crow attempting to help their human neighbors. “My Name is Red” features a variety of narrators, including (but not limited to) a corpse, a coin and the color red. Perhaps most bizarrely, a portion of “Delicious Foods” is narrated by crack cocaine.