Read Harder 2022

TEST Read Harder: A Book With a Beloved Pet Where the Pet Doesn’t Die

[should we have some kind of intro here where we talk about Read Harder more generally?? maybe link back to the list post on-site? JN]]

I will never be “over” Old Yeller. I will never be “over” silently weeping in an elementary school classroom as That Scene played out on the tube TV that had been wheeled in on the cart because we had a substitute teacher.

The only thing that has changed since that time is that I’m old enough to ask, “Why the heck were we watching that movie anyway?”

As a pet owner, I haven’t grown any more emotionally ready to deal with pet death in books. This list of books that avoid the trope of dead pets is, therefore, my public service to all of those like me.

I have endeavored to keep spoilers to a minimum, while reassuring you on this point: In every book included here, the pets survive the final pages. One final pro tip: If you’re picking up something not on this page and want to double-check the fate of a much-loved animal, try a quick search on the crowdsourced Does the Dog Die? database.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Quite frankly, this is one of the most wholesome books ever written, and Calliope the cranky cat thankfully can agree. Calliope’s human, Linus Baker, is a case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. When he’s sent on a mysterious assignment to the Marsyas Island Orphanage, he meets a pod of delightfully unusual children along with their charming and swoonworthy caretaker, Arthur Parnassus.