On using animals and nature as literary devices

I really like when fiction authors include animals and nature in their stories. I don’t mean when animals or trees talk, though. I’m talking about when nature has a strong influence on the story and its characters. Sometimes it’s just the setting that affects the characters, like Jane Harper’s use of a drought in The Dry. Or how Delia Owens uses the marsh to drive the story in Where the Crawdads Sing. Other books have a lot of other things going on, like in Life After Life and A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, but nature’s influence is still prominent. Here are links to these and a few other fiction books that fit into this category.


The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
The Dry by Jane Harper

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

And here are some great nonfiction books about nature and animals. They leave me feeling a strong connection between humans and nature.


Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Good Dog. Stay. by Anna Quindlen
How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals by Sy Montgomery
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Do you like books that include nature and animals? Can you add to this list?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

15 thoughts on “On using animals and nature as literary devices

  1. Hi / I do like when authors integrate nature and animals and funny you should post this now because when I read your post about “rules for visiting” I almost commented about the tree the MC cared for since a sapling – it seemed to parallel with the themes of growth and maturity – anyhow – thanks for your books suggestions and happy new year to you 😊📚📚📚

    1. That’s so interesting – I feel like I’ve read a lot of books lately – both fiction and nonfiction – that integrate nature and animals. My biggest happy surprise was Lab Girl – I wasn’t sure I would like it because I’m not really into science, but that book was fantastic. Thanks so much for reading and commenting and Happy New Year to you, too!

  2. ‘Lab Girl’ was one of my favourite books this year – and I too was concerned it would be too full of science, but wow! Terrific story and the facts became such an intergral part of the narrative I felt as one with the nature!

    1. I know – I felt the same way, Annika. It’s coming up on a lot of my lists! Thanks for stopping by. Hope you are doing well. Heading over to your blog in a minute 🙂

      1. I saw Lab Girl was one of Obama’s favourite books of the year! I just saw your latest post and once again reminded me of my copy of Notes from a Public Typewriter – going to start it this afternoon! Can’t wait!

      2. I’m not surprised he recommended it – I don’t think I knew that. You can thank Charley from Books and Bakes for recommending Notes from a Public Typewriter to me – such a nice book!

    1. Hi Jill – I had not read it until recently. I always confused it with National Velvet so I was glad to figure that out! Hope you are feeling better today, Jill.

  3. Like Jill, Black Beauty was one of my very favorite books as a child. It was an eloquent request to be more humane in the way we treat horses, and all animals for that matter, and it is a timely reminder for today as well!

    1. It’s so true – I didn’t know much about Black Beauty until I read it a couple years ago. I learned a lot about horses and how we treated them. Thanks for stopping by, Ann. 🙂

  4. I am so with you on nature and animals in books, Barbara. I love reading about both, and incorporating it into my own writing too. By the way, I MUST read Where the Crawdads Sing and Lab Girl very soon! Everyone is talking about them.

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