We humans sure do love our pets. When we’re not cuddling, thinking about or talking to them, we love to read about our favorite animals.

It’s impossible to look at Under­water Dogs without smiling, whether at the wild grin on the face of Buster the Cavalier King Charles spaniel or the cautiously inquisitive snout of Comet the golden retriever, as seen from photographer Seth Casteel’s perspective under water. Casteel’s splashy pictures, which went viral earlier this year, strike a happy chord: Dogs dive in enthusiastic pursuit of tennis balls; the photographer captures them in all their bulging-eyed, floppy-tongued glory. Canines of all shapes, ages and sizes appear here, but Casteel’s message is universal: “[Dogs] teach us that if you just jump in, you might have fun along the way.” This delight-inducing book makes an excellent argument for taking a plunge, watery or otherwise.

FASCINATING FELINES

The Life & Love of Cats is filled with gorgeous color photos of domestic and wild felines: Russian blues, Siamese, lions, leopards, Bengal tigers and more. In accompanying essays, Lewis Blackwell shows us why cats have so many admirers and delves into the history of “the cat-human/human-cat relationship.” He notes that an archaeological dig revealed a cat’s skeleton from 7500 BCE carefully buried alongside a human grave—“an indication of a cat that was a highly treasured part of society”—and that, over the centuries, the role of the cat was elevated, then devalued, then raised up again. Today, there are 600 million pet and stray cats roaming the world. Blackwell offers much to ponder, whether the eternal question, “What does the cat think of us?” or the physical beauty of precious kittens, impossibly fluffy cats and calmly regal white tigers.

UGGIE, AUTHOR

Oh, Uggie, he of the bowties, pretty brown eyes and career success that most humans would envy, never mind dogs. He’s done it again: While many of us have been embroiled in a daily struggle to find the darn car keys, the Jack Russell terrier has gone and written a book, Uggie: My Story. He told—er, barked—it to Wendy Holden, and reassures readers, “Where human conversations cannot be remembered precisely, I have recreated them to the best of my canine ability.” One would expect nothing less from Uggie, who, like many Hollywood sorts, had a bit of a rough start as a hyperactive puppy. He was taken in by Omar von Muller, a veteran trainer who got Uggie’s unfortunate impulses under control. Uggie shares lots of behind-the-scenes dish on his rise to fame and his work on movies like Water for Elephants and The Artist. Adorable, often hilarious photos appear throughout, and Uggie lets readers know what it’s really like to be cute and in demand.

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