I realized with the first two reads of the year, I have an accidental theme going on: reptiles in my fiction! With Swamplandia! it was alligators; then there is a snake in The Burn Palace: A Novel. Our upcoming book club read is set in Texas, so I wonder if a lizard will figure into the plot.
That got me wondering how many of my past reads featured reptiles, so I did a quick search. Snakes are by far the most common reptiles to show up in my book reviews and summaries. Going back in time, I see there were significant snake scenes in:
- The Burn Palace: A Novel by Stephen Dobyns
- Horns by Joe Hill
- Lonesome Dove: A Novel by Larry McMurtry
- The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Book 1) by Alexander McCall Smith
- The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
- Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales by Stephen King
- The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, with the python and the story of “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”; there is also the story of “The Elephant’s Child,” from Just So Stories, which has both a bi-colored python rock snake and a crocodile.
As for alligators and crocodiles, there is only Swamplandia! that I can recall. There may have been a crocodile in The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel.
There are quite significant cosmic turtles in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, from which I’ve read Small Gods (Discworld), and in It and The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. As for actual turtles, they don’t seem as common, although the Mock Turtle in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland certainly comes to mind.
I also can’t seem to find any books I’ve read with lizards in them, although there are dinosaurs of course in Jurassic Park: A Novel by Michael Crichton and The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Would you be more or less likely to read a book with a snake in it? I’d rather meet one in fiction than in real life, that’s for sure!
Here’s a list of fictional reptiles from Wikipedia and a list of Reptiles in Fiction on LibraryThing, if you’d like to seek out even more reptiles in your fiction.
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