In 1894, English author Rudyard Kipling created a novel that conveyed moral lessons within it’s story using wild animals and a feral orphan child. It wasn’t until Kipling’s tales grabbed the attention of Walt Disney himself in 1967 that the story catapulted to fame. The Jungle Book animation was the last film produced by Walt Disney and one, it’s safe to say, we all hold dear. While the original movie holds a special place in my heart, I’ve been awaiting Disney’s live-action The Jungle Book film since the moment I first heard it’s creation was a possibility. And now that it’s actually a reality, I’m beside myself with anticipation.
Looks amazing, riiiight?!
Listen, I love animals. I mean, who doesn’t? I’m not talking about puppies and kittens. No, I’m talking about the animals you’ve dreamed about running next to on the Serengeti or hibernating with as a couple for months in a cool, dark cave. I have had some incredible encounters with Beluga whales, dolphins, seals and even giraffes! But my jungle fever for these magnificent animals has not tapered. Alas, until I can afford a trip to Thailand to visit the elephant sanctuary and the tiger temple, Jon Favreau’s new live-action film will have to satisfy my craving to be near these furry friends. So if you’re like me and can’t get enough of these beautiful creatures or for those who just can’t wait for the movie’s release this weekend, here is a Jungle Book-inspired book list:
- A mysterious dark jungle where cultures collide (anthropological adventure):
The People in the Trees, Hanya Yanagihara (Anchor Books, May 2014)
In this fictional memoir, Hanya Yanagihara grabs your attention through her exceptional storytelling. The story follows Dr. Perina on an exotic journey to a forbidden island, 1000 miles east of Tahiti, to a lost tribe who holds the secret to immortality. This spellbinding story will leave you asking: “How far would you go to live forever?”
- The Jungle Book living inside another book:
The Tiger’s Wife, Téa Obreht (Random House, November 2011)
Téa Obreht’s first novel, The Tiger’s Wife, is a masterful piece of literature. Obreht instantly engulfs you in her story, which follows Natalia Stefanoi as she goes in search of answers about her grandfather’s death using his copy of The Jungle Book, stories of wild tigers and a mysterious deaf woman. The Tiger’s Wife is a powerful book not to be missed.
- When the animals turn against you:
Zoo, James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge (Grand Central Publishing, May 2015)
If you are an animal lover, visualize a world where animals are your number one enemy as they threaten your way of life and basically trap you inside your vehicle while you beg for mercy. The talented James Patterson has done it again in this wild, sci-fi thriller where using your animal instinct won’t save you here. The book has since been adapted for TV and the second season will air on CBS Tuesday, June 28 at 9 PM EST.
- The jungle being used as a euphemism:
The Jungle Within, Charles M. (CreateSpace, March 2016)
Charles M.’s novel does not take place in the Amazonian jungle, but this brilliantly written book will transport you inside the despairing mind of Evan, who is fighting for his life after a traffic accident. The challenging love story that develops between Evan and Katie will make you question every ideology you hold close.
- Looking for a real-life The Jungle Book:
The Girl with No Name: The Incredible Story of a Child Raised by Monkeys, Lynne Barrett-Lee, Marina Chapman and Vanessa James (Pegasus Books, April 2014)
Mowgli may be a Disney icon, but Marina Chapman, Barrett-Lee and James have him beat. This heart-stopping real-life event of a girl who loses all human instincts in order to survive with her new primate family in the Colombian jungle will completely entrance you with this story of survival.