10 books on cryptids and cryptozoology
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An extremely random and little-known fact about me is that I am obsessed with Nessie (formerly known as the Loch Ness Monster, but that feels a bit too technical for my liking). My love started in high school, when my friends and I kind of found ourselves doing a Nessie-themed Spanish class group project – I couldn’t tell you why Nessie was a viable theme for a project. of Spanish or how we found this to begin with, but here we are. We spent a weekend immersed in the latest internet search results: indistinguishable footage of alleged sightings, various articles of questionable credibility, and random documentary clips that had made their way to YouTube. Regardless of the quality of the research, however, I was hooked. And while I don’t necessarily spend a lot of time deliberately researching it these days, I still feel a huge surge of excitement if Nessie, or cryptozoology in general, ever comes along.
Let’s define cryptozoology, to begin with. It’s a subculture and pseudoscience that focuses on trying to prove the existence of cryptids, creatures that are said to exist on the basis of anecdotes or folklore. Besides my beloved Nessie, creatures considered to be cryptids include entities like Bigfoot, Yeti, chupacabra, etc. At the same time, the definition generally seems to exclude various mythological creatures and spiritual or supernatural beings (thus, for example, no pegasus or unicorns or any of the youkai from Japanese folk tales that I grew up listening to). Cryptozoology began relatively recently, with roots going back to the 1940s and 1950s. Its founding figures were Bernard Heuvelmans and Ivan T. Sanderson, zoologists whose interests extended to unknown creatures. Both have written extensively on the subject, and Heuvelmans’ book On the trail of unknown animals is considered to be an extremely influential text in cryptozoology. However, the study itself has no basis in the scientific method or folk studies (a branch of anthropology), and is rather related to other pseudosciences like ufology or ghost hunting.
So to scratch that itch of scrutinizing the unknown (because who among us hasn’t enjoyed the occasional “searching for Bigfoot” type show on the History Channel?), Here are some books on cryptids and cryptozoology. This list is by no means exhaustive, but rather aims to represent the wide range of books available, from fiction to non-fiction, and for readers of all ages.
Non-fiction books on cryptids
Cryptozoology from A to Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature by Loren Coleman and Jérôme Clark
Loren Coleman is a leading American cryptozoologist who has written numerous books on the subject and even established the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine. This encyclopedia, co-authored with Jerome Clark, another writer specializing in the mysteries of the universe, provides an overview of the various cryptids, recently discovered animals, and the researchers who study them.
The Great Bear Rainforest, located on the central and northern coasts of British Columbia, is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world and is home to a rich and diverse ecosystem. Besides the myriad of species that live there, local residents believe the Sasquatch to inhabit the area as well. Writer and journalist John Zada, drawn to his rekindled childhood obsession with Bigfoot, talks to various locals who all have their own stories and experiences to share. What is uncovered through his investigation, however, is something much more complex than a search for a cryptid, exploring questions of science, human perception, etc.
Cryptid Creatures: A Field Guide by Kelly Milner Halls and Rick Spears
This fun, illustrated guide is aimed at intermediate-level audiences and features information on 50 Cryptids that readers can speculate on. Each entry includes eyewitness accounts or other possible evidence for the creatures, and is sure to pique the curiosity of young budding investigators.
Behind the legend: the Loch Ness monster by Erin Peabody and Victor Rivas
Here is a series of books also for young readers, but this time presented as a deeper dive into one creature at a time. Each book in the Behind the Legend series focuses on a different creature or monster from the story, analyzing them through a scientific lens and considering their potential existence based on sighting accounts and other documents. Nessie and Bigfoot are among the various subjects of this series of books, which include a variety of mythological beings, even beyond the cryptids.
Fiction books on cryptids
Dear Yeti by James Kwan
This sweet and warm picture book follows two young hikers as they walk through the woods in search of the Yeti. They write him letters in an attempt to get him out of his hiding place, but Yeti is shy and does not reveal himself. As the hikers’ journey continues, a snowstorm is approaching and they realize that they are not as prepared as they should be. However, Yeti turns out to be a reliable friend and finds a way to surreptitiously help hikers while remaining in hiding.
Cryptid files Jean Flitcroft series
This mid-level trilogy follows Vanessa, a young girl who comes to terms with the recent death of her mother. Her mother was a cryptozoologist, and Vanessa aspires to continue the research she has conducted to try to prove the existence of certain cryptids. In the first book, a family trip to Scotland gives Vanessa the chance to explore Loch Ness. In the second, Vanessa visits her friend’s ranch in Mexico and uncovers the mysteries of the Chupacabra. And in the final installment, a trip to a remote island off the coast of Canada brings Vanessa face to face with mysterious sea snakes.
Dakwäkãda Warriors by Cole Pauls
In this whimsical graphic novel by YA that explores themes of colonialism, protectors Ts’ür’i and Aghay use the revitalization of language to save Earth from evil pioneers and cyborg sasquatches. Cole Pauls is a Tahltan First Nation artist and he wrote this bilingual comic in English and Southern Tutchone in an effort to help preserve the ancestral language.
City of beasts by Isabel Allende
When Alexander Cold’s parents have to leave home for his mother’s cancer treatment, he is sent to New York to stay with his eccentric grandmother Kate. Kate is a journalist for a magazine and takes Alex on an expedition to the Amazon in search of a cryptid known as the Beast. It is the first in a YA trilogy that follows the adventures of Alex and his friend Nadia, while Kate follows extraordinary stories around the world.
Wildlife by Molly Gloss
Charlotte Bridger Drummond is an independent, adventurous and free mother of five sons who made a living writing adventure stories for women in the early 1900s. One day a little girl gets lost in the woods and Charlotte decides to join. looking, only to lose herself and come face to face with a bunch of Sasquatches. Written like the entries in Charlotte’s Diary, this novel explores questions of what the real differences are between the wilderness and civilization.
Devolution by Max Brooks
This horror novel follows a journalist’s investigation into a bloody massacre that took place in a small, isolated community in Washington. As the townspeople took shelter in place following an eruption of Mount Rainier, sasquatches emerged, revealing not only their existence in the first place, but also their terrifying and wild nature. The narrator presents the diary entries recovered from Kate Holland, a resident of the city, as well as her own research and interviews with various experts, to build a narrative of the incident.
For more books with beings beyond the cryptids, check out these articles on books featuring fantastic creatures and books on unicorns.