The Reading List: Rats

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The Independent Culture

Non-fiction

The Story of Rats: Their Impact on Us, and Our Impact on Them by SA Barnett £17.99

A comprehensive survey, The Story of Rats examines how people and rats have lived together throughout history and their use in the scientific world.

Horror

The Rats by James Herbert £7.99

Inspired while watching Tod Browning's Dracula, Herbert pulls no punches in this gruesome horror classic. The tale opens with a tramp being eaten alive; things don't get much more pleasant. Able to communicate telepathically, the rats of Herbert's imagining are truly frightening.

Poetry

The Pied Piper by Robert Browning, Selected Poems £9.99

"To see the townsfolk suffer so/ from vermin, was a pity": When residents of Hamelin hire a ratcatcher, events take a tragic turn. A pied piper, he leads all of the town's children away, never to return. Debate rages over the origin of the legend on which Browning's work is based. One theory is that it symbolises the plague, which is carried by rats and was responsible for many children's deaths.

Rat-keeping

Rats: A Pet Owner's Manual by Carol Himsel Daly £7.99

Rat-keeping won't be to everyone's taste, but those who have them swear by their intelligence and strength of character. Lovingly illustrated and packed with information on the intricacies of rat-keeping.

For Children

The Tale of Samuel Whiskers (or Roly Poly Pudding) by Beatrix Potter £5.99

Inspired by a rat infestation in the author's home, Samuel Whiskers recounts the adventure of an inquisitive cat, Tom Kitten, who finds himself faced with a pair of giant rats. They tie him up and prepare to bake him in a roll of pastry – but his friends hear the noise.

Short story

The Rats in the Walls by HP Lovecraft, Selected works £7.99

A thoroughly creepy tale about a man who, disturbed by the noise of rats, discovers that his forefathers presided over an underground city of cannibals for centuries. Turning to cannibalism himself, he is locked in a mental home, where he says that it was all the fault of "the rats in the walls".

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