Book Review: "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein (2008)

I’m not a dog person. And I’m not a fan of race car driving. Despite all that I spent several hours today reading about a race car driver and his dog and his family. And I LOVED it. So much, that I have to recommend this novel. This recommendation comes with a tissue warning though, because this story will make you cry. At least it made me cry so hard.

A couple of weeks ago I read or maybe even saw in a clip that Patrick Dempsey (a race car driver at heart himself) has bough the movie rights to this book. Or planning to buy the rights? Anyway, Paddy had read the book and loved it, which was reason enough for me to at least check what kind of story it was. And I liked the plot and the reviews and bought it a while ago. I haven’t found the time or wasn’t in the mood to read any novel during the last few weeks, but this morning I decided to take a book with me for the trainride to work. I choose this book, because it seemed a less complex story than most of the book on my Unread Books Shelf. With so many things on my mind, I can’t concentrate on complex drama or thrillers.

I read on my way to work. I read during lunch break. I read on my way back home. I caught up with my feedreader, mails etc., made a sandwich and continued reading until I finished the story a few minutes ago. I can’t remember being THIS captivated by a book recently. Or anytime in the last few months/years. Maybe I just was in the need of some crying, because I also can’t remember crying over book as much as I did today. But not in a depressing way, although it parts of it are heartbreaking. But it’s just written so wonderfully and in such a unique way, that amidst all the tears I could still marvel about the quality of storytelling. About the wisdom and philosophy between these pages.

The unique thing about this story is, that it’s told from the view of… the dog. Enzo. Who feels more human than dog, and is annoyed by the fact that he can not speak, even though he would have so much to say. But a a dog’s anatomy just is not made for speech :-) He “speaks” in other ways though. Enzo tells the story of his owner Denny (an aspiring race car driver) and his family and all the sad things that happen to them – hence the tissue warning – and more important Enzo tells about the fights Denny has to fight. He tells about what race car driving can teach you for life and for your fights and it’s just a wonderful and wise and rich and philosophical story. And among all the philosophy and the tears there are also a lot of funny moments, because the whole idea of dog with a human-like mind just provides with a very different point of view.

I immensely enjoyed reading this today. Even though I probably could have spent my time more productive, because the “To-Do-List” contains a lot of things. This was one of the few free afternoon/evenings I had recently and I just felt like spending it unproductive. Relax, unwind, take pause and just feel. It was worth every minute of it.

And now I will continue the evening of relaxing and unwinding by going to bed early and try to catch some of the sleep I’m still lacking…

[FYI: In Germany the book title is “Enzo: Die Kunst ein Mensch zu sein”]

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