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The Art of Racing in the Rain (& a giveaway)

July 16, 2009

I’m writing this review minutes after finishing The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, which was picked for my July book club. The book was so good, so wonderful, so great, so heart warming  and lovely that I want to run out of the house and buy a copy for all of my friends (and might just do so later)!

The book is narrated by a dog named Enzo on his last night on earth (don’t worry, Enzo isn’t afraid of dying, as he knows he will be reincarnated as a human, which he learned all about on a documentary on the Discovery Channel). He decides to lovingly reflect on his life and his wonderful relationship with his owner Denny Swift during these last moments. Denny, an aspiring race car driver, adopts him as a pup and Enzo is front-seat and center for all of Denny’s big life moments – marrying his girlfriend Eve, becoming a father and then watching his whole life fall apart around him. When Eve becomes terminally ill and a custody battle ensues between Eve’s parents and Denny, it takes all of Denny’s energy to fight to get his life back on track. The only two consistent things in Denny’s life are car racing and his dog. Enzo is there beside his best friend, frustrated that he is unable to communicate like a human, but doing his best to support Denny through these trying times.

The Art of Racing in the Rain had me totally hooked from the beginning pages and may just go down as my favorite read this year. If you have ever had a pet that you loved, then you have to read this book. It will give you a whole new perspective on your relationship with those furry little creatures. Add commentary on the role of money in the US justice system and lots of metaphors between racing cars and life, and you’ll see that The Art of Racing in the Rain is a story less about a man and his dog, and more about the true meaning of life.

This book have plenty of heart-tugging, philosophical moments, like this one below:

To live every day as if it had been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. To feel the joy of life, as Eve felt the joy of life. To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish that we encounter every day. To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am. I am. That is something to aspire to. When I am a person, that is how I will live my life.

Or this one:

He (Denny) says racing is doing. It is being a part of a moment and being aware of nothing else but that moment. Reflection must come at a later time.

It also have lots of humor and I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit (especially at this passage, when Enzo remembers Eve’s pregnancy):

I admire the female sex. The life makers. It must be amazing to have a body that can carry an entire creature inside. (I mean, other than a tapeworm, which I’ve had. That doesn’t count as another life, really. That’s a parasite and should never be there in the first place).

Rumor has it that The Art of Racing in the Rain is being made into a movie starting Patrick Dempsey. If that is so, I’ll be one of the first in line for it (with a box of tissues of course, because if it’s anything like the end of this book I’ll need it)!

Garth Stein was just in NYC signing copies of his book – now I wish I had gone in to see him since I enjoyed his book so much. Luckily, I can still listen to him speak as he will be participating in a Blog Talk Radio show with Book Club Girl on Wednesday, July 22nd. For more information about the show just click here. And for info about  about Garth Stein, you can visit his website here.

Would you like to win a copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain?

I have an extra paperback copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain to giveaway and all you need to do to enter is to leave a comment on this post telling me how a pet has affected your life.
For an additional chance to win you can Tweet about this giveaway (@SWrittenWord has a copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain by @Garthstein  to giveaway! http://tinyurl.com/mduhcb ) or post about this contest on your own blog. Please note that this giveaway is open to my international readers too!

You have until next Thursday, July 23rd at 12 noon EST to enter. Good luck!!

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66 Comments leave one →
  1. Jermaine Mintuck permalink
    July 16, 2009 5:59 pm

    I twitted this @jmintuck.

    devonm @ sasktel dot NET

  2. Jermaine Mintuck permalink
    July 16, 2009 6:00 pm

    I like parrots and Dad got too close to a parrot in a store and it clicked its beak on his glasses, nearly taking his glasses away from him. That was SO funny.

    devonm @ sasktel dot NET

  3. July 16, 2009 6:14 pm

    Last fall, my sister committed suicide. I was completely heartbroken, but from her I inherited a little shitzu named Bella. Bella and I grieve together. I know she misses my sister as much as I do. I feel like she understands what I am going through. And at night, I feel better when I feel her fuzzy body curled up next to me and hear her snores.

  4. Donna permalink
    July 16, 2009 6:23 pm

    I already have the book so don’t need to win one! Just wanted to say that I thought this book was wonderful! Made me think, laugh and cry! Wonderful.

  5. July 16, 2009 6:25 pm

    For as long as I can remember, my dad has had a cat. There were a couple he adopted after they made themselves comfortable in his garage, and then later on two in a row that he adopted via Craigslist. His current pet is about 12. She’s known the exact sound of my dad’s car for years, and streaks out of whatever hiding place she’s in at exactly 4pm every day to be on her back and waiting for a scratch the minute he steps out of the driver’s seat. And I didn’t realize till very recently that whenever my dad had an awful day, he’d spend an extra minute or two with the cat. No matter what had happened, she could cheer him up so he’d always be able to come to the door with a smile. Pets are amazing, and truly make not only their owners’ lives better, but the lives of everyone else around them, too.

    celialarsen(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. July 16, 2009 6:52 pm

    I just finished the book so don’t enter me but I didn’t know about the movie deal. How cool is that? Patrick Dempsey, huh? I’ll have to see that one for sure. Wonder who will be the voice of Enzo?

  7. July 16, 2009 6:54 pm

    I already have this book and will be reading it soon. VERY soon. Not sure how I’m gonna make it through though as I cried just reading your review.

    Good luck to those who are entering to get a copy of this book. You’ll love it!

    I hate to say it, I think I already do. So much for being an impartial reviewer. *sigh*

  8. July 16, 2009 6:57 pm

    Don’t enter me. I loved your review and I loved this book. I’m a dog person and Enzo just rang so true for me.

  9. mindy permalink
    July 16, 2009 6:59 pm

    all of mine have affected my life greatly, they have shown me trust compassion and unconditional love

  10. Susan permalink
    July 16, 2009 7:50 pm

    I have loved all the cats and dogs in my life, but I really miss my Peanut. He was the world’s sweetest cat.

  11. July 16, 2009 8:06 pm

    I have always loved cats. It feels like a home is not complete without a cat. I grew up with a cat but then lived without one during my college years and first year of marriage. Once in a new home just after my baby was born, a neighbor’s cat came sniffing around and I let it in the door. It had no collar, I thought it was lost until I asked the neighbors later that night. So the cat hung out in my home all day, and I its presence was so comforting- the little purrp’s to greet me, the luxurious stretches on the couch- so relaxing. l knew then we had to get our own cat- and now we have two! I’m glad that visiting cat reminded me I was missing felines in my life.

  12. July 16, 2009 8:09 pm

    I’d really love to win this book. The storyline sounds somewhat similar to my brother’s life. He lost his wife due to pregnancy/childbirth complications and had some legal battles with her parents over his beautiful daughter. I know this isn’t a story about a pet, but I hope it counts.

  13. July 16, 2009 8:11 pm

    I don’t want to be entered as I would probably bawl my heart out reading it. But I wanted to say that my dog Maggie will be 15 next month (I am 28) and I can not imagine my life without her. She is the only constant in my life and the only thing that I can rely on. I love her with all my heart. She is my child 🙂

  14. July 16, 2009 9:01 pm

    I have a feeling this one will make me cry, but throw my name in anyway. I haven’t had a pet other than fish for years, but growing up, I had a special bond with all of my pets. I remember staying up all night with each of my hamsters when it was clear they were dying, just so they wouldn’t die alone. Just thinking of it brings tears to my eyes.

    Anyway, I’ve also added the giveaway to my sidebar. Thanks!

  15. July 16, 2009 9:08 pm

    What I find on this particular book is that people either LOVE it or think it’s just OK. I fall in the latter group. But, I’m happy to hear about how much you enjoyed it. For me, it just wasn’t as good as Marley & Me.

    I hope you’re doing well!

    Sheri

  16. July 16, 2009 9:11 pm

    I love dogs. LOVE.THEM. I have two currently, both adopted as older dogs. One is a cocker spaniel named Princess Buttercup, and the other is a toy poodle named Tiger. They’re beautiful, quirky, and loving dogs. I will miss them, but I know they’re having a great time living in our family.

    I am sure this book would make me cry but I’d love to be entered anyway 🙂

  17. wendy wallach permalink
    July 16, 2009 9:26 pm

    When I was a teenager I had a miniature collie named Crumpet. When I was going through the teenage blues, she used to nuzzle up against me and literally lick away my tears. Somehow, she always made me feel so much better and was very important in getting through those times.

    madamerkf at aol dot com

  18. July 16, 2009 10:01 pm

    I’ve always loved cats, but never so much so as when my mother was dying slowly from a rare brain disorder. I was single, living alone, and so often would find myself sitting on my bed crying away the evening. My ‘First Cat’ (I had several at that time) Teddy, was normally a touch-me-not kind of cat, but on the evenings when I was crying he would climb up on my chest and just rest his head on my shoulder for as long as I was crying.

    I still have Teddy. He’s 15, and still pretty much a ‘touch-me-not’ kind of cat. But I love him still, and can still remember the feel of his little head on my shoulder.

    I’m off to go post about your giveaway on my blog.

  19. July 16, 2009 10:09 pm

    Excellent review, Stephanie. The Art of Racing in the Rain sounds like a terrific, inspiring book!

    I will not try and “outdo” all the wonderful comments others have posted about their pets, because each of them have amazing animals who add so much to their lives. I will say, though, that over the years, I’ve had many uncannily perceptive and sensitive pets; cats who would come over and comfort me as I child when I cried, for example. Currently, my dog, Jenny, is a wiggly boxer who has been the perfect pet for our family for the past 11 years; she’s protective, playful, intelligent, and beautiful. We’ve been so fortunate to have her presence in our lives.
    (P.S. If I do win this book, I may need to read it out loud to Jenny.)

  20. July 16, 2009 10:15 pm

    Thank you for this fantastic review. I’ve just moved this book up to a must read for August!!

  21. brenda helgeson permalink
    July 16, 2009 10:49 pm

    we just lost our beloved cat chester. he was 19 years old. my husband always swore he hated cats until we got cats until we got him. chester had so much personality and was so loving that you couldn’t help fall in love with him. i miss him especially when i’m at my comp, where he would jump up on my lap and sleep.

  22. July 16, 2009 11:54 pm

    This book stayed with me long after I finished it. I liked it from the beginning but when I began to forget that Enzo was a dog, I really began to fall into it. The book is just so sad–a movie would certainly require an entire box of Kleenex, one of those travel packs would not do.

  23. Fatima permalink
    July 17, 2009 1:11 am

    I adore cats. When I finally got my own, I named her Tiger. But within a year I had to give her away, which made me very sad. From having her, I’ve learned to be caring.

  24. Deedles permalink
    July 17, 2009 1:27 am

    My dog Chey who has now gone to dog heaven has been the best friend I ever had. I can’t even attempt to tell the numerous ways she brought joy into my life.

  25. July 17, 2009 2:19 am

    I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while; count me in!

    I’d say my cat affected my life in many ways; he is like a friend to me, and very sensible to how I feel. I get anxious a lot (especially at the end of semesters), and when that happens, he will just sit beside me with his cheek against mine until I calm down. He seems to always know when to start, and when to go. He even inherited a spot in my blog banner!

    infiniteshelf at gmail dot com

  26. July 17, 2009 3:23 am

    I’m not much into pets really. I would like birds as pets though, but I could never put them in a cage.

    Yours is the first review that has actually made me want to read the book, like right now.

    Love the passages you’ve posted.

  27. Belinda permalink
    July 17, 2009 3:28 am

    My cockatiel seems to think that she should have whatever her human is having. She has me so well trained that I pick snacks that we can both eat when she is out. Thursday was tortilla chip day.

  28. Crissy permalink
    July 17, 2009 6:58 am

    Re-tweeted at http://twitter.com/gypsyeyes.

    I’ve had so, SO many special animals in my life. The first I can remember was a beautiful gray and while siamese/persian puffball of a cat named Tony. I remember going to the house of the woman who was giving away kittens with my mom, dad and brother when I was younger. My dad and brother picked out a black sibling to take home and my mother and I picked out the gray and white one which we named Tony. We swore for years that that cat could tell time. My dad would experiment with her all the time, putting her out the door and telling her to come back at “X” time. It never failed, every single time she would be back on the porch 5 min. before he told her to be back. It was rather spooky, really. 🙂

  29. July 17, 2009 7:58 am

    no need to enter me – just wanted to say EXCELLENT REVIEW! I loved this book, fell in love with Enzo (and little bit with Denny) and heartily recommend this book!

  30. July 17, 2009 9:24 am

    We have had Elmo now for 12 years. This dog is a shih tzu and there isnt enough room to tell you what a miracle he is but I will try to just bullet point a few:
    1. he has been with us since the accident that took my parents, he has been a comforter in darker days

    2. He was stolen from us when we has 2, and after 4 very depressing days we found him and got him back.

    3. 2 years ago he was hit by a car. he is all of 12 pounds. We have had several dogs, bigger dogs, get hit by a car and die on the busy highway we live on. Elmo was drug by the car – taken tot eh emergency room – and lived.

    I swear that dog is with us for a reason. 🙂

    I will add this giveaway to my giveaway page.

  31. July 17, 2009 9:29 am

    Well Patrick Dempsey is the perfect choice since he races cars as a 2nd job besides acting. 🙂 I had to collect my emotions for a bit and still am crying because as much as I want to read this book (and am entering) I know I’ll be a puddle of mush afterwards. We’ve had several pets over the course of my life but it was Waggles, our cocker spaniel, who I miss the most. You see he loved to get into garbage and eat it, one day his intestines couldn’t take it anymore and we had to take him to he emergency animal hospital. My whole family stood there while they gave him the drugs to put him down. I don’t think I could ever do that again and it’s pretty much the reason we won’t be getting pets. 10 years later I’m writing about this and bawling like a baby (at work).

    I don’t know how you are going to read all of these and not cry.

  32. July 17, 2009 9:36 am

    Love the review!

    I have the cutest pitbull pup ever… if I can still call her a puppy… She certainly acts like one. She just made 3 years old, and she’s uber rambunctious. She constantly puts a smile on my face, no matter what else is going on in my life. She’s close to 65 lbs but still considers herself a lapdog. When I need comfort the most, she’s always there to share with me. I guess she’s one of the constants in my life.

  33. July 17, 2009 9:38 am

    Great review. I don’t need a copy – I have one sitting on my bookshelf along with 5 million other books I need to read. But you just moved this one closer to the top of my list.

    When my parents got divorced last year, they both moved to places where they couldn’t have pets. So the family dog was put on a plane and shipped down to live with me. She spent 6 months down here before I took her back to my mom. She helped me get through the divorce, the bar exam, and a presidential campaign. The best part of my day during those difficult months was taking her on her morning walk. I almost refused to give her back to my mom.

  34. Jason permalink
    July 17, 2009 11:12 am

    I never thought a pet would really touch my life until I got my Golden retriever Trigger. We were best friends. It was a heart breaking day when I found out he was hit by a passing truck. It is amazing how much it gets to you.

    jason(at)allworldautomotive(dot)com

  35. July 17, 2009 12:33 pm

    I loved this book! So happy you did, too. Don’t enter me, though. I already own it. 🙂

  36. sandy permalink
    July 17, 2009 12:57 pm

    all my pets affect my life- they are family- and when they are happy or sick it hurts me- have had a dog with cancer, a dog with diabetes- makes me look and realize life is so precious and valueable and hug the ones you love every chance you get

  37. July 17, 2009 4:50 pm

    (P.S. I’m giving away a book on my blog, too. Austen fans should stop by!)

  38. July 17, 2009 6:09 pm

    This book sounds beautiful – what an interesting concept. I would love to win a copy of it. My cat, Ewok, has affected my life in every way possible! He is actually a cat trapped in a dogs body we think so he has definitely helped me see that cats and dogs definitely have a lot of similarities!!

  39. Sharon Walling permalink
    July 17, 2009 7:12 pm

    I have always grown up with cats. I remember, my first cat that I every had, my 1st grade teacher took me to get. I named him because he had a goutee which reminded me of Mitch Miller. I always loved listening to Mitch Miller.

    sharon54220@gmail.com

  40. etirv permalink
    July 17, 2009 7:25 pm

    We had a beautiful, smart doberman who was so good with kids, she didn’t mind them riding her like a horse! Since she had passed away, we couldn’t get another dog… she was irreplaceable!

  41. Barbara C. permalink
    July 18, 2009 10:26 am

    Oh, I’d love to win but if I do send it to Ady as I just read her comment! Peace to you Ady and so wonderful her little dog has a home.

  42. July 18, 2009 11:47 am

    I have heard great things about this book, but anything about animals makes me cry, so I will have to skip it

    By the way, I have an award for you- sorry I can’t link it
    http://tinyurl.com/mdbrks

  43. July 18, 2009 2:10 pm

    I liked your review. I’m way behind in my reading, and still need to tackle this one. You make me want to do so asap!

  44. July 18, 2009 2:11 pm

    This book sounds interesting. I may have to give it a try.

  45. Christina Brunetti permalink
    July 18, 2009 5:15 pm

    I would love to read this. My cats Jinx and Jupiter make me cant wait to come home at night.

    Thanks,

    darkfyre1(at)gmail(dot)com

  46. Lynn S permalink
    July 19, 2009 8:18 am

    Bruiser is my pet yorkie–follows me everywhere! I like to sit and quilt and he does too–always there beside me. When ever I place the block or quilt on the floor to look at it–he hops into the middle and becomes the official quilt checker. We are buds forever!

  47. July 19, 2009 1:45 pm

    I love dogs and they accompany me through my ups and downs, as if they understand just what happens and sense the change in my feelings. I remember when I was little, there was a theif breakiing in. It was my brave dog who protected my family and scared off the thief. Dogs are no different than us. To me, they are friends and family and even like siblings. Really, I grew up with them.

  48. July 19, 2009 9:26 pm

    Both of my cats (one now deceased) have helped me through a great deal of heartbreak in recent years. We’ve lost so many family members. Our little Miss Sunshine used to climb up on my chest and stick her head under my chin when I cried. Sometimes, she’d even lick the tears off my face. I think she was more puppy than cat! I miss her terribly.

    Thanks for the lovely review, Stephanie.

  49. July 20, 2009 8:25 am

    OK, somehow my post about your contest didn’t show up on my blog, so I’ve corrected the problem! I’ve already posted my pet story, but here it is again:

    I’ve always loved cats, but never so much so as when my mother was dying slowly from a rare brain disorder. I was single, living alone, and so often would find myself sitting on my bed crying away the evening. My ‘First Cat’ (I had several at that time) Teddy, was normally a touch-me-not kind of cat, but on the evenings when I was crying he would climb up on my chest and just rest his head on my shoulder for as long as I was crying.

    I still have Teddy. He’s 15, and still pretty much a ‘touch-me-not’ kind of cat. But I love him still, and can still remember the feel of his little head on my shoulder.

  50. July 20, 2009 2:33 pm

    As a person who struggles with depression, I can certainly praise animals for their ability to lift spirits and give one a reason to get up every morning. I am not able to have a pet of my own right now so I frequently pet-nap my brother’s dogs for a day of fun with Aunt Megan. If I am having a bad day, they are there with unconditional love and always entertaining with their funny antics. I am truly a happier person with pets in my life and I look forward to the day when I live in a large enough place to have one of my own!

  51. July 20, 2009 8:03 pm

    I’ve already read this, so please don’t enter me, but I had to say I totally agree — this is a fabulous, heartwarming book. I read that Garth Stein’s agent originally passed on the book and told Garth he couldn’t sell a book from a dog’s point of view. So Garth fired him, got another agent, and sold it for over a million dollars! Guess the agent wasn’t a dog lover, but most of us are!

  52. July 20, 2009 9:33 pm

    Heard so much about this book! How a pet affected my life: I never realized how much a part of the family they become until I got a pet. Now we can’t imagine our lives without our cat!

    vvperesk@gmail.com

  53. July 21, 2009 12:21 am

    I would love to read this

  54. July 21, 2009 1:03 am

    This sounds like a wonderful book. I had a wonderful Keeshond named Tricia as my beloved pet for the first nine years of my life. She was a wonderful,loving animal and I was heartbroken when she passed away from old age. When my husband and I got married, we got a Keeshond named Samson. My two young sons LOVE Samson and he loves them. It reminds me of my own youth with Tricia seeing the boys and our dog. I especially love how he’ll sit there and let them climb all over him. He’s a wonderful dog.

  55. July 21, 2009 11:34 am

    Sounds like such a wonderful book. And if Patrick Dempsey is in the movie – well, say no more. LOL
    We’ve had three golden retrievers in our married life, all so special in their way. Our last one died very unexpectedly right before Christmas last year, doing what he loves best – mooching food from someone. He grew up with my children in the teen years and absolutely loved everyone he met (with a little tinkle to solidify the excitement!). He loved my DH and son, probably more than anyone. To see them play and wrestle on the floor was hilarious. We have so many memories of him with our family, I still get teary-eyed. We now have a new one, seven months old, who’s a sweetie in his own right. I think God gave us dogs as a wonderful example of unconditional love – just a glimpse.
    Thanks for the chance at winning the book. 🙂

  56. July 21, 2009 3:48 pm

    I can’t even begin to describe how my pets have affected my life, but I couldn’t live without them. It seems like when everyone is against you, they are always waiting for you to give you a dose of love! Please enter me in this contest!

  57. pgpalettepirate permalink
    July 21, 2009 7:44 pm

    I work at a bookstore & wondered why all the book clubs were reading this book! Given my income level, please consider me for this contest!

    I have a little doggie named Missy Jane that I don’t get to see often because she lives with the former significant other. When she sees me, she goes bananas and stays constantly by my side. I love it when she cuddles up next to me while I read. During a time when my self esteem is low, she makes me feel loved and important.

    pgpalettepirate

  58. Kathy M permalink
    July 21, 2009 8:09 pm

    One of my daughters guinea pigs just died on monday, so it’s been quite sad at home the last two days. Her name was trixie, she very beautiful and quite shy, for such a small pet her presence was huge and she is greatly missed.

  59. July 21, 2009 9:07 pm

    I tweeted the contest @MyBookBuds.
    I’ll also post a message on my blog. 🙂

    My yorkies (Princess and Duchess) are my best friends, companions and at times, my savior. Few people have been there for my lows – but these little babies have soaked up my tears and have made me laugh. I love them!

  60. July 22, 2009 1:11 am

    We had a kitty that came to us as a stray-she was beautiful and sweet. My husband and I do not have children, and we were a little family with her always playing with her. She is no longer with us-and now we have a rescue brother and sister-they are our children-the joy they give us-especially after little kitty died very unexpectedly-we check in with each other all the time to see what the children are doing. They are my babies and always put a smile on my face.

  61. jacque permalink
    July 22, 2009 10:33 am

    This would be a fantastic read! I have a dog named,Gingerbug9terrior mix) for about 8 yrs now. She is the child I never had . I was going through a nasty breakup that left me depressed but she was there for me every step of the way! Every since I got her, she has slept with me and is my rock! thanks!

  62. Sue permalink
    July 22, 2009 1:50 pm

    I grew up with a dog that was so sweet – the weirdest mix of a dachsund and chihuahua. Her name was Sally. She was always there, happy to play, climb in my lap. I don’t really think I realized how much I loved her until she passed away. I can’t think of her without smiling.

  63. Sarah Z permalink
    July 22, 2009 10:11 pm

    I love when my pups and I curl up and take a nap on the couch together – they make the world right again!
    Thanks

  64. May 26, 2012 1:48 pm

    This blog has got lots of really helpful stuff on it! Cheers for helping me!

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