The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein

Plucked from a farm as just a pup, terrier/lab mix Enzo is not your average dog.  In fact, if Enzo had his way, he would not be a dog at all.  He would be a human.  In fact, as Enzo hangs with his owner racecar driver Denny Swift, Enzo wouldn’t mind being a racecar driver either.  Enzo shares his thoughts and his opinions as Denny goes from bachelor, to married… and while it takes Enzo a while to warm up to Denny’s woman friend Eve, eventually he warms to her.  And when their daughter Zoe comes along, well, as far as Enzo was concerned, he now had a younger sibling.

It is Enzo who first senses that Eve is sick.  He smells it on her, like a sort of mold, he knows that there is something wrong years  before Eve or Denny have any idea.  This is where Enzo is frustrated as a dog, he is unable to communicate his knowledge.

Let me start with a little story.   A couple of years ago my book club and I read another book told from a dog’s perspective.  It was a simple read, no meat to it… and the book club overall feeling was, it was a waste of paper.  One of my book club girls said much like a dog, she would urinate on this book.    And with that review – that was the end of my days of reading books from animals perspectives.

Needless to say when this book came up as a suggestion for a read for my book club, I did not vote for it.  Many of us didn’t.  We all too clearly still remembered our experience…

As time went on I seen raving reviews of this book on-line… and more recently, when I seen it on with a high rating I decided that if I was going to give this a try, audio may be the way to go.  And so – that is what I did.

I am in love with this story.  Right from the beginning, as the story opens Enzo is in his last 24 hours of life.  He is laying in a pool of his own urine and he is reliving his life….  my first thought at this point is, “Oh no…. I hate it when the animals die.”  I really do.  I have such a soft heart for animals that books like Old Yeller, just make me crazy angry through my tears….

couldn’t there have been another ending?

However this story quickly carried us to the story of Enzo… fun, brilliant pup to dog…. and he is well worth listening to.  Enzo sees on National Geographic that  in Mongolia, dog owners bury their dog high in the hills so people cannot walk on his grave. The dog’s master whispers into the dog’s ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life. Then his tail is cut off and put beneath his head, and a piece of meat or fat is placed in his mouth to sustain his soul on its journey; before he is reincarnated, the dog’s soul is freed to travel the land, to run across the high desert plains for as long as it would like.

And Enzo is ready.

In his own words, here is what he thinks:

“Here’s why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot talk, so I listen very well. I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my own. People, if you pay attention to them, change the direction of one another’s conversations constantly. It’s like being a passenger in your car who suddenly grabs the steering wheel and turns you down a side street. For instance, if we met at a party and I wanted to tell you a story about the time I needed to get a soccer ball in my neighbor’s yard but his dog chased me and I had to jump into a swimming pool to escape, and I began telling the story, you, hearing the words “soccer” and “neighbor” in the same sentence, might interrupt and mention that your childhood neighbor was Pele, the famous soccer player, and I might be courteous and say, Didn’t he play for the Cosmos of New York? Did you grow up in New York? And you might reply that, no, you grew up in Brazil on the streets of Tres Coracoes with Pele, and I might say, I thought you were from Tennessee, and you might say not originally, and then go on to outline your genealogy at length. So my initial conversational gambit – that I had a funny story about being chased by my neighbor’s dog – would be totally lost, and only because you had to tell me all about Pele. Learn to listen! I beg of you. Pretend you are a dog like me and listen to other people rather than steal their stories.”


I absolutely adored this story.  It is sad.  It is real.  And it is all told from Enzo’s point of view.  I can not recommend this enough.  I adored it on audio and I bet I would have loved it if I had read it too.  Do not miss out on this enchanting read.


Amazon Rating

I have updated the WHERE Are you reading map to include The Art Of Racing In The Rain


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30 thoughts on “The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein

  1. This book sits up on my “Favorites” shelf.

    Ever since I read the scene with the chicken nuggest on the floor that Enzo wouldn’t eat, I always taste my kids’ food if they refuse to eat it….just to make sure! Thanks, Enzo!

  2. I listened to this one on audio too and like it a lot. It was intense at parts (like the whole custody thing), but overall I thought it was a good book. I loved the scene that Alison mentioned about the food – it was powerful and memorable.

  3. I love Garth Stein, but haven’t read this one yet. I will though.
    You should read Raven Stole the Moon. It is my favorite of Garth’s books.

  4. I can’t believe I started crying when I read your review. I guess it is because our dogs really have been good “people.” Our favorite is slowing down more and more every day and has had some bad spells lately.
    From the excerpt you gave, it sounds like Enzo has some very important advice for us all.
    Another book I’ll be adding to my Amazon wish list.
    I’ll be looking for an audio copy too.

  5. I definitely want to read this one! My son almost bought this one last week when we went to the bookstore but got The Language of Dogs instead. I was just impressed that he actually wanted to read something!

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