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The Art of Racing in the Rain

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Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life ... as only a dog could tell it.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published May 13, 2008

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About the author

Garth Stein is the author of four novels: the New York Times bestselling gothic/historical/coming-of-age/ghost story, "A Sudden Light"; the internationally bestselling "The Art of Racing in the Rain"; the PNBA Book Award winner, "How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets"; and the magically realistic "Raven Stole the Moon." He is also the author of the stage play "Brother Jones." He has a dog, he's raced a few cars, climbed a bunch of really tall trees, made a few documentary films, and he lives in Seattle with his family. He's co-founder of Seattle7Writers.org, a non-profit collective of 74 Northwest authors working together to energize the reading and writing public.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 43,032 reviews
Profile Image for Anastacia.
58 reviews4 followers
December 1, 2014
I was meandering around Borders one Saturday when I saw a dog's head on the cover of a book, and since I am magnetized to animals (especially dogs), I had to pick it up and leaf through it. I was pleasantly surprised to read the cover to find out it is written entirely from the perspective of a dog. Adorable and unique; I have always wanted to know what it's like in the mind of a dog. Although obviously written by a person (or my dog has some explaining to do as I was under the impression that dogs do not have opposable thumbs and can't write), it would be so interesting and heartwarming to read through a dog's perspective.

By page six I was sobbing and sniffling.

I didn't buy the book then because, as an animal lover, I am especially sensitive to certain subjects. As a doggy mom, I am more sensitive and I can't bear to think about certain things, whether peaceful or otherwise. I cry watching Animal Cops. I cry whilst watching Wild Discovery. I love animals intensely. So when I read those first six pages and discovered how the story would unfold, I didn't think I could do it. I felt like I needed to get my bearings. I did and I bought it.

The book isn't short, but I read it on one Sunday. I couldn't stop. There were many times where my tears were blurring my vision and I couldn't read further until I wiped my eyes sloppily. But there were also many times when I laughed out loud, something I rarely do. When you're an avid reader, you tend to immunize yourself to a really good laugh (or a good scare, although that wasn't at play here). But Enzo, the dog, is witty, hilarious, immensely introspective, brilliant and sensitive. And I cried more because of this, because he is all of these things and because he was being so unflinchingly brave and honest. And, yeah, I know it was written by a man and not a dog, but if you've ever been a parent to a dog you'll know that the author's voice is eerily similar to expressions and personality "isms" that are directed at you every day.

My pup is very well taken care of and loved with a fierceness that astonishes me, but after reading this book I have been talking to him, laying on the floor with him, treating him more as a friend who can hear and understand me even though he can't form or speak the words through his mouth. This story is beautiful and hopeful and devastatingly sad, but it is told in such a delicate way that you'll find yourself sobbing but feeling okay about it. If Enzo is okay, I thought, then so am I.

Maybe it's because this is what I want to hear and what I want to think because I know my own boy will leave me some day, but I want to believe that all of Enzo's thoughts are real and that when it is time, they want you to let them go. I can't imagine it and I'm tearing up just writing this, but maybe thinking about this when I'm forced to will make it just a tiny, infinitesimal bit less paralyzingly heartbreaking.

The book took my breath away and makes me feel closer to my dog. For that alone I am indebted.
Profile Image for Jason.
137 reviews2,345 followers
August 5, 2016
You know that guy who comes up to you when you’re having a bad day and says something like, “just think positive thoughts and good things will happen” as if it were really that simple? As if the spirit of Karma or whatever is patiently waiting around for you to will happiness upon yourself so that it can be befittingly bestowed? Yeah, well fuck that guy. Bad things happen all the time to people who don’t deserve it, regardless of whether or not they are in touch with their “positive energies.” Similarly, people who are jerks are at no greater risk of having a safe fall on their heads while they walk down the sidewalk than anybody else is. Not in the real world, anyway.

Apparently this book does not take place in the real world.

By now, I think it is pretty much known that this book is written from the perspective of a dog. While this may be a turnoff for a lot of people, it is not what ruined it for me; I can be very open to unconventional styles of storytelling. No, what ruined it for me is the fact that the entire thing is horribly botched.

First of all, when you are a writer and you choose to narrate your tale through the eyes and ears of man’s best friend, you need to adhere to your own limitations. If your story involves any kind of tromping through courthouses, police stations, or hospitals, YOU CANNOT GO THERE. Nor can you give your canine narrator ESP or amazing powers of deductive reasoning, either, as compensation. That is cheating.

Second, please don’t be smarmy. You are already asking your reader to suspend his convictions enough to buy into this whole concept of a dog harnessing a human soul; please do not expect him to swallow that your dog is also an earthy-crunchy environmentalist with a belief in the law of attraction and a distrust of the medical community to boot, because that is just asking too much. When you do that, you expose yourself as a fraud trying to push your own agenda onto the reader through your characters. Again, cheating. (And as an aside, I can assure you that doctors and drug companies are not sitting around boardroom tables scheming over how to swindle sick people out of all their money. How ridiculous.)

Putting all this aside, the book still fails on so many other levels. Its characters are hollow shells, driven by motivations I could in no way relate to. This, in turn, translates to an exceedingly weak plot in which events occur unnaturally, giving the entire novel a contrived quality. It also tries—constantly—to draw analogies to race car driving, which comes off sounding rather pathetic. And its ending actually nauseated me. Truly, I am at a loss to explain the popularity of The Art of Racing in the Rain, because really? This book is for the dogs.
Profile Image for Nicholas Sparks.
Author 299 books226k followers
September 17, 2012
If you have yet to read this wonderful novel, do yourself a favor and do so. It's original and captivating, and I simply adored Enzo (the narrator ... who also happens to be a dog). It tells the story of a particular family, with twists and turns that keep the pages turning. It's a perfect read for a rainy afternoon or while laying in bed, the kind of novel that you'll remember long after you've finished.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
June 12, 2021
That beginning - whew - nearly shorted out my kindle with the tears.

If you're like me (avoiding sad books like the plague), you'll feel the urge to abandon this book after Chapter 1.

Don't do that.

There is an absolutely beautiful story that has to be told (and don't worry, the ending is not as sad as the beginning implies.)
I’ve always felt almost human. I’ve always known that there’s something about me that’s different than other dogs.
Enzo belongs to Denny (and Eve and Zoe, but mostly Denny).

He loves car rides, treats and his stuffed dog BUT Enzo is a peculiar sort of dog.

He understands English, the finer points of racing and the emotional needs of his humans.

But he's trapped in a dog's body - no thumbs and no talking - and he is in anguish when his humans are hurting.

But this has led to one supremely useful skill. As he says,
Learn to listen! I beg of you. Pretend you are a dog like me and listen to other people rather than steal their stories.
This book is all about listening - what can be learned and gleaned if only people spent their lives as dogs do.

When Eve gets sick, when Zoe is snatched by her grandparents and when his beloved Denny about to truly give up, only Enzo is able to listen.

But how can Enzo help them when he's trapped in a dog's body?
I know this much about racing in the rain. I know it is about balance. It is about anticipation and patience...It is about believing that you are not you; you are everything.

And everything is you.
This was a truly excellent book - the writing, the plot, the characters - all just stunning.

This is one of those books that everyone should read once - it has such a solid story and that ending (oh that ending!) was just what I needed.

The 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge - A book with a weather element in the title

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Profile Image for Lucy.
475 reviews604 followers
November 17, 2008
I'm shocked...shocked, by how much I loved this book.

The narrator is a dog.

There is much mentioning of racing - Formula One, NASCAR, Indy....

and the narrator is a dog. But I think I mentioned that already.

I liked this book so much that it made me want a dog. No, it made me want this dog. And I don't even like dogs.

Enzo, a terrier/lab mutt, believes in his next life he will be human. As he feels practically human already, just limited to grand gestures due to his loose-muscled tongue and lack of opposable thumbs, he spends his dog years closely watching his ownder, Denny Swift, to learn the art of being human so that when it's his turn, he'll have a head start.

Denny, a race car driver/mechanic/down on his luck dad is a kind owner who loves his dog and uses racing philosophies in his own life. There are many to choose from, but my favorite is, "No race has ever been won in the first corner; many have been lost there." Denny's own story is one of work, patience, courage, endurance, hope, and love. It's not an easy story to read. There are times I felt like throwing the book I was so mad at Denny's in-laws, but (kind of embarrassing to admit here), Enzo kept me sane. I just loved that dog. Just when I'd about had it, he'd make me laugh and I could manage another chapter.

Enzo dies in the end. It's not a secret. From the opening pages, you are reading the words of a dying dog. But that didn't take away my sadness in the end. I bawled when Denny held his beloved friend in his arms and says, "It's okay. You can go." Think Where The Red Fern Grows and Old Yeller only for adults. There is some mentioning of "mounting" (it's a dog's perspective, remember) and language.

Several times throughout the book, Denny or Enzo say, "Your car goes where your eyes go." Enzo knew that applied to life as well. Your life goes where your eyes go. I'm happy my eyes rested on this book.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,986 followers
December 17, 2018
A fantastic and well told story! At times, I was near tears. Other times I wanted to reach into the book and punch one of the characters. I was so emotionally invested, I was talking out loud to the book. In the end, I set down my Kindle and gave a standing ovation.

I was skeptical going in . . . this is the part where I fear pet lovers will start unfriending me and/or sending me hate mail! I am not a big pet person so I have been putting this off because I heard it is told from the point of view of a dog. My worry was that it may not appeal if I couldn't connect to the love an owner might have for their dog (I know, I am a terrible person!😉) But, I will say that I really enjoyed it. The dog in question is Enzo, and he comes across as very wise and human. The cutesy dog/owner story I feared it is not.

Because Enzo is very wise, this book is very quotable. I began to picture Enzo sitting on a mountaintop in robes waiting to impart knowledge on those coming to seek his guidance. Because of this, I feel that this is a good book to recommend to those seeking inspiration.

Another aspect that sold me on this book is how much the book is about auto racing. I love watching auto racing and talking about cars, drivers, great moves someone made in a race, or their mistakes made, etc. This is just like Denny and Enzo in the book. I thought it was awesome how auto racing philosophy was connected to life in general.

I mentioned in the beginning that at times this book made me rage. It has been a long time since a book has made me this mad (the last was probably The Giver - which I actually flung across the room. That was a physical copy, though. This was my Kindle, I didn't want to fling it). I cannot really say what made me so mad without spoilers, but be sure to prepare yourself because I bet there are few people who can make it through this book without a similar reaction.

Because I was so moved - to happiness, to sadness, and to anger - I give this book A++++, 16 thumbs up, all the book awards, etc. I can easily recommend this book to anyone!
Profile Image for Nina (ninjasbooks).
953 reviews372 followers
June 17, 2023
This book is everything you need. An emotional journey that made me remember how good life can be despite the suffering it also entails. Using a wise dog as the main character was also lovely, even if it’s been done before somehow this dog got a piece of my heart. The ending made me smile while also wanting to cry at the same time. A memorable book that I won’t forget.
Profile Image for Matthew.
605 reviews17 followers
October 19, 2008
Yet another book I was reading as a preview to see if I should purchase it as a gift. Sadly, no.

Equally disappointing is disliking the work of a local author. I always want to like local authors (and artists of all stripes), but it isn't always possible.

First, I don't think automobile racing is a good metaphor for life. Maybe it is, but I have a bias. I hate the automobile. I think the personal automobile is the single most destructive concept we've conceived. To then race them (in circles, no less) seems pointless at the very best, and perhaps even criminal when one considers the environmental costs. As I said, I'm biased.

The reason I read this in the first place was the dog-as-narrator. I'm really trying to find a good dog-as-narrator book. This isn't it. The dog-as-narrator in Stein's book is gimmicky. It doesn't add to the story, it doesn't clarify the plot, and it doesn't enhance the narrative. I kept asking, "Why is the dog telling this story?" I still have no satisfactory answer.

The narrator was particularly unlikable to me due to his obsession with being reincarnated as a man. It rubbed me the wrong way for several reasons, and seemed to detract from the story whenever it came up. It also underscored my question about why we were listening to the dog in the first place.

My final disappointment with this book involved a little deus ex machina action that tied a little bow around the story and robbed it of any emotional truth it had held for me up to that point.

Ultimately a discouraging read, but I finished it in the unrealized hope that it would redeem itself.

[I should probably read this review after getting some sleep and edit it for clarity and accuracy, but I doubt I will.]
Profile Image for Dana Stabenow.
Author 99 books1,953 followers
April 20, 2021
Note on May 18--Oh man. My book club's selection this month. Just started reading it last night. A dog narrator. And car racing. I dozed off in self-defense.

May 20--Not my kind of book. Don't read any farther if you loved it.

Elsewhere on this site my friend Judy compared Garth Stein to Robert James Waller. I think that's insulting to Waller. It felt like Stein had a list -- dog hero, check. Wonderful woman with fatal brain tumor -- check. Adorable child -- check. In-laws from hell -- check. False accusation of rape -- check. Wait, what was that last? Are you kidding me? Daughter taken away -- check.

And then of course fairy godFerrarifather -- check. Rape victim recants -- check. Gets his daughter back -- check. Reconciliation with estranged parents -- check. Who also give him check -- check. No good deed goes unrewarded! The top of his profession -- oh of course check, how could it be otherwise. But wait, there's more! Dog reincarnated as human boy and race car driver wannabe!

I didn't buy the dog as narrator for a moment. I'm not saying an animal's point of view can't be done, and done well (The Incredible Journey, The Silent Meow, Watership Down, The Wind in the Willows), but not here. And the whole plot was just so implausibly over the top. I put it down at page 3, page 26, and page 29, and then I remembered that I, too, have picked books for book club that people hated. Readers, I finished it. I consider it to be a triumph over my gag reflex.

I see now that I've been completely wasting my time for the last twenty years. My next book will be about the mother of a little girl with leukemia as told by their cat. Husband deserts them -- check. Mother loses her job because of bad economy -- check. Has to work three jobs to replace it -- check. She sells their house to pay medical bills -- check. Arrested and child removed by family welfare due to child neglect -- check. Husband's mother sues for custody -- check. Through it all the only comfort is the cat -- check.

Child dies. Cat runs away. The abyss.

No, wait, this is a cynical feelgood Stephen Spielberg book, what am I saying? Of course the child doesn't die, the child is cured by a all! new! and improved! treatment! Check! Mother discovers an ability to make yarn from cat's hair -- check! Fairy godartgallerymother discovers cat hair sweaters on mother's do-it-yourself website online and gives her her own show -- check! She sells them for millions -- check! Doctor who invented the treatment falls in love with mother -- check!

Cat lives to twenty-one and comes back as third child of now leukemia-free daughter, and grandma gives her knitting lessons.

On the other hand, Stein's book sold a zillion copies and I'm sure he's crying all the way to the bank. I just hope they don't make a movie out of it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,401 followers
January 16, 2023
2021, I love you already for starting a new year with a book like this.

1st January, 2021:

I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book today. This is the second time I picked it up. I picked it up last year, went into a few pages and I realised I wasn't ready for the story. I did not want to ruin the reading experience, so I put it down. So glad I did (trust your reader instincts always!).

The first page. It made me cry. I continued crying until the next few chapters, I got used to the story and the characters and then I cried, like ugly-i-am-dying-now kind of bawling my eyes out ignoring the burning sockets and the crazy headache throughout the last few pages. It hurt. And it still hurts.


I agree that this book is a masterpiece. But, dog moms (like me or canine lovers in general), please consider before picking up this book. If you cry seeing a cute puppy, please do not pick up this book. The heartbreak is just too much!

The story is told from the perspective of a dog named Enzo. He's been living with his human, Denny, before he got married and have a daughter. Things turned pretty ugly and difficult for Denny with his wife, Eve, dying young from brain cancer after struggling for months, leaving him with his small daughter. Denny doesn't have a stable job with his interest only with cars and races. Well, the blow comes when he's been charged of sexually assaulting a minor. Things turned crazy. The entire read is a rollercoaster! For my heart which was breaking all this while and for my tear glands which have been working consistently for the last 4 hours or so. Because of Enzo. Because I love this canine with all my heart!

Our german shepherds passed away when I was away from home. I know how difficult it is to let go. This story triggered me a lot especially reading about the struggles of Enzo because of old age and also, the last few pages. I could relate to most things when it comes to the dog-human bond in the story. It's so real.

I need to stop crying.... My head is hurting and my hoodie is all wet. Yes, my pillows and my bed. I need to make them dry. My whole room cried I guess.

How could such a tiny human produce all those tears?

I haven't cried this much in my life. Let alone reading a book.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.7k followers
June 26, 2019
THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by GARTH STEIN is an inspirational, wonderful, and sad story that had me feeling so many different emotions while listening to this book. Laughter...happiness...sadness....anger...and even a few tears. I had chills and goosebumps! That is good writing to make me feel so many different emotions while reading/listening to a book.

It was such a touching and uplifting story about the life of Enzo the dog, which was told from his own perspective. I found this story to be quite endearing, enjoyable, sad, and even funny with a few good twists and turns to keep me interested to the very end. Would recommend!

Audiobook - The book is performed by Christopher Evan Welch.

All of Brenda & my reviews can be found on our Sister Blog:
Profile Image for Lucie.
100 reviews30 followers
October 16, 2020
Adorable. Narrated from first-canine-point-of-view. 🐶

Named after Enzo Anselmo Giuseppe Maria Ferrari, the founder of the legendary racing team and automobile brand, Enzo (the canine) is a very wise and loyal soul. He's constantly explaining his thought processes about... well, everything.

The way Enzo views the world, sees humans, and interprets everyday events is quite comical. I kept thinking, “Yep. That's exactly what I would think too.... you know.... if I was a dog.” I laughed right out loud when he said, “Case in point: The dew claw.” 😂

Enzo's human daddy is a race car driver and lover of finely-crafted racing machines, especially Italian ones. I looked up the meaning of the name “Enzo” and smiled when I saw that, in Italian, the name means 'Winner.'

This is not another “Marley and Me.” This one goes much, much deeper. It's an extremely well-written story with a much more meaningful message than you may think at first glance. This one will make you smile and probably tear up at the end. I sure did. Loved this one.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews599 followers
October 5, 2018
Yeehaw!.....a Zebra is dancing? .....Car racing? .... in the RAIN?.......
What’s going on?
And you thought this was a DOG story? Don’t let those other 8,249 Amazon reviews fool ya. Just because you see a Golden Retriever on the cover of Garth Stein’s novel.....this novel isn’t a doggy dog story at all.
I don’t care if you own a dog or not - own cats or birds or nothin- this book is more HUMAN than HUMAN!!! ENZO is showing us the BEST QUALITIES of HUMANITY.

I may be late to the party in reading this VERY HUMAN BOOK .....I HAD REAL TEARS...is that human enough for ya? Laughed silly too. My heart and body felt so warm with love - I swear I wouldn’t need a jacket in the snow with this much heat. Is it possible I have a new FAVORITE *FAVORITE* book in my top 10 books - as in EVER?..... YES.....ITS POSSIBLE!!

I’m not done with this book YET! I have gifts to buy. I honestly can’t understand why the 8, 249 reviews are not at least DOUBLE THAT AMOUNT!
This is not a HAS BEEN.... BEEN THERE....SEE YA...BOOK!! It’s the best doggie/human novel of its kind.

Every new generation will be ‘gifted’ taking their turn reading this novel....
NOBODY IS *Too OLD* or TOO INTELLECTUAL themselves to not be profoundly touched.......it’s PURE SATISFYING reading ....involving the reader wholeheartedly in thought, heart, spirit, and self-reflecting. Both emotionally and intellectually.

Enzo.....( named after Enzo Ferrari who built one of the greatest trademarks in the world), is incredibly observant of people and his surroundings. He’s funny & shrewd- bright as a whip - has an impressive vocabulary- teaches life lessons about courage and love -and dreams to have ‘thumbs’. That’s right - thumbs! ( like you and me).
Enzo is no pansy......he watches Educational TV that *his human*, Denny leaves on for him when he’s away at work ( at an upscale auto dealership in Seattle) Denny is also a semi pro race car driver.

Enzo’s learned [ about the Mongolian legend- on daytime TV] that if a dog is prepared enough - really prepared - they will be reincarnated as a human in their next life. Not only does he dream of being transformed as a human - he’s excited to be an ‘adult’ human —-( being the intellectual philosopher he is).

Enzo is a ‘pretty quick’ study doing his ‘prep’ work. He is patient....loyal ....a good friend.....supportive......and protective. He also had to learn to share his love —with Enzo’s wife Eve and their child Zoe. ( you’ll love the immediate family).
There is some awful friction with the in-laws ....( reality drama)....yet it’s valuable to see how really hard situations get resolved.

Enzo had limited views for awhile about understanding the depths of character -( ie selfishness vs. being present and focused).....but in due time - he understood.

We feel confident that ENZO IS MORE THAN PREPARED FOR HIS NEXT LIFE JOURNEY..... yet......the ending is heart-wrenching. So compassionately written ....but I couldn’t stop weeping.

The ‘symbolism/ parallels’ between race car driving and LIFE are brilliant.
There are insights about the difference between being average and being a champion....the value of hard work and commitment.
There are insights about control - things we can control - things we can’t. There are twists and turns with race car driving ...... as there are twists and turns in life.
Garth takes us through obstacles with both - 𝐋𝐢𝐟𝐞/ Family challenges - ( custody battles, terminal illness, and death), and on the race track we take those twisty turns as well....be it sunshine or rain ☔️.

It’s impossible not to love ENZO!!!!!!!

5+++++ Stars!!!!! I dedicate this little ( ha) review to Cheri and Paula .....
Two women whose expression of love for their dogs move me.....
And to *Lunchbox* ....my favorite baby-face Chihuahua in the whole wide world!!!
Profile Image for Christina Loeffler.
143 reviews17.3k followers
December 4, 2018
If I had to describe what I felt reading this book in one word it would be charmed. This is such a heartwarming and original story concept and I'm not sure I've ever read something so objectively sweet.

This is the story of Enzo, a philosopher dog with an obsession with opposable thumbs, racing, his family and his belief that when he dies he will be reincarnated as a man. The story is told solely from Enzo's perspective and I found it funny and imaginative. I couldn't help but near constantly read excerpts to my husband because Enzo has an incredibly endearing and amusing view on life. Stein's image of how a dog would view the world I found both unique and inventive while maintaining as much realism as one could expect when reading a dogs perspective.

My only issue with the story is a few of Stein's language / descriptor choices. Personally, I think you can discuss a woman breastfeeding without describing her nipple and you can also describe female dogs without calling them "a bitch of a dog". It's not that it came off as necessarily offensive or overly sexualized it just felt wholly UNnecessary to the story and it conflicted a bit with how I felt Enzo was as a character.

Overall, if you love dogs or not I think anyone would enjoy this story. It's original, entertaining and a loving story about familial bonds. I don't know what humans did to deserve them but they are the most pure and perfect things we have. Now I've got to adopt another dog and name him Enzo because his voice and his character was absolutely unforgettable.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,796 reviews2,389 followers
August 11, 2019
I read this when it first came out, and then again around five years ago, but with the release of the movie I knew I wanted to spend a few hours with Enzo once again. For those of you who have never read this or read about it – Enzo is a dog, albeit with the soul of a human.

” In Mongolia, when a dog dies, he is buried 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. I learned that from a program on the National Geographic Channel, so I believe it is true. Not all dogs return as men, they say; only those who are ready. I am ready.”

Narrated by Enzo, we learn about his life that he shares with Denny, a race-car driver, and we follow his meeting and courtship with Eve, the woman who will become Denny’s wife, and the mother of his daughter. Enzo was happier when it was just the two of them, when they could spend their days watching the racing channel or re-watching tapes of Denny’s races, but slowly he begins to bond with Eve. By the time that baby Zoë is born Enzo has wormed his way into Eve’s heart, and Zoë’s arrival bonds the four of them even closer.

”I’ve always felt almost human. I’ve always known that there’s something about me that’s different than other dogs. Sure, I’m stuffed into a dog’s body, but that’s just the shell. It’s what’s inside that’s important. The soul. And my soul is very human.”

There is, of course, more to this story, but it’s reading the details of this story as told through Enzo’s eyes that leaves me a bit teary-eyed, but smiling on his philosophical approach to love, loss and life, and an inspired belief of what it means to be human.

Profile Image for Malbadeen.
613 reviews7 followers
Shelved as 'holy-shit-this-got-published'
December 4, 2013
A). This book is written from the perspective of a dog.

B). The first line of this book is, "Enzo knew he was diferent from other dogs"

C). This book is written from the perspective of a dog.

D).Inside the book there are statements such as, "That which you maifest is before you." and "No race has ever been won in the first corner; many races have been lost there".

E). This book is written from the perspective of a dog.

F). Starbucks is heavily promoting it.

G). This book is written from the perspective of a dog.

H).The amount of paper being used to promote it should be illegal!

I). This book is written from the perspective of a dog.

J). Wally Lamb says this book makes him look at his dog and think, "I wonder..."

K). This book is written from the perspective of a dog.

Books about dogs should be written

A). from the perspective of a human

B). for kids and young adults

C). Not promoted at Starbucks

Profile Image for Trin.
1,842 reviews565 followers
February 24, 2010
I am halfway tempted to dismiss this as a “man’s book.” I don’t feel comfortable doing that however, as 1) I have had way too many women tell me that they adored this book, that it made them weep and filled them with joy and cleared that pesky rash right up; and 2) if a dude dismissed pretty much anything as a “woman’s book,” I’d want to punch him in the throat. So, fair’s fair. This is not a “man’s book.” But it is a book written by a man with, I think, a seriously dim understanding of women and, quite possibly, people in general.

This is a book about a man called Denny. Denny is practically a saint. He loves his wife and his daughter and his dog, and for them—only for them!—he puts his dreams and his career as a *cough* professional race car driver on hold. When his wife gets cancer, he adheres to all of her wishes, including letting her and their daughter live with his creepy controlling in-laws. And when, while the rest of the family is packed away at said in-laws, a young, nubile, non-blood female relative brazenly attempts to seduce him, does Denny take her up on this offer of no-strings-attached sex? No! He bravely fends off her advances! Just like he refuses to give in when, after his wife’s inevitable death, the horrible in-laws try to gain custody of his daughter—going so far as to use a false accusation of rape by the duplicitous teenage seductress to improve their case! In the face of all this, wouldn’t most men give up and despair? But Denny—Denny the professional race car driver stays strong!

Yeah, okay. This may not be a “man’s book,” but that is a male fantasy if I ever heard one.

The only thing that makes this book at all believable is that it’s narrated by Denny’s dog. Denny’s dog is a dog—although, much to my disappointment, not an exuberant pup like Up’s Dug; Enzo instead sounds (as he would proudly assert) almost human—and thus he is loyal to a fault, and thus one can sort of see how Enzo-the-dog would see Denny-his-human as near-perfect. Enzo’s love for Denny is moving, and some early passages about their relationship were the only ones in the book that really worked for me. They were also, I suspect, what made so many of the people I’ve talked to—women and men—adore this book. Assuming you can ignore everything else about the story, I can sort of see where they are coming from there.

But I can’t ignore everything else about the story. Dog narrator or not, this is still a story about a perfect man persecuted by cartoonishly evil grandparents and almost left in ruin by, you know, one of those oh-so-common fake rape accusations. Have men at some point been falsely accused of rape? I’m sure they have. And you know: that really sucks. But you know what sucks even more? All the women who have actually been raped and then actually been told that no one would or should believe them, that the case will never go to court, that they guy will walk, that, you know, they were kind of asking for it anyway. And, fine, this may be partially my issues at play here, but that is all I could think about while Enzo praised Denny’s stoic dignity and bemoaned his powerlessness in the face of those evil, evil lawsuits. And I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe a word of this book. Talking dogs—those I am willing to buy. I could even conceivably have been sold on the “oh and also there is reincarnation” twist at the end of the novel. (Um. Maybe.) But Denny’s saintliness and the grandparents’ unadulterated evil and the girl who cried rape—um, nope. Those I cannot buy. Nor do I want to.

Whether or not this is a “man’s book,” it is definitely not a book for me.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,256 reviews1,129 followers
March 25, 2023
"There is no dishonor in losing the race ... there is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose."

"We are the creators of our own destiny."

The Art of Racing in the Rain is a novel by Garth Stein from 2008, about an aspiring racing driver, his dreams and his life struggles. The novel would be a fairly ordinary contemporary tale, except that it is written from the point of view of the main character's dog, a labrador retriever, terrier cross called Enzo. The dog was named after Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the Ferrari corporation.

The convention of writing a book from a dog's point of view is not a new one. There are quite a few whimsical and sentimental stories from Victorian novelists, and more recently James Herbert's "Fluke", a full-blown novel in its own right. But whereas "Fluke" had a mystery story embedded in it, The Art of Racing in the Rain is more of a story of domestic ups and downs, with a tragic episode halfway through. It is based partly on Garth Stein's own experience with racing cars (and dogs), and partly that of a close friend who was having family difficulties. Stein himself stopped car racing after having a crash whilst racing in the rain.

Underpinning the story, however, is an allegorical element about the journey of life. The idea of how life should be lived was inspired by a 1998 Mongolian TV documentary, "The State of Dogs". The Mongolian belief is that dogs return to this world as humans after they die. The dog Enzo watches the television quite regularly in the story, car races being a particular favourite. He too sees the documentary about Mongolian dogs, and decides to base all his future behaviour on the belief that,

"when a dog is finished living his lifetimes as a dog, his next life will be as a man," adding, "I've always felt almost human. I've always known that there is something about me that's different than other dogs."

Enzo began to view other dogs in terms of whether they had reached the higher spiritual state, or whether they needed to live a few more dog lives first,

"Not all dogs return as men, they say; only those who are ready. I am ready."

Enzo often feels trapped in his dog form, and very excited at the prospect of reincarnation. After watching the programme he is absolutely convinced that he will return as a human, and his actions show he is mentally capable of doing all of the things intelligent humans do. But because he is without the ability to speak, he is made incapable; he is merely a dog,

"I see green as gray. I see red as black. Does that make me a bad potential person? If you taught me to read and provided for me the same computer system as someone has provided for Stephen Hawking, I, too, would write great books. And yet you don't teach me to read, and you don't give me a computer stick I can push around with my nose to point to the next letter I wish to type. So whose fault is it that I am what I am?"

Enzo frequently conveys his messages by other means. He is a human in dog's form, constantly frustrated by his lack of thumbs and abnormally long tongue. His complaints about these do provide some gentle humour,

"Those monkey thumbs were meant for dogs. Give me my thumbs you darned monkeys!"

He is also in deadly fear of a stuffed toy giraffe, which seems to him to have devilish powers,

"the demon, the evil zebra, the dark creature that possessed the stuffed animal ... Trust me when I tell you that devils like the zebra are real. Somewhere the zebra is dancing."

Only on one occasion do Enzo's dog instincts overpower his reason. It is a very emotional episode, and all he can do is run and run. Afterwards he feels he has let both himself, and his master, down. The advantage to Enzo in being in a dog's body is that people give away their secrets to him. They always feel safe in disclosing their worries to a "mere dog". He also can anticipate some events before they happen, because of his exceptional sense of smell, and understanding of body language.

The story is told in flashback. At the start of the novel Enzo is in constant pain. His joints are stiff, he can barely wag his tail - clearly he is at death's door. Yet his only concern is that his master Denny will not be too hurt about it. Enzo is looking forward to his death because of his belief that after his death he will be reborn as a human. He is excited waiting for this transformation to a human life, and imagines meeting the people he knows and loves when he is in a human body. So the reader knows what is to come, when the story then rewinds to when Enzo is brought home from a puppy farm by a much younger Denny.

The novel tells of his early happy years with his master, the boy-meets-girl tale of Denny and Eve Swift, and the consequent routine of happy families in Seattle with their baby Zoe. What we do not yet know is what is going to ruin this domestic harmony enough to make us want to carry on reading about it. And the novel does deal with huge life and death issues. It depicts a lot of contemporary stresses, legal battles, illness, and tragedy in the second half of the book. They are all observed by Enzo, with a view to what he, in his doggy role, can do to help the situation.

The novel's weakest points are when Garth Stein places too much emphasis on telling his main story. There is a lot about death and dying. We know that Enzo is extremely intelligent and perceptive, yet the fact that he is a dog is sometimes lost, except at key points, such as when Enzo is not allowed inside the hospital. It feels very much as if this is added on for verisimilitude, and the focus, that the events are viewed by a dog, has been lost.

The allegorical parts are an interesting take, but the homespun philosophy does become a little wearing. It is not perhaps as illuminating as the author intended. Denny hopes to be a champion Formula One driver some day and Enzo shares this dream, this love of speed and both physical and emotional control.

"Your car goes where your eyes go."

One of the most valuable skills that Denny has is his exceptional skill at driving in the rain, not fearing the wet track or skidding. He has the ability to anticipate what will happen next, and taking charge; responding to it before it happens,

"If I intentionally make the car do something, then I can predict what it's going to do. In other words it's only unpredictable if I'm not ... possessing ... it."

There are quite long parts of the novel where Enzo is philosophising, and using racing as a metaphor for life. It does not really need to be hammered home so insistently. The novel's title itself if a metaphor for life; life can be compared to racing car driving. Events in the novel illustrate that it is about much more than speed alone, that life involves change, acceptance and overcoming hardship too.

"I am a racer at heart, and a racer will never let something that has already happened affect what is happening now."

But the main message is that living in the moment is crucial; life is about about learning "how to race in the rain", and living to your full potential. As Enzo says,

"With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high ... My soul has learned what it came to learn, and all the other things are just things."
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,172 reviews8,386 followers
March 9, 2018
I haven't given a book less than 2 stars in a very long time because normally I won't finish a book if I'm disliking it that much. But this was for book club and I felt like I should give the whole book a shot; plus the audiobook was well performed and helped me get through most of it. Unfortunately, this book was not for me.

I think the idea of a dog narrator is novel and fun—and going into the book I was really excited to see how it was done and read from a unique perspective. However, I thought it was executed very poorly. There was absolutely no logic behind the dog's perspective. Sure, I can suspend my disbelief that we are reading from a dog's POV; that's fine. But if you don't assign some sort of logic to what the dog can and cannot understand, then you've lost me. How can he watch television, understand Mongolian philosophy, and the intricacies of race-car driving but not understand human reproduction or same-sex marriages?

Besides that there was nothing really in this book that I loved or even really liked. There were just things I didn't necessarily dislike. Overall I was pretty unimpressed with the story—full of deus ex machina and overused plot points—and all of the characters were one-note. When bad things happened I wasn't emotionally invested enough in the characters to care; and same thing applies for when good things happened. In the end, everything felt too convenient and simplistic and didn't challenge me as a reader in any way.

People might claim I'm over-analyzing a sweet, simple story. But I think you can have a nice, light read that is still confident in the reader to put things together, to not require everything being spelled out or simplified for easy consumption. That's how I felt about this book and that's why it gets 1 star. I know plenty of people who absolutely LOVE this book, so don't just take my word for it. If it sounds like it's up your street, give it a go—it just wasn't up mine.
Profile Image for Jamie.
532 reviews11 followers
November 30, 2020
11/2020: This review has been deleted, inline with the idea of "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

I did not like the book. It was clearly not the book for me!
Profile Image for Lisa Kay.
924 reviews519 followers
May 24, 2012
Ferrari F430

★★★★★ An amazing book; one of the best I’ve read in over a decade. Some of you, who know me, are aware that I am still friends with my ex-husband; a relationship that spans over 32 years. What you may not know is that he is battling the Big “C” – cancer. Now, after five valiant years, he is debating whether to enter Hospice or not. Needless to say, the last thing I, a dog-lover and ex-ICU nurse, wanted to do was read a book where a wonderful canine, Enzo, on the eve of his death, recalls his lifespan with an owner who races cars. An existence that includes the experience of losing a loved-one to cancer.

But, my best friend in the world, Anita Who-Doesn’t-Have-Time-To-Recreational-Read-Because-She-Does-Tons-And-Tons-Of-Reading-At-Work, gently insisted I read this one. And I’m glad she did because The Art of Racing in the Rain is so much more than a book about dying. One reviewer said it is kind of the Jonathan Living Seagull meets Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for dog lovers. It is full of insights into everyday living – and it is full of racing analogies to get us through the realities of life with compassion, warmth, humor and hope. Like life, this book has a few unexpected turns in it. I cried over almost every chapter, but I also laughed. Sometimes I did both at the same time – not recalling which emotion started first. It was very cleansing.

Did I mention that my ex used to race “showroom” stock? Consequently, I recall the lazy spring and summer week-ends of our youth spent at some of the race tracks mentioned in this story, with the smell of oil, gasoline, and burning rubber in the salty sea air. Ahhh… to be young, in love, and following your bliss again with a dog at your side.
Profile Image for Lisa.
24 reviews9 followers
July 5, 2008
this is positively one of the most masterfully simple yet profound novels i have read/heard in years. i listened to the audio version on the way back from my last trip to pittsburgh and, as another reviewer commented, it's a tear jerker. i boo hoo'ed quite a bit and then raced to the nearest borders to reread the parts of the story that moved me the most. this story is a fascinating study of the human condition as witnessed by Enzo, the dog narrator. this will at once seize your emotions and provoke more thought than you could ever have predicted. another reviewer asserted that racing is a metaphor for the lessons we are on this planet to learn. we chose the car (body and life) and even the obstacles (rain, curves, speed) before arriving. this concurs with other authors who believe, in spirit form, we chart a path and body with "masters or guides" prior to life in this plane (see brian weiss, richard webster, and sylvia brown). through Enzo, this author forced an examination of my sense of purpose...and i am better for having read it.
Profile Image for Mandy.
320 reviews332 followers
February 2, 2016
Tear jerker! I'm writing this and sobbing! What a beautiful work of art. Enzo the dog was such a life force to reckon with. I love him and he's just a made up character! All of these characters... Denny, Zoe, Enzo, Mike, Eve.. Such masterful people! It ended the way I expected but I so loved the very end. Such a perfect ending to the story :) read this!!!!! You will not be sorry you did! Such a magnificent story as told by a dog. Would love to see a movie based on this story.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,015 followers
May 23, 2011
I was rather sceptical about The Art of Racing in the Rain. I continued to be so as I read, even when I was more than halfway through. It bothered me: the description of Eve's illness, the situation with Annika. And I wasn't sure I was getting much out of it in return for getting so unsettled. I didn't think that much of the narration -- the conceit of a dog narrating the story. Parts just didn't go together: you can't have a really smart dog with ideas on philosophy who then gets confused about really simple things. Neither rang true.

But somewhere, around three quarters of the way through, I really began to care. And the emotional punches began to hit, until somewhere in the last fifty pages I found that I was tearing up that little bit (and I needed to blow my nose: gross, but true).

It's still, honestly, a bit thin. The central conceit, Enzo's narration, it really didn't work for me. The story itself is believable, but the choice of narrator nearly killed it for me, before I even picked it up. It's also totally unsurprising, in everything that happens, but the end borders on painfully cliché. I still liked it, in the moment, but it's a flaw.

It's not something I'll reread, and I'm not sure I'd recommend it, but I'm glad I read through to the end.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,156 followers
May 28, 2015
2015 Super Favorite!

I went into this novel not knowing much about it really, only afraid I wouldn't be able to handle it if it was too sad (being the animal lover than I am) and had already started a great classic play I was eager to get into, but after reading two chapters of The Art of Racing in The Rain I knew it would be utterly impossible to put it down...and it was.

This story is so much more than I thought it would be. It is touching, inspirational, filled with kindness, understanding and just an absolutely unputdownable work of fiction. It makes you think about your pet's life and their thoughts through gestures. It even has twin humanoid villains and an imaginary striped demon...and yes...there is some sadness and despair within these pages, but overall, it is a happy, feel-good amazingly enjoyable book.

If this is on your agenda to read, don't wait....read it now. If it's not, add it....you won't be disappointed you did. (IMHO)

I actually feel like starting over and reading it again!

Profile Image for Emilie.
151 reviews4 followers
June 24, 2008
What I loved:
1. Enzo is the coolest. dog. ever. And that includes my dog, who happens to be pretty hip. He's caring, he's funny. I love it.
2. The way Enzo narrates is awesome. I have a feeling that if dogs - smart dogs, who are about to come back as men - could talk, this is what they would sound like.
3. I plowed through this book because I was utterly unable to put it down. It isn't so much that I wanted to find out what happened next in the plot; I wanted to find out what Enzo had to say and what happened to the characters.
4. Even though it's clear from the first chapter what will happen at the end, the last 20 pages made me cry great, shuddering sobs. My dog came over to make sure I was okay. I told you he was hip.

What I didn't love:
1. The language was a little too flowery and contrived at times. Not always, but there were definitely times when I felt like the author was reaching.
2. I agree with Erin that not all of the characters were very well developed. Denny was, as was Enzo (generally) and Luca (who we don't meet until the end). But with the others, there was no real motivation for much of their actions. There was too much telling on the part of the author, and not enough showing.
3. Along those same lines, some of the plot was the same way. The end felt a bit contrived.

I haven't decided yet whether I will read anything else by this author. But all things considered, I loved this book. Read it. Read it now!
Profile Image for Ann.
510 reviews23 followers
June 21, 2008
Judging from the other Goodreads reviews and the recommendations of my friends, I seem to be a minority of one in my low estimation of this book. It's not that I disliked it, per se, but I really resented the way this sappy, anthropomorphic story stomped on every emotion in my body. If you need a good cry for some other reason, by all means grab yourself a box of tissues and a copy of this book and go for it. You can get it all out and no one will ask you what's wrong when they see what you are reading. If crying is not high on your agenda, skip this one and move on to something more worthwhile.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews47 followers
November 1, 2021
The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein

Garth Stein is an American author and film producer from Seattle, Washington. Widely known as the author of the novel The Art of Racing in the Rain. Nearing the end of his life, Enzo, a dog with a philosopher's soul, tries to bring together the family, pulled apart by a three year custody battle between daughter Zoe's maternal grandparents and her father Denny, a race car driver.

Enzo educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

‏‫‭The art of racing in the rain, Garth Stein, 336 Pages, New York, 2008.
تهران: جاودانه‏‫، 1398‬‏‫هجری = 2019م

تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز نخست ماه نوامبر سال2020میلادی

عنوان: هنر مسابقه در باران؛ نویسنده: گارت اشتاین؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 21م

انزو، سگی با روحی فیلسوفانه، در نزدیکیهای پایان عمر خویش، کوشش می‌کند، خانواده‌ای را دوباره گرد هم نگاه دارد؛ «انزو» با تماشای تلویزیون و با گوش دادن به سخنان استادش «دنی سویفت»، که یک راننده ی خودروهای مسابقه‌ است، بسیار میآموزد؛ «انزو» با توجه موشکافانه به رفتار «دنی»، دنیا را بهتر می‌شناسد: هنگامی‌ که «دنی» در پیست مسابقه رانندگی می‌کند، زمانی ک�� او در خانه ویدئوهای مسابقات مهم را تماشا می‌کند، یا زمانی که یک مستند درباره ی «مغولستان» می‌بیند؛ «انزو» نیز همراه اوست و آرزو دارد که در آخرین روزهای پیش از تبدیل‌ شدنش به انسان، زندگی خود را در دشت‌های «مغولستان» بگذراند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 09/08/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for JD.
716 reviews334 followers
September 16, 2019
Amazing book!! I thought it would be the same as "A Dog's Purpose", but other than that it is 'written' through the eyes of a dog, it is completely different and just as good. It follows the life of Enzo, who's owner is Denny a racing driver. The first part of the book moves fast, it really takes grip of you after about 30 pages and then I could not put it down. The story is filled with simple life lessons through Enzo eyes by seeing how humans interact, through racing terminology and by watching a lot of television. In this book you will laugh and be sad, and the book has one of the best endings I have read. A must read!!
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