A Heartfelt Look at Life Through the Eyes of a Dog (Book Review)

"That which you manifest is before you." ~ The Art of Racing in the Rain

It just so happens that I am a huge animal lover.  Coincidentally, I am a also an open-wheel race fan.  So when you have a novel where race car driving acts as a metaphor for life and is narrated by a dog, a dog who believes he will be reincarnated as a man, you have a story that is perfect for me! 

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein makes the reader take stock in his own life and how he is living it.  Filled with inspirational thoughts that could only be observed by a wise dog, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a heartfelt look at life that will remind you that just as the race car driver must accept and then correct his mistakes to stay in the race, so must we accept the consequences of our behaviors and take necessary actions to correct them in order to survive life.   

It was one of those books where I found myself re-reading sentences, paragraphs, even entire chapters, not because I lost focus or interest, but because the prose is so thought-provoking, you want to meditate on the words again right there and then. Plus, it proves that dogs really are a higher-being - better at listening, better at feeling, better at coping

On the eve of his death, Enzo, the family dog, looks back at his life and tries to make sense of it all. He recalls when Denny, a semiprofessional race car driver, picked him out of the litter and took him home. But little did they both know at that time how huge a role Enzo would become in the life of Denny, his wife, and his daughter.

I did become frustrated, even angry, with Denny for being so naive and getting himself into predicaments that were so clearly manipulated by others.  But, that was only because I really liked and cared for Denny. This connection to his character is exactly what I look for in books.  

An unusual element of this novel is that since it is narrated by Enzo, so much of what happens is relayed via hearsay - only bits and pieces of what Enzo is privy to.  But that gave this novel its charm.

This was a difficult book for me to read because I am currently dealing with the impending death of a beloved pet. But I am so happy I picked it up. I loved Enzo's story and his zest for life. I enjoyed the reflections on racing and moments of racing history Stein provided - all of which neatly tied into this unique story that even non-race fans will connect with.

The Art of Racing in the Rain will make you smile, make you sigh, and if it doesn't make you cry both tears of sorrow AND joy, you've probably never experienced a deep love and connection with a pet.  I've always loved dogs, their ability to communicate without words and create bonds with their people.  But even I will never look at dogs the same way again.

"To live every day as if it had been stolen from death......to feel the joy of life. To separate oneself from burden, the angst, the anguish that we all encounter every day. To say I am alive, I am wonderful.....That is something to aspire to....." ~The Art of Racing in the Rain

I recommend this book to anyone who has ever loved and lost a pet, but also to readers who enjoy taking philosophical journeys through fiction.  Don't necessarily read this one for the plot, which became a bit unrealistic and predictable at times.  Instead, read it to take a lesson from a dog on how to live life. And, remember, "Your car goes where your eyes go." So stop staring at the wall! 

Check out more of my book reviews.


  1. Sounds interesting! So sad to hear about your pet, Nikki. :( How old is it?

    1. Thx, Alisha - he'll be 18 next month, bladder cancer :((

  2. Your new blog is beautiful, i like it very much...


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