I FEEL THE NEED, THE NEED TO READ

We all race around with our busy lives.  What makes it worthwhile to pull over for a pit stop at your local library?

Honestly, I wouldn't be very interested in reading a story about adversity in the life of a mechanic and aspiring Formula One race car driver.  I merely became intrigued because the book is narrated by an lab-terrier mix named Enzo.  Reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein turned out to be a memorable and satisfying journey. 

Enzo, frustrated by his inability to speak and lack of opposable thumbs, tells the story of his master Denny's challenges with candor uncomplicated by human emotion.  He senses an imminent calamity that will forever alter Denny's pleasing world of work, home, and family, well before the people in the story are aware something horrendous is happening.  The imperatives of the plot were enough to keep me engrossed, but the icing on the cake was  the frequent injection of Enzo's surprising wisdom into the story.  Enzo learns by observing the world around him, listening patiently to Denny, from studying the weather channel and watching videos of car races.  His understanding of the complex skills needed to manage a race car, traveling at high speed on a rain-slick track, prompts him to philosophize about how using those same skills when faced with life's problems can help a person be more successful in dealing with them.   

Like a variant of Charlotte's Web fashioned for adult readers, this is a story that is short and sweet but not lacking in intensity, insight, or humor.  The Art of Racing in the Rain is number 9 on the New York Times Paperback Fiction best seller list this week.

Enzo Ferrari images courtesy of jonlarge