“Summertime, and the living is easy…” so the classic song goes. After all, summer is right around the corner and this time of year has always been associated with reading a good book — at the beach, by the pool, in a comfortable chair on the patio, more than one for some, and at least one for others. Flip through any number of magazines, suggestions for best summer reading abound.
I read a lot. Always have. Books have been a special part of my life ever since I learned of the magic of letters, words and sentences. And I go back a long time.
Throughout the years, dog stories have delighted both young and old. From early childhood Spot stories, to “Old Yeller,” Jack London’s “Call of the Wild,” Sherlock Holmes — “Elementary, my dear Watson, the dog didn’t bark,” to Lassie and Rin Tin Tin. Remember Marley, the world’s worst dog. “Marley and Me” was on the best seller list for months and months, followed by a hit movie, and then back as a best seller.
I’m by no means a literary critic, just an average reader who knows what he likes. Sort of like a well read Joe Six-Pack. So for what it’s worth, here’s my best read for this summer.
On the heels of Marley, (or more accurately, paws) another dog book came out a few years ago, this one guaranteed to touch your soul as it did mine — “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. It, too, was on the best seller list for months, disappearing for periods, and then again reappearing time and time again.
The story is told by Enzo. And oh, Enzo is a dog, but not any ordinary dog. Enzo knows he is different from other dogs. A philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession about the lack of thumbs which would permit him to turn door knobs) he had educated himself by extensively watching television (especially the History Channel) and by paying strict attention to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.
On the eve of his death, Enzo reflects on his life, all that he and his family have been through. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, Enzo can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a boy. (He was convinced of his new life after watching a History Channel documentary about Mongolian dogs, where it was said that Mongolians cling to the belief that a dog, after death, returns to life as a human).
When you close the book after 321 pages, you will have smiled, chuckled, roared with laughter, and more than once shed tears. And should you own a dog, more likely than not, you will look your best friend in the eye and wonder, “Could it be possible?”