‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ chosen for Everett Reads!

Enzo tells the story. Enzo is a dog.

If you’ve read “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, Kate Mossman said you’re in for a treat.

Mossman is assistant director of the Everett Public Library, where Garth Stein’s novel “The Art of Racing in the Rain” has been chosen for this year’s Everett Reads! program.

“It’s a short, highly readable book,” Mossman said Monday. Published in 2008, the book’s narrator is a dog named Enzo. From that perspective, readers learn about the life of Enzo’s owner, a race driver.

Stein’s novel is particularly suited to a wide audience, Mossman said. The author adapted a version of his story for kids age 8 and older. That book is “Racing in the Rain: My Life As a Dog.”

Programs related to “The Art of Racing in the Rain” will be held in February and March. Stein will present a free program at 7 p.m. March 8 at the Historic Everett Theatre. He will also meet with young readers in Everett that day.

“It’s going to be fun,” Stein said Tuesday. The author, who lives in Seattle, has traveled the country giving talks about “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” a New York Times bestseller for more than two years. Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre presented the novel on stage last spring.

It’s not easy finding a book that appeals to everyone. Whether it’s true or not, Stein said “there’s a rule of thumb that women read fiction and men read nonfiction.”

With “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” a race-car driver is involved in a custody struggle for his daughter after his wife dies. And with the dog — named after Enzo Ferrari — close to death, reincarnation plays a role.

The book’s car racing is written from experience. Stein has been involved in racing with the Sports Car Club of America.

He wrote the version for the “tween” market after hearing from librarians at the middle school level who loved the story. Language and some situations in “The Art of Racing in the Rain” weren’t a good fit for all young readers.

“Enzo does have a positive message for kids — creating your own destiny,” Stein said.

The story may soon have a much wider audience. Stein said “Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey plans to play race-driver Denny in a movie based on the novel. Dempsey has been in the news recently for his investment group’s successful bid to buy Seattle-based Tully’s Coffee.

This is the fifth year for a community read in Everett. Mossman said library staff members listed several possible picks. A public survey conducted at the library helped make the final book choice, Mossman said.

Other contenders included Rebecca Skloot’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and Jess Walter’s “Beautiful Ruins.” Mossman said Skloot wasn’t available for a program in Everett, and Walter’s latest novel is not out in paperback.

“The Maltese Falcon,” Dashiell Hammett’s detective classic, was the library’s first pick in 2009. The program was then the Big Read, funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant. In 2010, Everett’s Big Read book was Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” a Vietnam War story collection.

The library has since created Everett Reads! and chosen its own books. The Big Read list, Mossman said, includes many classics, limiting author availability and regional favorites.

Last year’s choice, Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” and the 2011 pick, “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford, were both popular, Mossman said.

The library has ordered 400 copies of Stein’s book, available by Feb. 1, and will soon list on its website an Everett Reads! schedule. It will include a film series Wednesday nights next month, a visit from the Everett Police Department’s K-9 Unit, and a program on hiking with dogs. Among the films will be “Senna,” a documentary about a Brazilian Formula One race driver, and “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.”

Mossman is glad Stein is coming to Everett.

“People want to hear from the author,” she said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Everett Reads!

Author Garth Stein will talk about his novel “The Art of Racing in the Rain” at a free program at 7 p.m. March 8 at the Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave. The event is part of the Everett Public Library’s 2013 Everett Reads! program. Related events will be posted later this month at www.epls.org.

Learn more about the author at: www.garthstein.com.

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