Monday, June 15, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

The Literate Housewife is hosting The Dog Days of Summer during the week of August 24th. She says "There will be prizes like books, rub-ons, and limited edition bookmarks!" She will be reviewing/discussing 3 books that week: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn (for our challenge, this book was replaced by Shelter Dogs by Peg Kehret) and another one to be named later (after she chooses one submitted by her readers). I think I'm going to try to participate in the event since I've been wanting to read a good dog book. Here's the one I suggested for the third choice.

Amazing Gracie: A Dog's Tale by Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff

Gracie was a deaf and partially blind albino Great Dane with a delicate constitution and a penchant for small miracles. Dan is the man-sad over the loss of his last dog and trapped in a dead-end job-who adopted her. Three Dog Bakery is the burgeoning and much-publicized chain of canine bakeries that, inspired by Gracie, Dan and his friend Mark founded. A love story, Amazing Gracie describes how Dan saves Gracie, the loneliest pup in the litter, then how, over the next ten years, Gracie saves Dan and Mark, teaching them the real meaning of happiness. There's the moment of meeting, when Gracie gets to her feet like a clumsy foal and nuzzles Dan's nose. Gracie's romance with the pint-size Boston Terrier next door. And the eureka moment (born of Gracie's anorexia-inducing dislike for commercial dog food): Dan teaches himself to cook and within three days begins baking the dog cookies that will transform their lives. Amazing Gracie is a dog-lover's treat.

About the others:

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

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. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side.

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 only a dog could tell it.

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn (no longer a part of our challenge)

Holly Frick just went through the worst kind of divorce: the kind where you're still in love with the person divorcing you. Alex had left her on January 3rd like a benevolent CEO who holds off the pink slips until after the holidays. Holly is left to wonder if she'll ever find happiness again. Like Jane Austen's Emma Woodhouse, Holly is intimately involved in the lives of those around her, and she's compelled to give advice with unwavering moral certainty. And, like Emma, she is often completely off the mark. Soon, her advice will get her in over her head, and she'll find herself playing therapist to her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend while at the same time falling for her married friend's lover. Smart and touching, Secrets To Happiness is a hilarious look at the funny things people do to be happy.

There are so many books about dogs and they all look so good! I think I'm going to make her Dog Days of Summer into a mini-reading challenge for the whole summer (June 21st thru September 22nd). Details coming soon...
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