Freshman Summer Reading Program

Medaille College Class of 2021 Summer Reading Program: An Online Guide

Medaille College is excited to announce The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein as the summer read for 2017. The key to success at Medaille is being an active, engaged learner, so all incoming freshman should read the book before the start of the fall semester. The Art of Racing in the Rain has been chosen to help students begin to actively engage with important ideas and to think about what inspires them as they embark on their college careers. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in various book-related campus activities to further enhance their first year experience.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is a deeply moving and philosophical text that is also written in a style that is easy and pleasurable to read. Anyone who has ever had a pet will enjoy seeing the trials and tribulations of the human characters—in all their goodness and love, but also their selfishness and vindictiveness—through the eyes of a dog. Even for those who might not be pet owners or animal lovers, the novel explores universal themes such as life and death, love and loss, the complexity of human relationships, and even reincarnation. There is great joy in the book. There is also humor, philosophy, sadness, injustice, and, ultimately, triumph. 

You’ll probably tear up more than once reading this book. The fact that Stein manages the ending that he does in a way that is totally believable and fits the world of the novel so well speaks to its genius. There is a sense of wonder and magic just below the surface of the text.  And it leaves us wondering “is it just the world of the novel or our world as well?”


Resource Materials: Developing Active Reading Skills 

Reading actively is a skill that everyone must continually develop, and involves strategies that are very different from the passive learning that we engage in, for example, when we watch television. The links and questions below will provide some resources that will help you to enjoy The Art of Racing in the Rain and to develop your active reading skills. 


Questions for Reflection 

Enzo (the philosophical dog who narrates the text) embodies the value of curiosity. As you read, try to imagine your world through a different set of eyes. What makes Enzo so curious? What is the value of his curiosity? 

Denny is a championship racer, so in that way he embodies one type of excellence. As you read, think about the other ways in which Denny and the other characters pursue or display excellence. You might consider what excellence can look like in different circumstances. How do you define excellence? 

Integrity and truth are central to our value judgments. As you read the novel, you might reflect on the nature of truth. How do we know what we know about these characters? Who in the novel acts with integrity? Do any of the characters lack it?

Enzo’s observations of the world are those of a philosophical but also somewhat innocent soul. What can the novel teach us about the world in which these characters—and by extension we as readers—live in?  Despite the occasional brutality and harshness of human nature, Enzo still wants to join the human community. Why? 


Garth Stein’s Official Website  

The Art of Racing in the Rain Video Book Trailer 

Garth Stein discusses The Art of Racing in the Rain  


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