The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

     Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain reaches beyond the animal lover or racing lover.  Instead, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a consuming read for men and women alike.  Creatively, narration is provided by Enzo, the terrier/lab mutt chosen at twelve weeks by the protagonist, Denny.  Enzo welcomes the reader into the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of his own life as well as the life of his master.  Without giving too much away,  the majority of Stein’s novel is a realistic tearjerker causing one to evaluate the treatment of his own life as well as others which then concludes on an almost fairy-tale note.
     Problems for me, the reader, ensued with the late introduction of Denny’s parents.  Their physical presence in the novel occupying only one chapter read as an afterthought.  Further explanation surrounding the parents only reaffirmed the notion that either more elaboration was needed, or the interjection of the parents should have been deemed unnecessary and distracting during editing.
     In regards to book club, this is one where man’s best friend should be not only welcome, but master or mistress of ceremonies.  The ideal setting would be a dog park such as Rock Springs Park in O’Fallon, IL.  If book club members are not owners of the four-legged friend, simply being near these canines at the park would set the mood.  Plenty of dog biscuits must be brought along to share with the dogs, and a fresh batch of oatmeal raisin cookies made in the same manner as Denny- plopped onto the cookie sheet- to share with the humans completes the ambiance and hopefully gives chase to a conversational treat.  Garth Stein
   

Learn More about Cookbook Author Nancy Baggett

Describe your first kiss.

Not the least bit romantic, my first kiss was during a spin-the-bottle game when I was in the fifth grade. Neither I nor my “boyfriend” for the party were really the least bit smitten, but went along with our smooch anyway. I can still recall feeling awkward, and bet my guy does, too.

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .  

I love The Lorax. The message is so important and eloquently presently, yet so readily grasped by even young children. The illustrations are also enchanting.  

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .  

Finding a cure for cancer. Too many family members stricken far too young.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?  Nancy Drew.

E
xplain the worst job that you’ve held.  

The most tedious data entry job-literally-ever. Every day, all day I copied random series of numbers from one ledger to anoither. No explanation of why was ever given–I only lasted a week  Had to quit to save my sanity.  

A quote that motivates you . .

.You never know what you can do until you try.

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island .

You Were Always On My Mind

Three Wishes
  1.That my grandchildren grow up to live healthy, happy lives.
  2  That world hunger is eradicated..  

3.That humans can learn to live in peace.

Favorite game you played as a child . . .

My cousin and I climbed trees in the woods and pretended to be bears. (It was more fun than it sounds!)

Nancy Baggett

The All-American Cookie Book Book Club Ideas

     As mentioned in my profile, I am a recreational baker at best.  I enjoy baking, enjoy eating baked goods, but can never guarantee my results with the oven.  One day I may hear rave reviews, and the cookie jar is soon empty and in need of washing.  Other days, all who come in contact with my baked goods seem to be “full,” “stuffed,” and “couldn’t eat another bite” with that same forced smile on their faces.
     Yet, without fail, every time I attempt a recipe with Nancy Baggett’s The All-American Cookie Book, my cookies are uniform in size (the flattened-pancake-burnt-at the-edges look is out) and scrumptious in taste.  What ensues in my household is no longer polite, forced enthusiasm, but rather a fussing of sorts over whom is entitled to the last cookie on the plate.  In addition, Baggett places each cookie into a historical context which further justifies my incessant baking.

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie

     The All-American Cookie Book is an ideal book club choice to be accompanied with a cookie exchange for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or simply to celebrate the cookie itself.  An assortment of flavored milks- strawberry, chocolate, soy, almond-  would definitely work with this snack of choice. 

Nancy Baggett