Schenectady County

Annual Schenectady County reading program goes to the dogs this year

Enzo is a TV-watching dog who desperately wants to be reincarnated as a human.

Enzo is a TV-watching dog who desperately wants to be reincarnated as a human.

He can’t stand his inability to speak or his lack of opposable thumbs, so he waits to die and be reborn a man, just like the Mongolian legend says he can so long as he’s ready. And until that happens, he pours all of his heart, human observations and life lessons into a book.

In case you were wondering, Enzo is fictional. The lab-terrier mix was dreamed up by author Garth Stein in “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” a 2009 novel that caused dog-less readers to yearn for their own furry friend and dog owners to hug their pet a little tighter.

It was a close call for a while, but the 2009 New York Times bestseller was ultimately chosen as winner of the 2013 One County, One Book community reading program. Schenectady County Public Library Director Karen Bradley announced the title Tuesday to a chorus of “awws” from members of the community.

“I think this year this is going to be a great choice for us,” said Bradley. “If you’re not familiar with Garth Stein, he has a companion book that goes along with it that’s toned down in parts and suitable for a middle-school age range.”

Stein’s second novel won by 13 votes over Kristen Kimball’s “The Dirty Life,” followed by Dave Eggers’ “Zeitoun,” Lauren Groff’s “The Monsters of Templeton,” and Kiran Desai’s “The Inheritance of Loss.”

Theme-related programming will begin early next year, said Bradley. She is calling on volunteers to help organize some of the events at a Nov. 14 meeting inside the central library’s Swanker Boardroom at 4 p.m.

Stein, who lives in Seattle with his family, is expected to visit Schenectady County in mid-April and stop in at a local classroom during the trip.

In addition to writing a full-length play, he has written two other award-winning novels, “How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets” (2008) and “Raven Stole the Moon” (2010). In 2011, he released the companion book to “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” called “Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog.”

Stein co-founded Seattle7Writers, a nonprofit organization that started with just a few local authors meeting for coffee in 2006 and grew to include 42 prominent Northwest authors who hold panel discussions, writing workshops and book club events that benefit literacy programs, local libraries and independent booksellers.

This is the seventh year of the countywide reading program, which is designed to promote discussions and programs for both adults and children. Last year’s book selection was the 2011 historical novel “My Name Is Mary Sutter,” by Robin Oliveira, about an aspiring surgeon during the Civil War.

Prior selections have included Jamie Ford’s “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” Sara Gruen’s “Water For Elephants,” Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner,” Jodi Picoult’s “My Sister’s Keeper,” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Anyone who can’t make the Nov. 14 organizational meeting but wants to volunteer should contact Rob Lang at 388-4501 or email [email protected]

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