5 Must-Read Baseball Novels

5 Must-Read Baseball Novels

These novels showcase America’s national pastime.

1. Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella

“’If you build it, he will come.’ These mysterious words, spoken by an Iowa baseball announcer, inspire Ray Kinsella to carve a baseball diamond in his cornfield in honor of his hero, the baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson. What follows is both a rich, nostalgic look at one of our most cherished national pastimes and a remarkable story about fathers and sons, love and family, and the inimitable joy of finding your way home.”

2. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

“At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league until a routine throw goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of his error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz realizes he has guided Henry’s career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.

As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets….It is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment–to oneself and to others.”

3. Made to Break Your Heart by Richard Fellinger

A family saga, set in a gossipy suburb, that explores the complexities of raising a child, holding a marriage together, and maintaining your sanity in the cutthroat world of Little League baseball.

It’s 2008, and Nick Marhoffer is a stressed-out dad who finds himself flirting with thoughts of infidelity. While his job is being threatened by a crumbling economy, he’s fraught with anxiety over his only son’s well-being. So when his son starts playing baseball, Nick becomes a rabid Little League dad who loses sight of what’s good in his life. After developing a crush on a gorgeous team mom, he can’t decide between her and his wife, then finds himself at risk of losing everything that’s most important to him.

This is a smart, sexy, and funny novel about bad breaks, bad decisions, and the long road of life.

4. Bang The Drum Slowly by Mark Harris

“Henry Wiggen, hero of The Southpaw and the best-known fictional baseball player in America, is back again, throwing a baseball ‘with his arm and his brain and his memory and his bluff for the sake of his pocket and his family.’ More than a novel about baseball, Bang the Drum Slowly is about the friendship and the lives of a group of men as they each learn that a teammate is dying of cancer.

Bang the Drum Slowly was chosen as one of the top one hundred sports books of all time by Sports Illustrated and appears on numerous other lists of best baseball fiction.”

5. The Natural by Bernard Malamud

“The Natural, Bernard Malamud’s first novel, published in 1952, is also the first―and some would say still the best―novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material―the story of a superbly gifted ‘natural’ at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era―and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that runs through all his best work.”

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MADE TO BREAK YOUR HEART by Richard Fellinger