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Book Club: 3 Sports Novels You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

the art of fielding baseball novel sports

Book Club: 3 Sports Novels You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

For this round of our Book Club, we’re talking sports. We’ve got three novels here that deal with baseball, golf, and tennis, respectively. Get thee to a library!

The last time we assembled for Book Club — which also happened to be our inaugural session — we discussed five novels you should try to fit in before summer’s end. With just days left before fall sets in, we thought we’d get topical instead.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach – baseball dreams for the grown-up reader.

the art of fielding baseball novel sports
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.

You’ve probably heard of this one. Many of us got started on ‘chapter books’ with some quality, sporty Y.A. literature, and Harbach delivers that sentiment with The Art of Fielding¬†for the literary and athletic fans alike. Harbach begins with high-school upstart Henry, who rises to break records as a shortstop. This isn’t just a story that involves baseball, so much as one that centers entirely around it.

Why hasn’t our modern literary canon earned more than a few great ‘sports’ novels, anyway? We’re asking the tough questions here.

Pike’s Plaque by Stephen J. McInerny – not your everyday golf course.

golf pike's plaque mcinerny sports golf novel
Pike’s Plaque by Stephen J. McInerny.

Our own Elk Ridge Golf Course is pretty tame, to be honest. McInerny invents the Zebulon Pike Golf Course, where fresh graduate Karl becomes manager. Eccentric characters, surprises, and quirky names will keep you reading. You don’t have to love golf for this story to get to you, or for you to have fun with it. Let us know how you feel about the ending, though.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – you’ve never read anything like this.

infinite jest tennis sports novel entertainment
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

Many claim to have read it, and many haven’t. That’s fine. But conquering this broad masterpiece — which sees much of the story develop at the fictional Enfield Tennis Academy — can reap untold rewards, and it’ll likely send you on a decades-long DFW kick. It’s also worth noting that some critics have characterized the ‘back-and-forth’ sort of volleying between main text and endnotes as ‘tennis-like.’ For lack of a better adjective. But that’s up to you.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have a favorite ‘sports’ novel? We’d love to know.

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