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Shoeless Joe

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,288 Ratings  ·  571 Reviews
“If you build it, he will come.”

These mysterious words inspire Ray Kinsella to create a cornfield baseball diamond in honor of his hero, Shoeless Joe Jackson. What follows is 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.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 28th 1999 by Turtleback Books (first published 1982)
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Moneyball by Michael LewisBall Four by Jim BoutonThe Boys of Summer by Roger KahnShoeless Joe by W.P. KinsellaThe Natural by Bernard Malamud
Best Baseball Books
4th out of 454 books — 494 voters
The Notebook by Nicholas SparksThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanThe Devil Wears Prada by Lauren WeisbergerThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienStardust by Neil Gaiman
The MOVIE was BETTER than the BOOK
141st out of 838 books — 9,027 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Brina
Feb 01, 2016 Brina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
Read way back in high school because Field of Dreams at the time was my favorite movie. I will probably have to reread this to get a positive feeling for baseball season.
Jeffrey
Jun 27, 2008 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
Wow! I saw the movie years ago and I just picked this book up to have something to read at the beach. I was blown away. Kinsella has a beautiful way with language. As the cover says, this is not just a book about baseball. It is a book about love and memories, about the truth of our lives, and, in the end, like so many other great works, it is about fathers and sons and the heart rending distance between them that is filled with longing and love and the inability to express it. It left me in tea ...more
Casey
Jun 28, 2013 Casey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It is so nice to read a book like this one.

I admit that I approached it with apprehension. I had been wanting to read it for a very long time, but the movie Field of Dreams was already so beloved to me that I worried the book might somehow lessen its appeal in my eyes.

This is not a book that is meant to be skimmed through for plot details, or main ideas. This book is meant to be savored. The prose reads like poetry and breeds fantasy and wonder. The author puts his reader right in the moment wi
...more
Dan Porter
If you enjoyed the movie Field of Dreams, you owe it to yourself to read Shoeless Joe. What makes this book such a joy to read is Kinsella’s powers of description. He creates characters that you love or hate - sometimes both in the course of the story - but to whom you just can’t remain indifferent. His metaphors are common things employed in such uncommon literary ways that one hears, smells, and feels all that the characters do. These are the tools that Kinsella uses to frame his central messa ...more
April
Jul 24, 2009 April rated it liked it
I am not a baseball person by any means, despite Cooperstown being 45 minutes away. Maybe that is why I did not love this book. Maybe it's because I'm a curmidgeonly young person who hates those tourists who find it in their best interest to do 30 MPH in a 45 MPH, and the main character Ray, reminded me of those tourists.
Read the rest of my review here
Jason , etc.
Jul 18, 2011 Jason , etc. rated it it was ok
I have a feeling I would've liked the movie better even if I'd read the book first. From a style standpoint, the author pumps out metaphors like a coke machine (IRONY ALERT!). He's in love with describing one thing as being like something else, which is fine when done sparingly.

The story's great, though. Annie sounds like the most perfect woman/wife ever created by a writer, Canadian or otherwise. And I spent a fair amount of time wanting to punch J.D. Salinger, which seems about right given my
...more
Raquel
May 25, 2007 Raquel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: baseball fans, writers, and maybe people from iowa?
A "grand slam." (Don't groan too loudly!) An easy read (it was in the young adult section of my library) but the prose is really lovely. The story is similar to the movie that was based on it, Field of Dreams, but has more characters, who are all much more interesting.

I learned about the Black Sox scandal and the class tensions behind it. Interesting!

I highly recommend it. I'd offer to lend out my copy, but I don't own it.

Lisa
Jan 09, 2009 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I thought it would be okay... but it's fantastic. One of those books to own and add to your collection, with such a great lyrical style, it's an amazing, beautiful book. A little heavy-handed on the baseball religion towards the end, but an awesome read.
Craig
Jan 20, 2015 Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those rare books that it's impossible not to compare to the movie. I enjoyed them both very much, and they are more similar that I expected; I suppose the biggest difference is that the character James Earl Jones played in the film was originally J.D. Salinger in the book. The novel has been reviewed and analyzed almost endlessly in the last thirty-five years, and I certainly don't have any unique perspective to add. I think it's cool that a book that's become known as one of the ...more
Stephen
Just finished this and needed to re-watch the movie Field of Dreams that it inspired. While the novel has some characters, themes, and events that some might feel are missing from the film, on the whole, the film is faithful to the spirit of the book and in some ways even improves upon it.

This book is about the love of baseball, known for decades as the American Pastime. The book is also about the love of the land and this is one of the themes that gets trimmed. But the love of baseball is embe
...more
Carol Storm
May 16, 2011 Carol Storm rated it really liked it
Not perfect -- but much better than the movie!!!

I read this book when it first came out, as a young Marine in 1988. I found it to be MUCH better than the movie with Kevin Costner that came out shortly afterwards. The book is light, fun, playful, full of warmth but never takes itself too seriously. The movie is slow, dull, self-important and strangely inert, with a lot of dull, empty scenes and some strident Sixties posturing that has nothing to do with the book's exploration of baseball.

When I l
...more
Donna
Oct 04, 2014 Donna rated it liked it
Shelves: hfu-2014, sports
3.5 stars.

First, I must confess my strong dislike for baseball. I find it so boring. But with that being said, I did actually like this book. It was so well written. The author's descriptive style was great and kept me interested throughout this whole book.

The reason for the 3 stars and not 4, is only because it was kind of slow to start. I found the question "What have I got myself into?" floating around at the beginning. But once I fell into the pace of the rhythm and noticed the writing style
...more
Sarah Zerwin
Apr 19, 2015 Sarah Zerwin rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I had forgotten about this book until it came up in class discussion with my students recently. I had read it in college at the recommendation of my brother, and I remember having loved it. A mixture of baseball lore and magic with JD Salinger as a character. What could be better? And I loved it again for this read. On the whole, I did not like sports. Except for baseball. I'm not a superfan or anything. I just love the idea of sitting in the sun and watching a baseball game, relaxing as the gam ...more
Ann
May 08, 2015 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of course I knew the line, "If you build it, he will come," but I hadn't read the book. It is a quirky, magic story about the power of dreams and love. Even if that love is primarily for baseball.

Kinsella, the author, not the character, crafted a truly unique out-of-this-world adventure for a transplanted Iowa farmer. The tale includes an identical twin brother, baseball players from the past, J.D. Salinger and a completely unpredictable road trip.

I was left thinking that listening to the voice
...more
Amy Lane
Feb 09, 2011 Amy Lane rated it it was amazing
Haunting, spiritual, and written with such lovely, dedicatedly prosody, this is an Arthurian Quest, a history of the American spirit, and the story of cynicism and idealism, dream chasing and practicality, two halves of the same whole uniting in one perfect game. I've taught this book and read this book, and I've adored every minute of it. And I'm not even a fan of baseball.
Susan Quinn
May 30, 2008 Susan Quinn rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I read this book at the start of baseball season every year for ten years. Don't judge from the deeply flawed movie adaptation, "Field of Dreams." This book is required reading for lovers of baseball, and few things can more effectively get me in the mood for summer and long evenings at the ballpark with my dad.
Noah Hablitzel
May 22, 2015 Noah Hablitzel rated it it was amazing
Shoeless Joe, written by W.P. Kinsella in 1982 is a great book! It tells an intriguing story about Ray Kinsella and his "Field of Dreams." This story is told by Ray in a first-person narration. Ray Kinsella is a simple man who lives on a farm in Iowa with his wife Annie and his daughter Karin. Ray is urged to build a baseball diamond after hearing voices saying "if you build it, he will come", referring to Shoeless Joe Jackson, a disgraced baseball players from the early 20th century. Ray decide ...more
Glamdring
Jun 24, 2014 Glamdring rated it really liked it

A beautiful story about baseball, life and dreams <3
Holly
Jul 31, 2015 Holly rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, read-2015
Baseball is my sport. For me, it is nostalgia. Baseball reminds me of the smell of honeysuckle and evenings at the ballpark watching my brother's games as a child and Braves games on TBS. During baseball season I can be found almost every night watching the Braves on TV. The movie Field of Dreams is one of my all-time favorites, and it's very meaningful for me. As we are in the middle of the season and I'm thinking a lot about baseball right now, I recently remembered that Field of Dreams was ba ...more
Janis Knecht
Apr 26, 2015 Janis Knecht rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book "Shoeless Joe," provides more food for thought and additional story lines than the movie, "Field of Dreams". If you simply see the movie, you'll miss out on meeting Kid Scissons, the oldest living Chicago Cub, who rented his farm to Ray and Annie. You won't know that Ray has a twin brother Richard who left home at 15, never to be seen or heard from again, until the time that Ray built his baseball field. And though there are times when the novel's characters share the same script with t ...more
Angie
Jan 10, 2015 Angie rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James
Feb 20, 2013 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Casey Harris
Jun 30, 2012 Casey Harris rated it it was amazing
I've never been a big fan of Field of Dreams, the film based on this novel. But, there's something fantastic about this book (maybe it's that Kevin Costner isn't part of the book...ahem). I think one of the neatest things about the book is that J.D. Salinger, legendary reclusive author of Catcher in the Rye, is a character in this book, one that was replaced in the film by another writer portrayed by James Earl Jones, reportedly in response to Salinger's threats to bring legal action against the ...more
Ted Mallory
Mar 11, 2009 Ted Mallory rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dear-time
Shoeless Joe is the novel that the Kevin Costner movie ‘Field of Dreams’ was based on. Once again I had a famous actor’s voice to use and once again the book is better than the movie. That’s a tall order in this case because ‘Field of Dreams’ is one of the greatest movies ever. ESPN rates it as the all time best baseball movie, even above ‘the Bad News Bears’ and ‘Bull Durham.’

The only things that make me cry are the Gettysburg Address and the scene in ‘Field of Dreams’ where Ray Kinsella (Kevin
...more
Peter
Apr 23, 2012 Peter rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: baseball fans
Shelves: fantasy
I picked this up used at the library's permanent book sale for a buck.

Add it to the very short list of books which aren't as good as their movie adaptations. A lot of the speeches were improved by much pruning for the movie, and the plot was cleaned up a good bit, too.

The book is okay, and I can see that for some it might really "click". But to me it just doesn't quite work. The whole thing felt forced to me, a too-deliberate attempt to create a classic (not unlike The Polar Express, which was a
...more
Linda
Sep 06, 2012 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, baseball
What is it about baseball? No other sport in the US inspires anything like the kind of reaction that baseball does: romantic, nostalgic, sentimental, mystical. . . . Do we describe any other sport with words like “verve” and “poetry”? And yet when Susan Sarandon as Annie Savoy in the film Bull Durham delivers the line, “. . . and for one extraordinary June and July, the Durham Bulls began playing baseball with joy and verve and poetry,” it doesn’t feel at all maudlin or overblown. On the contrar ...more
Greg
Jun 15, 2013 Greg rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2011
I enjoyed this story mostly for its themes of forgiveness, sacrifice, and redemption. Even though the movie based on this story (Field of Dreams) is somewhat different in its plot, the strength of these themes is similar.

This is the second book where Kinsella has confused me with symbolism. I had the same problem with The Iowa Baseball Confederacy. (view spoiler)
...more
Brooke
Sep 03, 2013 Brooke rated it really liked it
The movie Field of Dreams is not only one of my favorite baseball movies but one of my favorite movies in general. This is the book that the movie is loosely based on. Although I have to say, it follows the book quite closely, just leaving out details about the main characters life. The only thing I did not love about this book is that one of Ray's quests is to find J.D. Salinger. If you are familiar with the movie you know that he sets out to find Terrance Mann. I took issue with Salinger becau ...more
fivesunflowers
I loved this book. I am not a baseball fan, and you really don't have to be to like a book like this. I saw the movie years ago, so it's kind of hard to read the book without thinking of the movie, but I would definitely say that the movie did this book justice. Beautifully written, this novel reminds the reader of the shortcomings of our families, the choices we have made as adults, and how things we loved as children are never far from our hearts. The 'baseball characters' in the book have yea ...more
JanBreesmom
Sep 15, 2011 JanBreesmom rated it it was amazing


I stumbled upon the book Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella several years ago in the bargain book section of a warehouse store. I had no idea what to expect as I was not even aware that the Kevin Costner movie, 'Field of Dreams' was based on this book.

This book has so much more substance than the movie. As the movie tells the story of one man, one baseball field, and a dream, the book encompasses the man and his whole extended family in a magical story that somehow seems to transform magic to real
...more
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William Patrick Kinsella, OC, OBC is a Canadian novelist and short story writer. His work has often concerned baseball and Canada's First Nations and other Canadian issues.

William Patrick Kinsella was born to John Matthew Kinsella and Olive Kinsella in Edmonton, Alberta. Kinsella was raised until he was 10 years-old at a homestead near Darwell, Alberta, 60 km west of the city, home-schooled by his
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More about W.P. Kinsella...

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“Baseball is the most perfect of games, solid, true, pure and precious as diamonds. If only life were so simple. Within the baselines anything can happen. Tides can reverse; oceans can open. That's why they say, "the game is never over until the last man is out." Colors can change, lives can alter, anything is possible in this gentle, flawless, loving game.” 49 likes
“God what an outfield,' he says. 'What a left field.' He looks up at me, and I look down at him. 'This must be heaven,' he says.

No. It's Iowa,' I reply automatically. But then I feel the night rubbing softly against my face like cherry blossoms; look at the sleeping girl-child in my arms, her small hand curled around one of my fingers; think of the fierce warmth of the woman waiting for me in the house; inhale the fresh-cut grass small that seems locked in the air like permanent incense; and listen to the drone of the crowd, as below me Shoelss Joe Jackson tenses, watching the angle of the distant bat for a clue as to where the ball will be hit.

I think you're right, Joe,' I say, but softly enough not to disturb his concentration.”
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