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The Art of Fielding

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  105,347 ratings  ·  10,292 reviews
At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published September 7th 2011 by Little, Brown and Company
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Disco "A Prayer for Owen Meany" is fantastic and this was too boring to finish.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Corey I took that to mean that Henry was not ready to make the leap into professional baseball. It felt like many of the characters, Pella and Schwartz espe…moreI took that to mean that Henry was not ready to make the leap into professional baseball. It felt like many of the characters, Pella and Schwartz especially, were struggling between what they "should" do with their lives and what they were truly ready to do. Pella wasn't ready to live the life she had in California and, fundamentally, Schwartz wasn't ready for law school. Each character had to find their own truth and by choosing to stay at Westish, Henry found the strength to decide for himself what was best. (less)

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Oct 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding is 2/3rds strong but maybe 100 pages too long. You know that weird paradox you feel when you like a book but kind of wish it was over? I felt that around, oh, page 350 of The Art of Fielding. So while I can recommend the novel, with reservations, I can't make the four star leap.

The storyline revolves around five characters and readers shouldn't be misled into thinking, as the inside cover description seems to imply, that Henry is the star and the four other cha
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
People love to talk about the "great" books that aren't good reads. There's also the crap that people call "beach reads" but gobble up without taking seriously. But The Art of Fielding falls under a third category: A book I didn't like so much that I wanted to keep reading it.

I wanted to like it, I did. I like books that take place in college. I like baseball. I like baseball metaphors even more. but it felt like a book that took 10 years to write and not in a good way. Characters that I imagine
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Christine by: Tom to read, Elyse5. Andrew Smith 4, Tim 2.5
I’ve been in a bit of a book slump. I started and stopped three books before beginning this one. I picked it up solely because it is so different from what I have been reading. Score.

It took a little while for me to become engaged because of the slump, but things soon clicked. The main protagonist, Henry Skrimshander, is a young baseball player and college student. His bible, a beat up book called The Art of Fielding, is full of philosophy and practical pointers on how to become the best player
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Teresa by: James Murphy
I loved this book! (I suppose it's appropriate that I start off my review like a fan.)

While reading it, I couldn't help but reflect upon and compare this novel to The Marriage Plot. Both are about college-aged kids (though set in different decades); mental illness is an element in both; and while the love triangle in the Jeffrey Eugenides novel is paramount, the one here (which is sort of (though not really) a love triangle) is more subtle and more realistically portrayed. (I almost want to say
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Man, I really didn't want to like this book. And here, quickly, are the reasons why:

Number 1) Pure jealousy. Harbach got paid like a bajillion dollars for his very first novel. I was paid slightly less than that. Okay, a lot less than that.

Number 2) I don't like n+1 magazine, of which he is the co-founder. I find it pretentious and boring. I would honestly rather read Cat Fancy.

Number 3) Harbach wrote an article about MFA vs. New York writers that was, in a word, uber-douchy. And anyone who we
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
UNBELIEVABLE. Haven't been this moved by reading in a long time.

Baseball is, without a doubt, kinda sorta, um... dull. But with near-perfect (actually more perfect than near-perfect) "The Art of Fielding," the passion in the hearts of five individuals will likewise light a passion within the impressionable reader. I am not kidding. I LOVE this novel. I was convinced that "The Marriage Plot", a kindred book-- same time, same themes, same environment-- by Eugenides was the definitive college novel
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: u-s-lit, baseball
I have stood there, with my knees bent, on the balls of my feet. I have watched the signs and where the catcher sets up. I have known with some sense of probability if my pitcher can throw the ball where the glove is set. I have watched the hitter's swing, listened to the sound. I have intuited. So I have moved, left or right, back or in, often before the ball leaves the bat, before life, if you will, comes my way. Another example of how Life, as the columnist Thomas Boswell once mused, imitates ...more
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm from Wisconsin. This book takes place in Wisconsin. I love baseball. This book is about a baseball team from a fictitious Wisconsin college, Westish, which seems like a mix of Ripon and Lawrence. I love that fictitious name by the way. I love that school's absurd tie to Herman Melville as well and its funny Melville-related sports handle, The Harpooners. In a lot of ways, this book is as tailor made for me as a sharp ground ball is to a shortstop eager to make a 6-4-3 double play. It's not s ...more
Campbell Andrews
Sep 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
*mild spoilers*

100 pages in and the author has already *twice* withheld information from the reader which would be apparent to the character. Is there a name for this?

The first time it's dialogue overheard by a character, dialogue which the reader is meant to mistake for sex when in fact it's two people lifting weights. But the character is outside the weight room, so there's no chance that /he/ would think it's sexual.

The next occurrence: one character is straining for a glimpse of another, wor
As a HUGE fan of the game, I really enjoyed this baseball themed novel centering around Henry Skrimshander.....his glove named Zero and his desire to be the someday play Shortstop for the STL CARDINALS.....But this story surprised me.....there's so much more to it than just baseball.....

Without divulging any secrets, I'll just say.....the novel intertwines friendships and relationships among five flawed characters who struggle to find their way in life and follow their dreams.

Love ho

Elyse  Walters
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I Absolutely loved this book! It was 'The Perfect Novel'.

About Baseball: There 'is' baseball in this book. So, for those people who really do not like baseball 'at all' ---(but are still open to reading this GEM of a story) ---you might surprise yourself and expand your interest in the game itself. (at least grow to respect the game -the players -and the *Art-of-being-on-a-Team*).

What else is this book about 'besides' Baseball? Life--friendships--all types of relationships --(male bonding at i
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Is there a way to give a book six stars on here? Because I'd keep adding them if I could, I loved "The Art of Fielding" that much. Truly, I didn't want this novel to come to an end. Last night, I put the book down with 30 pages left. I honestly thought, "I want one more day to delve into this world." But then, 20 minutes later, there I was, picking it back up to reach its final page (and discovering a wholy satisfying resolution, which rarely happens for me with most books).

This is one of those
Glenn Sumi
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Let’s play ball! And let’s have a ball while we’re at it!

Part baseball book, part campus tale, and part Aspiring Great American Novel, Chad Harbach’s The Art Of Fielding is one of those highly readable, absorbing tomes that creates an entire fictional world you believe in and want to spend lots of time in.

Naturally gifted shortstop Henry Skrimshander (see note about names below) is discovered and recruited to Westish College, a small liberal arts school in Wisconsin on the western shore of Lake
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, baseball
Review 1.1 updated introduction.

I've finished the book. I was a little wrong about how the book would end, I think I liked the book more because of the way it wrapped up than I expected to. I gave it an extra star. It is a pretty good book, not a great book, there are problems with it, some of the characters could be developed a bit more in places and some of the middle part of the book could have probably been reworked a little bit to make it not feel like a slog for a little bit, but with the
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“We secretly believe that the outcome of the game depends on us, even when we're only watching - on the way we breathe in, the way we breathe out, the T-shirt we wear, whether we close our eyes as the pitch leaves the pitcher's hand and heads toward Schwartz.”

A book that is more about the people within it - their lives over the span of a few year's time, in this place called Westish College, and a game that can be said to transcend itself - begins and ends on the field. When I finished, I th
Lorri Steinbacher
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Everything they're saying about this book is true. I couldn't put it down. First, Harbach knows how to tell a story. I want to make a Franzen comparison, because this book gave me the same type of satisfying "ahhh" feeling I have when reading him, but he is not Franzen. Sometimes reading Franzen is like taking a vitamin. You know it's good for you, but sometimes it's a little bitter going down. Not so, with this book. His writing is lovely, without being highbrow. If you are a baseball fan, you ...more
Patrick Brown
Jun 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
William H. Gass writes eloquently about his desire to find his ideal reader, one who was perfectly suited to the material, the tone, the subject matter of his work. He writes for this reader, whoever he or she might be, probably never fully expecting to find such a creature. I am the ideal reader for The Art of Fielding. To wit, a Venn diagram:

I'm sure there are others out there, a secret brotherhood of ivy-loving, two-seamer fetishists, lurking in dank hallways dreaming about spring and middle
Sep 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
Farcical Fiction That Insults Gay Athletes as So Obsessed with Sex as to Lack Any True Commitment to Their Sport

This novel scorns both logic and reality. Near its opening lies one of the most absurd scenes in "serious" fiction:
Owen, a college baseball player, reads French literature in the dugout as he's about to go on-deck to bat in the game then lustily hits a sacrifice fly after which he swoons over the opposing pitcher.

C'mon, gimme a break! Anyone who has competed in sports (from 10 years o
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Crash Davis knew that an important part of Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh’s preparation for the big leagues was to teach him the standard clichés. Baseball, and sports in general, are full of them. There’s a favorite that certain sports books seem to evoke, too: “You don’t have to be a fan of the game to like this.” Since I am a fan, I can’t speak with any authority for those who are not, but my guess is that for The Art of Fielding, it’s at least partially true. I can be more certain if you’re a fa ...more
Jan 31, 2012 rated it liked it
So after about five paragraphs, my impression of this book was "Wow, this is seriously a Dude Book." And I wondered if you could enjoy it if you didn't totally love baseball, or even care about baseball much at all. But then I got really into it and thought the plot and characters were great for maybe half of the book, and then I thought it totally lost steam and was not so great. But you don't have to love baseball to like it, and if you love Moby Dick you will appreciate that the author really ...more
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
By this time last year, the world of contemporary fiction had me dizzy with a one-two whammo of love and envy. Shit was tight. I wouldn’t pay $50 to press my breasts against the stage while my favorite band played. I’d have paid $50 times 50 to scrape gum off Jennifer Egan’s shoes or observe Gary Shtyngart with his lips wrapped around a bottle of top-shelf vodka. And then there was “Freedom” and then there was “House of Tomorrow.” Panic ensued: Which one did I want denting my cheek when I went t ...more
May 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
How much of a book must one read before one's opinion of it is valid? I read 60 pages of The Art of Fielding, but I loathed much about it. First: Harbach doesn't have much grace as a stylist, and the descriptions read like something from young adult novels (I don't have the book with me any longer, but I remember being particularly irritated by a description of Schwartz as someone who "goes out and gets what he wants." One could argue that the use of such a cliche is meant to reflect Henry's mod ...more
One of the best books I read last year. Don’t be put off by the sports content; I could not possibly be less interested in competitive sports. Really, the baseball theme is neither here nor there.* Rather, The Art of Fielding is about male relationships – a core of homosocial and homoerotic friendships, with delicious reference to the works of Herman Melville – and about coping with failure.

The character names may be a bit preposterous, and the main character rather thin and forgettable in the e
Larry H
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It has been said that "baseball is life." Whether or not you agree with this statement, for the characters in Chad Harbach's fantastic new novel, The Art of Fielding, baseball may not be life, but it certainly is at the crux of their lives.

Henry Skrimshander is a scrawny, aspiring baseball player whose effortless talent during a summer league game attracts the attention of Mike Schwartz, an athlete at Westish College, located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Mike gets Henry enrolled at Westish a
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Aldrin by: Three Percent Podcast
Call me Ishmael. Or not. Some days ago—never mind how long precisely—although having little money in my wallet, and with nothing particular to interest me at home, I thought I would gad about a little and see the slightly crowded part of the city. It is a way I have of warding off the solitude and improving the ventilation. Whenever I find myself growing grim and all that, I account it high time to get to a bookstore as soon as I can. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, alm ...more
Conor Ahern
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: americana, audiobook
Well, this story sure was lovely.

None of the normal caveats—Franzen comparisons, n+1, a story of privilege, another white male penning Americana—takes away from the highlights of this book: its warmth, breadth, sense of control, poetry, and its many engaging arcs. I was reading other books while I read this one and I kept discarding them because how can you read YA when “The Art of Fielding” is waiting to resolve itself? I suppose that could be seen as a commentary on the other books I was rotat
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it
So I liked this book. Wasn't quite sure at first but it's good. Centers around a college baseball player and the people connected to him.
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.....I loved the feel of it.....I loved the literary atmosphere of it.....the college intellectualist of it.....I loved the story of baseball, but most of all I loved the story of life,it's joys, sorrows,and unexpected turns and twists, and it's complications.

I have always thought about what poem, or story to have read at my funeral???....after reading this book,you might figure out what I have decided to have read at my rush on that event....but this book inspire
Reread Jan 2020. Still loved this, definitely a favourite book of all time for me.
We live by the Skrimmer, we die by the Skrimmer.

I absolutely adored this novel!

I read the tag line for the book and knew it would be up my alley. Then I found out that it was about baseball and I got a little apprehensive. I'm not a sporty person in the slightest. I never had an aptitude for sports and so have never taken an interest in them. Then there's the small matter of I have no clue about baseball. I live
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 ⭐
I liked Chad Harbach's vaunted debut novel 'The Art of Fielding'. It's a character driven, baseball-metaphor-for-life piece, set at a small college in northern Wisconsin. If you're not a baseball fan though, don't let that dissuade you from picking this one up.
There's much to like. Harbach has a smooth, easy style thats very engaging, his characters are well-drawn and you find yourself almost cheering for this novel to be great. Jonathan Franzen described it as' perfect'
Its not perfect of c
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Reading 1001: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach 4 19 Jul 31, 2020 06:05PM  
did this book capture you? It did me. 43 352 Jan 22, 2017 02:14PM  
Around the World ...: Discussion for The Art of Fielding 9 50 Jun 05, 2015 12:41PM  
Henry and Mike's relationship 7 200 Apr 15, 2015 04:05AM  

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Chad Harbach grew up in Wisconsin and was educated at Harvard and the University of Virginia. He is a cofounder and coeditor of n+1.


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His Favorite Books About Baseball: Cover your bases with these five works about America's pastime, a lineup by the author of the sporting novel The...
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“You told me once that a soul isn't something a person is born with but something that must be built, by effort and error, study and love. And you did that with more dedication than most, that work of building a soul-not for your own benefit but for the benefit of those that knew you.” 178 likes
“So much of one's life was spent reading; it made sense not to do it alone.” 86 likes
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