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Shoeless Joe

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  12,511 ratings  ·  848 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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Popular Answered Questions
Linda Stuckey No, it's the other way around. The movie is based on this novel.
Shawn Kang This quote "the kind of people I absolutely cannot tolerate are those, like Annie's mother who never let you forget they are religious" can be an…moreThis quote "the kind of people I absolutely cannot tolerate are those, like Annie's mother who never let you forget they are religious" can be an example of irony, as Ray himself never lets people forget about his own magic.

Hope this helps you, kid.(less)

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  12,511 ratings  ·  848 reviews

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Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
W. P. Kinsella passed away this weekend. Fittingly, we have selected his novel Shoeless Joe, the basis of the movie Field of Dreams, as our fiction selection for the baseball book club for October 2016. Featuring the characters who star in the film as well as additional personae and locations, it was a joy for me to reread this novel filled with examples of magical realism on and off of the baseball diamond. Although Kinsella hails from western Canada, at the time of this novel's publication he ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“Is this some kind of religion?”

“It may be.”

Palm Springs commercial photography

If you are a fan of America’s pastime, there’s a good chance you believe the same. My Sunday “church” is the Little League fields of flyover country and I couldn’t think of a better book to read on opening weekend . . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

Unless you’ve been living in a box (♫♪♫living in a cardboard box♫♪♫) you have probably heard of Shoeless Joe, at least in its movie format Field of Dreams. In case you haven’t, this is the story of Ray, an Iowa farmer who hears a mysterious voice(♫♪♫living
Andrew Smith
Jun 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-finished
Let me explain why I only gave this one star: although I didn't hate this book I did fail to finish it (I got about half way) and I always give only one star to any book that forces me to abandon it before the last page is read. I actually enjoyed bits of it, but in the end it was just too fractured, too American, too baseball and too surreal for me. English don't do baseball well but I have successfully read stories based on this sport before, so that alone wasn't a show stopper. I'm a self con ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
Somewhere in Chisholm, at that moment, a boy, a bat on his right shoulder, cap pulled down over his eyes, his glove hung on the end of the bat, walks off in search of summer.

W.P. Kinsella was a Canadian novelist of serious acclaim who is best known for his writings on baseball and indigenous peoples of Canada. This book, ‘Shoeless Joe’, was by far Kinsella’s most famous novel. It was published in 1983 and later adapted into the blockbuster film ‘Field of Dreams

Shoeless Joe turned o
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Round 2
I haven’t tired of the story of a man named Ray Kinsella who builds a baseball park in an Iowa cornfield in the hope that Shoeless Joe Jackson will come there to play.

Ray needs his wife, Annie, and his daughter, Karin, to anchor his life that drifts with his vocations. His small farm, in a good year, can hardly keep him above his debts, and his intense focus on building that ballpark threatens to leave him and his family with no place of their own. Yet Ray presses on, an
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't have enough words to say how much I loved this book. I've waited a long time to read it. It has never been the right time until this weekend. I know that sounds cryptic, but there was a reason.

If you have ever watched the movie, Field of Dreams and love baseball, this book is a must read. Go buy it. "When you need it, it will be there." I promise, you will not be disappointed.

The text is as magic as the story line. Kinsella's text can transport you. He can paint a masterpiece with words. They are
Dan Porter
Jul 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
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 message of s ...more
Debbie Zapata
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019sundaze
The movie Field Of Dreams came from this book.

I have seen that film enough that I could practically recite the dialogue all the way through, and of course it was playing in my head as I read here.

But there are some differences: a couple of extra characters that didn't make it into the movie, and a real gun which surprised the heck out of me and seemed more than a little out of place.

But....quit comparing the two! What about the book....just the book?!

An Iowa farmer, his visio
Apr 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shortly before the season started, I (re)watched the movie Eight Men Out. When the movie was over, still anticipating the season I guess, I pulled out this novel and dipped into it when I felt like it.

It’s amazing what I’d forgotten, all things not in its movie version (Field of Dreams), so not reinforced by it: Ray’s twin brother, Richard; Eddie Scissons (and he's a big part of the novel). I’d also forgotten that other ‘real’ people besides J.D. Salinger were used in this fictional story, though not as ficti(Field
Jun 27, 2008 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
Now I honestly absolutely and utterly do adore the movie based on W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe, I completely love love love Field of Dreams (starring Kevin Costner as the main baseball diamond building protagonist and Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson ) and that delightful sense of magical realism and of healing painfully gaping and generational family wounds and misunderstandings through the power and sustaining, nurturing mythology of baseball (and this even though I am actually not in any way a huge b ...more
Joy D
Magical realism done right! I read this years ago but was recently reminded of it and recalled how much I enjoyed it. The book is a bit different from the movie, and I liked them both. If you like baseball or magical realism, check it out.
Oct 16, 2009 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 mom
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
October 2016 read with the Baseball Book Club

This book, I discovered, is an extremely visceral one. It touches all of your senses as you read: you can feel the grass and dirt under your feet, smell the worn leather of a baseball glove, see the lights come on in the stadium, and barely make out Shoeless Joe as he walks toward you from that door by the cornfield. All just by reading.

And what a read it was. Normally, a book this size (224 pages) I should've finished in two days. Took a bit lo
Simon Robs
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Baseball is a ceremony, a ritual, as surely as sacrificing a goat beneath the full moon is a ritual." Ray Kinsella speaking to J. D. Salinger at Fenway Park during a Red Sox game explaining or trying to at this point 84 pages into "Shoeless Joe" why he has driven over a thousand miles to sort of kidnap him and drag him to this game and, hopefully, find out what that voice means by 'ease his pain' - Salinger is noncommittal, skeptical and befuddled at these Quixotic circumstances that has him li ...more
Jason , etc.
Jul 18, 2011 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
This story is so inspiring and yet so down to earth and simple, it just seems too good to have been written. But it was, and the prose to describe the journey Ray takes because a voice told him to build "it" (a baseball field) is great. Definitely a five star read. Instead of a full review, I am saving some comments for the discussion on this book that will start October 1 in the Baseball Book Club.
Sep 17, 2016 marked it as lookedinto-decidedagainst

Writer W.P. Kinsella did things his way. In failing health, he chose to end his life early Friday afternoon.

“W.P. (Bill) Kinsella invoked the assisted dying provisions of Bill C-14, at Hope, B.C., and passed away at 12:05 p.m. … Friday, Sept. 16, 2016,” said a statement from his agent, Carolyn Swayze.
Joseph Sciuto
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
W. P. Kinsella's "Shoeless Joe" is a lyrical, magical composition with the game of BASEBALL at its center and like corn stalks in the vast Iowa fields and farms, the game, gives birth and sustenance to the dreams of the young and old, reinvigorates idle minds, and reinforces the importance of family, friends and the meaning of love.

Baseball has often been used as a metaphor for America, in films, books, songs, and plays, but seldom has it achieved the radiance and beauty displayed in
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I've wanted to read this book for years but could never find it, so I was pretty excited to finally find a Kindle copy for cheap. It's the book that the film Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner was based on, which I have always loved, so I was curious to read the original.

Firstly, it's just really gorgeously, poetically written. Particularly for those of us who grew up in the 20th century in a flyover state, particularly listening to baseball on AM radio, the language and anecdotes bring a
Wayland Smith
I don't remember when I first read this. Probably shortly after Field of Dreams came out. I loved that movie, and the book was damn good. Baseball, magic, love... someone or other called this a male romance novel, and they're not far off, really.

Ray Kinsella is prompted by a Voice that comes from nowhere to build a baseball field in the middle of his farmland. Like most farmers, he's barely making it and can't really afford to lose the acreage. But he does it.

Strange and wonderful things happe
Jul 18, 2009 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
Tom Barber
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book! Although I have on occasion read a book after seeing the movie it inspired, never have I wished so much that I had experienced them in reverse order. As I read, I tried to think of how surprising the book would be had I never seen the movie. I will say this--the movie does a wonderful job of capturing the feel of the book.

As a lifelong baseball fan, I enjoy how Kinsella has captured the wonder and magic of the sport. I had to laugh a few times, because I never t
Guy Austin
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, Ok I am no critic – This is one book I have wanted to read for some time. So much so that I bought a first addition and hold it high on my shelf displayed prominently. With the 2016 season just about to start I thought it was a good a time as ever to pick up what many consider one of the best novels written around the game of baseball.

Honestly at first – I was a little disappointed. I am not sure what I expected. I guess we bring expectations with us that cannot reasonably be met. That unre
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
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who would have thought...the CUBS and the INDIANS in the World Series! Today is game 3 of the series with it tied one game apiece. The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 and the Indians haven't won since 1948. This great matchup made me want to read a baseball novel and what better than SHOELESS JOE, the basis of the movie "Field of Dreams" starring Kevin Costner. I saw Dreams when it first came out in 1989 but I didn't really remember much about it other than the Costner character build ...more
Brian Eshleman
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book captures the poetry and renewing worth of baseball. It is the perfect book to read in late February or early March as the baseball fan is resetting his mind to the coming again of the game. It speaks to America and to families as well as to the game itself. It is clearer in this work then any I can remember that this is a narrator who REALLY and gladly loves his wife and child. They are his renewal at least as much as his baseball.

The downside of this work is that The autho
May 25, 2007 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.

Amy Lane
Feb 09, 2011 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.
James Adams
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
Once I learned this book was the basis for Field of Dreams, it went onto my tbr. Fast-forward fifteen years, I see my library has a copy. I grab it, I read it, life is good.
This is one of those rare situations where I'd say the movie beats the book. I liked this, don't get me wrong, but the movie pared things down enough that it was a more focused, less diffuse experience. Also, some of the elements of the novel get a little... silly. Nothing book-breaking, but occasionally distracting.
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William Patrick Kinsella, OC, OBC was 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-sc
“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.” 55 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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