The Best Baseball Novels You’ve Probably Never Read

The Books I Picked & Why

Summerland

By Michael Chabon

Summerland

Why this book?

It feels a little misleading to suggest that a Michael Chabon book is widely underread, but this one almost never comes up when I talk to writers and readers about their favorite baseball novels.  Perhaps it’s because Chabon, one of our most celebrated writers, imagined Summerland as a book for young readers, and while it is surely that, it is also surely so much more. It’s strange and wonderful and oh so beautifully written. The author’s prose jumps off every page with an exit velocity that demands your attention. Read it with your kids or your grandkids. Read it on your own. Just, read it. 


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The Resisters

By Gish Jen

The Resisters

Why this book?

I was looking forward to this one and read it as soon as it came out, early on in these pandemic times. It’s not really a baseball novel, except it kinda, sorta is. Mostly, it’s a subversive look at a dystopian future that turns on the redemptive power of baseball. It made a lot of noise on publication, but the focus of most of the reviews leaned away from the baseball bits and into the dystopian bits. Gish Jen writes gloriously about the game – but also about life and love, longing and belonging, hope and hopelessness. 


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Suder

By Percival L. Everett

Suder

Why this book?

Any novel that shines a light on the adventures and misadventures of a fictional Seattle Mariners third baseman with a pet elephant that answers to the name Renoir is worthy of your time and attention. I’m late to the party on this but so glad I sparked to it. 


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The Dixie Association

By Donald Hays

The Dixie Association

Why this book?

I was working as a flak at Simon & Schuster when this book came out, and I helped to write the flap copy, so it feels to me like I had a hand in it. As an aspiring writer, I remember admiring the hell out of this novel. On a recent re-read, as a grizzled, wizened veteran writer, I still do. Hays gives us a collection of memorable characters, and a wild, vagabonding tale that offers a glimpse at minor league life in the deep South. There’s humor and heartache and all that good stuff. 


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Bucky F*cking Dent

By David Duchovny

Bucky F*cking Dent

Why this book?

I loved this book the moment I saw the title. And the cover! I loved it even more when I noticed it shared a publication date with my own baseball novel back in 2016, so it feels to me like we’re related. The title and cover alone should earn this one a spot on your shelf, but there’s tasty goodness inside. Duchovny’s love of the game is apparent – but so too is his Ivy League education. He writes like a lifelong reader, with a keen eye for baseball and its denizens and an ear for poetry. He’s funny af, too.   


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