10 books like The Great American Novel

By Philip Roth,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Great American Novel. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Shoeless Joe

By W.P. Kinsella,

Book cover of Shoeless Joe

This novel is less well-known, and much more accomplished, than the movie based on it – Field of Dreams. Where the movie is sappy, the book is lyrical and warmly nostalgic for a time and place – rural Iowa in the 1970s. There is a clear magical realism vibe to the whole thing. The plot structure of the novel is a very shaggy dog involving a baseball field in a corn field, the kidnapping of a famous novelist and numerous dead people coming back to life. The book is big-hearted and much of the writing is luminous.

Shoeless Joe

By W.P. Kinsella,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shoeless Joe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inspiration for the beloved film Field of Dreams, Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella is the story about the beauty and history of baseball, and the power and endurance of a dream.

“A moonlit novel about baseball, dreams, family, the land, and literature."—Sports Illustrated

“If you build it, he will come.” These mysterious words, spoken by an Iowa baseball announcer, inspire Ray Kinsella to carve a baseball diamond in his cornfield in honor of his hero, the baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson. What follows is both a rich, nostalgic look at one of our most cherished national pastimes and…


The Greatest Slump of All Time

By David Carkeet,

Book cover of The Greatest Slump of All Time

As a long-suffering fan of the Seattle Mariners, who have avoided success longer than any other North American sports team this century, how could I not love a novel whose central premise is what would happen if an elite professional sports team, the defending National League champs, fielded an entire line-up of players overwhelmed by clinical depression? This is the funniest sad book I’ve ever read. Well, maybe the second after Catch 22. All the characters play baseball, but the book is less about sport than it is about how humans survive a hostile world.

The Greatest Slump of All Time

By David Carkeet,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Greatest Slump of All Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nine major-league baseball players, suffering from clinical depression, lead their team toward tragic triumph


The Universal Baseball Association

By Robert Coover,

Book cover of The Universal Baseball Association

Coover’s prescient novel pre-dates the explosion of sports fantasy leagues by at least a decade, but places an imaginary league at the center of his story. Anyone who has ever played in fantasy leagues knows their power. The fantasy can take over your life, which is precisely what happens to J. Henry Waugh. The protagonist is a mild-mannered accountant by day, but the owner-operated-madman-in-charge of his self-created league at night. Eventually, it overwhelms his real life. This is a novel about the dangers of living inside your own head.

The Universal Baseball Association

By Robert Coover,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Universal Baseball Association as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As owner of every team in the league, Henry is flush with pride in a young rookie who is pitching a perfect game. When the pitcher completes the miracle game, Henry's life lights up. But then the rookie is killed by a freak accident, and this"death" affects Henry's life in ways unimaginable. In a blackly comic novel that takes the reader between the real world and fantasy, Robert Coover delves into the notions of chance and power.


It Looked Like For Ever

By Mark Harris,

Book cover of It Looked Like For Ever

This is the fourth and last of Mark Harris’s Henry Wiggen novels. All four novels are narrated in a charming colloquial voice by Wiggen, a star lefthanded starting pitcher for the New York Mammoths. The books trace the all-star career of Wiggin, from his rookie year through to the end of a long career. The time frame of the novels is the 1950s through the 1960s, moving beyond the innocence of the beginning (when players still had off-season jobs to pay the rent – Wiggen sold insurance) to a kind of melancholy at the end. The novel chronicles the end of Wiggen’s excellent career, an end Wiggen, as the wistful title suggests, never saw coming until too late. It’s funny, sad, and heartfelt.

It Looked Like For Ever

By Mark Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It Looked Like For Ever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Henry Wiggen, the bedraggled six-foot-three, 195-pound, left-handed pitcher for the New York Mammoths, returns to narrate another novel in his inimitable manner. Fans who loved him in Bang the Drum Slowly, The Southpaw, and A Ticket for a Seamstitch (all Bison Books) will cheer his comeback. Wiggen is now thirty-nine, a fading veteran with a floating fastball, a finicky prostate, and other intimations of mortality. Released from the Mammoths after nineteen years, the twenty-seventh winningest pitcher in baseball history (tied at 247 victories with Joseph J. "Iron Man" McGinnity and John Powell), Wiggen is not ready to hang up his…


Testimony

By Anita Shreve,

Book cover of Testimony

One of Anita Shreve’s lesser-known novels, I love Testimony for the contemporary conundrum it introduces. No more sweeping things under the rug; administrations must deal with transgressions in a public manner. In Testimony, students at another New England boarding school behave badly, capturing a lewd act on film. No matter how you code it, a crime has been committed, and the school must deal with it.

While the novel explores multiple points of view, the perspective of the accused student’s mother had the greatest effect on me: “You stand up… You get into your car and back out of your driveway and make the turn onto the street and immediately a new set of pictures darts in front of you like small boys on bicycles. Rob in a helmet on a skateboard… A boy with a bad haircut holding up his Cub Scout handbook…” The second-person technique wonderfully conveys…

Testimony

By Anita Shreve,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Testimony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices -- those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal -- that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in Testimony a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No…


Beartown

By Fredrik Backman,

Book cover of Beartown

You could describe Fredrik Backman’s Beartown as the story of a broken Swedish forest town whose fate is tied to the success of a kids’ hockey team. This is accurate but woefully incomplete. In fact, I’m confident you’ll feel all the anger, empathy, and tenderness Backman has woven into a sports story that transcends pucks and goals. You will be ushered forward and backward in time. You’ll feel carried ahead even as the author freezes moments that deliver depth and perspective. The pivotal event will make your heart race. And in the end, you will wind up missing the people you come to meet and know in Beartown

Beartown

By Fredrik Backman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Beartown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FROM THE MULTI-MILLION COPY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ANXIOUS PEOPLE AND A MAN CALLED OVE, FREDRIK BACKMAN

**NOW A MAJOR HBO TV SERIES**

'I utterly believed in the residents of Beartown and felt ripped apart by the events in the book' JOJO MOYES

'I couldn't put it down. Heart-rending and engrossing' 5***** Reader Review
_________

In a large Swedish forest, Beartown hides a dark secret . . .

Cut-off from everywhere else, it experiences the kind of isolation that tears people apart.

And each year, more and more of the town is swallowed by the forest.

Then the town is offered…


Bitter Greens

By Kate Forsyth,

Book cover of Bitter Greens

I came across this book in the research stage of writing my new novel and from the very beginning I was hooked. I love a good fairytale, in this case Rapunzel, retold as feminist historical fiction. The characters are deliciously multi-faceted, the alternating storylines deftly woven together, and I felt like I was being doled out insights into where we are now as women through the lens of where we’ve been before. Engaging and enlightening. After reading it I felt inspired to read more of her work, write more of my own, and empower as many women as possible.

Bitter Greens

By Kate Forsyth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bitter Greens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A Library Journal Best Book of 2014: Historical Fiction

The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love

French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful…


Admission

By Julie Buxbaum,

Book cover of Admission

This is an engrossing novel with big ripped-from-the-headlines vibes. Told from the point of view of high school senior Chloe Berringer, whose Lori Loughlin-like actress mother becomes ensnared in a college admissions scandal, Buxbaum’s story expertly imagines the impact of such a scandal might have on a young college applicant and her family. Using a Now/Then format, Buxbaum’s juicy and compelling story provides a many-layered and fascinating peek under the veil of one family’s secrets and lies in the name of Operation-Varsity-Blues-style ambition. And although Admission was originally classified as a Young Adult novel, we feel confident recommending it to adults as well. In fact, it would make for an excellent mother-daughter “buddy read!”

Admission

By Julie Buxbaum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Admission as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lie. Cheat. Bribe. How far would you go to get into your dream school? How far would your parents go? Inspired by the recent college admissions scandal, this ripped-from-the-headlines YA novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things sees one teenage girl's privileged world shatter when her family's lies are exposed.

It's good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer--she has it all--money, privilege, and a ticket to the college of her dreams. Or at least she did until the FBI came knocking on her front door, guns at the ready, and her future went up in…


Shady Acres

By Lesley Muir,

Book cover of Shady Acres: Politicians, Developers & Sydney's Public Transport Scandals 1872-1895

A librarian friend recommended Lesley Muir’s explosive exposé of the scandal and corruption that underpinned the development of Sydney’s transport networks in the late Nineteenth Century. Spanning the decades immediately preceding Australia’s Federation, Shady Acres uncovers, as Elizabeth Farrelly says in her introduction, "the perennial crookedness of Sydney’s planning." As I immersed myself in 1890s Sydney for my own novel – and with my story and characters focussed on these very men who sat in the New South Wales’  parliament - I found the book provided the sort of rich vein of detail that allowed me to really bring this time and these people to life. 

Shady Acres

By Lesley Muir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shady Acres as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


A Stitch in Time

By Kelley Armstrong,

Book cover of A Stitch in Time

I love historical fiction that adds an element of fantasy, magical realism, or time travel. I like the expansion of the mind that accompanies appreciation of these novels. (Yes, I admit that appreciation guided me in writing one of my series in the historical/romance/fantasy blended genre.) A Stitch in Time is a time travel novel of romance in which the heroine slips through time to the Victorian English countryside. She moves back and forth from the present to the past. The story is complete with a haunted manor house, ghosts, mystery, and love unbounded by time.

If my description seems banal, I apologize, for this is an intelligently crafted story. The author's sentences are beautifully written, leading the readers into the inner thoughts of the character. I just recently discovered this prolific author, and I'm a big fan!

A Stitch in Time

By Kelley Armstrong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Stitch in Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thorne Manor has always been haunted…and it has always haunted Bronwyn Dale. As a young girl, Bronwyn could pass through a time slip in her great-aunt’s house, where she visited William Thorne, a boy her own age, born two centuries earlier. After a family tragedy, the house was shuttered and Bronwyn was convinced that William existed only in her imagination. Now, twenty years later Bronwyn inherits Thorne Manor. And when she returns, William is waiting. William Thorne is no longer the boy she remembers. He’s a difficult and tempestuous man, his own life marred by tragedy and a scandal that…


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