A Reading Changeup: W. P. Kinsella and the Baseball Story

I have been reading a lot of Stephen King lately, and I’m ready for something else. Don’t take this as me getting tired of King. I’ve grown to love his style and the depth of his story telling expertise. But pushing through nearly all of the Dark Tower series has me ready for a change. I’ve been flip-flopping on what to read over the last week or so, and I’ve finally settled on something that I’m excited about:

W. P. Kinsella and his baseball stories.

For those who are unfamiliar with the author, Kinsella is perhaps most famous for his novelĀ Shoeless Joe, which was the basis for the filmĀ Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner. It is a book that I’ve read before, but it is also one of those books that is on my short list of all-time favorites. I’m looking forward to reading it again.

Shoeless Joe

As it turns out, Kinsella has written lots of baseball stories and novels, many of which I’ve read, some of which I haven’t. Of the ones that I have ready, all of them are worth re-reading, and that is what I plan to do over the next couple of weeks. There are at least two Kinsella baseball novels that I haven’t read and I plan on getting through both of those as well. The only exceptions in the mix for the next few weeks are the books that I am currently reading for my book review column.

For those curious, here are the Kinsella books I plan on reading (or re-reading) over the next couple of weeks. The are listed in no particular order. Books with a * after them are books that I have not read before.

  • Shoeless Joe (novel)
  • The Iowa Baseball Confederacy (novel)
  • If Wishes Were Horses* (novel)
  • The Adventures of Slugger McBatt* (collection)
  • Magic Time (novel)
  • Box Socials (novel)
  • The Dixon Cornbelt League* (collection)
  • The Thrill of the Grass (collection)
  • Butterfly Winter *(novel)

The books that I have read, I last read more than a dozen years ago, and I’m looking forward to rediscovering them. I remember Kinsella writing about baseball the way Ray Bradbury wrote about Green Town, with nostalgia, humor, and deep emotion. I’m really looking forward to getting started.

Then, too, I’ve been so busy with everything else this year that, although August is already waning, I still have not seen a baseball game this year, either on TV or at the stadium. I miss it. The great thing about Kinsella’s books is that they are about mythical baseball, and are not steeped with the lingering controversy in which baseball still finds itself mired. In any case, these books should be a nice close to my summer reading and a good lead in to the Fall Classic.

What are you reading this summer?