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About this blog: This blog is a place for conversation about books. I post reviews of what I'm reading--lots of contemporary fiction, but also classics and the occasional work of narrative nonfiction. I am always looking for new books to read, so ...  (More)

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Baseball and Books - What's the Connection?

Uploaded: Sep 30, 2014
I'm strange. Years ago this used to bother me, but ever since I got serious about writing, I stopped worrying about my incongruities. I'm oddly shaped. I don't prefer blondes. I like to read fiction.

Something between sixty and eighty percent of the American fiction market is female. That puts me in a small and homogeneous minority. Many different kinds of women read fiction, and they read all kinds of fiction. Men read all kinds of fiction, too, but the men who do are remarkably similar. Among other traits, men in my cohort tend to be baseball fans.

Baseball is still the national pastime, but only in name. Football makes more money and has more fans, even with one-eighth the number of games and a direct link to brain damage. I think we can all agree--baseball fans included--that basketball is more exciting. And hockey, let's face it, is a lot weirder and more visceral. More literary, you might say.

So why do readers prefer baseball?

It's not a rhetorical question. I really don't understand. It might have to do with tradition. But boxing is older. Boxing has literary cred, too. Hemingway, Mailer--these guys loved boxing and wrote brilliantly about it. Why don't you hear bearded, beflanneled hipsters talking boxing instead of the rise of sabermetrics and the ethics of PEDs?

Maybe it's the pace of the game. Baseball is slow. Gives you time to think. But so does golf. Seriously, golf? Where are the great novels about golf? Where is golf's The Natural? Would anyone publish The Art of Divot Replacement? Would anyone read it? No!

I'm serious. Help me understand.
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Posted by Ron Kaplan, a resident of another community,
on Oct 28, 2014 at 7:48 am

Your question is something of the basis for my 2013 publication "501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die" (University of Nebraska Press). One of the chapters is devoted to fiction, but generally speaking baseball lends itself more to conversation and contemplation because of the relative slow pace. I would never be as condescending as to suggest that baseball fans -- or at least a certain segment -- might be more intellectual than those of other sports, but judging by the amount of literature out there about the game, the would seem to be the more avid readers.


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