Last night, after a couple of reschedulings, my book group finally met to discuss The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I really liked this book and was impressed that it came from a first-time novelist. Here's the description from Amazon:
At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league until a routine throw goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of his error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.
Several of the book groupers found some of the plot events implausible; although I guess I would have to agree, for some reason I was willing to accept everything that happened and just think about whether I was glad it happened or wish something different had happened. I don't know why I didn't question the plot, as I do in plenty of other books. Maybe it's a tribute to the interesting characters Harbach created, and to his engaging writing style (it's a long book but didn't drag at all).
I loved the baseball parts of the story and the way baseball was used as a metaphor throughout, and the college setting felt completely real to me. I'd recommend this book for free freading or for a book group—there was plenty to discuss.
Next month we are doing The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Not my usual genre by any stretch, but I'll give it a shot.
For those of you in books groups, how do you select the books? In this group we send around links to books we're interested in and then try to come to a consensus about the next book or two that we'll do as a group. Someone has suggested that we switch to a system where whoever hosts book group that month gets to choose the book (this seems to be how most other book groups do it). If your group does it that way, are there ever problems with someone picking a book that no one else wants to read, or picking a book that another member has already read and feels would not be good for discussion, or ...? I know that it would be good to occasionally step out of my comfort zone (that is, literary fiction), but I worry that I'll end up spending my precious reading time on books that I have no interest in whatsoever.