I recently finished reading The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach. I loved it. It's a book about baseball, set on a college campus in northern Wisconsin. I love a lot of baseball books, especially the ones that portray the beauty in the sport. An excerpt:
“You loved it, because you considered it an art: an apparently pointless affair, undertaken by people with a special aptitude, which sidestepped attempts to paraphrase its value yet somehow seemed to communicate something true or even crucial about the Human Condition. The Human Condition being, basically, that we’re alive and have access to beauty, can even erratically create it, but will someday be dead and will not.”
It's not only about baseball, though. The main character, Henry Skrimshander, is a baseball prodigy discovered by Mike Schwartz, who brings him to Westish and becomes his mentor/trainer. He becomes a great player, a gifted shortstop who ties the record for the most errorless games, but early in the book, something goes wrong. An event occurs that causes Henry to lose his confidence and he struggles to play the game. It's about his journey, but it's also about the other characters that this event brings together - Mike Schwartz, Owen Dunne (his gay roommate), Guert Affenlight (the college president who's in love with Owen), and Pella Affenlight (Guert's daughter). It's about the relationship between Henry and the game, but also about the relationships between these people. It's about male friendship, the relationship between a father and a daughter, true love, convenient love, and coming to terms with oneself.
Harbach creates a beautiful setting, and he injects the story with a lot of literary references that make it all the more worthwhile. It's an entertaining read, and one that I very much enjoyed.