CSLJ Book Club Discussion of Shoeless Joe – Day 1

Batter’s up! It’s time for the CSLJ Book Club to start its discussion of Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella!

For the rookies who are just joining us, here’s how things work. Every day from now until next Tuesday, I will post daily discussion questions about the book here  and on the CSLJ Facebook page. To join in the conversation, simply comment to either post with your thoughts and opinions and then check back periodically to see and respond to what other CSLJ Book Club members have had to say. If you like, you can also sign up to receive a daily email letting you know when the latest discussion questions have been posted.

The more everyone posts and comments, the more fun our conversation will be. But don’t worry too much if you have to skip a day or can’t get around to commenting on a post right away. It’s alright to go back to a previous day’s post and comment when you get the chance and we have a catch up date scheduled for Sunday to give you a chance to respond to posts and comments you may have missed earlier in the week.

And now that we are clear on the rules of the game, let’s play ball! Here are today’s discussion questions:

  • What did you think of the book? Was there any characters or parts of the book that you particularly liked or disliked? Why?
  • Have you read the book or watched the movie, Field of Dreams before this? If so, how do you think reading the book this time around compared with past reads or the movie?
  • Do you consider yourself a baseball fan? Do you think you need to love baseball in order to fully appreciate Shoeless Joe? Why or why not?

Leave a comment here with your thoughts and opinions here or join in the conversation over on the C. S. Literary Jewelry Facebook page.

P.S. If you loved Shoeless Joe and would like a memento of the book, don’t miss this fun and casual Shoeless Joe / Field of Dreams Baseball Necklace.

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13 Responses to CSLJ Book Club Discussion of Shoeless Joe – Day 1

  1. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read Shoeless Joe or seen the movie, Field of Dreams, but I always enjoy it. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately when everything I’ve been reading and watching on TV feels so full of doom, gloom, and disaster, but Shoeless Joe gave me a much-needed break from all of that. It’s light and hopeful but with more than enough substance to hold my interest.

    My favorite thing about the book isn’t so much a particular passage or character (although I really love Moonlight Graham and Eddie Scissons). What I love about Shoeless Joe is how lyrical, almost poetic, it can get, especially when Ray is thinking about his home, his wife and daughter, and how much he loves the game of baseball. You don’t expect that from a book about a sport or from an insurance salesman turned farmer from Iowa but I really love it.

    Reading the book this time around was particularly interesting for me because it was the first time I have read it since reading J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye for the first time. Coming to Shoeless Joe, which features Salinger as a character, having experienced Salinger’s writing definitely added a layer to my experience as a reader.

    Also, as I’ve mentioned in past discussions, I am a bit of a speed reader which means that sometimes I read too fast to pick up on some nuances or details. I do a lot of re-reading and re-visiting books, partially because I enjoy the familiar and partially because I often discover new things about the book with repetitive readings. But reading the book with an eye towards discussing it with you all (not to mention the fact that I have to come up with good discussion questions), really forces me to slow down and notice so much more of the book. My favorite thing about running the CSLJ Book Club is that I get the chance to chat about books with book lovers who are just as obsessed as I am but this new-found ability to slow down and savor the books we read comes in a close second.

    Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am really not a sports fan or any sort of athlete but I do really enjoy baseball. I don’t have a particular team that I follow and I don’t keep track of stats and scores and such but I like watching a game. In fact, I enjoy a smaller, local game just as much, if not more than a major league game. My family likes to spend Father’s Day watching a Long Island Ducks’ game whenever we can and I always have a blast watching the Old Time Base Ball Games at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration (https://www.nassaucountyny.gov/2850/Old-Bethpage-Village-Restoration)

    I think Baseball is really accessible in a way that many sports aren’t. It’s the perfect blend of community effort and individual achievement – a sort of metaphor for how we as Americans like to see the world – and there is a sort of home-y nostalgia built right into the game that really appeals, even if you aren’t a sports fan. The “take me out to the ballgame” peanuts and cracker jacks sort of nostalgia, memories of little league and stickball and trading baseball cards – you don’t have to love the sport to love the idea of baseball and I think that Shoeless Joe really taps into that.

  2. I highly enjoyed the book, the characters emotions came across easily, and its clear that the story had meaning to the author.

    I have seen the movie, and quite literally James Earl Jones was playing J.D. Salinger in the book in my head. There is a fascinating exploration of duality in the character of Richard Kinsella, and how he and ray have such connections.

    I’ve always understood the magic of baseball. It’s just this curious blend of tensions that creates a sense op possibility.

    • That’s an interesting point you made about how the story had a lot of meaning to the author. Do you think that Kinsella’s obvious love of the game is part of the reason the story connects so well, even with readers who aren’t baseball fans themselves?

  3. So sadly I don’t really know how I feel about the book I’ve been racking my brain to come up with a rating for good reads and to figure out before the discussion. It took forever for me to get into the book and I don’t feel it’s any fault on the book I have been in one of the worst reading slumps that I’ve had since high school. I got about 20 pages into the book and wondered how I still had 200 pages left because I felt it was moving so fast with him already having shoeless joe at the field and he was obviously just trying to get his father to be there as well. Since I just couldn’t seem to push through and we had some flooding down here with a day off at home my husband suggested we watch field of dreams since I had never seen it and he couldn’t remember ever doing so either. I enjoyed the movie even though (unpopular opinion) I don’t like Kevin Costner. Anyway it helped me push through shoeless joe. I would t say that I’m a big sports fan since I don’t really watch the games often or follow statistics. I have teams I support in football, basketball and baseball. I agree that I think in a way baseball is really engrained in you to where even if you don’t really follow the sport you can’t help but feel patriotic liking it. I grew up on a farm outside a very small town and that was one of the only things there was to do in the summer was to be on the little league teams or go watch the games. I do feel that you have to have some appreciation for baseball to like this book because even though there is more to the book then just baseball it is almost as much of a main character as Ray is.

    • So sorry you are still fighting the slump, Leslie. I love your point about baseball being a character in the book. I can totally see that.

      Back when you lived on the farm, did you play baseball or were you in the stands?

  4. Sadly, I will not be participating in the discussion questions for this book. I tried reading the book but just could not get into it. I shall return for the next book discussion 🙂

    • That’s ok Robin. Not every book is going to appeal to everyone. Have fun reading The Color Purple and we’ll see you next time!

  5. I’m a huge, huge baseball fan, so I adored this book. The lyrical writing, and the slow pacing, the love of older players and the magic of each player’s unique talents — what magic unfolds here!
    baseball is often called a game of inches because the difference between a perfect pitch and “batting practice,” or a home run and a foul can be a matter of inches. I think it’s the same thing between a lyrical fantasy and a bad Hallmark card. This book is on the enchanted side of the measurement.
    How did I manage to get through all.these.decades without reading it – or watching the film? Shocking,

    • I am so glad you enjoyed the book Melanie! One of my favorite things about the book club is hearing that people are discovering new (to them) books that they love.

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