I've never been one to get into sports (and when I say never I mean NEVER) but just like the rest of the country I have developed a slight case of Olympic addiction this week. I've been staying on my own so have the TV on most of the day and something about the energy, the story's and the patrioticness (is that a word?) has got me hooked. Oh and this could have something to do with it as well...
Anyway, all this Olympic action has been making me think a lot about a book I read last year called The Art of Fielding. There was quite a big fuss about it when it first came out so you've probably already heard of it but in case you haven't here's the blurb -
In The Art of Fielding, we see young men who know that their four years on the baseball diamond at Westish College are all that remain of their sporting careers. Only their preternaturally gifted fielder, Henry Skrimshander, seems to have the chance to keep his dream – and theirs, vicariously – alive, until a routine throw goes disastrously off course, and the fates of five people are upended.
After his throw threatens to ruin his roommate Owen’s future, Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his; while Mike Schwartz, the team captain and Henry’s best friend, realizes he has guided Henry’s career at the expense of his own. Keeping a keen eye on them all, college president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, falls unexpectedly and dangerously in love, much to the surprise of his daughter, Pella, who has returned to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.
Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warm-hearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment – to oneself and to others.
Now, if you know me at all you will know this is not really my kind of book but in actual fact this is one of my all time favourite books ever written. Watching the Olympics has made me think about it a lot. It perfectly describes the strain, struggle and emotional challenges of being playing sports and made me think about athletes in a way I never would have otherwise. On top of that it's one of the best written books I've ever read and some of the passages about the character's pasts will stay with me forever. I find that books can move you in all different kinds of ways and while this book may not be overly emotional I found myself crying at the end just because of how complex and well written all the story's were. Basically... it's an incredible book.
So if you're short of a summer read and want something that will tie in with the Olympic fever I would really recommend reading (or listening to) this book.
Lots of love Scarly.