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Chad Harbach's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Chad Harbach recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Chad Harbach's favorite book recommendations of all time.


The Tennis Handsome

Spinning the raucous tale of four restless sons of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Hannah introduces the reader to a pretty-boy international tennis star, his devoted manager, his gay coach, and a shell-shocked but sane Vietnam vet. Their adventures include rape by a walrus, murder by crossbow, and a tennis tournament played at gunpoint. Hannah's inventiveness sparkles and his prose shines. less
Recommended by Chad Harbach, and 1 others.

Chad HarbachThe tennis handsome, the protagonist, is an ageing and beleagured guy who was great at tennis . . . It . . . contains some great descriptions of the odd beauties of tennis. (Source)

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End Zone

At Logos College in West Texas, huge young men, vacuum-packed into shoulder pads and shiny helmets, play football with intense passion. During an uncharacteristic winning season, the perplexed and distracted running back Gary Harkness has periodic fits of nuclear glee; he is fueled and shielded by his fear of and fascination with nuclear conflict. Among some of the players, the terminologies of football and nuclear war—the language of end zones—become interchangeable, and their meaning deteriorates as the collegiate year runs its course. In this triumphantly funny novel, Don DeLillo explores... more
Recommended by Chad Harbach, and 1 others.

Chad HarbachIt’s his second novel, from 1972, and one of my favourite books. It’s also DeLillo’s funniest book by far. (Source)

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Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest is the name of a movie said to be so entertaining that anyone who watches it loses all desire to do anything but watch. People die happily, viewing it in endless repetition. The novel Infinite Jest is the story of this addictive entertainment, and in particular how it affects a Boston halfway house for recovering addicts and a nearby tennis academy, whose students have many budding addictions of their own. As the novel unfolds, various individuals, organisations, and governments vie to obtain the master copy of Infinite Jest for their own ends, and the denizens of... more
Recommended by Chad Harbach, Rebecca Goldstein, and 2 others.

Chad HarbachI think Infinite Jest is the major American novel of the past 25 years…It’s the book on which his reputation will rest, and I think people are going to read it for a long time. (Source)

Rebecca GoldsteinIt’s an extraordinary book…One of the things that he is examining in the novel is the various games that we play, many of them recursive. (Source)

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The Natural

The classical novel (and basis for the acclaimed film) now in a new edition

Introduction by Kevin Baker

The Natural, Bernard Malamud's first novel, published in 1952, is also the first—and some would say still the best—novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material—the story of a superbly gifted "natural" at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era—and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that...
Recommended by Chad Harbach, Michael Carlson, and 2 others.

Chad HarbachIt’s a very dark book. Roy Hobbs is a really one-dimensional figure. He’s very ambitious, in a narrow, greedy American sort of way. (Source)

Michael CarlsonA perfect, mythic take on baseball in which he plays with the myth of the Fisher King and the Holy Grail. (Source)

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A finalist for the National Book Award, Don DeLillo’s most powerful and riveting novel—“a great American novel, a masterpiece, a thrilling page-turner” (San Francisco Chronicle)—Underworld is about the second half of the twentieth century in America and about two people, an artist and an executive, whose lives intertwine in New York in the fifties and again in the nineties.

With cameo appearances by Lenny Bruce, J. Edgar Hoover, Bobby Thompson, Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason and Toots Shor, “this is DeLillo’s most affecting novel…a dazzling, phosphorescent work of art”...
Recommended by Chad Harbach, Hermione Hoby, and 2 others.

Chad HarbachThis is DeLillo’s big, thick novel which ranges over several decades of American history. It’s a book about waste, about trash, about what society sweeps under the rug. But it begins with a long overture set in perhaps the most famous professional baseball game of all time – “The Shot Heard Round The World,” the famous home run hit by Bobby Thomson in 1951. It’s an incredibly virtuosic piece of... (Source)

Hermione HobyIt’s such an extraordinarily vast and all-reaching book. (Source)

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