The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays

Invisible Publishing / April 4, 2016

Traduction français de Daniel Grenier et William S. Messier: Les Éditions de Ta Mère / September 25, 2017

A collection of essays for ardent seamheads and casual baseball fans alike, The Utility of Boredom is a book about finding respite and comfort in the order, traditions, and rituals of baseball. From learning about America through ball-diamond visits to the most famous triple play that never happened on Canadian soil, Forbes invites us to witness the adult conversing with the O-Pee-Chee baseball cards of his youth. Tender, insightful, and with the slow heartbreak familiar to anyone who’s cheered on a losing team, The Utility of Boredom tells us a thing or two about the sport, and how a seemingly trivial game might help us make sense of our messy lives.

Praise for The Utility of Boredom:

“Baseball is a welcome obsession of mine, a comfort. Reading The Utility of Boredom by Andrew Forbes fed that obsession beautifully, warmly. It glows. He writes of baseball as sanctuary, baseball in both general terms and specifics—from the feeling of walking into a ballpark on a summer day to Vin Scully’s perfect description of a cloud. He invites us to get on our tiptoes and peek over the fence, smell the grass, hear the crack of the bat. He respects the slow-glory of the game, he loves the game, he’s really good at this, and I absolutely trust him with my baseball-heart.”

— Leesa Cross-Smith, author of Every Kiss A War and Whiskey and Ribbons

“Baseball, like life, is getting flattened out these days, compressed to noisy highlight clips and shrill pontification. This book cures that flattening, reaching with grace and poetry past all the bludgeoning hot takes and arid statistical analyses to the kinds of absurd and beautiful details—a spectacular throw from deep right; a meandering spring training game; a foul grounder bounding up into the stands, right at you—that first made us all fall in love with the sport. If baseball, like heaven, is a mansion with many rooms, the essays in The Utility of Boredom are like a fat set of janitor’s keys unlocking the wide open marvels of the game.”

— Josh Wilker, author of Cardboard Gods and Benchwarmer: A Sports-Obsessed Memoir of Fatherhood

“In all of these essays, Forbes’s writing is almost invisibly stunning, clear, with romantic flourishes equal to his subject matter. But what he’s really able to articulate is how a love of baseball is really about a love of, or at least an acceptance of, the fact that losing is part of the game.”

— Andrew Kaufman, National Post

“[Forbes] can tell a whole story in an opening sentence that leaves me cheering in the stands… Rest assured, The Utility of Boredom is far from boring. It’s a book to savour, like summer.”

— Ann Jaeger, Electric City Magazine

The Utility of Boredom… is a delightful collection of 25 baseball essays… [which] will yield numerous moments of quiet satisfaction to readers willing to give it the close attention it deserves.”

— Spitball Magazine

“[Forbes] immerses the reader in virtually every lackadaisical thought to which baseball lends itself.”

— Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star

“Taking his cues from Susan Sarandon’s character in Bull Durham, who worships at “the Church of Baseball,” secular humanist Forbes finds something close to religion in everything from José Bautista’s bat flip to the Billy Ripken error card. He is even willing to admit to the game’s essential slowness, in which he locates its Zen-like, meditative heart.”

— Quill & Quire

“A lovely, philosophical look at the sport of summer, this one suits diehard fanatics as well as the casual baseball fan.”

— Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star

“Baseball, with its leisurely pace and unrelenting schedule, lends itself to the introspective writer willing to unpack the countless balls and strikes for something more. Andrew Forbes is one of the very best at this, and his essay collection is essential reading around the hot stove.”

— Eephus Magazine