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How to be Good (Penguin Celebrations)

3.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  41,510 Ratings  ·  2,379 Reviews
In Nick Hornby's How to Be Good, Katie Carr is certainly trying to be. That's why she became a GP. That's why she cares about Third World debt and homelessness, and struggles to raise her children with a conscience. It's also why she puts up with her husband David, the self-styled Angriest Man in Holloway. But one fateful day, she finds herself in a Leeds parking lot, havi ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 6th 2007 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 2001)
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Maria Augusta Very interesting! Written from the point of view of the woman. Lots of questions in it. Dont know the answers yet because still didnt finish.…moreVery interesting! Written from the point of view of the woman. Lots of questions in it. Don´t know the answers yet because still didn´t finish.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Libby
Apr 09, 2009 Libby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think "How to be Good" certainly divided fans of Hornby who were used to his musical themes in High Fidelity and 31 Songs and his style in About a Boy. He was given a lot of criticism for writing the book from the perspective of a middle aged female but this did not bother me in the slightest. In fact I thought the book was witty and well written. I found myself identifying with Katie, despite her whiny repetitive moments. I loved her inner voice - I found things written on the page that I hav ...more
Jeff
Aug 20, 2015 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
As I started reading this I said to myself, “Jeff, maybe your first Hornby book probably should have been High Fidelity not this one.” The narrator’s a 40ish British woman who’s married to an angry guy and who has two kids and is currently having an affair, but you know brutal cynicism and snark transcend everything. It really does.

The questions is thus: If your spouse, suddenly goes from Mr./Mrs. Truculent, spewing venom everywhere, to someone who wants to do nothing but good deeds, do you:

1)
...more
Shaina
To say I didn't get this book would be a profound understatement. Near as I can tell, it's about all the terrible, mundane ways life can grind you down, how hypocracy gets all of us in the end, and the way what was once beloved can turn into what you hate in the ones you used to love.

I found this book tremendously depressing. Also, it made me never want to get married or have kids. Ever.

I was tremendously disappointed in the ending as well, at the same time as I admired Hornby's technical skill.
...more
will
Mar 27, 2008 will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
how to be good

As long time readers know (or maybe you don't) Maria and I read to each other. One of the joys of "naked Sunday" is the fact that we don't have to get up, spend the day wandering around the flat in our pyjamas (just 'cos it is called "naked Sunday" doesn't necessarily mean that we spend the day nekkid!), basically just slob about.

This Sunday we spent the whole morning (and a bit of the afternoon) in bed. We ate cereal, we drank cokes and we ate our way through a huge box of Runts.
...more
Zaki
Dec 16, 2014 Zaki rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
How to Be Good could have appropriately been titled Who Gives a Shit? or How to be Good for Nothing because that's what Nick Hornby is with his cheesy writing style and trite observations.
Jon Cox
The last sentence of this book made me feel daft. I think I pretty much comprehended the majority of the book: the mild, slightly frantic despair that the main character feels over a marriage that is mutually dissatisfactory; the duplicitious and hypocritical nature of trying too hard to do good things when your own life is in shambles and you can't have fulfilling relationships with people that you actually know; the ambiguity that someone can feel when no option is without unacceptable costs. ...more
Antof9
This book made me sad. It was really, really depressing. In fact, so much that it actually put me in a bad mood while I was reading it.

Don't get me wrong; there were flashes of humor, clever writing, and certainly it begs a lot of introspection. But it was a real downer. None of the hope of "About a Boy", and although I haven't read "High Fidelity", I've seen that movie, and I think that had hope too.

So here's what I started writing after the first section for BBC last Saturday:

"How to be Good"
...more
Brad
I really need to see the movie An Education. Nick Hornby was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, and the critics thought he did a pretty fine job. I also heard that his YA novel, Slam was fine. I'd like to see Hornby doing a fine job because I've pretty much given up on him.

I loved Fever Pitch; it is part of my personal mythology (I am an Arsenal fan, and it is very nearly a bible to Gooners). I also loved High Fidelity: slacker, music loving greatness. But since that brace of exce
...more
Sara
Aug 29, 2008 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Carmen, Thomas and anyone who can admit to being human and flawed and can appreciate wry humor
Loved this book! I didn't think I would, actually, because it opens with the decaying of a marriage between two Brits with kids. The subject just doesn't grab me much, I mean, as escapist reading why would I want to read about an unhappy marriage? Before I knew it, though, I was sucked in by the marvelous writing and witty humor of Nick Hornby.

I had no idea where this book was going. There are so many unpredictable twists and turns and just when you think it couldn't get any crazier, it does. An
...more
Adrianne Mathiowetz
Well-written, compelling, blah blah blah. I'm sick of books about affairs and divorce.
Ivan
May 09, 2015 Ivan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I seen this book on my sister's shelf and asked her about it and her replay was:"It's horrible, characters are so annoying I wanted to torture them".

So as Calvin said, that piqued my curiosity.Can it really be that bad?Turns out that it can be as I found no redeeming part.
Ritz
Oct 25, 2008 Ritz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: a todo el mundo, ya verán que tiene algo para cada quien
Recommended to Ritz by: Núria y Kitty Wu
Shelves: autor_g_h_i
Mi primer Hornby ¡Hurra! Gracias Kitty, gracias Núria excelente recomendación. Ya tengo 31 Canciones en la repisa.

¿Por dónde comenzar?

Será por mi absoluta identificación con el mundo reflexivo de la Doctora Katie Carr.

En su mente, es decir donde sucede toda la novela, soy ella. No en sus acciones y decisiones, y definitivamente no soy ella en el rumbo que toma su vida ni en su destino final, yo de la primera página en adelante hubiese derrotado por caminos bien distintos.

Pero a donde quiera qu
...more
Ginny_1807
Jun 24, 2014 Ginny_1807 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romanzi, coppie, gb
La trama, a mio avviso, presenta qualche forzatura e i personaggi sono a volte definiti in modo eccessivamente stravagante, tuttavia i temi di fondo del romanzo vengono sviluppati con sensibilità, equilibrio e competenza.
Anche in un contesto decisamente meno riuscito rispetto ai lavori precedenti, lo stile narrativo, venato di intelligente ironia, rivela lo scrittore di razza; e sotto i suoi fendenti si sgretola la maschera di ipocrisia e di cinismo dietro la quale oggigiorno ci si nasconde nel
...more
Abhinav
Okay, I can probably guess why this book is considered one of Nick Hornby's lesser works by fans of the author & yet it found a place on the Man Booker Prize longlist. Speaking for myself, I pick up a Hornby novel primarily for the laughs. Besides that, he gives you those warm, fuzzy moments & some observations about humankind in general that are worth their weight in gold. But do I go in expecting endless self-introspection & whining? Not really.

The protagonist of 'How To Be Good' i
...more
Mike
Dec 01, 2009 Mike rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book maybe 6 years ago, after reading and loving High Fidelity and About a Boy. I read 100 pages or so, and put it down. A friend recently said she loved it, so I went back to give it another shot. It is, after all, about moral ambiguity and the search for a good life. That has always been one of my favorite topics. Once I got back into it, though, I remembered the things I disliked about it in the first place, namely:

1. I don't like any of the characters, major or minor, and I wo
...more
Veronica
This is the first Hornby book I have read and he did not disappoint. I found it fun and truly original. Katie, the main character, and her quirky, confused thoughts are very entertaining. It makes you realize how our minds can go crazy sometimes specially when put in odd circumstances.

This story is somewhat ridiculous but it also presents very serious issues on family and relationships. It speaks a lot about love and what it really means and gives importance to marriage and commitment. In a ver
...more
Sarah
Jul 28, 2015 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Well, this book proves that I can hate a book solely because of the protagonist. I'm disappointed because this was my first time reading a book by Nick Hornby and I wasn't impressed with the book or the writing.

The plot focuses on a woman called Katie who is unhappy with her life. Then her husband goes through a radical change and becomes " really good". Its not a bad premise for a plot but there was nothing extraordinary or original about the book's execution. Katie is absolutely unbearable. S
...more
Edward
This is a audiobook review of the book. I had the Penguin audiobook abridged version, read by Frances Barber.

Katie Carr is a doctor, a GP, who is in all intent and purpose someone who is trying to be a good. She is unhappy with her marriage and asks her husband David for a divorce. Meanwhile she is having an affair with someone called Steven, whose only significance in the story is the man whom Katie had an affair with.

David is described as an angry person by Katie but we don't see much of this
...more
Anna  (Bananas!)
Apr 13, 2013 Anna (Bananas!) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Completely annoying MCs. I'm surprised I made it through. Disappointed because I like the author.
Amy Wilder
Aug 25, 2011 Amy Wilder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: married folks, priests, parents of snarky kids, women on the verge
Recommended to Amy Wilder by: mom
Really intimate first person novel about a woman whose husband suddenly stops being snarky and facetious and becomes really sincere and loving. Basically I completely sympathized with her feeling that this person, while arguably much NICER than her husband, was basically NOT her husband any more, and was also pretty annoying.

It's a great humorous approach to the same kind of material about morality that Jonathan Franzen explores in Freedom. Only, you know, funny and enjoyable rather than...Great
...more
john Adams
Feb 03, 2010 john Adams rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
How to be Good by Nick Hornby

I picked up this book as part of my “I am going to read people who aren't dead” series. I can see Hornby's appeal. He is a good writer. And if I were the kind of kid who was to wear really tight black jeans, over-sized white tee-shirts, and knit caps with brims and spend my time riding my one gear bike through the mission looking for cheap Mexican food, Hornby would be my man. He epitomizes “Gen Y” (God I love those “Gen” labels). If you are apathetic, directionless,
...more
Sophia T. (♥ Dimitri Belikov)
Mixed Feelings!!! I enjoyed it but I just couldn't connect with the characters and the end made no sense!
Sue
Dec 01, 2012 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of domestic drama/comedy
Recommended to Sue by: Teresa Brader
One of the "blurbs" on the cover of my library copy this book uses a one word review: "hilarious". This is very misleading. "How to Be Good" is an excellent read, confronts the many changes in a modern marriage where husband and wife are unsure of the ground of the marriage. There is humor. There are some very funny moments but this is not pure comedy. Not in my eyes. It's a portrait of modern ennui and angst mixed together and forming a very messy stew.

Katie, the wife, is a doctor, and one of
...more
Jillian
Jan 13, 2011 Jillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, humor
I loved this book, even though I hated the beginning and I didn't really like the ending either. At first I thought it was a book about nasty people, divorce and affairs, and I'm really tired of those themes. It turns out it was about much more.

I don't care that Hornby is a man writing from a female protagonist's POV, since he did it so well. I love humor about manners, morals and hypocrisy, and this is was what the book is about.

So many people found this book depressing, but I didn't. I found
...more
NYLon Carry On
Nov 15, 2012 NYLon Carry On rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm... Ok... I did like this book.
It is sort of a strange book. It is sort of a book about the realities of life, but with an unrealistic 'faith healer' character in it, if that makes any sense?
It had some hugely funny moments, and some beautifully written parts.
And I found it to be very relatable, even tho it had an odd 'faith healer' as a main character! The description of a married doctor/wife and her writer/husband with two children, and their day in and day out lives, in London, seemed
...more
Norman Revill
Aug 27, 2013 Norman Revill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ok, so Hornby's a Gooner and his taste in music is not exactly mine, but he sure can write. Why do we read? To prove we are not alone? A never-ending attempt to understand the human condition? A quest for like minds? Search me. All of these and a lot more besides I would say. As with a lot of the novels I read, my wife saw this in a charity shop on a weekend away and bought it for 20p on a Saturday morning. By Sunday lunchtime I'd read it and told her she should read it too and then pass it on t ...more
Nicholas
Jul 26, 2008 Nicholas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lifestyle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gerald
Nov 17, 2009 Gerald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Years ago I received a rejection letter from the legendary Dore Schary. It began, "I wanted to like this more than I did." Wow, what a classy way to send someone packing. No wonder he survived the grueling game of Hollywood as long as he did. Anyhow, that's how I feel about this book of Nick's. I am a fan and I wanted and expected to like it more than I did.

Maybe it's me. I found it more pathetic than funny. And more serious than I wanted to get.

Told in first person from the viewpoint of the fem
...more
Gautsho
Varem on Hornby mulle meeldinud, aga see oli väga igav; sel ajal, kui raamat pooleli oli, vaatasin meelelahutuse nimel nelja filmi, kus mängisid The Rock ja/või Vin Diesel.
Joy H.
Added 4/11/16. (first published 2001)

In 2010 I posted the following message at my GR group:
====================================
A day or so ago, I saw a comment somewhere which was written by Jim. In it he said he was uncomfortable with something about the book, something he couldn't accept (even though he thought it was a pretty good book). I'm not sure if it was something about the author or not. In any case, today I came across a similar situation in one of my past handwritten comments.

In my
...more
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Nick Hornby is the author of the novels A Long Way Down, Slam, How to Be Good, High Fidelity, and About a Boy, and the memoir Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, and The Polysyllabic Spree, as well as the editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. He is a recipient of the American Acade ...more
More about Nick Hornby...

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