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How To Be Good

3.16 of 5 stars 3.16  ·  rating details  ·  37,536 ratings  ·  2,129 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, 244 pages
Published 2001 by Penguin
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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
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.
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.
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.
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
Aug 29, 2008 Sara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Adrianne Mathiowetz
Well-written, compelling, blah blah blah. I'm sick of books about affairs and divorce.
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
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
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"
Oct 25, 2008 Ritz rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
Anna  (Bananas!)
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Dec 01, 2012 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
NYLon Carry On
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
Norman Revill
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
john Adams
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,
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
Teijo Aflecht
The reason I really liked How to Be Good can be summarised with the following sentence: I don't know what people who think they're going to save the world are hoping to accomplish.
So I liked it. Lots of funny sentiments expressed by the main character. [Slight spoilers ahead, though with this book I don't think it matters] Even in the second to last chapter she does things like telling her daughter, when she asks if her parents are getting divorced, "Not if you'll be good". I laughed out loud q
Light, kind of fun, but ultimately forgettable. I'm not sure I get the whole Nick Hornby thing. I feel like he's writing for the film script (inevitable starring Hugh Grant or somebody like that) rather than putting together a decent book. I mean, it's not horrible, but there are a lot books in the library that are way better than this one...
May 13, 2008 Zak rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely no one
Nick Hornby--WTF? How to Be Good marks a low point for one of the very best writers working today. Boring, shallow, and stupid. The main characters are irritating beyond belief.
Il libro mi è stato regalato per il mio compleanno e per questo (e per il titolo: l'avete visto il titolo??) non ho potuto resistere e l'ho inserito direttamente in cima alla mia coda di lettura.

"Come diventare buoni" mi è piaciuto moltissimo: la narrazione è scorrevole e la trama talmente assurda da strappare le sue brave risate, in più la... bontà estrema, diciamo, di BuoneNuove e del "nuovo David" mi hanno permesso di utilizzare alcune perle di puro cinismo che altrimenti sarebbero rimaste i
Als ich den Klappentext zuerst las, dachte ich an einen Frauenroman, von einem Mann geschrieben, aber diese Geschichte ist wirklich "completely different" und sehr amüsant für eine Zynikerin wie mich.

Die Ärztin Katie ist mit einem wütenden, unglücklichen, zynischen, rhetorisch sehr talentierten Misanthropen verheiratet, der seine Familie mit verbalen Abwertungen, Beschimpfungen und Geringschätzung terrorisiert. Nachdem sie den Wunsch zur Scheidung äußert, der völlig ignoriert wird, trifft ihr Ma
3.5 This novel was easy to read but, for me, it's going to take a little time to digest it.

What's it about? Well, it's partly about power struggles in marriages and about how, when we get what we think we want, we often don't want it after all. And it's about how we can thoroughly despise a spouse or a child in one moment, then want to embrace them in the next moment.

The novel's also about sadness as a human condition. Here's a quote from the female narrator about her daughter:

"What has happen
The idea of the book sounded so great when I read it. A husband that is angry all the time with a marriage failing because of it turns into a good person. The idea had the potential to be a really good, interesting story. Intead it turned out to be about, not just being a "good" person, but being better than everyone else. Giving money away to the poor, inviting the homeless to live with you. Becoming best friends and eventual roommates with GoodNews. The ideas were rather absurd.

The reviews on
Julie Tillman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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...
High Fidelity About a Boy A Long Way Down Juliet, Naked Fever Pitch

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“The plain state of being human is dramatic enough for anyone; you don't need to be a heroin addict or a performance poet to experience extremity. You just have to love someone.” 1604 likes
“It seems to me now that the plain state of being human is dramatic enough for anyone; you don't need to be a heroin addict or a performance poet to experience extremity. You just have to love someone.” 279 likes
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