The third of three collections of Nick Hornby's book columns from Believer magazine.
"How can you ever understand a novel if you don't understand painThe third of three collections of Nick Hornby's book columns from Believer magazine.
"How can you ever understand a novel if you don't understand pain?" (29)
"these people [scary critics:] ... are so cross about everything that they can't ever forget about bad books, even when they're supposed to be thinking about good ones. They believe that if you stop thinking about bad books even for one second, they'll take over your house, like cockroaches." (32)
"Maybe the best thing to do with favorite films and books is to leave them be: to achieve such an exalted position means that they entered your life at exactly the right time, in precisely the right place, and those conditions can never be re-created. Sometimes we want to revisit them in order to check whether they were really as good as we remember them being, but this has to be a suspect impulse, because what it presupposes is that we have more reason to trust our critical judgments as we get older, whereas I am beginning to believe that the reverse is true. ... Favorites should be left where they belong, buried somewhere deep in a past self." (44-45)
"I have been listening to my iPod on 'shuffle' recently, and, like everyone else who does this, I became convinced that my machine was exercising a will of its own. Why did it seem to play Big Star every third song? (All iPod users come to believe that their inanimate MP3 players have recondite but real musical tastes.)" (47)
**"The annoying thing about reading is that you can never get the job done. ... reading begets reading ... " (49)
"anybody who never deviates from a set list of books is intellectually dead anyway" (49)
"I'm afraid I am one of those cowards who would have happily invaded Poland if it meant getting hold of a couple of pills to alleviate a hangover." (51)
"prejudice has to be an important part of our decision-making process when it comes to reading; otherwise we would become overwhelmed." (57)
"You should read [On Chesil Beach:], and be thankful that you grew up in a different age, where all matters sexual were a whole lot easier. Too easy, probably. Some of you younger ones are probably having sex now, absentmindedly, while reading this. You probably don't even know that you're having sex. You'll look down or up at the end of this paragraph and think, Eeek! Who's that?" (61)
"pizza always beats art" (64)
"Yes, it's the job of artists to force us to stare at the horror until we're on the verge of passing out. But it's also the job of artists to offer warmth and hope and maybe even an escape from lives that can occasionally seem unendurably drab." (73)
**"when my friend Mary has finished a book, she won't start another for a couple of days--she wants to give her most recent reading experience a little more time to breathe, before it's suffocated by the next. This makes sense, and it's an entirely laudable policy, I think. Those of us who read neurotically, however--to ward off boredom, and the fear of our own ignorance, and our impending deaths--can't afford the time." (97)
"booksellers know better than anyone that talking about books you have read is much more persuasive than attempting to sound smart about books you haven't." (104)
"If I thought that giving my novel performance-enhancing drugs would help it in any way, I'd do it, though, and I'm not ashamed to admit it." (105)
In a way, what Nick Hornby does for books in The Polysyllabic Spree and Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, he does here for music.
By explaining what he likesIn a way, what Nick Hornby does for books in The Polysyllabic Spree and Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, he does here for music.
By explaining what he likes about music and certain songs ("I didn't want to write about memories. That wasn't the point"), Hornby ends up describing things that many music lovers (and book lovers; if you merely substitute the word "book" for "music", the sentiments are still true) feel, and even basic human emotions.
While I won't run out and buy the music that Hornby discusses like I do with most of the books he writes about in Spree and Housekeeping, it's still an enjoyable book, complete with his comforting, really-smart-friend tone. ...more
I read High Fidelity and enjoyed it, but I love Nick Hornby's style in this book even more. It's a book about books: reviews of books Hornby read, staI read High Fidelity and enjoyed it, but I love Nick Hornby's style in this book even more. It's a book about books: reviews of books Hornby read, started but couldn't finish, started but didn't want to finish (Nancy's Rule of 50, perhaps?), and bought but hadn't gotten around to. His writing is funny and easy, and my list of books-to-read grew so much because of this....more