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Stuff I've Been Reading

Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books

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At the end of 2003, as the first issue of The Believer was rising from the primordial ooze, Nick Hornby turned in the inaugural installment of a monthly column that immediately became a reader favorite. For the next ten years, Hornby’s incandescently funny "Stuff I’ve Been Reading” chronicled a singular reading life — one that is measured not just in "books bought” and "books read,” as each column begins, but in the way our feelings toward Celine Dion say a lot about who we are, the way Body Shop Vanilla Shower Gel can add excitement to our days, and the way John Updike might ruin our sex lives. Hornby’s column is both an impeccable, wide-ranging reading list and an indispensable reminder of why we read.

464 pages, Hardcover

First published November 1, 2013

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About the author

Nick Hornby

99 books9,208 followers
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 Academy of Arts and Letters’ E. M. Forster Award and the winner of the 2003 Orange Word International Writers’ London Award. Among his many other honors and awards, four of his titles have been named New York Times Notable Books. A film written by Hornby, An Education – shown at the Sundance Film Festival to great acclaim – was the lead movie at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival and distributed by Sony that fall. That same September, the author published his latest novel, Juliet, Naked to wide acclaim. Hornby lives in North London.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 302 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah.
153 reviews18 followers
December 9, 2013
It is testament to how much I enjoy reading Nick Hornby's thoughts on his reading life that I read the entire book cover to cover even though I had read a vast majority of it in other forms. Hornby has one of the best voices in one of my favorite genres, books about books.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,482 reviews12.8k followers
September 25, 2014
In September 2003, Nick Hornby’s first Stuff I’ve Been Reading column was printed in The Believer magazine. It had two lists at the start: Books Bought and Books Read (which never synced up!), followed by reviews of the books read in Hornby’s inimitable, charming style. This omnibus edition collects all of the columns published since then up to June 2013 (so it’s technically almost 10 years, but not quite!).

A lot of this material has been published before in four previous books: The Polysyllabic Spree, Housekeeping vs The Dirt, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, and More Baths, Less Talking. And if you’re a fan of these columns like me, then you’ve already read those books and therefore most of this book too.

Why almost? Well, in the same way that a band might cobble together a “new” record by throwing a new song or two together with previously released tracks, there are some unpublished new columns included in this book. They cover January 2012 to June 2013, or, to be precise, 58 new pages (and a 5 page intro by Jess Walter).

That is a bit of a pisstake, Mr Hornby. I do want to read a new edition of your Stuff I’ve Been Reading columns but I don’t want to pay for an overpriced hardback just to read a third of one! This is just cynical marketing.

So, what about the new stuff - is it worth reading? Well, not really. I mean, they’re ok but they’re not Hornby’s funniest columns and I didn’t pick up any interesting recs. I learnt that the austerity Olympics held in Britain in 1948 were crazy cheap, that Rod Stewart has the mind of a teenager, and Hornby is hysterically worried about ebooks and the future of publishing, but is that worth forking over a sizable amount for a book where a longtime reader will just want this new stuff? Hardly.

That said, if you’ve never read any of the columns before and you enjoy reading about someone talking about reading books, this is definitely worth picking up. Hornby isn’t an academic reviewer and his columns are very accessible and funny, and The Believer has a policy of no bad-mouthing books, so all of the columns are positive reviews of books he’s read (with the ones he didn’t like and/or abandoned censored as simply XX by YY in the Books Read list). There’s a reason why the column has gone on for so many years and why readers like me keep returning even if certain collections are crappier than others.

If you’re thinking of getting this for the new stuff, I’d hang on until Hornby’s written enough columns for a new collection to be published. These newer columns just aren’t essential enough reading for you to pay over and above for them along with a lot of stuff you’ve already got/read. But this is a value-for-money bundle for those who’ve never read these columns, and I highly recommend checking them out if you never have before.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,463 reviews560 followers
March 9, 2018
[3.5 stars] This book has been good bedtime company for me over the last few weeks. The book is a collection of 10 years of columns from an English magazine. Hornby is an enthusiastic, funny, honest, generous reader -these are not your standard stuffy reviews. I loved how much Hornby loves books. Each column starts with a list of the books he bought that month and then a list of the books read. Usually they don't match - which I appreciated. Like me, he is an aspirational book buyer.

Hornby loves soccer and writes about it frequently so I skimmed over those columns as well as others where he riffed about subjects/books that didn't interest me. But there were plenty of funny, insightful, even brilliant ramblings in these 485 pages. I now have to find another book about books for bedtime reading - my new tradition.
Profile Image for Patti .
480 reviews71 followers
April 19, 2014
I had crazy amounts of fun with this book! Most of the time I knew very little about his subject matter- whether it be music, Arsenal football, or books. I'm either too daft (haha- I inserted something British) and haven't heard of them or they haven't been as successful/ published across the pond. Every few entries I would feel extremely proud if I had also read the particular novel. I enjoyed Hornby's witty style so much I forced myself to take it slow (the constant searching of Goodreads for his selections after each review ate up a good bit of time as well).

I laughed out loud so many times I lost count. Nick Hornby might be most well known for his novel High Fidelity, the movie version starring John Cusack. His novel About a Boy was also made into a film starring Hugh Grant. This impressive collection contains ten years worth of monthly articles he wrote for The Believer magazine called "Stuff I've Been Reading" in which he chronicles his extensive reading life. Except when the World Cup comes on TV, then there will be shameless asides about "Scientist of the Month" and some other such nonsense. He will then act surprised that his column space is taken up and promise more reviews the following month. The beginning of each entry conveniently lists his Books Bought column and Books Read column with authors listed for easy reference.

He is so funny and honest about each book read. There are also many running jokes. The most common one is his distrust of his editors at the magazine, lovingly called "The Polysyllabic Spree". Each month they are portrayed as callous censors and lunatics, with their numbers ever-changing.
*the eighty-four chillingly ecstatic young men and women who run this magazine. The Spree all live together in the Believer towers....I'm beginning to see through the white robes to the people beneath and they're really not so bad....once you get past the incense, the vegan food, and the communal showers".

**the sixty-six staggeringly beautiful young women who control both the contributions to this magazine and the minds of some of the weaker contributors...

**the forty-seven literature-loving, unnervingly even-tempered yet unsmiling young men and women who remove all the good jokes from this column every month

As I have lengthily and resoundingly stated- I strongly recommend this book:-) I learned, re-read sections, and thoroughly enjoyed every bit.
Profile Image for Ned.
296 reviews126 followers
August 9, 2014
Full disclosure, I did not "read", I skimmed for the books he'd read that I had interest in. This is the collected form of a series published online. I was biased in that I think the movies from Hornby's books are mediocre and I'm still trying to appreciate British humour (it always seems to cute, to "precious", though highly "clever" as they say). What I enjoyed about this book is its honesty and freshness and a few insights: For example, some books are unfairly rated and reviewed because they are improperly read. I find this true for myself, when I am honest, including my reading of this book where I was distracted with (1) another book; (2) watching baseball; (3) stress at work and (4) a whole host of personal matters. There was Hornby the person, who writes very well but in life he and I would likely quarrel. This got in the way. I also ran out of time and kept renewing this at the public library which I couldn't find time to revisit. But it was a nice romp and you might find this reader reading for the sake of enjoyment and edification eerily similar to your own views (or you wouldn't be seeing this on GR). Apparently readers like us are a rare breed - so take comfort in how special we are.
Profile Image for Sharon Barrow Wilfong.
1,117 reviews3,942 followers
February 9, 2021
I was attracted to reading a book by someone who lists all the books he's bought and read each month. I thought, "Oh good. Someone like me. I feel affirmed."

The books he bought were not books I would buy or read, but that's OK.

He has an autistic son and felt the portrayal of a boy with Asbergers in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time was not realistic. I agree with that, even though having an autistic son doesn't make you an expert, but he was mostly griping about getting so many books from well meaning friends about autistic children, so fine.

Then he griped about Amazon reviewers. He hates them all. Oversensitive.

Then he apologized for buying C.S. Lewis' sci fi trilogy ("in case you're worried, I bought them for less than a dollar each.") OK, not too much like me.

Then he called people with different values than his the oh so very original and mature name calling of "racist, sexist and homophobic."

Name calling isn't an argument and by that time I'd had enough.

So...one star.

Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,403 reviews463 followers
May 14, 2017
Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books - Nick Hornby  It took me forever to read because I had to stop at least once per page to add something to The List, or to move something else higher, or to request something from the library. Hornby is a much bigger fan of literary fiction than I and he isn't a fan of genre (I know, right?) But I love his reviews like no one else's. It's ten years in the life of someone who loves to read, so it's all familiar, but written by a humorous pro. It's funny that I've read all of these three books before at least once and there were still so many I not only hadn't read, but also so many I hadn't already put on The List.
Library copy
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,365 reviews68 followers
March 21, 2014
What a marvelous book for people who love to read! I've been a Hornby fan since I read "High Fidelity," years ago. (Hint: the John Cusack movie is good, but the book is infinitely more delicious.) But I had no idea he'd been writing a column in "The Believer" magazine called "Stuff I've Been Reading." Which, I've come to believe, is precisely what all book reviews should be: impressionistic, irregular, non-linear. You know, fun.

Hornby has been writing this column monthly for 10 years, with occasional breaks. Which means there are over 100 columns collected here. You can read a few at a time, or one (at bedtime), or share in long swaths of reading reflections. There are months in Hornby's life--when he's finishing a book, or getting married, say--when he reads maybe one book and other long stretches where he's voracious.

Best of all, he lists all the books he bought that month, as well as those he read. For people like me, this is just proof that buying books with the intention of reading them...sometime, or just because you need to own them, is a logical and necessary thing to do. He also writes about books he abandoned (sometimes finishing them months later) and--without specifying titles--books he loathes. Which are often big, blockbuster novels that "everyone" is reading.

Gradually, over 10 years, we come to know Hornby as both reader and writer--where he gets *his* best book recommendations, whose books (e.g. Dickens') he is surprised to love, what people confidently send him to read (books about autism, as his son is autistic) and whether he actually finds the book compelling.

Highly--very highly--recommended.
Profile Image for Lauren.
219 reviews46 followers
August 15, 2016
I have read this book--well, if you include its original form as the separate volumes The Polysyllabic Spree, Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, and More Baths, Less Talking--more times than even Nick Hornby would think is reasonable. But it's made up of columns, and every column is made up of funny, light, insightful bits of book discussion, which makes it easy to take in in bite-sized chunks over breakfast or in random dead spaces during the day. I don't have to explain myself to anyone! Hornby's collected Believer "Stuff I've Been Reading" columns are delightful.

Nick Hornby, as you'll know if you've read High Fidelity or Funny Girl (my two personal favorites), is a sharp, funny guy who loves his pop culture. In these columns, he writes not reviews but discursive discussions of the reading life--mini-reviews, sort of, but peppered with the kind of personal details you usually, as he points out, have to not mention, like whether or not his kids were distracting him by loudly listening to a single song from a TV show on repeat during the concluding pages of a novel or how distracted he gets by a book misidentifying Donovan as an Irish folksinger. If you read a lot, this kind of thing is almost irresistible, because it's so fundamentally recognizable. Books are part of the fabric of everyday life, and they get affected by everything else you're doing and thinking at least as much as they affect things in return.

Hornby and I don't have exactly the same tastes--in fact, on this reread, I was surprised to see how few of these books I've actually picked up over the years, though he's definitely responsible for the weirdly large number of literary biographies I've bought and not read yet--but he has good, enthusiastic, blessedly catholic tastes, and he zig-zags all around the literary map. Thrillers! Social histories! Biographies! Young adult novels! Short story collections! He writes candidly about how The Believer's policy against negative reviews (at least of living authors) shaped his writing--and, to be honest, you can always tell whenever he's damning something with faint praise--but also, and more interestingly, about how it shaped his reading. Basically, since he knew he couldn't bash something, he just--stopped picking up books he knew he wasn't going to like, and he gave himself permission to stop reading books he was hating. These columns, at their best, are a paen to the value and pleasure of reading purely for fun.

He also nails a few slivers of reading life that are either universal or at least deeply resonant with me. Sometimes this is a line--about Montaigne, Hornby says, "I knew only that he was a sixteenth-century essayist, and that he had therefore willfully chosen not to interest me"--we've all had that feeling about one artist or another--and sometimes it's a whole passage, like this one:

Earlier today I was in a bookstore, and I picked up a new book about the migration patterns of the peregrine falcon. For a moment, I ached to buy it—or rather, I ached to be the kind of person who would buy it, read it, and learn something from it. I mean, obviously I could have bought it, but I could also have taken the fifteen pounds from my pocket and eaten it, right in the middle of Borders, and there seemed just as much point in the latter course of action as the former.

As someone who once bought a mammoth collection of medieval Icelandic sagas under the apparent conviction that I would, overnight, somehow become someone who would plausibly read a collection of medieval Icelandic sagas, well, this spoke to me. I'm trying to be better. But Hornby perfectly captures the feeling you sometimes have in bookstores of reaching out to try on a different version of yourself. Ultimately, though, he knows himself, and it's that kind of wry self-awareness, coupled with a great and genuine love of art and entertainment, that makes his book the exact opposite of my Icelandic saga collection, which I have, alas, now sold to a secondhand bookshop so it would stop judging me.
Profile Image for Lea.
458 reviews72 followers
May 18, 2020
I gotta say, for the longest time I didn't care for Nick Hornby's "Stuff I've Been Reading" column. For one, our reading tastes are wildly different. We just don't have much in common in general, as I also don't share his obsession with football (the real kind, not American football) or obscure music.

So I think it was really just the boredom of these quarantine days which made me pick up this behemoth - a collection of his columns over several years. In the end, I even liked it. The thing about Hornby is that he is pretty funny, he's also really not pretentious. Those are two hugely important qualities that are capable of making me forgive almost anything. I certainly agree with Hornby on many subjects (not finishing books, the pretentiousness of current literary fiction, disliking short story collections, the disappointment of influential books, etc). And I got a lot of book recs out of it, even with our disparity of taste. So, there.
Profile Image for We Are All Mad Here.
503 reviews38 followers
July 14, 2019
Dear Mr. Hornby, if you are out there: I WOULD HAVE TOLD YOU ABOUT MYSTIC RIVER.

I loved this book. I feel like I should laugh more, and Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books helped me to make pretty good progress on that front. At one point my 10-year-old son said, "Mom, stop, what's so funny?" Secretly I thought - he'll never get this, really, this is such sophisticated humor - and it was over his objections I read him the part that was so funny. Spoiler alert: HE LAUGHED TOO.

If you are a person who loves books, you should read this one.
Profile Image for Amélie.
Author 6 books310 followers
September 15, 2017
Rassemblant les chroniques d'un lecteur généreux, éparpillé, perpétuellement dépassé par toutes les histoires qui dorment encore dans sa bibliothèque, Ten Years in the Tub est une grosse brique qui se lit mieux quand on prend le temps de l'égrainer tranquillement, morceau par morceau. Enthousiaste & pas snob pour une cenne, Nick Hornby dépogne la littérature de ses monumentalités & la ramène à ce qu'on souhaiterait toujours qu'elle soit : de bonnes histoires bien racontées -- peu importe comment on définit le bonnes & le bien. Au fil de ses chroniques, on finit par avoir l'impression de réfléchir avec lui, & d'arriver en même temps aux bouts d'idées parfaites qui les parsèment. (Genre, page 137 : What I've always loved about fiction is its ability to be smart about people who aren't themselves smart, or at least don't necessarily have the resources to describe their own emotional states.)

J'aurais pris moins d'apartés sur les sports d'équipe (c'est un cliché gros comme le bras, pour une fille, mais cibole que je trouve ça soporifique), mais c'est dur de lui en vouloir quand il pond des passages comme ceux-là :
Surely we all occasionally buy books because of a daydream we're having -- a little fantasy about the people we might turn into one day, when our lives are different, quieter, more introspective, and when all the urgent reading, whatever that might be, has been done. (p. 317)

Drôles, accessibles, d'une de ces intelligences qui ne se regarde pas trop aller, les chroniques d'Hornby m'auront donné le goût de lire des milliers d'affaires -- & même une chronique sociale éléphantesque de la Grande-Bretagne de l'après-guerre. C'est pas rien.
Profile Image for Teresa.
17 reviews27 followers
January 31, 2014
"Ten Years in the Tub" by Nick Hornby is inspirational! Hornby's clever, funny, easy tone makes you want to read practically every book he mentions, and makes you feel like he has taken you into his confidence. Suddenly it seems reasonable to think that I could write a blog about books. His easy tone, his natural humor, his taste and range all make it appear that reading and reviewing books is a snap! One just says what one is thinking and it will undoubtedly be brilliant. Or not. Anyway, read this book if you love books, and love reading and love Nick Hornby.
Profile Image for Meghan Burke.
Author 4 books13 followers
December 9, 2018
I loved everything about this book, even as I confess to skipping a few (but just a few!!) chapters/months whose lists didn’t grab me for no other reason than that I’d been reading it too long. I’m not sure it’s the kind of book one would read singularly anyway. It was the perfect sand to fill around other (mostly great) books I also read during these 6 weeks. Bought a copy for a friend, since the copy I read was borrowed.
788 reviews9 followers
January 31, 2019
What a delight this book was. I love Nick Hornby as an author anyway and coupled with entertaining and detailed book reviews which are a great guide to new authors and books, this collection of reviews is close to my reading heaven. It has inspired me to subscribe to "The Believer".
Profile Image for Mycala.
520 reviews
June 23, 2017
Every so often when I was at the library with my mom, she'd yank this off the shelf and hand it to me. I'd nod and smile... finally the third time I decided there must be a reason it kept talking to her. I do love Nick Hornby and I love reading, so how could I go wrong? Well, exactly. As anticipated, it's hilarious, and one of those books I can dive into again later.

Jenny (Reading Envy) has a shelf about books on books. I can see, especially this year when I've already read so many, that I'm probably going to have to do that too. :-)
204 reviews5 followers
February 3, 2016
This was the first book I've read by Nick Hornby, but I was so delighted by his style, insights, and humor that I am already reading a second and will continue to look for his work. I have to confess that I did not quite finish this collection of essays because I had reached my renewal limit at the library, but I know I can return to this wonderful volume later to finish up the last couple of years of essays which I missed. My enjoyment did not lessen because I had to allow another reader access before I was finished steeping in this tub of warm prose myself.

This book is a collection of ten years' worth of monthly columns Hornby wrote about books for an American literary journal (he is British, by the way). I do love essays in general, but what I liked most (other than the 3 qualities mentioned above) about these was that they weren't easily categorized. They were about books, yes -- but not just about books. They were marginally review-like, but not reviews, either. They gave me enough information about a huge variety of authors and books so that I could easily fill my "to read" list with titles to last me the rest of this life and at least partway into the next, but they also were little trips into the life and mind of Hornby, himself, which I particularly enjoyed. Perhaps the most affirming thing about this essay collection was that the "Books Purchased" for the month and the "Books Read" for the month never matched -- and the "purchased" volumes almost always exceeded the number of "read" books. Those of us who love book and reading cannot control our purchase life and so often find that our "real" life does, indeed, control our reading life to some extent. I feel far less pressure and guilt now about those unread volumes waiting on my own shelves while I go off to the book store or library in search of others.

If you love books, enjoy essays, and like to laugh, this collection is worth a try. You don't have to read all of the essays, or even read them in order (although you might miss a reference or two if you skip around), and if, like me, you aren't already familiar with Hornby, dipping into this volume would be a great way to try him on for size.
Profile Image for Gavin Breeden.
352 reviews68 followers
July 5, 2016
I've been in a reading slump for over a year now. I've started a lot of books but only finished a handful in the last 18 months. There are probably a lot of reasons (both professional and personal) to account for this but, ultimately, I'd just didn't have that reading itch. What could I do to revive my once great passion for pleasure reading?

Well, I remembered reading Nick Hornby's brilliant column "Stuff I've Been Reading" in The Believer magazine back in 2012 and getting some good recommendations from it. So on a recent trip to my local library when I saw this collection which includes ten years of those columns I thought this might do the trick. And it did.

It is an absolute joy to read about the books Nick Hornby bought and read each month. It helps that he reads prolifically and widely: biographies, novels, poems, letters, nonfiction, and just about any other type of literature you can think of are tackled by Hornby over the ten years that this book covers (there's even a big YA reading jag in the middle there). The Believer has a policy about negative reviews so Hornby mostly talks about books that moved and delighted him. If you want to be reminded of how fun and enjoyable reading can be, Hornby is an excellent teacher.

But the really good stuff here is when he reflects on what our reading says about us (the books we buy often represent the type of person we want to be, he argues, while the books we actually read shape us into the people we really are) and how one book often leads to another book in an unexpected way. Hornby's humor, knowledge of writing, and conversational style make this book a real pleasure to read. I got a bunch of great book recommendations from it as well!

The best compliment I can give this book is that it made me want to read for pleasure again. I look forward to dipping back into it when my next reading slump comes, which I hope won't be for a while.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
557 reviews5 followers
March 1, 2014
It's a testament to how much I love Nick Hornby that I was thrilled to get this book - even after I realized that the first 200 or so pages are reproduced from two previous collections which I already own. The essays, originally published in The Believer, begin with lists of "books bought" and "books read," and though I definitely added a few entries to my own "to read" list, the collection is more than that. It's just so comforting to know that there are so many good books, and that smart, funny, interesting people are reading them. And that even if quit my job to read full-time I couldn't possibly read them all. Heaven.
Profile Image for Rachel.
317 reviews109 followers
December 9, 2014
Welp, there's a reason Nick Hornby is the most read author on my shelves according to Goodreads. Sadly, I have pretty much given up on his fiction but I love love love the essays he writes called Stuff I've Been Reading for the magazine The Believer. I had already read some of the essays before in his other collections but they were still good on rereading. And it was fun seeing the books on my TBR list and remembering that they got there due to Nick Hornby. I wish he would write more of these. Like, instead of a monthly essay he could do a weekly one, or a daily blog! I would eat it up with a spoon.
Profile Image for Margaret Heller.
Author 2 books35 followers
June 4, 2015
This is ten years of collected book reviews by Nick Hornby, and while I've read all the individual volumes I really appreciated getting to read them again in this giant compendium. His way of reading and talking about books really speaks to me, and as one of the blurbs on the cover says, this is a book that will make you excited about reading more books. And it did! I am maybe even going to break out of my non-fiction rut and actually read some serious fiction. Maybe even Charles Dickens.
593 reviews
July 16, 2019
Re-read 7/15/19
Re-read 4/26/18
Re-read 5/22/16
Re-read 3/1/15

Fantastic. I prefer Hornby's columns over his fiction, but I will read anything he writes. And I just love his ideas on reading, art, and creativity. A few essays were repeats since I recently read More Baths, Less Talking. However, my only complaint with this book was that it had to end. 3/3/14
Profile Image for Rebekah Franklin.
158 reviews2 followers
January 2, 2014
Better as a reference of interesting things to read. I read it in about a week, which was more like eating too many cookies at once. It was a 10 year stroll in the reading mind of Nick Hornby. Moderation! Pace yorselves! Interesting to see how many of the books were made into movies. If I were more disciplined I might make graphs and charts, but it is time to step away from the cookie jar.
Profile Image for Leslie.
798 reviews62 followers
July 13, 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Nick Hornby. Although our reading interests and tastes are not identical (I like history and old novels way, way more than he does, and I have no interest whatsoever in sport), they overlap a lot (domestic fiction, biography, film and music history), and our reading lives are similarly eclectic and prone to distraction (I envy people who can be very disciplined and focussed in their reading lives [and in the rest of their lives, for that matter], but I often read books back to back that are wildly unlike, and I regularly follow paths of interest and whim in my reading). Like Hornby, I also buy far more books than I can possibly read, and I love his defence of that practice. I'm going to adapt it to my purposes in future when people sensibly but wrongly point out that I have enough books already so why buy more until I've read them all. Although some of his running jokes wear a little thin after a while (more in this format than they did when sprinkled across more than a decade of column-writing, I expect), and I occasionally found his mateyness a bit annoying, overall I liked his voice and liked following the vagaries of his reading life. I do wish he hadn't been under a requirement to avoid all negative comment by the magazine in which these columns were originally published; thinking about why certain books don't work for you is as useful and interesting as figuring out why others do. All readers sometimes dislike or can't connect to books they read, and hiding these disappointments and frustrations distorted the reality of his life as a reader.
Profile Image for Sudeepa Nair.
Author 8 books13 followers
April 5, 2021
This book is meant for readers, reviewers, and writers. It is a collection of Nick Hornby’s columns for the Believer magazine, where he writes about the books that he bought and read (in separate lists) every month. Along with candid book reviews, Hornby shares insights into his reading habits, writing practices, and other hobbies like watching sports.

The book is funny and filled with gems like this one - “I can’t hope or imagine that you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did. Much of it will be incomprehensible to you, and in any case, you’re not me.”

The challenge with this book is to understand the context, as some of the observations on people and happenings are specific to Britain. Also, I realised that I haven’t read ninety-nine percent of the books mentioned by Hornby. It put me under a lot of pressure when I began reading, and I was ready to note the books down into my TBR. However, I soon realised that it was futile and resigned to an overwhelming and humbling account of a writer’s reading journey.
Profile Image for Neil.
Author 2 books45 followers
January 24, 2018
Such a fantastic book! If you don't finish this with a list of titles to seek out, something is not right with you. Hornby is so good at writing about popular culture, whether it be soccer, or music, or here, books. There's a wonderful ongoing razzing of the policies at The Believer, the magazine (that most of us probably haven't read) where these essays were originally published. Perhaps just a tiny bit long for reading in one fell swoop, I would recommend reading three or four columns, then putting it aside and coming back for more.
Profile Image for Ryan Fohl.
562 reviews10 followers
September 27, 2019
A lovely read. You would think something so specific and indulgent, one person’s reading life, could be a slog but Nick Hornsby is such a great writer and every entry has effective humor. Insights into reading or art abound. This has improved my reading life and pointed me toward some new books. Oh just because I read this don’t presume I’m going to read all of your book reviews Goodreads community.

What I learned: I had to look a lot of new words up in the dictionary. Words like “oast house” a building for drying hops. Celine Dion is very popular in Jamaica.
56 reviews1 follower
April 7, 2017
This book was a tough read for me. About halfway through, I decided I would either stop reading it altogether or just read about the books that interested me. It was tedious at times, and just didn't peak my interest. Many of the books on his list were over my head making me feel a bit inept. It's a book that's not for everybody , but I did get a long list of books to add to by "want to read" list. Which was what I was after in the first place.
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912 reviews6 followers
March 26, 2023

I first started reading Nick Hornby's column in the Believer for the same reason I read and loved this book, namely I enjoy Hornbys' books and writing style, I love books and I love hearing about books I have not read yet.

I had a blank notepad in the book so each time he'd mention a book I wanted to later read I'd write down the info.
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