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31 Songs

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  11,979 ratings  ·  529 reviews
Librarian's note: See alternate cover edition of ISBN 0141013400 here.

The personal essays in Nick Hornby's Songbook pop off the page with the immediacy and passion of an artfully arranged mix-tape. But then, who better to riff on 31 of his favorite songs than the author of that literary music-lover's delight, High Fidelity?

"And mostly all I have to say about these songs i

...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 28th 2003 by Penguin (first published 2003)
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Lynx
Nick Hornby contemplates the souls connection to music, and how it shapes our lives and culture while sharing with us 31 of his own favourite tunes and his personal connection to them. Hornby's essays, as with all his novels, are beautifully written with equal parts humour and insight and even if you’re unfamiliar with the song in that chapter, completely relatable.

I made a point to listen to every song while reading each chapter which added to my enjoyment as well as introduced me to some gems
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David
Sep 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the original hardcover edition is the one to get. it's all made up nice to resemble a mix tape you made back in high school and handed, sweaty palm and all, to the girl you were madly in love with. she was all long brown hair and old striped izod shirts that were hand-me-downs from her older brother or father. and afterwards. days later. you sat on a guardrail in a parking lot and talked about the songs. and the sun was setting over telephone wires on beat-up cars and still. it was a perfect lan ...more
Alison
Jun 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: music lovers, Hornby lovers (is there a difference?)
A couple of times a year I make myself a tape to play in the car, a tape full of all the new songs I've loved over the previous few months, and every time I finish one I can't believe they'll be another. Yet there always is, and I can't wait for the next one; you need only a few hundred more things like that, and you've got a life worth living.

I love Nick Hornby. I love his voice. And I love that he's so neurotically obsessive about the things that he loves.

Here he dissects 31 of his favorite s
...more
Núria
Sep 22, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: everybody who loves music
Tal como su título ya da a entender, '31 canciones' se trata de una disección de 31 canciones que por diversos motivos han impactado y llegado al autor. No importa que la lista que ha escogido Hornby no tenga ningún parecido con la que hubiéramos escogido nosotros, ni que ni siquiera hayamos oído las canciones de las que habla, porque consigue transmitir perfectamente el amor que siente por estas canciones en concreto, y por la música en general, con un estilo que mezcla crítica musical, ensayo ...more
John
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“You could, if you were perverse, argue that you’ll never hear England by listening to English pop music. The Beatles and the Stones were, in their formative years, American cover bands that sang with American accents; the Sex Pistols were The Stooges with bad teeth and a canny manager, and Bowie was an art-school version of Jackson Browne until he saw the New York Dolls.”
So begins Nick Hornby’s chapter on why England’s national anthem should change (shouldn’t they all?) from “God Save the Quee
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Dynamopiev
Jun 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
Absolute shit! Some terrible, terrible song choices - Nelly Furtado!! It's embarrasing! Like hearing your dad telling you he watched the fratellis on Jools Holland and thought they were great! Awful, awful book!
Nickyty
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, music
(Reposting an old review)


A few pages into book brought me to the observation. It’s not the typical Nick Hornby piece. Don’t expect to find yourself in the psyche of some middle-aged guy coming to terms with his personal foibles and neuroses. The book is a collection of essays on selected songs that Hornby relates to certain moments in his life – his personal soundtrack so to speak.

Granted, the topic is boring or, at the very least, uninspiring. His song selection is quite esoteric. Only two of
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Lavinia
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, in-en, non-fiction
I was playing Queen for my daughter today, thinking it's 24 years since I first consciously listened to their music and irremediably fell in love with them (read Freddie, mostly) and I just realized I didn't say a word about this little lovely book.

"Sometimes, very occasionally, songs and books and films and pictures express who you are, perfectly. And they don’t do this in words or images, necessarily; the connection is a lot less direct and more complicated than that"

This quote really sums up
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Zac
Jun 16, 2008 rated it liked it
What could perhaps described as autobiographical music criticism. Anyone who knows me knows I frequently cite the often miss attributed quote "writing about music is like dancing about architecture" (Costello? Monk? Mingus? Kant?) so this book is kinda like that. Plus, Hornby frequently comes across as an old, liberal fart, especially in his descriptions of 21st century pop music and hip hop BUT HE KNOWS HES AN OLD LIBERAL FART AND HE REALLY LOVES Nelly Furtado so that sort of makes it OK doesn' ...more
Sarah
Aug 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wavered between giving this book three or four stars, but decided on three because of several essays in the middle that I didn't find particularly interesting and could have done without. In general, these essays provide an insightful look at music in general, how it plays a part in our lives and its impact on culture.

Because the essays are written by Nick Hornby, they are often quite funny, and almost always well-crafted. I love his general lack of pretension about his music tastes, and that
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Kitty-Wu
Feb 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Bueno, no es una novela, ni un ensayo, ni una crítica musical (como se esfuerza en recordarnos el autor constantemente).... es una mirada sobre 31 canciones que de alguna manera u otra han calado en Hornby, bien sentimentalmente, bien por otros motivos más "musicales". No puedo evitarlo, Hornby me cae bien, me gusta como escribe, y es un fan de la música, como yo, aunque no tenga su nivel de conocimientos seguramente... pero el libro destila pasión y eso es lo que me atrapa, aunque no compartamo ...more
Marla
Nick Hornby is a good writer and it is obvious with this book. But this was a really boring book. As I was reading about songs I didn't know or could care about I wondered how this book even got made and who would really buy it. I fill like it was something he just did to fulfill an obligation. I'm glad I could read it in a day.

I won this book on Goodreads and thank the publisher for my copy.
Todd
Nov 01, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
turns out i don't give a shit what nick hornby's favorite songs are.
Redfox5
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, non-fiction
When I put this on my wishlist, I thought it was a novel. I just read a couple of Hornby's books and decided I wanted to read them all. I was a little disappointed when I discovered it was just him talking about 31 songs he liked, especially when I looked at the list of songs and either don't know or don't like any of them.

But this isn't really about those particular songs. This is a musical journey that pretty much everyone can relate to. Even though the songs are different, they way he's gone
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Roger
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Songbook was going to be (I thought) my introduction to Nick Hornby. Hornby is, of course, the author of High Fidelity and About a Boy. I was looking forward to seeing Hornby's legendary mordant wit on display. To a certain extent that actually happened in Songbook, which is a collection of essays on music, specifically the music the author loves most-pop music. I cannot disparage the subject matter, but the book itself became a painful slog I only finished through sheer stubbornness. I quit eve ...more
Hannah Polley
Jun 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nick-hornby, music
It is not really this book’s fault that I hated it because it really is not my thing. However, I like to give every book that comes my way a chance so I gave it a go.

This is a book about Nick Hornby’s favourite songs. My problems were that I don’t know who Nick Hornby is, I don’t care what he thinks about certain songs, and we clearly have different tastes in music.

I tried to read it carefully but after the first few songs, I just skimmed through it.

Not for me at all.
José Alvear
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este es un libro, para mí, importante. Habla y reflexiona de canciones de rock y música popular. Y lo hace relajado, sin pontificar y nombrando muchos grupos y músicos que no conozco (otros que sí). ¿Qué mejor?
Butterfly
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, music
This book inspires me to discover and get inspired by good music (again).

Now I need to skim it again from cover to cover while looking up every single song I don't know on YouTube.
GloriaGloom
Alcuni giorni fa ho ricevuto un bellissimo regalo: un cuscino poggiatesta per la vasca da bagno. Oggetto che desideravo da tanto tempo. E’ la sua anima arrogante e inutile travestita da manufatto con finalità d’uso ad attirarmi. Esattamente come le canzoni . La prima volta che presi coscienza dell’esistenza di un simile oggetto fu in un cinema, secoli fa, incauto spettatore di Nightmare e l’unico ricordo che ho di quel film è una scena, assai secondaria, in cui una mamma raccomanda al figlio (o ...more
Arsnoctis
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arsrc16, non-fiction
Un percorso originale tra 31 delle canzoni che hanno fatto di questo autore l'individuo che era nel periodo in cui scrisse questo libercolo -2003, circa-. Lettura decisamente consigliata a chi stia cercando di ritrovare la propria voce nelle canzoni altrui, a chi stia inseguendo lo swing perduto, a chi stia imparando a conoscere se stesso...e anche a tutti gli altri.

Se la musica non avesse avuto un impatto così profondo nella mia vita, mi sarei attenuta alle canoniche 3 stelle del "mi è piaciuto
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Laura
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandonados
Haciendo bandera del abandono de aquellos libros que no tenemos ganas de leer, pienso que en la adolescencia me hubiese enganchado con el juego de escuchar y conocer cada una de las canciones elegidas por Hornby, que me cae muy simpático por haber visto adaptaciones como High fidelity o About a boy, para luego sumergirme en la lectura de estos artículos.
En esos años de leer con avidez suplementos jóvenes y revistas como Los inrockuptibles o la Rolling Stone, este libro hubiese encajado a la per
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julieta
But sometimes, very occasionally, songs and books and
films and pictures express who you are, perfectly.


I might not have the same music taste as Nick Hornby (I mostly related to the references to Sex Pistols, The Clash and Patti Smith) but we feel and are driven by our love for it which is exactly what this book is about.
Although, I do feel it got dragged by the end of it and the songs didn't feel as meaningful as the first ones and could've done without.
Beatriz
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: casual-reads
The other day I read a rather unfair review of Somerset Maugham's "The Razor's Edge" on The Atlantic, about how he was among the best of second-rate writers, or something like that. In explaining her position, the writer refered to a moment in the book where a character's library is used as a way of describing him, which is apparently lazy. This observation was weird for me, not only because the character in question was Elliot Templeton, who at the time of this "description" had already been ps ...more
Jenn
Music is such a personal experience that, in the course of writing about 31 songs, one is bound to alienate some and endear oneself to others, possibly at the same time. I think that's why I found it difficult to rate this book. I was both delighted by it and disappointed with it. Some lines were illuminating and others made me laugh out loud. But I found large sections irrelevant and actually skipped a lot of it. The pace felt schizophrenic and overwhelming, as he pulled in random tidbits from ...more
Tuğba Yılmaz
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Müzik üzerine okumayı, izlemeyi hep sevdim. Uzun sayılmayacak ömrümün önemli bir kısmı bunu yapmakla geçti bile diyebilirim. Nick Hornby’den lisede High Fidelity’yi ilk izlediğimde haberdar olmuştum (Mağaradan çıkışımı tebrik ettiğim bir an daha). Kitabını henüz okumamış olsam da, High Fidelity en sevdiğim filmlerden biri hâlâ. Çok geç kalarak, müziğe bakışımızın çok benzeştiğini tahmin ettiğim Nick H.’yi okumaya 31 Şarkı’sıyla başlamaya karar verdim, çok da isabetli oldu. Beni Teenage Fanclub v ...more
Farbror the Guru
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Om man gillar Hornby och popmusik så är den här boken som en längre lättsam och kreativ pratstund efter en dekadent pizzalunch med två stora öl på ett sunkhak

Ofta välformulerat och inspirerande. Läsvärd.
Lionel Valdellon
Jan 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rummaging through the music section of my library one day, I found Songbook by Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity and About A Boy, and immediately brought it home. There’s nothing better than coming across someone who enjoys music and can write about it with skill and verve.

Songbook is basically a collection of reflections on 31 songs, not his all-time “best of” list, but rather, songs which he’s listened to over and over again and which he wanted to write something about. Thus he has essays o
...more
Meghan Sochocki
"A couple of times a year I make myself a mix to play in the car, full of all the new songs I've loved over the previous few months, and every time I finish one I can't believe that they'll be another. Yet there always is, and I can't wait for the next one; you need only a few hundred more things like that, and you've got a life worth living."

I would classify this short book as part memoir, part music criticism, and part pop-culture manifesto. English novelist/essayist Nick Hornby dissects 30 po
...more
Brayden
Feb 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a Nick Hornby fan ever since I read High Fidelity and was blown away by what I consider to be one of the best "pop" novels ever written. But ever since reading High Fidelity, I've felt let down by his work. It's not that the other novels aren't enjoyable, but they don't emanate the same kind of raw honesty and personal meaning that High Fidelity did for me. There was something about that book that just seems very true to me.

That said, this is best book I've read by him since High Fidel
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Kyla
Dec 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first introduction to Nick Hornby, and now that I've found an author who shares my feelings and taste in music, I'm completely willing--even more willing than I might be for a writer who's "only" as great as Hornby--to explore the novels he's written. For one, he's hilarious. I laughed and laughed deeply at his jokes (especially those regarding his Billboard exploration and songs to have sex to). And secondly, he has a writing style that's both candid and eloquent, serviceably invisi ...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
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“I love the relationship that anyone has with music ... because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. ... It's the best part of us probably ...” 554 likes
“Sarcasm and compassion are two of the qualities that make life on Earth tolerable.” 505 likes
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