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How to Be Good

3.21  ·  Rating details ·  52,211 ratings  ·  2,922 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, 305 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by Droemersche Verlagsanstalt Th. Knaur Nachf., GmbH & Co. (first published March 2001)
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Average rating 3.21  · 
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 ·  52,211 ratings  ·  2,922 reviews


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Libby
Apr 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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 23, 2008 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
Jeff
May 06, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Daniel Clausen
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2018
A Nick Hornby book through and through -- whatever that means to you!

"A Long Way Down" is still my favorite. "About a Boy" is still my second favorite. And this book would bring up the back since I've only read three Hornby books. Even if it's lesser than these other two books, it still has that Hornby charm.

What is the Hornby charm? Take an interesting situation (an affair by a self-defined "good person"), add some eccentric details and characters (a faith healer named DJ FeelGood), frustrate
...more
[Shai] Bibliophage
I did enjoy some parts of this novel but others are quite inscrutable. I would try to read another book of Hornby, maybe High Fidelity or About A Boy, and let's see if he will persuade me to add him on my favorite authors.
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
Zaki
Nov 05, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
Sara
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Eddie Owens
Mar 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ivan
May 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
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.
...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
Mar 26, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Amy Wilder
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Scott Rhee
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Nick Hornby tackles suburbia, white liberalism, marriage, and life according to the Gospels in a secular world in his excellent book "How to Be Good". While it's been a few years since I read this, the book resonated with me. I'm pretty sure, at the time, I was re-evaluating my status as a devout Christian, and the question of how to be good in a world that, occasionally, favored the bad was foremost on my mind. When I read this I had just entered my 30s, and my 20s were rough. I had spent a lot ...more
Jillian
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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
Sarah
Jul 26, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z2015, fiction
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
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
Adrianne Mathiowetz
Well-written, compelling, blah blah blah. I'm sick of books about affairs and divorce.
Kaya
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

“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.”

This book is drastically different from Hornby’s other works. There is still dark humor, but family dilemma and midlife crisis hold the center of the plot. Honestly, this could be even my favorite book by Hornby because of the issues that it deals with. The author wants to tell us nothing is black and white a
...more
Mike
Nov 20, 2009 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
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' is Katie Carr
...more
Norman Revill
Aug 27, 2013 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
Anna (Bananas)
Oct 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
Completely annoying MCs. I'm surprised I made it through. Disappointed because I like the author.
Kathi
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book embodies the term "First-world problems". While it raises some interesting questions, and supplies ultimately inadequate answers to them, this is definitely a book which could only be written by someone from a privileged perspective.

Katie is a thoroughly modern woman. She supports her nuclear family as a physician. Her husband, David, is a stay-at-home companion who cooks and tends the kids and half-heartedly writes. He is cranky and angry (a familiar state for many men in today's mar
...more
Sue
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Tony
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Whilst I admit that there are some shrewdly observed elements of a fractured relationship (unfortunately writing from experience), this is not a pleasant read at all. It begins as it means to go on... and on... and on...

I had enough of a struggle making sense of my own disaster without looking on in Peeping Tom fashion at someone else's
john Adams
Jan 28, 2010 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
Emma
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
I don't think it's a great sign when you put down a book after you've finished it and feel completely and utterly relieved that it's finally over. Forget about that final line and that fact that I didn't care enough (or am obviously not clever enough) to deduce any meaning from the sudden, jarring throat punch of a ending sentance.

Nick Hornby in undeniably a brilliant writer and I have enjoyed many of his books. In this he shows many of those positive qualities in his wit, his intelligence, his
...more
Zak Patten
May 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
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7,923 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 Acade ...more

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