Non-Fiction/Essays, 2008 (pieces originally published in the Believer magazine between August 2006 and September 2008)
Believer Books, softcover, 111 p.
Two years of reading begat by more reading, presented in easily digestible, utterly hysterical monthly installments.I wish I could write book reviews like Nick Hornby! I fully enjoyed the two previous collections of his columns for the Believer magazine – The Polysyllabic Spree and Housekeeping vs. The Dirt - so I was very much looking forward to Shakespeare Wrote for Money. And it was just as funny, and witty, and sarcastic, and just so wonderfully bookish.
This is the final collection of Nick Hornby’s monthly column for the Believer magazine about the books he’s bought and the books he’s read.
From Sarah Vowell's Introduction:I didn’t actually jot down that many titles this time, but that’s because a lot of the ones I want to read but haven’t yet done so are already in my TBR piles. Reading his thoughts on them though only made me want to read them more. Especially amusing to read about this time around was his discovery of, and reaction to, YA fiction.
The fact that his Books Bought list is so often so different from his Books Read list makes his portrait of a real reader the most accurate I have ever seen. The hope! The guilt! The quest for shelving!
I see now that dismissing YA books because you’re not a young adult is a little bit like refusing to watch thrillers on the grounds that you’re not a policeman or dangerous criminal, and as a consequence, I’ve discovered a previously ignored room at the back of the bookstore that’s filled with masterpieces I’ve never heard of, the YA equivalents of The Maltese Falcon or Strangers on a Train. Weirdly, then, reading YA stuff now is a little like being a young adult back then: is this Vonnegut guy any good? What about Albert Camus? Anyone ever heard of him? The world suddenly seems a larger place.But even the books that I’m probably not all that interested in, I still enjoyed reading about. Maybe it’s the sign of a hopeless book addict, but I think you’d agree, it’s just so FUN to read about other people’s reading experiences, especially when they’re written about so amusingly. The same could easily be said about book blogs. There’s a reason we’re all drowning in our feed readers.
I’m sad that he’s stopped writing the column and that this is the last collection, but as for his other books, since I’ve only read About a Boy, I suppose that means I still have some good reading to look forward to.
The annoying thing about reading is that you can never get the job done. The other day I was in a bookstore flicking through a book called something like 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (and without naming names, you should be aware that the task set by the title is by definition impossible, because at least four hundred of the books suggested would kill you anyway), but reading begets reading – that’s sort of the point of it, surely? – and anybody who never deviates from a set list of books is intellectually dead anyway. (p. 49)Nick Hornby's blog
Nick Hornby's official website
First sentence: (August 2006) It’s been an unsettling couple of months.
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My Rating: 4/5
(#44 for 2009, Non-Fiction Five Challenge)
Also reviewed at:
things mean a lot
Stainless Steel Droppings
an adventure in reading
If you've reviewed this title too, let me know and I'll link to it here.