Housekeeping vs. the Dirt and A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Housekeeping vs. the Dirt
by Nick Hornby

Hornby’s column may have switched magazines since the collection published in The Polysyllabic Spree, but it retained its acid wit. This edition contains 14 monthly columns published in The Believer, chronicling the author’s book purchases and what he’s read.

Along the way I found a couple books I want to read, but mainly I just enjoyed his writing. I love the sections where he talks about wanting reading to be a joy, not a chore. He gives such a refreshingly honest look at reading. He reads what he wants. He knows he isn’t always reading the “best” books, but he’d rather read something he enjoys.

I think I tend to read books I think I “should” read, but I also balance that with books I want to read. I’ve also found that I often end up loving the “should read” books more than the others. I think the important thing is just to keep reading no matter what.

BOTTOM LINE: Start with The Polysyllabic Spree and enjoy Hornby’s snarky observations.

"If I felt that mood, morale, concentration levels, weather, or family history had affected my relationship with a book, I could and would say so."

"We often read books that we think we ought to read, or that we think we ought to have read, or that other people think we should read."

"One of the problem, it seems to me, is that we have got it into our heads that books should be hard work, and that unless they're hard work, they're not doing us any good."

"If reading books is to survive as a leisure activity - and there are statistics which show that this is by no means assured - then we have to promote the joys of reading rather than the (dubious) benefits."
A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge
by Josh Neufeld

This beautiful graphic novel tells the true story of a few Hurricane Katrina survivors and the obstacles they faced.   

I loved that Neufeld told the specific stories of five individuals who lived in New Orleans, instead of giving a wide lens view of the catastrophe. Readers are able to see what happened through the eyes of those that experienced it. It reminded me in many ways of Dave Egger’s book Zeitoun, which covers the same event.

I hadn’t thought about the people who evacuated the city, but lost all of their belongings. They other books and articles I’ve read tended to focus on those who stayed, but the others still experienced a huge tragedy. They had to watch news stories of their homes and treasured possessions being destroyed. They’re lives were washed away while they struggled to find a temporary place to stay in another city.

I also think people often assume those who stayed made a selfish or stupid decision. Why would you stay if there was a mandatory evacuation and you knew what was coming? It’s easy to forget that many of those people had no where to go and might not have even had enough money for gas to leave the city.

BOTTOM LINE: I think many of us know the general story of the Katrina, but this novel delves deeper into individuals’ experiences. I think it will be even more valuable for future generations that weren’t alive when it happened. 


Rob said...

Just finishing up The Polysyllabic Spree right now and loving it. Looking forward to moving on to the other two collections!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Rob - Enjoy! They are all so fun. I can't wait to read the latest one.

Kat @ NoPageLeftBehind said...

I've always meant to read The Polysyllabic's always fun to read other people's opinions on books and reading. Plus, I figured there are probably some good recommendations to add to the TBR :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kat - It's a fun one. Hornby has a great conversational tone in his nonfiction writing.

Jenners said...

Both of these sound like ones I need to read. I still have the Polysyllabic Spree on my list from when you wrote about it previously.

Kailana said...

I want to reread all of the Hornby collections and then read the new one. Must get on that!