Shakespeare Wrote for Money

Monday, March 9, 2015

Shakespeare Wrote for Money
by Nick Hornby

For years Nick Hornby (author of High Fidelity) has written a column for Believer Magazine about the books he is currently reading. In the hands of another author the column could have been condescending or intimidating, but Hornby’s casual style and honest approach made it fun.

This isn’t my favorite collection of the columns. I think he comes off as a bit more jaded and frustrated with the editorial staff at Believer here. But there are still some wonderful gems about his love of reading. I also discovered a few books that I immediately added to my TBR. Hornby and I don’t have the same taste in books, but at this point I’m pretty sure I know where our tastes overlap.

Hornby has always been a vocal advocate for reading being fun, not work. That enthusiasm comes through in his writing and I can’t help feeling a bit more passionate about it myself after reading one of his columns.  

“I now see 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 a 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.” 

Each chapter represents one month’s column and begins with a list of “Books Bought” and “Books Read” that month. This collection contains his first “What are you watching” column too. It was a fun deviation from the norm to read about shows or movies he was enjoying. 

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re new to these columns I would recommend starting with The Polysyllabic Spree. It’s the first collection and my personal favorite. Next up is Housekeeping vs. the Dirt. If you already love those then this one is a must for you!

“Yes, it’s the job of artists to force us to stare at the horror until we are on the verge of passing out. But it’s also the job of artists to offer warmth and hope and maybe even an escape from lives that can occasionally seem unendurably drab.” 

“There have always been relentless and empty-headed self-promoters, although in the good old days we used to ignore them, rather than give them their own reality show.” 

“Maybe the best thing to do with favorite films and books is to leave them be: to achieve such an exalted position means that they entered your life at exactly the right time, and precisely the right place, and those conditions can never be re-created."


Anonymous said...

I love these books of Hornby's. Or i guess they are actually columns, but i always read them in book form. He comes up with some great suggestions.

Jeanne said...

Hornby is living the book blogger dream--he writes about what he's reading, and enough people want to read it that they will buy the columns in book form!

Bybee said...

I like them all and also More Baths, Less Talking. That was fun.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

52booksorbust - He really does. I love that way he looks at reading.

Jeanne - It's so true. I think that's probably half the appeal, a dream job.

Susan - Oh good, I haven't read that one yet!