Tag Archives: Nick Hornby

Juliet, Naked- Nick Hornby


Synopsis (from amazon)

Annie lives in a dull town on England’s bleak east coast and is in a relationship with Duncan which mirrors the place; Tucker was once a brilliant songwriter and performer, who’s gone into seclusion in rural America – or at least that’s what his fans think. Duncan is obsessed with Tucker’s work, to the point of derangement, and when Annie dares to go public on her dislike of his latest album, there are quite unexpected, life-changing consequences for all three.

Review

Wow it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book this quickly, took me just over a day. I’m not convinced it’s all down to the book, I was phoneless at the time (ok that’s not quite true, I had the boyfriend’s old iphone which is so out of date that apps just aren’t compatible with it) so there were less distractions.

Part of it was the book though. Hornby is very readable, and the story was engaging. It had a bit of a High Fidelity feel about it, although I wouldn’t say it’s up to the same level.

Part of what I liked but also sort of disliked was that the characters were rather unlikeable. I suppose that makes them more real, which is good, but it did mean I didn’t feel that much of a connection with them.

The ending sort of fizzled out too which was disappointing but maybe true to life.

4/5

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Paperback (£8.99)

Kindle (£3.99)

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31 Songs- Nick Hornby


31 Songs is also known as Songbook.

I read this book as part of The Rory List

Synopsis (from amazon)

31 Songs is best-selling author Nicky Hornby’s ultimate desert island disks

Through thirty-one songs that he either loves or has loved, Nick Hornby tells us what music means to his life. These personal and passionate pieces – refreshingly free of pretension – are a celebration of the joy that certain songs have given him. Together with additional writings on music from his column in the new Yorker – seen in the UK for the first time – 31 Songs is for Hornby what many of us have always wanted: a soundtrack to accompany life.

Review

31 Songs is not really a book of music criticism. It’s an ode to music. Nick Hornby talks about music the way one might talk about a beloved friend. He focuses specifically on 31 Songs (plus 14 albums, and with a quick mention of the top ten albums when he was writing). They are not neccersarily his favourite songs but they are songs which he has played obsessively at one point or another. Sometimes they are songs which he connects with memories, and that’s part of what makes them special. Sometimes he talks about how much he loves the lyrics, or the music.

The songs do tend to be in a similar vein, with a couple which break the trend- songs like I’m Like a Bird. Sometimes he really made me want to listen to the songs- which were often ones which I wasn’t familiar with. The Beatles- Rain I still want to listen to, but it’s not on Spotify.

Actually I think I prefer Nick Hornby’s non-fiction to his stories (although I’ve enjoyed them too). There is a certain amount of passion in it, although it’s interesting to see how some of the music he loves links to some of his novels- especially (as would be expected) High Fidelity.

Probably the main thing which I’d say negative about this book is that it is a bit dated. There are a couple of extra sections which update it, but they are still a little out of date. There is a discussion of the top 10 albums in August 2001- but that’s a good 13 years out of date (wow that makes me feel old- I remember most of those albums), but it’s generally negative, so the same love for music doesn’t come through. Then there’s a list of favourite songs from 2000-2010, but it’s just a list, no discussion.

I tried to listen to the songs on Spotify. Unfortunately there were some songs missing, however if you’re interested you can have a listen to what is there.

 

Oh almost forgot, I bought this book in Shakespeare and Company!

4/5

20140518_004530Buy it:

Paperback (£6.20)

Kindle (£3.41)

Other reviews:

Nose in a Book

Did I miss your review? Post me a link in comments and I will add it here.

 

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A Long Way Down- Nick Hornby


Synopsis (from Amazon)

‘Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block?’ 

For disgraced TV presenter Martin Sharp the answer’s pretty simple: he has, in his own words, ‘pissed his life away’. And on New Year’s Eve he’s going to end it all . . . but not, as it happens, alone. Because first single-mum Maureen, then eighteen-year-old Jess and lastly American rock-god JJ turn up and crash Martin’s private party. They’ve stolen his idea – but brought their own reasons.

Yet it’s hard to jump when you’ve got an audience queuing impatiently behind you. A few heated words and some slices if cold pizza later and these four strangers are suddenly allies. But is their unlikely friendship a good enough reason to carry on living?

Review.

Previous novels which I’ve read by Nick Hornby have both been books where I’vd seen the films previously (you can see my reviews of Nick Hornby’s other works by using his tag) I’m not entirely sure what effect this has had on my reading of them, I enjoyed both so I certainly wouldn’t say it had a negative impact but it did give me some expectations.

I’ve been meaning to read some other of his novels for some time but was unsure where to go. A Long Way Down probably wouldn’t have been my first choice except that it was in the 12 days of kindle deals after Christmas so it seemed sensible.

Why wouldn’t I have gone with A Long Way Down? Well, my experience with funny suicide novels is not the best. I didn’t get on well with A Spot of Bother, and I wasn’t that enamoured with The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim either, but I did enjoy A Matter of Death and Life. I did know though that it’s Nick Hornby’s forte to manage to write light novels about serious subjects.

Well as far as funny suicide novels go it was pretty good. It did make me laugh, sometimes to the point that I felt a little bad about laughing, it was absurd but maybe believable. However I did feel it skimped a bit on the emotion. I never felt particularly attached to the characters, or especially emphatic- although my empathy did grow a little as I got to know them better.

There was only one character that I really felt had a halfway decent reason to want to commit suicide, but strangely she was also the one who I wanted to succeed the least.

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£6.99)

Paperback (£6.74)

Other reviews:

The Eye of Loni’s Storm

If you have reviewed this book leave me a link and I will add it here.

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Charlotte Street- Danny Wallace


Image from amazon

Synopsis (from amazon)

It all starts with a girl… (because yes, there’s always a girl…)

Jason Priestley (not that one) has just seen her. They shared an incredible, brief, fleeting moment of deep possibility, somewhere halfway down Charlotte Street.

And then, just like that, she was gone – accidentally leaving him holding her old-fashioned, disposable camera, chock full of undeveloped photos…

And now Jason – ex-teacher, ex-boyfriend, part-time writer and reluctant hero – faces a dilemma. Should he try and track The Girl down? What if she’s The One? But that would mean using the only clues he has, which lie untouched in this tatty disposable…

It’s funny how things can develop…

Review.

A while ago I read a review of Charlotte Street on Ellie’s blog; Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. Ellie loved Charlotte Street and I just had to add it to my wishlist. Well the other week I managed to get myself stuck in Waterstone’s. I had intended just to browse. I told myself I could buy two books from the buy one get one half-price selection, but only if one was from The Rory List. I didn’t see any books from the Rory list in that selection so I decided to leave. Unfortunately when I reached the door I saw that the rain was coming down like a Monsoon. I mean, I couldn’t go out in that could I? So I was stuck in Waterstone’s, and my will-power was wearing down…I had no choice. So I came out with Charlotte Street and Scarlett Thomas’ Going Out. Both books on my wishlist, neither on The Rory List.

Anyway this is meant to be a review, right? Not the story of how I got forced to buy books!

Charlotte Street was one of those books that made me both sad and satisfied to have finished. It’s been a long time since I last got this feeling from finishing a book. I wanted it to carry on, even though I knew it had definitely reached a conclusion.

I liked the characters, especially Dev. I quite often thought they were idiots but that just made them more realistic. Jason was certainly the flawed hero- if you can call someone whose behaviour borders on stalker-ish a hero! He did sometimes doubt whether he should be behaving the way he was, but there was always a friend to put him on the ‘right’ path, and I loved that.

In some ways you could actually call Charlotte Street a coming of age story. Maybe it was later in life than the typical coming of age story but Jason (and actually the other major characters too) certainly learnt something from the beginning of the book to the end and entered a new stage of life.

Wallace’s writing style reminded me a lot of Nick Hornby’s books, especially High Fidelity. Flawed hero- check, love interest- check, geeky friend- check, shop- check. It wasn’t a copy my any means but there were a lot of parallels. Amusing but in a real-life way rather than an artificial humour.

I had meant to read something by Danny Wallace for a long time, in fact since reading Are You Dave Gorman? when I was at school, and finding out Danny Wallace had written solo books, but somehow it hasn’t happened until now. This is probably the worst book to start on seeing as it’s Wallace’s first fiction book, but it has made me more eager to read something else by him.

5/5

Other Reviews:

Ellie @ Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add it here please leave me a comment with a link and I will add it.

Buy it:

Paperback (£7.79)

Kindle (£7.40)

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About a Boy- Nick Hornby


This book was read as part of the Take a Chance Challenge

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Will Lightman is a Peter Pan for the 1990s. At 36, the terminally hip North Londoner is unmarried, hyper-concerned with his coolness quotient, and blithely living off the royalties of his father’s novelty song. Will sees himself as entirely lacking in hidden depths–and he’s proud of it! The only trouble is, his friends are succumbing to responsibilities and children, and he’s increasingly left out in the cold. How can someone brilliantly equipped for meaningless relationships ensure that he’ll continue to meet beautiful Julie Christie-like women and ensure that they’ll throw him over before things get too profound? A brief encounter with a single mother sets Will off on his new career, that of “serial nice guy”. As far as he’s concerned–and remember, concern isn’t his strong suit–he’s the perfect catch for the young mother on the go. After an interlude of sexual bliss, she’ll realize that her child isn’t ready for a man in their life and Will can ride off into the Highgate sunset, where more damsels apparently await. The only catch is that the best way to meet these women is at single-parent get-togethers. In one of Nick Hornby’s many hilarious (and embarrassing) scenes, Will falls into some serious misrepresentation at SPAT (“Single Parents–Alone Together”), passing himself off as a bereft single dad: “There was, he thought, an emotional truth here somewhere, and he could see now that his role-playing had a previously unsuspected artistic element to it. He was acting, yes, but in the noblest, most profound sense of the word.”

What interferes with Will’s career arc, of course, is reality–in the shape of a 12-year-old boy who is in many ways his polar opposite. For Marcus, cool isn’t even a possibility, let alone an issue. For starters, he’s a victim at his new school. Things at home are pretty awful, too, since his musical therapist mother seems increasingly in need of therapy herself. All Marcus can do is cobble together information with a mixture of incomprehension, innocence, self-blame, and unfettered clear sight. As fans of Fever Pitch and High Fidelity already know, Hornby’s insight into laddishness magically combines the serious and the hilarious. About a Boy continues his singular examination of masculine wish-fulfilment and fear. This time, though, the author lets women and children onto the playing field, forcing his feckless hero to leap over an entirely new–and entirely welcome–set of emotional hurdles

Review

I’ve been watching the film About a Boy for years (being somewhat of a Hugh Grant fan it was never an option not to watch it, I’ve even seen the terrible Did you Hear About the Morgans?) and enjoyed it especially as it makes somewhat of a deviation from Hugh Grant’s normal characters. So I had been planning to read About a Boy for quite a long time, it just took me this long to get round to it, and I still may not have was it not for the Take a Chance Challenge prompting me. It’s the only the third book by Nick Hornby I’ve read. The first was The Complete Polysylabbic Spree which probably doesn’t really could as it is non-fiction but the other, High Fidelity, I liked enough to want to read more by him, and About a Boy is one of his more popular novels. I did find it a little difficult not to compare to the film, simply because I know the film well. I was glad to find that seeing the film didn’t spoil the book for me, which is something that often happens when I see the film first. I did find myself picturing Nicholas Hoult when I read about Marcus, but possibly that was just good casting as I didn’t picture Hugh Grant when I read about Will, I terms of changes in plot it pretty much balanced it out, the end of the film is a bit stupid with Hugh Grant saving the day, I much prefer how it was written (highlight for spoiler) with Marcus really coming into his own. I was a little disappointed with the way Marcus met Ellie as it’s one of my favourite points of the film, but that isn’t much of a big deal really. As with High Fidelity I found About a Boy really amusing, I do think it could have been more touching, but I did care about Marcus at least, even if I wasn’t bothered about the other characters. I thought Will was a bit of an idiot but I still grew to like him, or at least the new him. I did prefer High Fidelity, but About a Boy is well worth a read too

4/5

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High Fidelity- Nick Hornby


Nick Hornby: High Fidelity

Image by Wolf Gang via Flickr

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Nick Hornby’s first novel, an international bestseller and instantly recognized by critics and readers alike as a classic, helps to explain men to women, and men to men. Rob is good on music: he owns a small record shop and has strong views on what’s decent and what isn’t. But he’s much less good on relationships. In fact, he’s not at all sure that he wants to commit himself to anyone. So it’s hardly surprising that his girlfriend decides that enough is enough.

Review

I’ve only ever read one Nick Hornby before- The Complete Polysyllabic Spree, which is a book about books, not a fiction book. Still you can see the similarity of his writing style in both, and, maybe because the first book I read by him was non-fiction, I felt like I was reading an autobiography of Hornby most of the way through. I’m not sure if this shows the skill with which Hornby has created his main character, Rob, or if it shows that High Fidelity has an autobiographic aspect. After all I’ve heard it said that all first novels are autobiographical. Either way I really felt like a knew Rob, the character was so well constructed. I can’t exactly say I liked Rob, he was gutless and bitter, but he was real. And Laura was real too. It was no great love story- far from it- but it was realistic.

I’ve seen the film (or at least bits of the film) a number of times and did find it a little difficult to get the characters out of my head. I managed though- and even have come to not really like Jack Black as Barry, he’s not Barry at all!

4/5

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New things


So I’ve been thinking about reading new things. The sort of books you don’t usually approach, or maybe turn away from. The Complete Polysyllabic Spree got me started on this line of thinking. It’s always been something I’ve been kind of interested in, after all if you never try something how can you know if you will or will not enjoy it? I do try books I wouldn’t normally look at too. I’m taking part in The Rory Gilmore challenge over on The Book Club Forum, although I’ve mainly tried things I have some interest in, just not as much as others. It has kind of spurred me on to read books that I only had a inkling of interest in.

As for books I wouldn’t even consider normally I am not sure where to start. So I’m hoping those of you reading this out in internet land can help me. What books have you read that have surprised you? Or have you ever read an amazing but relatively unknown book? Let me know!

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The Complete Polysyllabic Spree- Nick Hornby


Synopsis (from the back of the book- because it’s what I want to say put more eloquently and the synopsis on Amazon, and on Waterstones, and Wikipedia are rubbish)

This is not a book of reviews. This is not a book which sneers at other books. This is a book about reading- about enjoying books whereever and however you find them.

Nick Hornby is first and foremost a reader and he approaches books like the rest of us: hoping to pick up one he can’t put down. The Complete Polysyllabic Spree is a diary of sorts, charting his reading life over two years. It is a celebration of why we read- its pleasures, its dissappointments and its surprises.

And above all, it is for you- the ever hopeful reader.

Review.

First I have to make clear this is not a books of reviews. Despite the synopsis (blurb, whatever you want to call it) saying this I still expected it to be. Yes he talked about how he felt about books but he didn’t so much talk about what they were about. I found this both intriguing and infuriating. When I like the sound of books he was talking about I wanted to know more, I wanted more on the content, or a little synopsis or something, but at the same time I feel if that mystery was gone I might not have been so interested, and this way I may read books I wouldn’t have usually. I like picking up books outside my usual circle, it’s the best way to discover something new you love and to expand your horizons, if you always read the same stuff how much could you be missing that you would love but just don’t look at? In that sense it had made me think about my reading (and as I read it as part of The Rory Gilmore book challenge it was in itself a books I wouldn’t usually read). In particular it made me think about my approach to reading books I’m not enjoying (the first review in this blog, from my blog thread– so before the WordPress blog started) was Rachel Ray a book I struggled with but kept reading because I hate abandoning books. I do already have a rule that I have to read 100 pages before abandoning, because I don’t think you can really get a feel for longer books before then but maybe I should be a bit more strict in what I call enjoying, there are so many books out there and so little time, why waste time on books you don’t enjoy.

I was glad when Hornby actually talked about a book I had read (early on he bought a copy of Norwegian Wood, a book I loved, but he didn’t read it, and I was disappointed) which was Death and the Penguin. It made me value his opinion more because it was a book he loved, and I had enjoyed- it made me feel I might be more likely to enjoy the books he had.

This book has really added to my wishlist. Thirteen books to be precise, plus one more I am unsure about and want to look in to more and one which I know my Mum owns so I can add straight to my To Be Read pile. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or not. Browsing Amazon and adding books to my wishlist is one of my favourite hobbies, and I love discovering new books. But at the same time I am trying not to spend any more money on books, especially as my rule that my TBR pile has to be in single figures before I can allow myself to buy more books has been broken so many times this year. I did find that I had to carry round a notebook with me when reading this book just so I could note down books I was interesting in. I wish I had my own copy so I could mark interesting passages and the books I wanted to read- unfortunately I borrowed this from the library and as I don’t think I’ll want to re-read it it’s not worth buying a copy now. If you are interested though I would say buy rather than borrow.

I have such a love hate relationship with this book that I have no idea what to rate it. I love it so much I want you all to read it, but at the same time I wish there was more, and that there was less so my wishlist wouldn’t have expanded so much! Less than 4 seems too low, but 4 and 5 seem too high. So take the rating with a pince of salt!

4.5/5

The additions to the Wishlist

George and Sam- Charlotte Moore

Old School- Tobias Wolff

No Name- Wilkie Collins (to be looked in to)

How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World- Francis Wheen

Not Even Wrong- Paul Collins

True Notebooks- Mark Salzman

Assassination Vacation- Sarah Vowel

Early Bird- Rodney Rothman

Gilead- Marilynne Robinson

The Amateur Marriage- Anne Tyler

A Complicated Kindness- Miriam Toews

Then We Came to the End- Joshua Ferris

Running in the Family- Michael Ondaatje

Persepolis- Marjane Satrapi

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