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McSweeney's, Believer Books
464 pages
Product Description
<DIV>At the end of 2003, as the first issue of <I>The Believer</I> was rising from the primordial ooze, Nick Hornby turned in the inaugural installment of a monthly column that immediately became a reader favorite. For the next ten years, Hornby’s incandescently funny “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” chronicled a singular reading life — one that is measured not just in “books bought” and “books read,” as each column begins, but in the way our feelings toward Celine Dion say a lot about who we are, the way Body Shop Vanilla Shower Gel can add excitement to our days, and the way John Updike might ruin our sex lives. Hornby’s column is both an impeccable, wide-ranging reading list and an indispensable reminder of why we read.<BR></DIV>
McSweeney's, Believer Books
464 pages Review
Ten years ago when his “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” column debuted with <em>The Believer</em>, Nick Hornby instantly became one of our most persuasive contemporary champions for the pleasures of the (examined) reading life. Unlike critical reviewers who tend to feign objectivity, Hornby abandons pretense--except in the service of jokes, and in reluctant adherence to <em>The Believer</em>’s snark-free code—and relates his authentic experiences with books, those bought aspirationally and immediately shelved, and those he’s read. He frames his experience of books in what’s going on in his life, which albums he’s playing, what’s going on with his son, how much he even feels like reading (which, especially in football season, can be not so much). He occasionally laments his ruts and takes wild stabs at unexplored genres, but his natural interests swing widely enough to include frequent surprises. He’ll put (or throw) down anything he deems dull, exhorting writers to cut the boring bits--like the random childhood anecdotes that can plague biographies: “Please, biographers. Please, please, please. Have mercy. Select for us. We have jobs, kids, DVD players, season tickets. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to know about stuff.” As I read, my wish list inevitably swelled, but it wasn’t the books themselves that made this one such good reading: for bibliophiles, Hornby is excellent company--discriminating but admiring, with brilliant, often hilarious insight into why some books work wonderfully, while others stumble on one sloppy detail and unravel their own fabric. Even if I never read many of the books he recommends with such zeal, I loved every vicarious page. <em>--Mari Malcolm</em>