The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
In his monthly accounts of what he’s read – along with what he may one day read – Nick Hornby brilliantly explores everything from the classic to the graphic novel, as well as poems, plays, sports books and other kinds of non-fiction. If he occasionally implores a biographer for brevity, or abandons a literary work in favour of an Arsenal match, then all is not lost. His writing, full of all the joy and surprise and despair that books bring him, reveals why we still read, even when there’s football on TV, a pram in the hall or a good band playing at our local pub.
I enjoyed this book but I found it to be a slow read. The book contains Hornby’s columns for the magazine the Believer, where he writes about what he has read. There are a lot of columns and a lot of books read, and although I can remember some of the good ones, I can’t remember them all!
I found this funny in places, and hard to concentrate on in other places. However, overall my impression of Hornby as a writer is good and I am glad I kept reading. In fact, I already have another one of his books – this time fiction (About A Boy) lined up to read.
Hornby is clever and honest. It made me laugh that he wasn’t allowed to mention books he didn’t like by title or author, but he was happy to say that he had read a book he didn’t like. I was pleased he took my reading philosophy: if you don’t like a book, put it down – there are too many other books to read to keep struggling through one book! There were some books he mentioned that I have read and didn’t like, whereas he did, such as A Complicated Kindness, but that has not put me off reading some of his recommendations.
This is a slow but informative read. I found it easier to read if I took a break after each chapter. I liked also how he put in some extracts from books – made them seem more inviting. Overall, a good but not amazing book.
Books I Want to Read:
Roddy Doyle: Oh, Play That Thing
Roddy Doyle: A Star Called Henry
Joshua Ferris: Then We Came to the End
Charlotte Moore: George and Sam
Marjane Satrapi: Persepolis
Andrew Smith: Moondust
Anne Tyler: The Amateur Marriage
I’m sure there were more but I can’t remember them!