Book Review: The Polysyllabic Spree – Nick Hornby

I knew I would love reading about someone else’s reading habits. I already like reading blogs about it, and I love the book club I’m in, partly for just talking about books. I would put Josie Long and Robin Ince’s Book Shambles as my must listen to podcast, followed by  A Good Read then Open Book, on Radio 4. Put like that, it seems strange I haven’t read a book about reading books before.

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My main motivation for starting this book though, was that I needed something that had a good chance of being quite light. I’ve read some heavy books recently and  needed something I could breeze along happily with. Pick up, read a little, feel good, carry on with something else and repeat. Perfect. And it’s on my reading challenge book list for the year. Score!

This is a collection of essays Nick Hornby wrote, over 14 months, for The Believer magazine. They cover 2003 – 2004. They are about his book buying, and reading, habits. It has a few extracts from mentioned books too. It’s not very long, I managed to read it in a day whilst also being in sole charge of my two children (probably tells you all you need to know about my parenting style). In fact, it was perfect because each essay is just a few pages long.

Reading a book about someone reading will inevitably cause me to buy or wish-list more books I haven’t really got time to read. Which is a bit funny considering that’s partly what the book is about. Well so far every essay has at least one book from my 2017 reading challenge list. They’ve been bumped up the to-read list! Fortress of Solitude – Jonathon Lethem, How to Breathe Underwater – Julie Orringer, and Old School – Tobias Wolff are given particularly stand out praise. Typical that these are books I don’t already own. David Copperfield (also on my 2017 book challenge list) should now be on the top of my reading pile, but it just still doesn’t appeal. I got through Crime and Punishment last year and the part of my brain that wants to be punished (I mean REWARDED) by reading long, difficult, old books is still broken.

I am now really glad I did get through Crime and Punishment so I could get the references to it. I’m slightly sad I’m not well read enough to fully understand the other 50,000 classic book references, but don’t let that put you off reading The Polysyllabic Spree. It’s fun, entertaining, I learnt quite a bit, and also have many more books I now want to read!

7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Polysyllabic Spree – Nick Hornby

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