More Baths Less Talking: Notes from the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author Locked in Battle with Football, Family, and Time Itself

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Overview

?Read what you enjoy, not what bores you,? Nick Hornby tells us. That simple, liberating, and indispensable directive animates each installment of the celebrated critic and author?s monthly column in the Believer. In this delightful and never-musty tour of his reading life, Hornby tells us not just what to read, but how to read.

Whether tackling a dismayingly bulky biography of Dickens while his children destroy something in the next room, or getting sucked into a serious assessment of Celine Dion during an ...

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More Baths Less Talking: Notes from the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author Locked in Battle with Football, Family, and Time

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Overview

“Read what you enjoy, not what bores you,” Nick Hornby tells us. That simple, liberating, and indispensable directive animates each installment of the celebrated critic and author’s monthly column in the Believer. In this delightful and never-musty tour of his reading life, Hornby tells us not just what to read, but how to read.

Whether tackling a dismayingly bulky biography of Dickens while his children destroy something in the next room, or getting sucked into a serious assessment of Celine Dion during an intensely fought soccer match featuring his beloved Arsenal, or devouring an entire series of children’s books while on vacation, Hornby’s reviews are rich, witty, and occasionally madcap. These essays capture the joy and ire, the despair and exhilaration of the book-lover’s life, and will appeal equally to both monocle-wearing salonnieres and people, like him, who spend a lot of time thinking about Miley Cyrus’s next role.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A lesser writer would be inscribing his own death sentence by proclaiming to “vent my spleen by embarking on a series of books that, I hope, will be of no interest to the readership of this magazine.” But Hornby, referring to readers of the Believer magazine, in which he writes a column detailing his monthly literary consumption, is as engaging as he is droll and witty. This collection of Hornby’s “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” columns from May 2010 to December 2011 encompasses a broad range of topics, both literary and not. It’s amazing how Hornby’s enthusiasm for an obscure book (such as Andrew Brown’s Fishing in Utopia) on an even more obscure topic (fishing in Sweden doesn’t have obvious broad spectrum appeal) can segue so smoothly into musings on the artistic experience and the genius of Patti Smith’s Just Kids (“many of us—most of us—could have been right outside the front door of Max’s Kansas City and never taken the trouble to open it”). His side venture into the children’s books he read with his sons (the hilarious Mr. Gum series) is as in-depth as his reflections on Sarah Vowell, that “dark nerd-maiden from across the water.” In addition to providing readers with a wonderfully eclectic to-read list, Hornby reminds everyone how important it is to revel in the written word. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Hornby is a champion of the book, of reading, of the pleasure of a smart literary experience. He has a quality desperately needed in these times: intelligent enthusiasm."
The New Republic

"A witty and illuminating blueprint to the habits and how-to’s of reading good books well."
Brain Pickings

"[Nick Hornby] has a knack for creating appealingly irresolute characters and is a genial guy with excellent taste and a smart, irreverent sense of humor."
Boston Globe

"...this book is much more than funny. He understands writers and what they are trying to do. This book crackles with insight."—Star Tribune

"A wonderfully eclectic to-read list, Hornby reminds everyone how important it is to revel in the written word."—Publishers Weekly

"Hornby is an entertainingly unpretentious critic; any reader would come away with a handful of book recommendations they’d be eager to check out."—Kirkus

Kirkus Reviews
The rock-obsessed novelist confesses his idiosyncratic reading habits in this fourth collection of columns written for the Believer. Critics tend to write reviews as if in a bubble, rarely acknowledging the ways the world can intrude on their reading and comprehension. The charm of Hornby's (Juliet, Naked, 2009, etc.) "Stuff I've Been Reading" column is his candor about the messy intersection of living and reading. One column opens with his two young children demanding his attention as he struggles to finish Nicholson Baker's novel The Anthologist; in another, he points out how a trusted recommendation led him to Don Carpenter's obscure 1966 noir, Hard Rain Falling. That intimate perspective makes this book read more like a set of personal essays than book reviews, but he still delivers some funny and clear-eyed insights on writing. He demolishes the sexism of John Updike's Marry Me by calling out the preposterousness of its dialogue, and writing about Colm Tóibín's novel Brooklyn gives him the opportunity to thoughtfully consider the pleasures of rereading and the distinctions between screenwriting and writing novels. Hornby's tastes often match those of the Believer audience's, which prefers contemporary fiction and hipper nonfiction, but he roves widely, devouring Muriel Spark and Charles Dickens along with David Kynaston's dense history Austerity Britain and a biography of Preston Sturges. Hornby's reading life is pleasantly experimental, and though he softens his disappointments for the no-snark-allowed Believer, he's at his most entertaining when he falls in love by accident with a book, as with Sarah Bakewell's Montaigne biography, How to Live. Hornby is an entertainingly unpretentious critic; any reader would come away with a handful of book recommendations they'd be eager to check out.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781938073052
  • Publisher: McSweeney's Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/21/2012
  • Pages: 135
  • Sales rank: 485,220
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Nick Hornby
Journalist and bestselling novelist Nick Hornby is best known for his portraits of dysfunctional Peter Pans -- clueless postmodern males in various stages of arrested development who discover, often to their chagrin, that growing up is a process involving far more than the passage of time.

Biography

Journalist and bestselling novelist Nick Hornby is best known for his portraits of dysfunctional Peter Pans -- clueless postmodern males in various stages of arrested development who discover, often to their chagrin, that growing up is a process involving far more than the passage of time. Dubbed the "maestro of the male confessional" by The New Yorker, Hornby is credited as the founder of the "lad lit " genre -- a peculiar honor, since he also seems to be its only truly successful practitioner!

However, to dismiss Hornby's writing as the testosterone-laced equivalent of "chick lit" is to seriously underestimate his talent. The New York Times Book Review put it this way: "Hornby is a writer who dares to be witty, intelligent and emotionally generous all at once. He combines a skilled, intuitive appreciation for the rigors of comic structure with highly original insights about the way the enchantments of popular culture insinuate themselves into middle-class notions of romance." (As further proof of his standing in the literary community, a group of distinguished colleagues -- including Germaine Greer, Zadie Smith, and Doris Lessing -- honored Hornby with the 2003 London Award.)

After graduating from Cambridge, Hornby worked a succession of jobs (he taught school, gave language classes, and served as a host for Samsung executives visiting the U.K.) before becoming a journalist. He wrote a series of pop culture columns for the Independent and wrote about music, books, and sports for Esquire, The Sunday Times, Elle, and the Times Literary Supplement. Then, in 1992, Hornby published a hilarious sports memoir about his maniacal obsession with Britain's Arsenal Football Club. A huge bestseller, Fever Pitch won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award and helped to give soccer a cachet far beyond its formerly "blokey" appeal. His debut novel, High Fidelity, appeared in 1995. Teeming with hip music and pop culture references, this story of a thirty-something record store owner lamenting his failed romantic relationships struck a responsive chord with readers on both sides of the Pond, paving the way for his bestselling 1998 follow-up, About a Boy.

Critical praise and literary honors have followed Hornby throughout his career: His 2001 novel How to Be Good won the WH Smith Fiction Award and was nominated for a Booker Prize; A Long Way Down (2005) was shortlisted for both the Whitbread Novel Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. He is the author of a bestselling novel for young adults (Slam), and his nonfiction essays have been collected into several anthologies, including The Polysyllabic Spree, Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, and Songbook (published in the UK as 31 Songs). He also serves as a pop music critic for The New Yorker.

Good To Know

Hollywood loves Hornby!
  • High Fidelity was filmed in 2000 with John Cusack.
  • Hugh Grant starred in the 2002 film About a Boy.
  • Fever Pitch was filmed twice: The 1997 British version starred Colin Firth. In 2005, an Americanized remake (substituting the Boston Red Sox for the Arsenal Football Club ) was released starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.

    Hornby has admitted that when he first began writing, voice was a problem. "Everything changed for me when I read Anne Tyler, Raymond Carver, Richard Ford, and Lorrie Moore, all in about '86-'87," he has said. " ... voice, tone, simplicity, humour, soul ... all of these things seemed to be missing from the contemporary English fiction I'd looked at, and I knew then what I wanted to do."

    Hornby is the father of an autistic son, Danny. He is also a co-founder of TreeHouse, an English charity school for autistic children. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Speaking with the Angel, an anthology of stories he edited in 2002, was donated to TreeHouse.

    Writer Zadie Smith has credited Hornby for "reintrocuding the English novel to its long-lost domestic roots."

    Music is still paramount in Hornby's life. He has a longstanding relationship with the American rock group Marah and has collaborated with them in music/spoken word performances on several occasions.

    Hornby writes a monthly column, "Stuff I've Been Reading," for The Believer , a literary magazine published by Dave Eggers's McSweeney's publishing house.

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      1. Date of Birth:
        April 17, 1957
      2. Place of Birth:
        Redhill, Surrey, England
      1. Education:
        Jesus College, Cambridge University

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    Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
    • Posted September 16, 2012

      More fun, witty, engaging book reviews from Nick Hornby

      Another typically engaging, witty collection of Hornby's book review columns from the Believer magazine. This is the fourth book in the series, and given the time frame, perhaps the most relevant.

      Hornby (already one of my favorite writers) lists the books he's purchased over the last month and those he's read, and the difference between the two is instructive, especially if you're like a lot of us and your reader's eyes are bigger than your time budget.

      Hornby's reviews of the books are witty; he correctly places his individual book reviews within the arc of his reading, which is a far more honest way of handling reviews.

      I'm a big Hornby fan and while I'm not reading many of the same titles he is, his collection of reviews did add a good-sized chunk of titles to my "to-read" list, so you read this fun little collection of reviews at your own risk.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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