The Polysyllabic Spree: A Hilarious and True Account of One Man's Struggle with the Monthly Tide of the Books He's Bought and the Books He's Been Meaning to Read

The Polysyllabic Spree: A Hilarious and True Account of One Man's Struggle with the Monthly Tide of the Books He's Bought and the Books He's Been Meaning to Read

by Nick Hornby


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In his monthly column "Stuff I've Been Reading," Hornby lists the books he's purchased that month, and briefly discusses the books he's actually read.

NIck Hornby's Polysyllabic Spree Includes selected passages from the novels, biographies, collections of poetry, and comics discussed in the column.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781932416244
Publisher: Believer Magazine
Publication date: 11/30/2004
Pages: 230
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Nick Hornby is the best-selling author of High Fidelity, About a Boy, How to Be Good, Fever Pitch, and Songbook. He lives in London.

Date of Birth:

April 17, 1957

Place of Birth:

Redhill, Surrey, England


Jesus College, Cambridge University

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The Polysyllabic Spree: A Hilarious and True Account of One Man's Struggle with the Monthly Tide of the Books He's Bought and the Books He's Been Mean 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
bookheaven on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Funny collection of articles the author wrote about which books he bought and which books he read each month. He has very eclectic reading habits.
Griff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hornby opens up about his reading habits. How many of us buy books with intentions of reading immediately, yet most end up in a pile and are read in an order that somehow defies explanation? Like anything one does in life, perhaps documenting - perhaps keeping a diary will lend insight. Well, Hornby does just that - with lists of books purchased and books read. Hornby is always a joy to read. He is so good at describing how people think - including how he thinks. This book would have been even more enjoyable had I read all the same books he lists throughout his essays.
colinflipper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can't say that I've read much literary criticism, but I can safely say that this doesn't bear much resemblance. Nick Hornby's conversational style does do a great job of making you want to sit down and do a lot of reading. Extremely fun.
Josh_Hanagarne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've always enjoyed lists of what other people are reading. Hornby is always fun and easy to read. PS is great for finding new recommendations or hearing about Hornby's reactions to books you may have loved or hated. And the book feels good too. Not sure what it's made of. His review of The Fortress of Solitude is great.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You wouldn¿t think that a series of essays in which Nick Hornby describes which books he bought each month and which books he actually read would be so entertaining, but it was. Hornby peppers his essays with humor and brings his own life into the context to help explain what he¿s reading, so there is an underlying narrative to them. I especially enjoyed his descriptions of the ¿Polysyllabic Spree,¿ the mysterious editorial board of the The Believer, the magazine where these essays were originally published. Reading this made me want to give up writing my own humble book reviews, which could never measure up (obviously, that feeling didn¿t last).
scouthayduke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Nick Hornby. I've only read his fiction material, but I think this book is up there with all of them. It's fun and funny to get insight on what one of your favorite authors reads and even better to find that sometimes (like yourself) that consists of only magazines.
jentifer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
OK so I didn't read this, really; instead, Sky read many long parts aloud to me. I feel like I read it. I feel like I loved it.
veevoxvoom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: A collection of Nick Hornby¿s columns for The Believer, a literary magazine. He tracks the books he buys and reads each month, and comments on them.Review: [The Polysyllabic Spree] is a short anthology and probably this is a good thing, because why would you spend a lot of time reading it and not the books that it talks about? But it¿s a good, smooth kind of short. I read it in one day, mostly on the bus, and it hit the spot like a good snack. I love to hear what other people say about books, and I¿m particularly fascinated by the reading habits of established authors. Other people follow celebrity gossip; I follow reading lists.Of course, I wouldn¿t want to read just any writer¿s reading list. There are writers I love and respect, but would probably be bored by what they have to say about books. Imagine reading Harold Bloom¿s book list. God. It¿d be smart, but I¿m sure I would tear my hair out halfway through. Hornby, on the other hand, is as funny as he is articulate.However, we are very different readers. Hornby tends to read what I¿d call literary mainstream, and mostly male authors. I¿m more for genre fiction, and when I do read literary mainstream, I tend to veer towards female authors. So there weren¿t a lot of books in Hornby¿s columns that I would actually pick up and read. I have to say that Hornby¿s own books, from what I have heard, don¿t interest me much. But you know what? Sometimes it¿s enough just to hear people talk about books they enjoyed. The pleasure of their pleasure renews my own passion for books.Conclusion: A breezy, enjoyable read. Recommended for bibliophiles!
laytonwoman3rd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a collection of essays on reading and other book-related topics, taken from Hornby's monthly column in the magazine "The Believer", from 2003/2004.Each selection begins with two lists: Books bought and Books read. (Guess which list is longer.) Hornby is my kind of reader. He makes no apologies for buying books he admittedly will probably never read. ""Look at this month's list...What are the chances of getting through that lot? I've started the Chekhov, but the Amis and the Dylan Thomas have been put straight into their permanent home on the shelves, rather than onto any sort of temporary pending pile." He loves Tony Hoagland: "the sort of poet you dream of finding but almost never do. His work is relaxed, deceptively easy on the eye and ear, and it has jokes and unexpected little bursts of melancholic resonance. Plus, I pretty much understand all of it..." He thinks he's going to love hefty biographies, and then gets bogged down a third of the way in by the author's unrelenting thoroughness: "Please, biographers. Please, please, please. Have mercy: Select for us."He enjoys poking fun at his bosses, in one chapter referring to them as "the twelve terrifyingly beatific young men and women who run the Believer, later as "the ninety-nine young and menacingly serene people who run the Believer, and still later as "the eighty-four chillingly ecstatic young men and women who..." At all times, apparently, they wear white robes and issue edicts difficult to obey, such as the one declaring that the Believer should contain only "acid-free literary criticism". This resulted in one month during which Hornby abandoned an Unnamed Literary Novel and an Unnamed Work of Non-Fiction, as he knew he would not be able to write honestly about either without bringing down the wrath of the Committee (comprised of "twelve rather eerie young men and women" in white robes).
idlereader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Never read a Nick Hornby novel, but I enjoy his journalism. This has the great feature of listing book that he's recently bougt, which doesn't equate necessariyl to books being read.
kristiem1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nick Hornby's column in The Believer is often my motivation for picking up this particular literary jounral. I love reading about the reading life, as it were - what he is buying, what he actually read, what kept him from reading a lot during that month and why he was able to get through more than usual. It is a glimpse behind the reading habbit curtain that you don't get a chance to read about very much, unless sometimes in a blog or very occassionaly on the the back page of the New York Times Book Review. And the best part is that this glimpse behind the curtain is written by Nick Hornby, one of my top ten authors. Hornby is writting about what he really thinks of the books that he has read and liked (those that he didn't like are marked as abandoned and their identities masked to protect the guilty) and how they fit into his life. Don't expect a book reviewer's concise paragraph about the books but a personal multiple page essay that looks at his reading month in a whole.The latest edition is coming out in September. Sign me up.
jennyo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read half of this book last night, and I'm loving it. Just had to post a reading coincidence today before I forget....In the first essay in this book, Hornby talks about reading Ian Hamilton's biography of Robert Lowell. Well, this morning, my Writers' Almanac email began with one of Lowell's poems and included a very short bio of Lowell himself. It's no wonder Hornby found his life story fascinating. Oh, and the poem began with the line: "It was a Maine lobster town--". And I got this book from one of my book group members who, like me, just finished reading The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw, who makes her living fishing for lobster off the coast of Maine.I love literary coincidences.I'm quite sure I'll finish this book today and then have all sorts of lovely things to say about it. In the meantime, please check out The Believer magazine -- where these essays were originally published.And check out 826NYC and its sister organization 826 Valencia. The proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit 826NYC and Treehouse, a London-based charity for children with autism.-----------Yep. Loved it. Of course, I had to go back and do the numbers too. Of the books Hornby either bought or read, I've read 13 and have 3 in my TBR pile. And I think I'd pretty much agree with his assessments of the ones we have in common. Therefore, I also have some new ones to put on my wish list. (As if I needed more.)Oh, and I'm intending to apply for a job as Hornby's new book-recommending pal. In one of the essays he wrote:"I'm happy to have friends who recommend Alan Hollinghurst, really I am. They're all nice, bright people. I just wish I had friends who could recommend books like Mystic River, too. Are you that person? Do you have any vacancies for a pal? If you can't be bothered with full-on friendship, with all the tearful, drunken late-night phone calls and bitter accusations and occasional acts of violence thus entailed (the violence is always immediately followed by an apology; I hasten to add), then maybe you could just tell me the titles of the books."Well, I loved Mystic River. And the Hollinghurst is on my wish list.There were several quotable lines in the book, but I'm going to stick with this one where he's thinking about all the books (read and unread) in his collection:"But as I was finding a home for them in the Arts and Lit non-fiction section (I personally find that for domestic purposes, the Trivial Pursuit system works better than Dewey), I suddenly had a little epiphany: all the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal."
libmhleigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is completely hysterical. At parts it was, too me, chuckle out loud entertaining. And I certainly related to the author¿s struggle with all the books he has been meaning to read, and his frustration when he can¿t get more reading done (although I am jealous that he has a job that involves reviewing books, so at least some of his reading is also work-related). The author reads on book he¿s been meaning to get to, and then becomes interested in a time period, an author, a place, and feels the need to explore further literature as a result of one book he read. As would be expected with the cyclical nature of the universe, in reading this book I checked one title off the list of books I want to read, and added about a dozen more that the author mentions that I am now eager to find. And this one step forward a dozen steps backwards aspect of reading is really the nature of the beast.
delphica on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(#10 in the 2005 Book Challenge)This book was somewhat of a mystery to me. It's a collection of essays that are essentially a book journal, talking about what he read in a given month as well as a running commentary on books that he bought, but didn't read (yet). So it's got this element of "Confessions of a Book Addict" going on, and believe me, I am on that train with a one way ticket. Okay, so the mystery to me is that I love Nick Hornby's writing, in a semi-stalker way, and thus I expected that we would have read a lot of books in common, or at the very least, that he would write about books that I would want to read. Yet, there was not so much of this happening. Here we have this author who writes about football (to quote my father, "in America, they call it 'soccer' " -- thanks Dad), a sport that I have never watched, and still think "omigosh, I know exactly what he's talking about" every other sentence. Then, he writes about books, and ... not so much. About the books, that is. I still found the writing to be very engaging and very spot on when he talks about the love of reading in general. This reminded me of another book -- 99 Novels by Anthony Burgess, in which he writes a few paragraphs about each of his picks for the 99 best/most important/most significant English language novels for each year starting with 1939. I picked this up when I was a freshman in college, with the intention of reading all of them, and I didn't succeed in that although I think I made a sizable dent in the list. Hey, have you heard of this thing called the internet? His list is online now, maybe I'll tackle that again.Grade: A-, but keep in mind that I find anything Nick Hornby writes delightful, so probably more of a B+ in reality.Recommended: to people who like reading about reading, especially from people who write for a living
SmithSJ01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this novel about all the books Hornby had read over the course of two years. The book is presented as a series of magazine articles with each article being just the right length if you are in need of short sections, such as if you read whilst travelling. I liked the fact that his bought column was always longer than his read column! Just like me!Not only do the articles discuss his love of reading but they also discuss why we feel we have to read certain books just because they are deemed winners or classics. It rang true with me on quite a few occasions throughout my read. You find out about what he has been reading and I liked the fact that he compared the novels to others at times, helping you make an informed decision as to whether it's a one you'd like to read. I came away from his book with a few recommendations of my own.Written for an American audience he talks about which of the books he's read haven't been published there etc and I suppose his humour may have been presented differently for this audience. Nonetheless it is both informative and entertaining. So although Hornby says he doesn't like Amazon reviewers, well actually he's a little stronger, this Amazon reviewer is saying give the book a go. It's a pleasant read.
LauraBrook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
About a month ago, after very long and horrible ordeal was over with I treated myself to some books. My first stop was my favorite used bookstore, and my second stop was my local library. Serendipitously, as soon as I walked in to the library, I saw my favorite high school teacher - my junior year English teacher, Mr. Baranowski, or Bear, as he likes to be called. I've seen him off and on in the 16 years since I left his class, and each time it's such a bump up in my day. The first time I saw him after I graduated from high school was at a Bill Bryson reading and signing at the Harry W Schwartz bookstore in Shorewood. (RIP, Harry Schwartz.) Each time I run into him, we talk about books first and everything else second. He recommended at least 15 books to me - this book is one of them.A compilation of Mr. Hornby's columns from September 2003 through November 2004 in the Believer magazine, it's a monthly chronicle of the books he's purchased, the ones he's read, and about everything bookish (and not) inbetween. Filled with honest truths about readers, book fiends, shopping and purchasing, authors, writing, and reading, it's a perfect book for any right-thinking book nerd. Despite its' slim size, it's chock-full of recommendations, chuckle-y jokes, self-delusions and bookish quotes. If you're trying not to increase the size of your TBR pile, do yourself a favor and stay far far away. If, however, you think your TBR pile can never be big enough, then by all mean, pull out a notebook and a pen and prepare to make a very long list. The first of a trilogy, I look forward to reading the next two books, as I've found it a perfect reading palate cleanser to end the day with. Very enjoyable and recommended - 4 stars.
lizchris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nick Hornby keeps a monthly journal about the books he's bought and read. He captures perfectly the intense relationship that many of us have with our books. I enjoyed his writing here; I found him equally accessible and interesting whether writing about books I'd read or books I hadn't. The book also pointed me to others that I wouldn't normally try; the reading pile on the bedroom floor continues to grow.
lycomayflower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A collection of Hornby's monthly Believer columns about book-buying and book-reading. A fun read, especially as Hornby responds to what he reads in a readerly and writerly fashion more than a critical or analytical one. Most engaging when I'd also read what he's read, but worthwhile even when I hadn't.
bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This collection of Hornby¿s essays from the magazine The Believer, was beyond delightful. He writes about what books he bought each month and which ones he read. In anyone else¿s hands that concept could be as dull as dirt, but Hornby makes you feel like you¿ve just asked your friend, ¿So what have you been reading lately?¿ He read a wide range of subjects in fiction, nonfiction, classics, etc. so there¿s something for everyone. The funny thing was, it really wasn¿t about the books themselves, it¿s more about his personal reading experience. You can love his columns without ever picking up one of the books he mentions (though I evitably will). It¿s his humor and cheek that made this book so great. The way he describes reading is spot on and I couldn¿t help laughing as I recognized myself in so many of his observations. Here are a few great ones¿¿I don't reread books often; I'm too conscious of both my ignorance and my mortality.¿¿When reading is going well, one book leads to another and to another, a paper trail of theme and meaning; and how, when it's going badly, when books don't stick or take, when your mood and the mood of the book are fighting like cats, you'd rather do anything but attempt the next paragraph or to reread the last one for the tenth time.¿¿What you must do is work unceasingly, day and night, read constantly, study, exercise willpower... Every hour is precious.¿
kristenn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fun collection for the dedicated reader and even better for the compulsive book buyer. I don't read The Believer, the magazine in which these pieces originally ran, so all of it was new. My favorite part was probably the premise. It's basically a Challenge. Each piece starts with the books he bought that month and the books he read that month. There is very little overlap between the two categories. I can relate to this.Even though Hornby spends most of the time discussing books that I have no interest in reading, no matter how much he enjoys them, it's still interesting just to follow his thought process in choosing what to read and reacting to it. Not to mention all the digressions that justify buying far more than you'll ever get through. And I was particularly left with an urge to read Dickens. He's quite a fan.
michaeldwebb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an unexpected treat. It's just a collection of Nick Hornby's columns for 'The Believer', where each months he writes about the books he bought and the books he read. Put together it almost comes across as a kind of Fever Pitch, but about books rather than Arsenal. His comments are always insightful and personal, and it's great the way he is honest about the difference between what he feels he should be reading, and what he actual reads.
iubookgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Nick Hornby's fiction. As a lover of books, his forays into literary criticism and his own obvious addiction to reading hold an enormous appeal. His descriptions of his own reading encourage me to venture into unchartered territory and justify my own compulsive need to buy books.
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