The Polysyllabic Spree collects a year's worth of Hornby’s riotous and informative "Stuff I’ve Been Reading" columns from the Believer, in which Hornby lists the books he’s read, along with what he bought and may one day read. He ably explores everything from the classic to the graphic novel, as well as poems, plays, and sports-related exposés. And if he occasionally implores a biographer for brevity, or abandons a literary work in favor of an Arsenal soccer match, then all is not lost. His warm and riotous writing, full of all the joy and surprise and despair that books bring him, reveals why we still read, even when there's soccer on TV, a pram in the hall, and a good band playing at our local bar.
One of my favorite passages:
Never mind that, as regular readers of this column know, I have over the last few months bought several hundred books I haven't yet read. And never mind that, as it turned out, I found myself passing a bookshop the very next day, and the day after that (because what else is there to do with a new baby, other than mooch around bookshops with him?), and was thus able to buy Mystic River. I didn't know for sure I'd ever go to a bookshop again; and if I never went to a bookshop again, how long were those several hundred books going to last me? Nine or ten years at the most. No, I needed that copy of Prayers for Rain, just to be on the safe side.p. 104
I absolutely identified with this passage because I'm always worried that I might run out of books to read. Which is crazy, because I always check out about 26 from the library, and then I have over 200 books laying around the house, but when I read that Hornby has those feelings about books, I knew that I would like him! I enjoyed the fact that a high-profile author, such as Hornby, also shares the same problems and dilemmas as us "normal" readers. When I read how he enters a bookstore and leaves with several, only to find the next month that he never cracked them open, I rejoice in the knowledge that I am "O.K." There were times, though, during my reading that I had a hard time keeping up with Hornby. Unfortunately, I am not as well-read as he is and some of his jokes or insider humor fell short. That, however, did not stop me from plowing through this book. In fact, it made me more determined than ever to try to read some of the books that Hornby had read and loved. That is the one thing that I took from this book....that we "the readers" share our love of the written word and in return, our knowledge and experiences grow.
I can now blame Nick Hornby for some of the books that I will be checking out of my library in the future!! Here's the list that I walked away with:
Notes on a Scandal- Zoe Heller
Revolutionary Road- Richard Yates (bought this a few weeks ago)
How to Breathe Underwater- Julie Orringer
George and Sam: Autism in the Family- Charlotte Moore
The Sirens of Titan- Kurt Vonnegut
Clockers- Richard Price
David Copperfield- Charles Dickens
Random Family- Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Mystic River- Dennis Lehane
I am trying to get my hand on Housekeeping vs. The Dirt and Shakespeare Wrote for Money which would round out his column that he wrote for The Believer. I'm sure my TBR list will be out of control once I finish those!!!
Stuff As Dreams Are Made On
Things Mean A Lot
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
Tripping Toward Lucidity
If you've reviewed Polysyllabic Spree please let me know and I'll add your link!!