Books About Books. Meta.

28 Oct

Since I’ve spent the better part of this week trying not to cry on the subway because of Beautiful Boy, I thought maybe I’d cheer you guys (and myself, since I am, I imagine, my blog’s No. 1 reader) up by recommending an author astronomically less likely to put you in a funk and make you stare resentfully at everything from beer to cough syrup, muttering things like to yourself like “stupid drugs.”

Now, if you haven’t heard of Nick Hornby, back up. Because you have. He’s the bloke (he’s British, so I can say that) behind About a Boy, High Fidelity and Fever Pitch (the book, on which the Jimmy Fallon abomination is based, is far superior). His books are almost compulsively readable, sort of like what David Sedaris might write if he took a Valium and/or developed a generally more upbeat (though still sarcastic) outlook on life. Which, again, not a dig at Sedaris. My idea of upbeat is assuming the world won’t end in my lifetime.

Lesser known, however, than books like High Fidelity and A Long Way Down, are Hornby’s essays in The Believer, a mostly literature-focused magazine published by McSweeney’s (the brainchild of Dave Eggars, who is unto himself another blog post for another day). Fortunately for us, these essays have been compiled in a series of short books: The Polysyllabic Spree, Housekeeping vs. The Dirt and Shakespeare Wrote for Money. These, almost as if to counteract the accessibility and general ease of Hornby’s novels, are books for book nerds. You see, in the beginning of each chapter, Hornby lists two columns: the books he has bought that month, and the books he has read. …It should come as no surprise that Hornby’s ratio of books books bought to books read is as skewed as mine. The rest is a hodgepodge of reviews, anecdotes and general musings, which sounds…vaguely familiar.

The upside of these books is threefold: 1) Although they aren’t novels, and although creating fictional characters is a Hornby strength, they still indisputably have his wit and style. 2) If you’re looking for book ideas, they are a great place to start; I would venture a guess that they’ve added 20+  titles to my own Amazon Wish List. And 3) If you, like me, need the consolation that there are other neurotic weird book-buying freaks out there, well, look no further.

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