Book Review: Stuff I've Been Reading by Nick Hornby

Thursday, December 5, 2013
I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: Stuff I've Been Reading
Author: Nick Hornby

Synopsis: "Every month in the Believer magazine Nick Hornby notes down and writes about the Books he has Bough and the Books he has Read. Anyone with even half an interest in books will appreciate that the two columns rarely match up. Strangers press books on him, reviews suggest a new title is unmissable, one book leads to another...

Stuff I've Been Reading is less a collection of reviews than the diary of a life lived with books - books about the old East German secret police and the North Korean police state, books about Celine Dion and Charles Dickens, books about climate change and monogamous sex and the banking crisis, in fact all kinds of books that just happen to have taken the author's fancy.

Nick Hornby is the kind of reader we all aspire to be: enthusiastic but discerning, settled on some favourites but curious about the new, an altogether eager guide through a multitude of great books. Be warned though: read Stuff I've Been Reading and your own Books Bought column is bound to rocket."

My thoughts: It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why I picked this up. I love books, but, more importantly, I love books about reading. Some people find it to be an odd quirk that I often find myself looking around for books about reading and squealing with excitement when I find one.
On top of that, I have bought and read (and reread and reread) the previous collection of Nick Hornby's columns - 'The Complete Polysyllabic Spree' and absolutely adore it. So when I read that another collection was coming out, I promptly picked a copy up for myself.

Reading this was like being embraced in a big hug and I absolutely welcomed it. Pretty much all my reading time is taken up by Aurealis Awards nominations now, and taking a self-enforced holiday from that to read something I was super excited about was so wonderful.

Nick Hornby has a style of writing that feels familiar and welcoming without being saccharine. His choice of reading in this book was extremely varied, and I found at times that I was completely confused as to what these books were and where he had found them, but I was nonetheless intrigued by what he had to say about them. I would say that was one of the only drawbacks for me - Hornby clearly has different tastes to me in certain cases, and so I found myself reading about things that I wouldn't normally touch with a ten-foot pole. But he made it worth it.

I have to say that, if you're not a bit of a bibliophile like myself, you may not enjoy this book. You may find it confusing and perhaps even a pointless venture. But for someone with a love of books that never seems to vanish, even when they have over forty books to read in the next couple of months? This book is like coming home, or perusing a beautiful library with a witty guide telling you about each book. I hope Hornby puts out another.

You would like this book if: You love books with every fibre of your being; you have a touch of bibliophilia.

Rating:  9/10

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