'Read what you enjoy, not what bores you,' Nick Hornby tells us. And in this new collection of his columns from the Believer magazine he shows us how it's done.
From historical tomes to comic books, literary novels to children's stories, political thrillers to travel writing, Stuff I've Been Reading details Nick's thoughts and experiences on books by George Orwell, J.M. Barrie, Muriel Spark, Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Jennifer Egan, Ian McEwan, Cormac McCarthy and many, many more. This wonderfully entertaining journey in reading differs from all other reviews or critical appreciations - it takes into account the role that books actually play in our lives.
The Complete Polysyllabic Spree is Nick Hornby's wickedly funny journey through reading
This is not a book of reviews. This not a book that sneers at other books. This is a book about reading - about enjoying books wherever and however you find them.
Nick Hornby, author of the bestsellers About a Boy and Fever Pitch - takes us on a hilarious and perceptive tour through the books he bought, the books he read and his thoughts on literature. He is first and foremost a reader and he approaches books like the rest of us: hoping to pick up one he can't put down. The Complete Polysyllabic Spree is a diary of sorts, charting his reading life over two years. It is a celebration of why we read - its pleasures, its disappointments and its surprises. And above all, it is for you - the ever hopeful reader.
For fans of Bill Bryson and Stephen Fry, and for bookworms eveywhere, this witty, passionate book will make you cherish the world of letters anew.
'An engaged and engaging ramble around one reader's mind' The Times
'Not only does it make you want to read more but, like all great books, it's also terrific company' Metro
'For anyone whose idea of a good time is arguing with friends about their favourite books...amusing and contagiously enthusiastic' Big Issue
Funny Girl - the latest novel from Nick Hornby, the million-copy bestselling author of About a Boy
Make them laugh, and they're yours forever . . .
Barbara Parker is Miss Blackpool of 1964, but she doesn't want to be a beauty queen. She only wants to make people laugh. So she leaves her hometown behind, takes herself off to London, and lands a life-changing audition for a new BBC comedy series. Overnight she becomes Sophie Straw: charming, gorgeous, destined to win the nation's hearts.
Funny Girl is the story of a smash-hit TV show and the people behind the scenes: the writers, Tony and Bill, friends since national service and comedy obsessives; producer Dennis, Oxbridge educated, clever, mild and not-so-secretly devoted to his star actress Sophie; and dashing male lead Clive, who firmly believes he's destined for better things. The show's success continues rocketing and the cast and crew are having the time of their lives. But when the script begins to get a bit too close to home, and life starts imitating art, they all face a choice. How long can they keep going before it's time to change the channel?
Nick Hornby's novel is about popular culture and the swinging sixties. Sophie Straw is learning about youth and old age, fame and hard work, class and collaboration. Funny Girl offers a captivating portrait of youthful exuberance and freedom at a time when Britain itself was experiencing one of its most enduring creative bursts. Hornby fans will love his latest book, as will readers of David Nicholls, Mark Haddon and William Boyd.
'Fans won't be disappointed by this new story... endearing, humorous and touching, full of spot-on period detail, all brought to vivid life by a cast of very human characters. Hugely enjoyable' Sunday Mirror
'Resolutely, winningly light-hearted' Observer
'Nick Hornby's funny, winningly perceptive novel is a pleasure to read' Telegraph
'If you devoured About a Boy and whizzed through High Fidelity you're going to love Nick Hornby's brilliant new novel. Hilarious and captivating, this is a fabulous read' Take a Break
'There is something about Hornby's writing that is so simple, so easy-to-read and yet so sensitive and profound at the same time, that anything he writes turns out very special. The premise of Funny Girl is like a lot of Nick Hornby's irritatingly genius ideas: something so obvious you can't believe no one thought of it before.' Independent
'Everything he writes is addictively readable and clever, but with this one he just surpasses himself' Red
'Effortlessly engaging... Hornby's writing is so fluid, he has a great knack for capturing atmosphere and skewering a character with a killer phrase' - Evening Standard
A Long Way Down - Nick Hornby's hilarious bestseller now a major motion picture starring Pierce Brosnan
'Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block?'
For disgraced TV presenter Martin Sharp the answer's pretty simple: he has, in his own words, 'pissed his life away'. And on New Year's Eve he's going to end it all . . . but not, as it happens, alone. Because first single-mum Maureen, then eighteen-year-old Jess and lastly American rock-god JJ turn up and crash Martin's private party. They've stolen his idea - but brought their own reasons.
Yet it's hard to jump when you've got an audience queuing impatiently behind you. A few heated words and some slices if cold pizza later and these four strangers are suddenly allies. But is their unlikely friendship a good enough reason to carry on living?
Shortlisted for the 2005 Whitbread Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, A Long Way Down is a darkly hilarious and moving novel by bestselling author Nick Hornby. If you like Jonathan Coe, David Sedaris and David Nicholls, you will love this book.
'A page-turning plot and rich, funny characters with several big laughs on every page. . . Hornby's best yet' Literary Review
'Hornby's best novel to date, impossible to put down. . . how can an examination of four people's anguish be so enthralling?' Ruth Rendell, Guardian
'Masterful. . . some of the finest writing, and some of the most outstanding characters I've ever had the pleasure of reading' Johnny Depp
About a Boy is Nick Hornby's comic and heart-warming million-copy bestseller
'How cool was Will Freeman?'
Too cool! At thirty-six, he's as hip as a teenager. He's single, child-free, goes to the right clubs and knows which trainers to wear. He's also found a great way to score with women: attend single parents' groups full of available (and grateful) mothers, all hoping to meet a Nice Guy.
Which is how Will meets Marcus, the oldest twelve-year-old on the planet. Marcus is a bit strange: he listens to Joni Mitchell and Mozart, looks after his mum and has never owned a pair of trainers. But Marcus latches on to Will - and won't let go. Can Will teach Marcus how to grow up cool? And can Marcus help Will just to grow up?
This astonishing novel, now a modern classic, was adapted for the acclaimed 2002 film About A Boy, starring Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult. Fans of One Day by David Nicholls and Any Human Heart by William Boyd will devour this book, as will lovers of fiction everywhere.
'A stunner of a novel. Utterly read-in-one-day, forget-where-you-are-on-the-tube-gripping' Marie Claire
'About the awful, hilarious, embarrassing places where children and adults meet, and Hornby has captured it with delightful precision' Irish Times
'It takes a writer with real talent to make this work, and Hornby has it - in buckets' Literary Review
Is it possible to share your life with someone whose record collection is incompatible with your own? Can people have terrible taste and still be worth knowing? Do songs about broken hearts and misery and loneliness mess up your life if consumed in excess?
For Rob Fleming, thirty-five years old, a pop addict and owner of a failing record shop, these are the sort of questions that need an answer, and soon. His girlfriend has just left him. Can he really go on living in a poky flat surrounded by vinyl and CDs or should he get a real home, a real family and a real job? Perhaps most difficult of all, will he ever be able to stop thinking about life in terms of the All Time Top Five bands, books, films, songs - even now that he's been dumped again, the top five break-ups?
Memorable, sad and very, very funny, this is the truest book you will ever read about the things that really matter.
Nick Hornby returns to his roots - music and messy relationships - in this funny and touching new novel which thoughtfully and sympathetically looks at how lives can be wasted but how they are never beyond redemption. Annie lives in a dull town on England's bleak east coast and is in a relationship with Duncan which mirrors the place; Tucker was once a brilliant songwriter and performer, who's gone into seclusion in rural America - or at least that's what his fans think. Duncan is obsessed with Tucker's work, to the point of derangement, and when Annie dares to go public on her dislike of his latest album, there are quite unexpected, life-changing consequences for all three.
Nick Hornby uses this intriguing canvas to explore why it is we so often let the early promise of relationships, ambition and indeed life evaporate. And he comes to some surprisingly optimistic conclusions.
'There was this time when everything seemed to have come together. And so obviously it was time to go and screw it all up.'
Sam is sixteen and a skater. Just so there are no terrible misunderstandings: skating = skateboarding. There's no ice. Life is ticking along nicely for Sam: his mum's got rid of her rubbish boyfriend, he's thinking about college and he's met someone. Alicia.
Then a little accident happens. One with big consequences for someone just finding his way in life. Sam can't run (let alone skate) away from this one. He's a boy facing a man's problems and the question is - has he got what it takes to confront them?
'I decided that I wanted to write a little book of essays about songs I loved ... Songs are what I listen to, almost to the exclusion of everything else.'
In his first non-fiction work since Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby writes about 31 songs that either have some great significance in his life - or are just songs that he loves. He discusses, among other things, guitar solos and losing your virginity to a Rod Stewart song and singers whose teeth whistle and the sort of music you hear in Body Shop.
'The soundtrack to his life ... a revealing insight into one of Britain's most popular writers' Evening Standard
How to be Good is Nick Hornby's hilarious bestselling novel on life, love and charity
'I am in a car park in Leeds when I tell my husband I don't want to be married to him any more. . . '
London GP Katie Carr always thought she was a good person. With her husband David making a living as 'The Angriest Man in Holloway', she figured she could put up with anything. Until, that is, David meets DJ Goodnews and becomes a good person too. A far-too-good person who starts committing crimes of charity like taking in the homeless and giving their kids' toys away. Suddenly Katie's feeling very bad about herself, and thinking that if charity begins at home, then maybe its time to move. . .
This laugh-out-loud novel, from the bestselling author of About a Boy and High Fidelity, will have you gripped from start to finish and will appeal to fans of David Nicholls and Jonathan Coe, as well as readers in need of a moral compass everywhere.
'Pins you in your armchair ad won't let go . . . How to be Good? How to be bloody marvellous, more like' Mail on Sunday
'It does exactly what it says on the cover. Hornby's prose is artful and effortless, his spiky wit as razored as a number-two cut' Independent
'The writing is so funny, and the set-pieces so brilliant...Hornby's best book since Fever Pitch' Lynn Truss, The Times
The Twentieth Anniversary Edition
As a young boy, growing up in the Home Counties and watching his parents' marriage fall apart, Nick Hornby had little sense of home. Then his dad took him to Highbury. Arsenal's football ground would become the source of many of the strongest feelings he'd ever have: joy, humiliation, heartbreak, frustration and hope.
In this now-classic book, he vividly depicts his troubled relationship with his father,, his time as a teacher, and his first loves (after football), all through the prism of the game, as he insightfully and brilliantly explores obsession, and the way it can shape a life.
High Fidelity is Nick Hornby's hilarious and heart-breaking first novel bestseller
Do you know your desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups?
Rob does. He keeps a list, in fact. But Laura isn't on it - even though she's just become his latest ex. He's got his life back, you see. He can just do what he wants when he wants: like listen to whatever music he likes, look up the girls that are on his list, and generally behave as if Laura never mattered. But Rob finds he can't move on. He's stuck in a really deep groove - and it's called Laura. Soon, he's asking himself some big questions: about love, about life - and about why we choose to share ours with the people we do.
A million-copy bestseller, and adapted into a 2000 film starring John Cusack, High Fidelity explores the world of break-ups, make-ups and what it is to be in love. This astutely observed and wickedly funny book will be enjoyed by readers of David Nicholls and William Boyd, and by generations of readers to come.
'It will give enormous pleasure at the same time as expanding in a small but worthwhile way, the range of English literature' Independent on Sunday
'Leaves you believing not only in the redemptive power of music but above all the redemptive power of love. Funny and wise, sweet and true' Independent
'A triumphant first novel. True to life, very funny and moving' Financial Times
Fan Mail: Twenty Years of Writing about Football by Nick Hornby, the bestselling author of Fever Pitch
After the phenomenal success of Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby tried to avoid writing about football, for fear that he'd be writing about it forever. But occasionally over the years he's found it impossible to turn down a particularly enticing assignment or, in the case of the 2012-13 Premier League, just unable to resist writing about that most spectacular of seasons.
Fortunately for those who love great writing about football, all these fugitive pieces are collected in Fan Mail. You can follow the fortunes, as Hornby did, of a hopelessly out-of-their-depth Cambridge United in the old Second Division, discover why Perry Groves was an unlikely hero among Arsenal fans, enjoy Hornby trying to explain the World Cup to Americans, and share with him the pain of watching our national team.
This Penguin Special, available exclusively as an ebook, can be read in two hours or less. It will be loved by readers of The Secret Footballer and Inverting the Pyramid, as well as fans of Hornby everywhere.
'Fever Pitch is the best football book ever written' Nick Lezard, GQ
'That is why there is NOTHING better than sport' Kevin Pietersen
The 2011-12 Premier League season finished on an afternoon so extraordinary that it prompted Kevin Pietersen's tweet. Yet this was just the climax of an incredible season. By May fans of most clubs had been enthralled, appalled, depressed, elated, shocked and enraged. Along the way football had somehow managed to encompass politics, high finance, the law and matters of life and death.
In Pray Nick Hornby, author of the classic Fever Pitch, offers an entertaining and typically insightful account of this most extraordinary of seasons. Beginning with the weekend of 28 August when the Man Utd demolition of Arsenal 8-2 and the Man City demolition of Spurs 5-1 showed what was to come, he concentrates on a number of games whose significance went beyond the immediate result: the October games with alleged rascist incidents, the fairy-tale return of Thierry Henry, the collapse of Fabrice Muamba, the Carling Cup Final where Liverpool's victory only served to point up the club's problems, the unusual (but increasingly more common) 4-4 draw between Man Utd and Everton...
It was a season of tumultuous incident and enormous entertainment, a season more glorious than most. Read all about it, and relive it, here.
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY NICK HORNBY
John Harmon returns to England after years in exile to claim his inheritance: a great fortune and a beautiful young woman to whom he is betrothed, but has never met. When Harmon's body is pulled out of the Thames, all of London is fascinated by the mystery of the murdered man and his unclaimed riches. Scavengers, social-climbers, lawyers and teachers, a money-lender and a dolls-dressmaker, men and women both honest and villainous, will all become embroiled in this tale of love and obsession, death and rebirth.
Nick Hornby is the author of six bestselling novels (High Fidelity, About a Boy, How To Be Good, A Long Way Down, Juliet, Naked andFunny Girl), as well as a novel for young adults, Slam, and four works of acclaimed non-fiction: Fever Pitch, 31 Songs, The Complete Polysyllabic Spree and Stuff I've Been Reading. He has written the screenplays for the films Fever Pitch, Wild, Brooklyn andAn Education, which was nominated for an Oscar. He lives in Highbury, north London.