The Complete Polysyllabic Spree

January 26, 2007 at 11:16 am | Posted in Non-Fiction | Leave a comment

It’s a little difficult to approach The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby because I’d be reviewing a collection of reviews. The thing is, I really like Hornby’s work (High Fidelity and Fever Pitch are two favourites) and I thought it would be interesting to see what books he enjoyed.

Taken from his column in Believer magazine from September 2003 to May 2006, Hornby covers a wide variety of books – fiction and non-fiction. From David Copperfield to Adrain Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction. They aren’t dry reviews, either. Hornby is happy to reveal things about himself – like the excitement he had one holiday watching someone read one of his novels by the poolside and the disappointment at seeing them promptly fall asleep under it.

It’s an interesting read, but perhaps the best advice he offers for readers can be found in the introduction:

If reading books is to survive as a leisure activity – and there are statistics which show this is by no means assured – then we have to promote the joys of reading, rather than the (dubious) benefits. I would never attempt to dissuade anyone from reading a book. But please, if you’re reading a book that’s killing you, put it down and read something else, just as you would reach for the remote if you weren’t enjoying a TV programme.

It makes me feel so much better about that copy of War and Peace gathering dust on my bookshelf.

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