Thursday, August 17, 2006

A (reading) spree

I finished Nick Hornby's The Polysyllabic Spree this week. (Actually, I started it this week, too.) I saw it on Julia's bookshelf when we were there Sunday and started reading it then. It's a very funny and good little book about books, and reading books, and not reading books; and somewhat indirectly, about the life of a writer. These essays first appeared in the Believer magazine. Nick Hornby buys a lot of books and reads a lot of them, but not all. That's somewhat comforting.

Knowing what kind of books a person reads tells you something about that person, but not too much. More important, Hornby's lists of books read illustrate the value of eclectic tastes. He praises a biography of the poet Robert Lowell, David Copperfield (the novel, not the illusionist), a nonfiction book about baseball and one about raising autistic children, and Mystic River, among others. And he freely admits to giving up on boring books, no matter how well-recommended. The result is a series of essays that are fun to read and are the proof that a good writer needs to be a reader.

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