Monday, December 10, 2012

More Baths, Less Talking by Nick Hornby

Cover imageNick Hornby’s MoreBaths, Less Talking: Notes From the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author LockedIn a Battle With Football, Family, and Time Itself is the latest collection of the author’s “Stuff I’ve Been Reading ” columns, which appear in the magazine The Believer. The title of the column describes the contents pretty well. Each column starts out with a list of “Books Bought” and “Books Read” by Hornby during that particular month. He then discusses the books he has read and sometimes also covers why he bought certain books on the “Books Bought” list.

I realize that this does not sound all that exciting, but the columns are very entertaining and written more like personal essays than standard book reviews. There are several titles he mentioned that I added to my reading list, but I also enjoyed his writing on the books I’ll likely never read. He discusses Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn and how he is reading the novel with the intention of adapting it for the screen. I enjoyed his discussion of how a book changes when he tries to imagine it on the screen and how certain parts of books easily lend themselves to the screen while others do not. He talks about downloading free copies of several Charles Dickens books and how free electronic versions of out-of-print classics will likely mean that publishers will have less money for living writers. There are plenty of digressions but this is part of the fun of Hornby’s writing.

While he does discuss many new titles, Hornby’s reading also veers into classics, obscure books his friends have recommended to him, and once popular authors now somewhat forgotten. It’s nice to read about books other than ones recently published. At times I wondered if Hornby liked everything he read or was just very wise in choosing what to read. I felt better towards the end of the book when he had some clever criticism of how unrealistic he found the characters in John Updike’s novel Marry Me: A Romance. After all, there is nothing wrong with a more light-hearted approach to book reviews, but it isn’t worth much if the critic likes everything.


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