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More Baths Less Talking: Notes from the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author Locked in Battle with Football, Family, and Time Itself Paperback – Aug 21 2012
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"Hornby is a champion of the book, of reading, of the pleasure of a smart literary experience. He has a quality desperately needed in these times: intelligent enthusiasm."
The New Republic
"A witty and illuminating blueprint to the habits and how-tos of reading good books well."
"[Nick Hornby] has a knack for creating appealingly irresolute characters and is a genial guy with excellent taste and a smart, irreverent sense of humor."
" this book is much more than funny. He understands writers and what they are trying to do. This book crackles with insight."Star Tribune
"A wonderfully eclectic to-read list, Hornby reminds everyone how important it is to revel in the written word."Publishers Weekly
"Hornby is an entertainingly unpretentious critic; any reader would come away with a handful of book recommendations theyd be eager to check out."Kirkus
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The format is simple and irresistible. He lists the books he's bought (including books given to him or that he borrowed) and the books he's read in the past month. Then he writes about them and anything else that's on his mind for a couple of pages. It's less a column really, and more of a blog that has a casual and sometimes first draft feel. It's fun to compare what you've been reading to his choices and if you've any books in common, to see what he thinks about them.
In the past few years, he's made some changes in his reading patterns. He used to read a lot of contemporary fiction, and now he reads backlist items as well and more non-fiction. And since he's now an Academy Award nominated screenwriter, some of the books he reads are Hollywood-oriented.
Right off the bat, Hornby mentions a book I had started to read but gave up as potentially too depressing - David Kynaston's Austerity Britain. Hornby talked me into giving it another shot. It sounds like the kind of social and political history that Dominic Sandbrook and David McCullough do so well.
He reads biography, history, children's books, even a self-help title. He reaches back in time to catch up with Muriel Sparks' fiction and several Charles Dickens novels. Many 'books bought' never make it to the 'books read' column, including Babbitt and Peter Pan. He has a weakness for gossipy and well-written biography such as Steven Kanfer's Ball of Fire (Lucille Ball) and Richard Schickel's Elia Kazan, the latter title not being quite gossipy enough.
In keeping with the spirit of the magazine he is writing for, Hornby stays away from saying negative things about the books, which is too bad since you get the feeling he is holding back. But occasionally he drops his guard and lets a criticism slip past. Impressed by Ernest Hemingway's claim that it was the book from which all American literature derives, Hornby reads The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He dismisses it with a single "meh," which I completely agree with.
After a nearly 1 and a half year break, the book picks up the first column in May 2010 to the last in December 2011. Hornby's humour is as sharp and effervescent as ever but more importantly his enthusiasm for reading and the books he's read is infectious. I think what made me like the book more was that this time around he picked books that weren't necessarily well known in the mainstream and consequently I wound up picking up some excellent titles from the columns, one of which I'm two thirds of the way through and enjoying the heck out of - "The Driver's Seat" by Muriel Spark.
Recommendations like "Book of Days" by Emily Fox Gordon, "Whoops!" by John Lanchester, and "Charles Dickens" by Claire Tomalin, are all books I wouldn't have heard of without him (maybe not the Tomalin) nor would I have felt the urgent need to read them. It's also enjoyable to read Hornby's reviews of books I've already read. Books like "The Anthologist" by Nicholson Baker, "The Psychopath Test" by Jon Ronson, and "Huckleberry Finn" are all reviewed well (except "Finn" which is just one word - "meh". The Believer, which publishes these columns, doesn't believe in negative reviews so Hornby has to keep the pages bile-free).
One of my favourite things to do after reading a book I liked/disliked is to go online and read what others felt about it. Sometimes it's cathartic if I hated it and sometimes I learn something about it I missed when reading it; but reading others' reviews is always enjoyable and when it's someone famous for their writing doing it, so much the better.
Hornby's ingenious format of putting two lists at the start of the column "Books I've Bought" and "Books I've Read" is still fascinating to look at from the perspective of someone who loves books as much as Hornby and buys far more than he reads.
Well, I'm glad he's back doing it. This is a fantastic read which I flew through in two sittings writing down titles to pick up and laughing at Hornby's assessments of some books as well as digs at his publishers, and I really had a great time with this book. For bibliophiles everywhere, this is a must-have.
Rating: Three-star (It's ok)
Oddly, I haven’t read much of what Hornby reads and I’m not inspired to go out and buy the books he reads, but (who knows why?) I’m terribly intrigued at reading about Hornby’s reading. Lots of biographies and classics and histories. Books about musicians and soccer players and politicians. I don’t read any of that. Almost never. But I still love reading about the books he has read and attempted to read and (even) given up on. Mysterious.
Hornby is that dream literary friend you meet once a month for coffee or tea to discuss books. This friend opens the door to the imagination and the range of ideas and fascinating worlds available only through books.
The title More Baths Less Talking comes comes from Mating in Captivity: Sex, Lies, and Domestic Bliss. In this piece of nonfiction, Eddie, was being dumped by multiple women because he was unable to talk about his feelings. So he married a Japanese woman who did not speak English. They didn't talk, but they were able to communicate and one of the secrets to their successful relationship was more baths together and less talking.
The collection is full of fascinating insights such as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez's tumultuous relationship, Charles Dickens's complicated personal life, Patti Smith in the 1970s as well as great fiction and poetry discovered that month.
Since most of us will never likely read many of these books, it's great to have a friend like Hornby who will entertain you with his literary travels and exploits.