November 8, 2012

More Baths Less Talking

As if you didn't know, Nick Hornby has a semi-regular feature in The Beliver magazine called "Stuff I've Been Reading" which is a funny and informative rundown of reading and how it fits into Mr. Hornby's life.  He's collected previous columns into other slim books: The Polysyllabic Spree; Housekeeping vs. The Dirt; and Shakespeare Wrote for Money.  The titles all make sense if you read them, but probably not until then.

There's little new here.  Just the same fun, inquisitive, open-minded, and hilarious observations of reading and life and how they go together.  He continues the format of listing "Books Bought" and "Books Read" at the head of each column, which of course rarely match up.  If you like to read widely, you'll enjoy these books. It doesn't matter if you care to read the same books as Mr. Hornby, it's still great stuff and who knows?  Maybe you will get a few recommendations.  But that's certainly not the point.  These are not book reviews in the traditional sense.  He's showing how his reading and his life intersect and how you can't dismiss your moods, your company, your surroundings and other factors that influence your reading.

It boils down to "Read what you enjoy, not what bores you."  And all bets are off when the World Cup is on or his kids are dragging his attention away.  Like they do.

Some favorite bits:

Fitzgerald knew Lucille Ball!

Everything about Dickens.

And especially the discussion of Carl Wilson's Let's Talk About Love which I now am going to have to read. He discusses a few books that he recommends for artists of any stripe, whether authors, film makers or whatnot, like the The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film by Michael Ondaatje.  (I've read that one!  But it's been a while.  I need to re-read it.  It was amazing!)  But the Carl Wilson book is more for the consumers of the art and how they choose and perceive art.  It comes out of the 33 1/3 series which was a series of short books on important albums.  They are all about great albums and how they influenced the writer.  Except for Carl Wilson's.  He decided to take on the issues of taste and snobbery in art.  He writes about Celine Dion not because he is a fan but because he can't understand why other people like her so much and it is apparently a great meditation on how we decide what we like or don't, what's "good" and what's "bad."

Until I read that I probably don't know what I'm talking about, but I think Nick Hornby definitely gets marked down in the "good" column.