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Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

The Polysyllabic Spree is the first of two collections of essays that Nick Hornby wrote for The Believer. The second collection is called Housekeeping vs. the Dirt. Like most book bloggers, I have a seemingly endless list of books about books that I want to read one day. I requested this one from Paperbackswap, and unlike most books I get from there, I jumped right into it. It's a slim little book, only 14 short essays, but it did take me a while to read as I kept getting distracted by books with plots.

Hornby begins each essay with a list of books bought that month and books read. For me, this was the most interesting part. Some months he only bought 3 or 4 books! How is that possible?* If it wasn't just another thing for me to forget to keep track of, I'd love to do the same. For a while last year I tried to keep with with it in my Monday Math segment. I stopped doing that when it became obvious that I was never gonna catch up. I'd start it up again**,*** but I've developed an annoyance of some the weekly things going around- Monday Math, Tuesday Twofers, books about lemurs on Friday! I admit to being inconsistent though, I still like Thursday Thirteens and The Sunday Salon and a few others that float around. Sue me. I CAN see the convienence of them though, makes it very easy to have something to blog about each day, and I can certainly appreciate that! Uh, where was I?

Hornby then talks about what he read in a very conversational manner, nothing formal at all to the essays. It's quite a lot like talking to a friend about what he's reading. He goes into some detail about how one book led to another and why he read that one next. This is exactly the kind of book talk that I love. If I could have a book club that just talked about books, and didn't even READ any, I'd be in heaven.

On Thursday I was reading blogs and one of them mentioned that Hornby has a blog. GREAT! But the very first post I read, the one he posted THAT DAY, says that he has now given up the column for The Believer. Just when I find him! Fortunately, I still have Housekeeping vs. the Dirt to look forward to, if paperbackswap ever comes through for me. If you're a book lover, I recommend you pick it up.****

*Later in the book he admits that he doesn't list everything he buys. This makes much more sense!
** Reading through a couple of them, I really do want to start doing it again, but now I've admitted my annoyance and it seems a little hypocritical to do so.
*** Should those ** go before or after the comma? I never could do commas right.
**** OR you could WIN it, if someone were to be giving it away, sometime later this weekend? Or maybe next week if the weekend turns out to be too much fun? (Or too tiring. Zzzzzz. Sleep baby sleep!)

(This is book two for the July Book Blowout.)


  1. You've given me an idea for a future Sunday Salon post . . . I could read this book and talk about it like I did with Anne Fadiman's book. :-) Or maybe not. We'll see.

    I love books like this. They speak to my inner reader.

  2. Hopefully they'll put out one more book with his columns for the last couple of years. That's my hope anyway.

  3. I just read/reviewed *A Long Way Down* with my book group. I recommend it, if you haven't yet read it. He's very funny (and considering the subject matter, that's a feat!)

    Yes, I popped over to add his blog to my reader to find the same message :(

  4. sheistoofondofbooks- I've never read any of his fiction, I might have to check it out, thanks!


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