Title: More Baths, Less Talking: Notes from the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author Locked in Battle with Football, Family, and Time Itself
Author: Nick Hornby
Genre: Non-fiction, essays
Publisher: Believer Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: It’s never easy, returning home after failing to make one’s way out in the world.
Goodreads blurb: “Read what you enjoy, not what bores you,” Nick Hornby tells us. That simple, liberating, and indispensable directive animates each installment of the celebrated critic and author’s monthly column in the Believer. In this delightful and never-musty tour of his reading life, Hornby tells us not just what to read, but how to read.
Whether tackling a dismayingly bulky biography of Dickens while his children destroy something in the next room, or getting sucked into a serious assessment of Celine Dion during an intensely fought soccer match featuring his beloved Arsenal, or devouring an entire series of children’s books while on vacation, Hornby’s reviews are rich, witty, and occasionally madcap. These essays capture the joy and ire, the despair and exhilaration of the book-lover’s life, and will appeal equally to both monocle-wearing salonnieres and people, like him, who spend a lot of time thinking about Miley Cyrus’s next role.
I may not read all the same types of books as Nick Hornby, but that doesn’t diminish the enjoyment I get from reading these collections. (Previous reviews: The Polysyllabic Spree and Shakespeare Wrote for Money) It has been fascinating to read of how Hornby’s reading tastes have changed through the years, and I’m curious to see if my own tastes will follow the same pattern as I get older. This particular collection is heavy on non-fiction reading, which means I learned a lot. I especially appreciated his adoration for Dickens; it made me even more excited for our read-along of Bleak House next month.
If you love books as much as I do, then you love books as much as Hornby does, and I have no doubt you will enjoy these collections as much as I did. I will leave you with a couple of the passages I marked as I read.
“Surely we all occasionally buy books because of a daydream we’re having – a little fantasy about the people we might turn into one day, when our lives are different, quieter, more introspective, and when all the urgent reading, whatever that might be, has been done.” ~ p. 27
“The quickest way to kill all love for the classics, I can see now, is to tell young people that nothing else matters, because then all they can do is look at them in a museum of literature, through glass cases. Don’t touch! And don’t think for a moment that they want to live in the same world as you! And so a lot of adult life – if your hunger and curiosity haven’t been squelched by your education – is learning to join up the dots that you didn’t even know were there.” ~ p. 56-57