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The Complete Polysyllabic Spree [Paperback]

Nick Hornby
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

28 Jun 2007

The Complete Polysyllabic Spree is Nick Hornby's wickedly funny journey through reading

This is not a book of reviews. This not a book that sneers at other books. This is a book about reading - about enjoying books wherever and however you find them.

Nick Hornby, author of the bestsellers About a Boy and Fever Pitch - takes us on a hilarious and perceptive tour through the books he bought, the books he read and his thoughts on literature. He is first and foremost a reader and he approaches books like the rest of us: hoping to pick up one he can't put down. The Complete Polysyllabic Spree is a diary of sorts, charting his reading life over two years. It is a celebration of why we read - its pleasures, its disappointments and its surprises. And above all, it is for you - the ever hopeful reader.

For fans of Bill Bryson and Stephen Fry, and for bookworms eveywhere, this witty, passionate book will make you cherish the world of letters anew.

'An engaged and engaging ramble around one reader's mind' The Times

'Not only does it make you want to read more but, like all great books, it's also terrific company' Metro

'For anyone whose idea of a good time is arguing with friends about their favourite books...amusing and contagiously enthusiastic' Big Issue

Nick Hornby has captivated readers and achieved widespread critical acclaim for his comic, well-observed novels About a Boy, High Fidelity, How to be Good, A Long Way Down (shortlisted for the Whitbread Award), Slam and Juliet, Naked. His two additional works of non-fiction, 31 Songs (shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award) and Fever Pitch (winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award) are also available from Penguin.

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The Complete Polysyllabic Spree + Stuff I've Been Reading
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (28 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141028491
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141028491
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 124,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nick Hornby was born in 1957, and is the author of six novels, High Fidelity, About a Boy, How To Be Good, A Long Way Down (shortlisted for the Whitbread Award)Slam and Juliet, Naked. He is also the author of Fever Pitch, a book on his life as a devoted supporter of Arsenal Football Club, and has edited the collection of short stories Speaking with the Angel. He has written a book about his favourite songs, 31 Songs, and his reading habits,The Complete Polysyllabic Spree. In 2009 he wrote the screenplay for the film An Education. Nick Hornby lives and works in Highbury, north London.

Product Description

About the Author

Nick Hornby is the bestselling author of High Fidelity, About a Boy, How to be Good and A Long Way Down (shortlisted for the 2005 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award), as well as the non-fiction Fever Pitch and 31 Songs. He is the recipient of the E.M. Forster Award, the W.H. Smith Award for Fiction and the Writers' Writer Award at the Orange International Writers' Festival. He lives in Highbury, North London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light reading 26 May 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a slim volume collecting essays Nick Hornby wrote from Dave Eggers's magazine the Believer. In these essays, produced monthly, Hornby chronicles his reading, telling us about books he's enjoyed and books he's struggled with, keeping a detailed record of what he's bought and what he's read (not always the same), and reflecting on the way life and reading interrelate. It's a fairly slight book, but there are some characteristically neat observations, and it's touched with Hornby's usual humanity. To me this is basically a bathroom book - something to read in five-page chunks - and it shouldn't be seen as either a literary manifesto or an important extension of Hornby's oeuvre. But it has made me check out writers I either wouldn't otherwise have read or hadn't even heard of, and that's always a pleasure.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fine print 25 Oct 2007
I read through this book at my usual pace, walking the dog , on the train to work , waiting in the pub for friends, in the bath, waiting for pizza, basically the usual haunts of the book addict. This book articulated my relationship with books from the tendancy to over buy books given the constraints on my time to read them, to my hatred for plot-divulging revues (the irony isnt lost). Hornby's key critical capabilities are boosted by the limitations put on him by the editors of the magazine he writes the column for,i.e. no direct criticism of the writer or writing allowed. This makes for a really wonderful discourse on his relationship with the books he reads and his enthusiasm for the books he chooses to read is infectious. Beyond this though the humour is what makes this book special. I think even if you took away my constant empathy with the author (I walked around nodding my head as I walked into lamposts) the humour alone would have kept me captivated. Ironically enough the first lesson of the book is that life is too short to read books that you dont like , put them down, move on - a great piece of advice that I intend to keep with. However I must say the first pages of this book took a while to get going while the rapport and standing jokes matured. If I had followed the advice in that first chapter I would have missed out on one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. Dont be put off by the fact that it is a book of articles (this was almost enough to turn me away from the start), but being a fan of the author's novels I decided to give it a go, absolutely no regrets.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reading about reading 1 July 2008
This book was bought for me as a birthday present shortly after I'd added it to my wish-list on Amazon. I like Nick Hornby's relaxed, chatty style, and was expecting this to do for books roughly what his 31 Songs did for music. I wasn't disappointed. For the most part, he uses his standard playfully passionate tone when writing about his reading, which is very entertaining; however, there are times (particularly near the start of the book) where he comes across as somewhat self-conscious about his tastes. In these passages, I was reminded of his shrill denunciation in "31 Songs" of anyone who didn't like Jackson Browne's "Late For The Sky" (as much as he did), which seems to miss the point of this sort of thing.

I was reading it to see if I agreed with his opinion of books which we'd both read, and to look out for interesting recommendations. Both of these expectations were more than met in this book, in spite of the way Hornby kicks against the restrictions placed on him by the editors of the original versions of these pieces - i.e. to never directly criticise an author or a book (he works around this by simply not finishing any book that he doesn't like, without giving its title).

I found one or two mismatches between the lists of books read and those discussed in the pieces, and it was somewhat distracting to find him referring to Christmas in his March column (presumably because of the time lag associated with the columns going into print). But overall, this was an pleasant read, with some nice insights into the communion that ought to exist between writer and reader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complete Reading Spree 24 May 2010
By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER
"The Complete Polysyllabic Spree" collects together the monthly "Stuff I've Been Reading" columns that Hornby wrote in The Believer magazine from September 2003 to June 2006. Each column is divided into "Books I've Read" and "Books I've Bought" which is genius because it shows the disparity between what's bought and what's read, something almost everyone who reads a lot can identify with. The big selling point for me is the number of times you find yourself thinking "I'm like that" when Hornby talks about a tedious novel wearing him down or loving a book you want to tell everyone about.

It's very lightweight material but hugely enjoyable for someone like me who loves to read and talk about books. It's fascinating to see a famous writer talking about books however The Believer has a cardinal rule - Thou Shalt Not Slag Off a Book - so you only get the good stuff, the books that he didn't finish are put down as "Anonymous Literary Novel".

There were so many books I ended up reading and loving thanks to Hornby's recommendations. "Citizen Vince" by Jess Walter, "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi, "The Men Who Stare at Goats" by Jon Ronson, "Hangover Square" by Patrick Hamilton, and "Case Histories" by Kate Atkinson. There are extracts from some selected books in between the columns so you can have a taste of what Hornby's talking about.

There's also some classic Hornby humour in his encounter with "Excession" by Iain M Banks. "The urge to weep tears of frustration was already upon me even before I read the short prologue, which seemed to describe some kind of androgynous avatar visiting a woman who has been pregnant for forty years and who lives on her own in the tower of a giant spaceship...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Spree of Syllables
In The Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby covers a variety of books and reviews most of them in a humorous way (even when his mood is slightly sombre or his review poignant) and there... Read more
Published 5 months ago by George Kelly
4.0 out of 5 stars A book about reading
Being a huge fan of Nick Hornby's novels I was hesitating with this review, especially after having been called a bastard for being an Amazon reviewer right in the beginning of the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ana
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and informative
A writer's observations on books he has read, and why, and how we become addicts to our collections. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Philip Mayo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Very accessible and enjoyable way to be introduced to a pile of new books. My bookshelves will be groaning even more.
Published 15 months ago by Mr. Nicholas W. Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars Amusing Read
Enjoyed very much, it is basically a collection of articles but provides useful information on books worth reading. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Peter
5.0 out of 5 stars Nick Hornby Will Hate This Review
Only because Hornby loathes Amazon reviewers, even the ones who write positive reviews. He doesn't say why, just hates 'em. Too bad. I won't hold it against him. Read more
Published on 25 Jun 2012 by takingadayoff
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read - up to a point
I write this review having woken up at 5.30 this morning and analysed the World Cup winners and doing my stats of which country won the most cups (Brazil obviously), what... Read more
Published on 8 July 2010 by Bacchus
5.0 out of 5 stars Book
Product arrived on time and in good order. As it was a present I cannot comment any further.
Published on 22 Dec 2009 by Mrs. Celia A. Kemp
5.0 out of 5 stars For all lovers of books, this is the best book of the year
This is a collection of book reviews Nick Hornby wrote for an American magazine, which works on the principle that no snide or negative reviews are ever allowed. Read more
Published on 9 April 2009 by M. W. Hatfield
2.0 out of 5 stars Nick Hornby
Nick Hornby's my fav author but this book is painful and slow, not my favourite book of his
Published on 3 Mar 2009 by Mr. T. W. Westwater
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