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The Complete Polysyllabic Spree Paperback – 28 Jun 2007


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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: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,557 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By perkster on 25 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
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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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By The Fisher Price King on 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 100 REVIEWER on 24 May 2010
Format: Paperback
"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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. W. Hatfield VINE VOICE on 9 April 2009
Format: Paperback
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. Hornby documents his reading in magazine article sized chunks as they were originally published. And he writes with his usual wit and warmth. The mark of a good book review is that it makes you want to go out, buy the books and read them, and this volume certainly does that. Eclectic and entertaining in its own right, it's a wonderful pointer to some terrific books, and if you take Hornby's advice, you will be a wiser and better person. Well, maybe not- but you will be a wiser and better reader, which is the next best thing.
What makes the collection exceptional is Hornby's musings on reading itself, his love of the process of reading and his hatred of pretension, which make his insight a fascinating contrast to literary critics in general, and which will make you think. I share his love of Dickens, and his aversion to "literary" poseurs, and though I often disagree with his judgements, I love his style and attitude.
He's not always right: for instance, regarding Iain Banks, he's quite simply wrong, and his inability to read science fiction speaks more about him than about the genre.
But I loved this book. it reminded me why I love reading itself, it made me laugh and left me wanting much, much more. I devoured it in a day, and so will you.

One for reading, and re-reading. A keeper.

And by the way, just in case you were wondering, he very neatly sidesteps the "no negative criticism" rule, amd leaves you in no doubt what he thinks about every text.He also manages to mention Arsenal a few times. But then, nobody's perfect!
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