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Housekeeping Vs. the Dirt: Fourteen Months of Massively Witty Adventures in Reading Chronicled by the National Book Critics Circle Finalist for Criticism [Paperback]

Nick Hornby
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

13 Sep 2006
In this latest collection of essays following "Housekeeping vs. the Dirt," critic and author Hornby continues the feverish survey of his swollen bookshelves, offering a funny, intelligent, and unblinkered account of the stuff he's been reading.

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Housekeeping Vs. the Dirt: Fourteen Months of Massively Witty Adventures in Reading Chronicled by the National Book Critics Circle Finalist for Criticism + Shakespeare Wrote for Money + More Baths Less Talking: Notes from the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author Locked in Battle with Football, Family, and Time Itself
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Product details

  • Paperback: 153 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's Publishing (13 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932416595
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932416596
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 14.1 x 1.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 451,293 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.



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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Always a pleasure 1 Oct 2011
By Lanic
Format:Paperback
This is the second of the three collections of Hornby's book reviews, and that's the only thing I would - maybe should - have known in advance, so I could have bought it and read it before the third, which actually I purchased last winter. But you really don't need to read them in any given order, of course, they are all such a pleasure. I can't really say why it is so great fun to me to read about books which, 99 out of 100, I haven't heard before, and will never ever see let alone read. I happen to live in Italy (just because I'm Italian, you know) and we don't get such an abundance of contemporary British or American novels or essays here, except the very famous authors, such as Philip Roth and Ian McEwan, usually. But it doesn't matter, it happened exactly the same thing with Hornby's book about the 41 songs, of whom I ignored just about 39. In that case I got the initial thrust by the fact that the very first song Nick wrote about was my heart of hearts' favourite, Bruce's Thunder road, but reading the rest of the book taught me that his gift for making me be interested in whatever he writes about is unfailing. And so it proves every time. If you love his novels and are any kind of reader, I think you'll share this pleasure.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time spent in good company 4 Oct 2006
By C. Ebeling - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Time spent with Nick Hornby is always time well spent. In essay mode, he is a companionable conversationalist making sparkling observations, and since he hits so often on my cultural zeitgeist list, I feel like we're having a dialogue, not that he's doing a garrulous solo riff. HOUSEKEEPING VS. THE DIRT is the second collection of his mostly monthly reading column for "The Believer" magazine, covering much of 2005, right up to the June/July 2006 edition. Hornby, an incorrigible book acquirer, begins each month with the list of books bought and those actually read. His reading is eclectic, the choices often serendipitous, as in picking up a book a small child has yanked off the shelf, and the title sums up the range, from Marianne Robinson's critically acclaimed HOUSEKEEPING to Motley Crue's sensational THE DIRT. He recognizes that we don't read in a vacuum, we read while under the influence of moods and the events of our personal lives and the world, and as such our book acquiring and reading is a part of that dynamic, part of our fiber. It's nice to sit down with a guy who gets it that reading is cool and essential, that it's not a disassociated science or a substitute for life or something that distracts us unnecessarily from doing other things someone else may deem more useful.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High Fidelity Book Reviews, Part Deux. 22 Nov 2006
By Erik Olson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've enjoyed three of Nick Hornby's books. Two were made into great movies: "About a Boy" and "High Fidelity." The third book was "The Polysyllabic Spree," a collection of fourteen months of book review columns he did for "Believer" magazine. I was initially drawn to that book because 1) I love to read, and 2) I like to write reviews on Amazon. I appreciated it for those reasons, and was happy to continue with this sequel, "Housekeeping Vs. The Dirt."

Each month gets one chapter (except for the two June/July periods, which are each compressed into one), where Mr. Hornby lists the title and author of the eclectic collection of books he bought vs. the ones he actually read. Then, he discusses the rationale for his purchases, and what he got out of the ones he managed to open. Plus, there are plenty of half-baked excuses for why he missed his reading goals (the Christmas column contains a nice running gag along those lines). Finally, there are excerpts from his top picks.

In "The Polysyllabic Spree," Mr. Hornby wrote that Amazon reviewers are of dubious parentage. Even so, I still enjoy his unique style of, well, reviewing. He has a cool way of weaving his personal life into the mix, so there's an autobiographical slant throughout the columns. For example, we find out some stuff about his family life, and follow the progress of his favorite football (i.e. soccer) team. But the best part of reading this book was finding out that I'm not the only sap who buys tons more books than I'll ever be able to read in a lifetime. Now I don't feel so alone in the world.

For those of you who love reading and are looking for a lighthearted book or two about your passion, then both "Housekeeping Vs. The Dirt," and its predecessor "The Polysyllabic Spree," are just the ticket. And if you find yourself enjoying Nick Hornby's style, then grab his other books and put them on your overflowing reading stack. Recommended (even if Mr. Hornby does insist I'm ignorant of who my father is).
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Collection... 18 Oct 2006
By JR Pinto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This continues the great collection of Nick Hornby's Believer essays that was begun in the Polysyllabic Spree. The idea behind these essays is that Hornby will read whatever he likes and, at the end of the month, write a column about it.

What I appreciate most about Hornby's essays (besides his sense of humor) is his barely contained love of reading. He does it because he wants to - not because he thinks he should. Some of his words of wisdom that would mortify the average "literary fiction" person include: "...if you're reading a book that's killing you, put it down and read something else..." and "..if you don't read the classics, or the novel that won this year's Booker Prize, then nothing bad will happen to you; more importantly, nothing good will happen to you if you do...."

And Nick, if you're out there reading this, I know you can't stand Amazon reviewers, but I also know you constantly read them, so I'm STILL recommending your book no matter what you say. HA!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be warned... 20 Nov 2009
By Rick Ollerman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is great BUT...

This is merely the second half of "The Polysyllabic Spree." Both the description and numerous reviews here call it a sequel, implying that it's a collection of his columns beginning AFTER the ones collected in Spree. Not so. The columns reprinted in Housekeeping are completely contained in Spree so if you have that book, you already have the columns in Housekeeping. Apparently other reviewers aren't actually reading the books they're talking about. But the columns themselves are excellent, even though I've now spent money on this particular set twice.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laugh-aloud funny 29 Mar 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the second collection of Hornby's essays from the magazine The Believer on what he has been reading each month and the connections between what he is reading and his actual life (it follows The Polysyllabic Spree). In this collection, Hornby really hits his stride. Not only are many of the pieces laugh-aloud funny, but there are several pithy nuggets that you will immediately want to read out loud to whoever is sitting next to you. And you will find some interesting reading recommendations to boot.

I particularly admire Hornby's advice to readers and would-be readers, as it reminds us all to only spend our time on books that are "worth reading," but that phrase--"worth reading"--differs for all of us. For you, it may be Proust's Remembrance of Things Past; for me, it may be a deliciously dark thriller like Gentlemen and Players; and for Hornby, it may be the Motley Crue biography, The Dirt. But what matters is that you are enjoying what you are reading, that the book is bringing something to the table. Because otherwise, reading will become a chore, like school, and then bam! We'll lose another one to American Idol.

Oh yes, and Hornby also has advice for writers: stop writing about writers. Enough already! To which I can only say amen, unless you happen to be Michael Chabon.
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