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How to be Good [Paperback]

Nick Hornby
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

24 Jun 2010

How to be Good is Nick Hornby's hilarious bestselling novel on life, love and charity

'I am in a car park in Leeds when I tell my husband I don't want to be married to him any more. . . '

London GP Katie Carr always thought she was a good person. With her husband David making a living as 'The Angriest Man in Holloway', she figured she could put up with anything. Until, that is, David meets DJ Goodnews and becomes a good person too. A far-too-good person who starts committing crimes of charity like taking in the homeless and giving their kids' toys away. Suddenly Katie's feeling very bad about herself, and thinking that if charity begins at home, then maybe its time to move. . .

This laugh-out-loud novel, from the bestselling author of About a Boy and High Fidelity, will have you gripped from start to finish and will appeal to fans of David Nicholls and Jonathan Coe, as well as readers in need of a moral compass everywhere.

'Pins you in your armchair ad won't let go . . . How to be Good? How to be bloody marvellous, more like' Mail on Sunday

'It does exactly what it says on the cover. Hornby's prose is artful and effortless, his spiky wit as razored as a number-two cut' Independent

'The writing is so funny, and the set-pieces so brilliant...Hornby's best book since Fever Pitch' Lynn Truss, The Times

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

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (24 Jun 2010)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 024195018X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241950180
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,813 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

Amazon Review

In Nick Hornby's How To Be Good, Katie Carr is certainly trying to be. That's why she became a GP. That's why she cares about Third World debt and homelessness, and struggles to raise her children with a conscience. It's also why she puts up with her husband David, self-styled "Angriest Man in Holloway". But one fateful day, she finds herself in a Leeds car-park, having just slept with another man. What she doesn't yet realise is that her Fall from Grace is just the first step on a spiritual journey more torturous than the M25 at rush-hour. Because, prompted by his wife's actions, David is about to stop being Angry. He's about to become Good--not Guardian-reading, organic-food-eating good, but Good in the fashion of the Gospels. And that's no easier in modern-day Holloway than it was in ancient Israel.

Mr Hornby fires his central theme at us from the title page: how can we be good, and what does that mean? But, quite apart from demanding that his readers scrub their souls with the nearest available Brillo pad, he also mesmerises us with that cocktail of wit and compassion which has become his trademark. The result is a multi-faceted jewel of a book: a hilarious romp, a painstaking dissection of middle-class mores, and a powerfully sympathetic portrait of a marriage in its death throes. It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry as we watch David forcing his kids to give away their computers, drawing up schemes for the mass redistribution of wealth and inviting his wife's most desolate patients round for a Sunday roast. But that's because How To Be Good manages to be both brutally truthful and full of hope. It won't outsell the Bible, but it's a lot funnier. --Matthew Baylis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

'A profound, worrying, hilarious, sophisticated, compulsive novel' John Carey, Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How to be average 18 Jun 2002
I too found this book a little disappointing! I've read all his others and was looking forward to reading this one, however it never really gripped me. The plot seemed to swing about, leaving characters like her brother and lover incomplete. The actual idea of the book, what would happen if North London liberals really began wearing their hearts on their sleeves, becoming selfless, giving away their possessions & money and so on, is an interesting one but the trigger for it all, GoodNews, just doesn't seem right somehow. As usual, apart from some duds, the dialog and set pieces were amusing but it wasn't enough in the end.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars sadly disappointing 10 Jun 2001
By A Customer
I agree with the "massive disappointment" review - the first truthful review I have seen. This book does have it's funny moments, most particularly the long list of things and people that David hates. However, mostly I found the protagonists unbelievable and very annoying. I felt that I was been spoon fed the gags, everything had to be explained by the narrative voice, presupposing an unknowing reader, and I just didn't like anyone enough to care about them. I have been hugely entertained by all Hornby's previous books. This is sadly disappointing.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, disenchanted, down in the doldrums... 17 July 2001
By A Customer
I found this book inordinately depressing and dull - extremely disappointing from a writer of Nick Hornby's versatile talent and comic ability. What was happening in your life when you wrote this Nick?! The underlying theme about how empty and meaningless life is does get a little tiresome - perhaps spring was the wrong time of year to release it. The main character's incessant whinging, self centredness and self justifying clever-clever comments do nothing to endear one to the "novel" - she is bland, dislikeable and utterly unoriginal, and initially the book reads like a diary that should never have been published. The book's saving grace is the scene at the party where the residents are persuaded to adopt a homeless person, providing about three comic moments which are so welcome amidst all the dreariness I think I actually laughed out loud. Will the real Nick Hornby please come back!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Truly terrible. 6 July 2001
By A Customer
The book I read, was short, basic and really seemed to hold no conclusion. Though I'm sure someone will agree with me on that (someone can always draw a conclusion).
The book itself was (I think) a little over 400 pages, if that. The plot started exactly like the synopsis states, however nothing really much happens more than that. It seems to stay in that position and although that part is very good, its not sufficient to entirely fill a book. The book feels like a great idea, which really hasn't progressed into more than that.
The characters are good, but hardly any development happens, you see more into them, but they change very little in your perception of them. As soon as the character is identified, you see no change, they pretty much act in their predetermined roles.
It is funny in places, I agree. The places are small enough in an novel to improve a book, this doesn't feel like a book though. I'd truly advise against buying this, even in paperback. Hopefully the next one will be better.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How to be...a bit of a let down! 3 July 2002
Seems to me Nick got a bit bored somewhere along the way in writing this book. Whilst it had all the trademarks of Hornby - plenty of outlooks on life today in Modern Britain, strong characters and some very amusing ones at that, I felt that the end (without giving it all away) it didn't build up to a crescendo, but more stumbled over a cliff. The story seemed to going somewhere and with all decent novels, you couldn't tell exactly where. However, Hornby just seemed to say "Oh sod this for a game of soldiers, I'm just packing it all in as I really can't be bothered any more."
Maybe all stories shouldn't have a happy ending, I can accept that...but this book limped over the finishing line rather than leaving you with a half decent conclusion.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, boring, boring 4 July 2001
By A Customer
I really wanted to love this book too, or at least like it! I was so looking forward to reading it, and it was such a disappointment! It was as if it wasn't Hornby writing at all, completely different from his other books and to be honest fairly depressing. There wasn't enough wit to lighten the mundane and miserable subject of a marriage on the point of break down, nothing really happened, so no action and I never really cared about any of the characters. I almost committed the sin of not finishing it, but made myself, I don't know why I bothered! I think I was hoping against the odds that it would get better!I see the good in most books, but if I had to choose one word to sum it up I would say "BORING".
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Massive Disappointment... 4 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This has been one of the most eagerly-awaited books of the year. Nick Hornby's excellent previous novels High Fidelity and About A Boy have left readers looking forward to another high-quality novel. The author's ability to translate apparently ordinary characters and situations into hilarious and observational fiction has been a trademark of his success. So all this only serves to make it more difficult to comprehend how Nick Hornby has now come up with such a lousy book.
The story sounds great - Katie Carr, the story's narrator, is unhappy with her marriage to David. She has become tired of his constantly angry moods. She has decided to end the marriage and she even begins an affair with another man. It is just at this moment that David decides to change his ways and become 'good'. And it's this 'good' word that becomes the theme for the rest of the story. Is Katie a good person? Has David now become a good person? What does it take to be a good person?
The opening two chapters of How To Be Good are pretty solid. There are the usual Hornby trademarks of funny observations and a good pace develops. But things start to go rocky from chapter three and continue to nose dive. A big problem with How To Be Good is that it is just plain ridiculous and annoying. David visits a spiritual healer by the name of GoodNews, to cure his backache. GoodNews then becomes an annoying feature for the rest of the book. He moves into the marital home and David becomes a convert. Before long, Katie has to watch whilst her husband and GoodNews embark on a number of 'good' campaigns, such as giving away their money and possessions. They even approach their neighbours in the expectation that they'll take in homeless people so they too can be good.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good read.
Published 6 days ago by Emily's Mum
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
it missed by a mile for me
Published 2 months ago by pip
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Some extremely funny prose. A good read
Published 3 months ago by Grandma T
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good
Published 3 months ago by samara
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Hornsby's
Engaging but not terribly funny. Almost dreary, hard to put down with an edge of cynicism to the world we live in.
Published 10 months ago by Rory Brand
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
It came with prompt delivery and was in the described condition. However, the book cover was different to the displayed one, but it wasn't made clear. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Cara-Jayne Smithson
2.0 out of 5 stars Realistic characters but no sympathetic ones ,the ending's just awful...
Told from the point of view of a doctor in a boring GP practice with growing up children and a vitriolic journalist husband . Read more
Published 11 months ago by dregj
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it!
The book is in very good condition. However, I ordered this cover as it is my favourite one for this book. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Brianne
2.0 out of 5 stars High Fidelity It Ain't
It seems to me that some authors have the ability to just keep turning out great books one after another. Unfortunately Nick Hornby may not be on of them. Read more
Published 18 months ago by RAH
1.0 out of 5 stars How to be Good
This book was chosen by our book club. I found it silly, tiresome and not very funny.
The characters were cartoon characters and the situations ridiculous. Sorry.
Published 21 months ago by irene clarke
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