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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Lucy Less Huck, 9 Aug 2012
This review is from: More Baths Less Talking: Notes from the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author Locked in Battle with Football, Family, and Time Itself (Paperback)
Despite the promise that the previous volume of Stuff I've Been Reading columns would be the last (Shakespeare Wrote for Money), Nick Hornby's back with another.

The format is simple and irresistible. He lists the books he's bought (including books given to him or that he borrowed) and the books he's read in the past month. Then he writes about them and anything else that's on his mind for a couple of pages. It's less a column really, and more of a blog that has a casual and sometimes first draft feel. It's fun to compare what you've been reading to his choices and if you've any books in common, to see what he thinks about them.

In the past few years, he's made some changes in his reading patterns. He used to read a lot of contemporary fiction, and now he reads backlist items as well and more non-fiction. And since he's now an Academy Award nominated screenwriter, some of the books he reads are Hollywood-oriented.

Right off the bat, Hornby mentions a book I had started to read but gave up as potentially too depressing - David Kynaston's Austerity Britain, 1945-1951 (Tales of a New Jerusalem). Hornby talked me into giving it another shot. It sounds like the kind of social and political history that Dominic Sandbrook and David McCullough do so well.

He reads biography, history, children's books, even a self-help title. He reaches back in time to catch up with Muriel Sparks' fiction and several Charles Dickens novels. Many 'books bought' never make it to the 'books read' column, including Babbitt and Peter Pan. He has a weakness for gossipy and well-written biography such as Steven Kanfer's Ball of Fire (Lucille Ball) and Richard Schickel's Elia Kazan, the latter title not being quite gossipy enough.

In keeping with the spirit of the magazine he is writing for, Hornby stays away from saying negative things about the books, which is too bad since you get the feeling he is holding back. But occasionally he drops his guard and lets a criticism slip past. Impressed by Ernest Hemingway's claim that it was the book from which all American literature derives, Hornby reads The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He dismisses it with a single "meh," which I completely agree with.
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