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How to be Good Paperback – 24 Jun 2010

3.0 out of 5 stars 177 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (24 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 024195018X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241950180
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 640,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Review

"Hornby is a writer who dares to be witty, intelligent and emotionally generous all at once." --"The New York Times Book Review"

Hornby is a writer who dares to be witty, intelligent and emotionally generous all at once. "The New York Times Book Review""

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on 24 May 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm one of those people - guys mostly, I suspect - who found High Fidelity hugely entertaining and the follow-up soppy and pretentious. So, for me, How to be Good is just a case of "I told you so".
The book is a quick and painless read, for sure. It's quick mainly because once you get bored with the long-winded style, you start skimming through the endless sentences of unexciting and repetitive social commentary, hunting for the next bit of dialogue or any kind of internal or external action that would propel the story. ("It has been raining and raining and raining - it has been raining harder than anyone can remember." I kid you not. This is a sentence produced by the once-great Nick Hornby.)
To have a female protagonist is a clever idea, but while you're at it, why not make her interesting? As it is, the Katie character seems just an excuse for literary self-indulgence. You have a talkative female lead, so you're entitled to gigantic, rambling paragraphs, right? Wrong. What is boring and pointless in real life is boring and pointless on paper. I think a writer should seriously consider pressing the delete button when he has to insert a breathless "So anyway" into his prose to put a brake on runaway inner monologue. (And in case anyone thinks I just don't "get" it because I'm not from the right nationality or social group or postal district, well - I didn't need to be British to enjoy High Fidelity, did I?)
How to be Good is a painless read, too, and I don't think it should be. After all, it's supposed to tackle serious issues such as divorce, infidelity, unhappy children, and, of course, how to be good. Alas, I felt shortchanged. Hornby only skims the surface, retreating behind his funny-man mannerisms every time things start to get a little gloomy.
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By A Customer on 15 Jun. 2002
Format: Paperback
I tried very hard but could not find a trace of the humour promised in the write up.
After fifty pages I thought "maybe he's a slow starter".
After about a hundred it was plain that the story was simple and unrealistic and the characters equally lacking. I plodded on to the end but did not find any improvement, I'm afraid Mr. Hornby's sense of humour does not appeal to mine.
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Format: Hardcover
I really, really wanted to like this book. In fact I paid over twelve quid for the hardback and must say it is a dire and ghastly read, but great for those who have trouble sleeping or like me were suffering from jet-lag. I guarantee that ten pages of this and you will sleep like a baby. You see there is no plot to speak of and the characters are not even irritating enough to be slappable, they're just plain dull and I don't care what happens to them. I'm sorry Nick but I'm afraid I'm going along with the majority on this page...
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