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Book reviews for "Hornby,_Nick" sorted by average review score:

Summer Lightning (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics)
Published in Paperback by Penguin Books Ltd (30 May, 2002)
Authors: P.G. Wodehouse and Nick Hornby
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The best of Wodehouse
Summer Lightening is the best Wodehouse novel, introducing many elements for the first time reader which reappear in many other Blandings Castle books. The major elements are: the prize pig called Empress of Blandings, a secretary named Baxter who is very intelligent but not liked by Lord Emsworth, who is the family head but detests everything except the pig, his younger brother Galahad, who is at peak of health by avoiding all healthy stuff, and their imperial sisters who control everyone around them. Read the book and savour.

Blandings at its best, with the arrival of Gally
The Hon. Galahad Threepwood, younger brother of Lord Emsworth, is at Blandings Castle writing his memoirs, much to the consternation of their sister, Lady Constance Keeble, and many blue-blooded neighbors. Amid this, young love becomes repeatedly unstuck, imposters arrive, Baxter returns, and The Empress of Blandings is stolen. All seems lost, until ...

This may be the best of the Blandings series. It introduced Gally, a charming, disreputable younger son of an Earl whose main crimes are enjoying life and refusing to be a snob. He's an older gentleman who is rarely without a whisky in his hand or a story on his lips. If you've never read Wodehouse's Blandings books, this is a good place to start, followed by its sequel, Heavy Wather.

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
Published in Paperback by Oxford University Press (1989)
Authors: Albert Sidney Hornby and Nick Hornby
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Still a good choice
I will not repeat what other reviewers have said about this classic learner's dictionary. It has been a valuable reference for ESL students for many decades. I own several learner's dictionaries published recently (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 4th Edition, Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, and Collins Cobuild 3rd edition) and some of them have features this one does not have. But I still use this dictionary a lot and will continue to use it. I hope a new edition of it will come out soon.

Best Choice For Students Of The English Language
I have recently bought the millenium edition (hardbound) of this book. In my scientific studies (I study Scientology which uses a precise study technology that demands a good dictionary to look up misunderstood words) a good dictionary is vital.
This one has been very helpful to me as it gives precise yet comprehensible definitions. This is maybe the most important point of all.
I found it very easy to look up a word i did not understand and gain a conceptual understanding of that word after a short period of time. The definitions just make sense and are not too complicated and confusing.
It also includes example sentences and idioms and information for the further usage of a particular word.
It also has a section with colored pictures (maps, categories such as clothing, food, animals etc.) that provide a picture of the real thing that the word represents - a quite useful tool for foreigners and non native speakers like me.

If you are currently studying english, reading english texts (but have a limited vocabulary) or just don't want to run into too many complexities when using a dictionary and don't want to be too confused but you just want to know the meaning of a word and understand it, then this is the right dictionary for you.

As it is a dictionary for "learners" it does not include things like etymology and syllables (the only negative points), technical definitions (although it includes some where their appearance is reasonable) etc.

But it includes phonetic symbols at the bottom of each page and has, as all dictionaries, a section wich explains each symbol and abbreviation that can appear in an entry.
If there would appear some symbol or abbreviation in the entry that you wouldn't understand, you would find it easy to find its meaning as everything in this dictionary is exactly where you would consider it to be.
So you don't fool around loosing time and getting frustrated. I think the editors of some dictionaries assume that you already know all these symbols but include their definitions anyway in a very complicated way.

Not with this one.
I highly recommend this dictionary. You can buy it without reservations. should have a second one with etymologies at hand.

My MVB (most valuable book)
No other book on my bookshelf is more worn out. I use it all the time. When I started to study English I used to use an English / Portuguese (my first language) dictionary but I could only actually improve my English when I started using the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

The dictionary has lots of pictures (over 1700) for words that can be explained but for which a picture is much more effective like "hinge". The words have a pronunciation guide with a mark (') showing the main stress. There are many useful appendixes like irregular verbs conjugation, usage of numbers, punctuation, family relationships and a few colorful maps.

Over 220 usage notes clarify the subtle differences among words such as dealer trader and merchant. Although it's mainly a British English dictionary the differences in spelling, use or pronunciation between American English and British English are stressed.

By far the most interesting feature is the extremely reduced defining vocabulary constituted of 3500 words. The great majority of definitions are written using that reduced defining vocabulary. This simplifies the definitions and it's a great starting vocabulary for the beginners. The use of such a small defining vocabulary rules out the use of this dictionary as a thesaurus but the advantages compensate this drawback.

My copy is a paper back that has been reinforced with adhesive tape. This makes the dictionary lighter and handy. I used to put it on my back pack and take it to all my classes when I started college in USA.

The drawbacks are the need of an additional thesaurus and the fact that the entries are not syllabified. Nevertheless I would give it 10 stars if I could.

Leonardo Alves - December 2000

Da Capo Best Music Writing 2001: The Year's Finest Writing on Rock, Pop, Jazz, Country, and More
Published in Paperback by DaCapo Press (02 October, 2001)
Authors: Nick Hornby, Benjamin Schafer, Series Editor Benjamin Schafer, and Guest Editor Nick Hornby
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Something Here For Everyone
Another collection on music writing.from Da Capo, this edition does not dissapoint admirers of the previous year's entry. Hornsby has chosen well, representing a broad spectrum of styles and artists (though it must be said that women and black artists are given relatively short shrift). The most interesting pieces seem to be, once again, those on the least mainstream artists, probably because so much has been said about the hitmakers before. Still, all the pieces are at least interesting (however, I don't understand why NPR editor Sarah Vowell's short essay on Al Gore is included). Standouts include terrific novelist Steve Erickson's attempt to capture the mercurial Neil Young on paper; a sad tribute of sorts to the forgotten South African Zulu, Solomon Linda, who improvised the melody to the song we know as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight;" a lengthy New York Times piece on the impact of hip-hop culture on whites and blacks, and how they in turn shape the culture; and Metal Mike Sauders making a surprisingly good case for Disney Radio being the ultimate independent station. More disappointing are a nostalgic homage to the gangsters that ran the early rock business by the usually powerful Nick Tosches, a prosaic account of a Barbra Streisand concert by a non-fan, and an uninformative tribute to Jeff Buckley by his neighbor. But, as I said, all of the material here is at least interesting, and there's much here that will inspire readers to listen as well.

music writing assembled by music fans' author of choice
A first-rate collection of music writing assembled by Nick Hornby. As excellent as I would expect from Mr. Hornby, author of the music obsessive's novel, "High Fidelity".

Oxford Advanced Learners English Chinese
Published in Paperback by Oxford University Press (1995)
Authors: Albert Sydney Hornby, Anthony Paul Cowie, Nick Hornby, and A. S. Hornsby
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One of the best for Chinese learners of English.
This is an excellent dictionary in many respects; English words are clearly defined in English and the Chinese equivalent is given, and where there is no Chinese equivalent, an explanation in Chinese is given. Also useful are the multitude of examples and usage notes in both English and Chinese.

The appendices are also valuable: a table of irregular verbs, punctuation, numerical expressions, weights and measures, geographical names, common forenames guides with explanation both in English and Chinese. Also included is a detailed guide of the entries, covering pronunciation, grammar, verb patterns, and more.

An added bonus is that the traditional forms of the Chinese characters are used, and the pronunciations of headwords is the received pronunciation.

However, this dictionary is definitely not for learners of Chinese. The title is somewhat misleading in this respect. It is suitable only for Chinese learners of English, not for English speakers learning Chinese.

This book is a steal. for $15.00, you get an excellent english to chinese dictionary that not only gives you the chinese word, but defines it in chinese and english. chinese characters are in simplified chinese, wish there was the same version with traditional characters. nonetheless, this dictionary belongs on any shelf.

don't buy anything from a chinese bookstore when you can can it from amazon or local. I seen this book sell for $55.00 in a chinese bookstore in nyc.

Fever Pitch
Published in Paperback by Riverhead Books (1998)
Author: Nick Hornby
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Beware What This Book Might Do To You
I've been meaning to write a review of this book for a long time, but since Nick Hornby reawakened in me many of my childhood sports fan obsessions when I read it for the first time in 1999, I've been too busy. Not only did "Fever Pitch" remind me how irrationally and how much I loved my own hometown team (the heartbreaking Boston Red Sox) but he turned me into a fan of English football and his own Arsenal Gunners to the point where I follow them daily on ESPN's soccernet, LISTEN (!?) to them on internet radio broadcasts and have even gone to two games in London over the past two years. It's sick really, and I suppose it's not the kind of thing Hornby would have wanted when he wrote this quintessential memoir of growing up a soccer fan in England, but I've enjoyed it

"Fever Pitch" is an obsessive's tale as much as it is a fan's story, and so should appeal to the same wide audience that enjoys his excellent novels (It was my love for "High Fidelity" that sent me straight to this book). It is a memoir of surprising depth considering how it is organized only by the dates of soccer matches between 1968 and 1991, and it makes perfect sense that Hornby, or any true fan, should see the rest of his life (parents' divorce, his own education, romantic and career trouble) primarily as it relates to the team he spends so much time, money and psychic energy on.

The irony, for me, was finding out after I read "Fever Pitch" for the first time that Arsenal was one of the top teams of the last decade in England, so Hornby at least gets to feel the joy that we Red Sox fans are still waiting for. Sure, we're ecstatic the Pats won the Super Bowl, but our lives will change forever when Boston brings home the World Series. But after "Fever Pitch," I'll remember to laugh like the rest of the world laughs when American sports leagues crown their title-holders "world" champions.

A book for all sports fans, not just football fans
If you have a passion for sports, than this simply is the book for you -- even if you despise the game of football (soccer for those American non-fans out there, one of which I'm proud to say I'm not a member). Hornby captured in absolute perfect detail the sports lover and/or fanatic, and how the ebb and flow of the game, even just one game, can literally change your day, your life. My favorite part of the book is in the end, when he describes the Arsenal 2-goal win over Liverpool to win the Premiership, and how no one save the true sports nut can appreciate how that moment will stand for him as his greatest moment ever in life. If you're a sports fan who has that one memory in life (Lenny Dykstra's 10th inning homer of Game 5 of the 1993 NLCS is mine), then you must buy this book -- and learn a little about yourself in the process. Nick Hornby, you're my new hero. Cheers.

Not just for footy/soccer fans
Shannon's husband Josh writes: Fever Pitch is the penultimate book for the sports fan. Regardless of how you feel about English football (soccer), any fan of any team will relate to Hornby's feelings. This is especially true if you support a team that hasn't won a championship in a long time. I sometimes wonder if I should curse this book for what it's done to my free time. I was an Arsenal supporter before I read it, but I've now fallen into the true pit of fanatic. I wear the shirts, tape and watch games at absurd hours, listen to internet radio broadcasts, etc. Other Arsenal fans only nod and grin knowingly when I tell them about this. Fever Pitch is brilliant writing that you can feel and relate to. Who knows, you might wake up the sleeping Gunner fan inside you too. Don't worry though; they've evolved into a much better team since this was written.

High Fidelity
Published in Paperback by Riverhead Books (1996)
Author: Nick Hornby
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Humorous piece of witty storytelling
Two things I must say before I jump into my top five, a) I saw the movie, "High Fidelity" first, b) the real rating is 4.5. Let's continue: Top Five things that I liked about this book: 1. I enjoyed the witty commentary and style of the novel. It felt as if Rob Fleming was telling me the secrets of his life, opinions, etc. It was like a modern, non-three day "Catcher in the Rhye." 2. The fact that every comment and opinion and statement about life, love, relationships, etc. I could relate to. It was like one of those "Did you ever notice?" comedians where after every joke you're in absiolute agreement with the stan-up. 3. The characters. Like most readers I enjoy good charcaters. Not interesting charcaters who do amazing or different things, but charcaters that you can relate to, feel for, and almost tak the place of, so to speak, during parts of the film, novel, series, etc. 4. Everybody's favorite- the obbsessive, intelligent conversations between Rob, Barry, Dick (Sorry, jumping ahead, they're all characters that you'll recognize when you read the book). It was funny to hear how music obbsessed some people could be. It made you feel almost envious of their extensive knowledge about music, film, and novels. 5. The "tie-it-together ending." The ending wasn't spectacular, and it probably should have been seven or eight, but it felt very soothing, and completeing, like the how the song played on the credits of a movie can in some way make the film more enjoyable, because it sets a mood or whatever. I'm not going o ruin anything, but I guarantee a smile of approval and happiness after reading the last chapter or so.

"High Fidelity" was a funny, witty, novel that at some points dragged, but at most points was gratifying. I rarely do this, but I'm going to have to say it: this book I guarentee you will enjoy, even for a brief few chapters, but for most people, the entire novel is enjoyable. Good Luck with it!

Top 5 reasons to read this book:
1. It is very original; 2. Biting wit and numerous laugh out loud moments; 3. Several pop music and movie references; 4. Startlingly accurate depictions of male post-breakup pathos; 5. Numerous London colloquialisms let us know how they live and speak in England.

I absolutely loved this novel. It was witty, exploring with a keen eye relationships and the reasons why men and women get together, and sometimes drift apart. Narrator Rob is a self-indulgent whiner who tries to make himself feel better after getting dumped by making lists to himself of "top 5 breakups", as well as lists of "top 5 breakup songs". He does something many of us 30-something men often think of doing, namely contact old flames out of an odd, morbid curiosity as to their whereabouts and marital status.

While Rob and his incessant ruminations on his past and present love life can sometimes get old, Hornby deftly changes gears whenever a change is needed and involves numerous excellent secondary characters, including record store employees and comrades-in-arms Dick and Barry (played amazingly well by Jack Black in the recent movie) as well as a folkie American female musician living in London. The scenes in Rob's second hand record store are priceless, as well as some memorable episodes in North London's pubs where Rob and the boys hoist a pint or two while they argue meaningless musical debates.

It is difficult to categorize the novel, but I can simply say that as a male of approximately the same age as the protagonist, it appeared Hornby (and Rob) were talking my language (albeit with a British flair), and I therefore breezed through this book quicker than most. You need not be male and over 30 to enjoy it, but reading it will reveal some of our secrets and obsessions. Pick it up, you won't be disappointed.

One Of The Funniest Books I've Read In A Long Time
Don't drink milk when you are reading this book, because it will shoot out of your nose like a firehose, you'll be laughing so much. Anytime I tried to read this book in public, I got the strangest looks from people for laughing out loud.

Hornby captures the longing, ennui, humor and bitterness of the single male so perfectly, that every guy is bound to see some of himself in the lead character. The use of "Top 5" lists is a brilliant literary device. It advances the plot in almost every instance, while at the same time painting a complete and well-rounded portrait of the protagonist (and his friends). Plus, it's a fun way to start a debate with your own friends. The writing is sharp, the characters real and the plot engaging.

As a footnote, I think the movie did a wonderful job of adapting the book. The book is better, of course, but the film stays remarkably true to the spirit and letter of the original. There are entire passages from the book that are repeated in the script, which is very, very rare among adaptations.

About a Boy
Published in Paperback by Riverhead Books (30 April, 2002)
Author: Nick Hornby
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Another Winner from Nick
Since Nick Hornby is the author of one of my favorite novels (High Fidelity) it should come as no surprise that I very much liked this, his second book, as well. True, it doesn't rock my world in quite the same way as High Fidelity, but it is stylistically and temperamentally similar. The story follows Will, a young (mid 30s) idle Londoner who drifts through life thanks to his inheritance, never really getting deeply involved in anything or anyone. Overconcerned with maintaining his hipness in the face of impending middle-age, Will is rapidly approaching a point where he is alienated from all his married, "adult" friends. Unwilling to engage in more than fleeting relationships, Will insinuates himself into a single-parents support group in order to meet beautiful needy women.

While wacky hijinks ensure, his life also becomes entwined with that of Marcus, a 12-year old boy desperately in need of a father figure. While Will is a cad in terms of the women, he's more or less a decent fellow, with some deficiencies recognizable in a lot of men, the most significant being his inability to grow up. Both he and Marcus are naive and wise In their own ways, and through their odd relationship they become better adjusted. Funny and sometimes bittersweet, many young men will recognize parts of themselves in Will, and while his method of coming to terms with the world and aging isn't particularly useful as a guide, the book may lead to moments of introspection on one's own life.

A character study of two boys
My wife is not as much of a reader as I am. So when I found her cutting out her sleep and TV time to devour Nick Hornsby's ABOUT A BOY, I thought I should take a look.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a clever, tightly written story about Will Freeman, a 36-year old adolescent who has discovered the pleasures of dating single mothers, and Marcus, a socially awkward 12-year old boy of a depressed hippy. Fabricating a fictional child, Will meets Marcus at a picnic for a support group for single parents. Upon taking Marcus home with another single mother, Will and Marcus find Marcus's mother, Fiona, passed out from a suicide attempt.

This incident launches Marcus on attempt to expand his social circle to insulate himself from tragic events. So Marcus inserts himself into Will Freeman's life. Marcus soon discovers that Will Freeman, a jobless man obsessed with coolness and style and supported by the royalties of his late father's Christmas song, is the perfect guide to usher Marcus into the social world of adolescents.

Chapter by chapter, Hornsby alternates viewpoints between Marcus and Will, mirroring their parallel journeys: Marcus, the outcast, social incompent's journey from childhood to adolesence, and Will, whose own journey from adolescence to adulthood stalled out some time ago. The catalyst breaking both Marcus]s and Will's inertia is, of course, love.

ABOUT A BOY paints vivid portraits of its two main characters. Both Will and Marcus are written quite authentically. (I was reminded quite vividly of Judith Rich Harris's book, THE NURTURE ASSUMPTION when reading about Marcus's desire to be accepted by his peers and Will's understanding that to be accepted is to be similar to your peers.) The interaction between these two characters is poignantly detailed.

Unfortunately, the book begins to lose steam when the love interests, Rachel for Will and Ellie for Marcus, are introduced. Though the plot point seems necessary to move the book along, Hornsby doesn't provide the same level of detail or motivation for Rachel or Ellie, and, as a result, the book slows down.

This doesn't keep the book from being a good read or from provoking good thoughts. One of the most interesting thoughts that Hornsby brings up is the idea of "The Point" (as in "What's the point of it all?") When Will plans to confront Marcus's mother about the possibiltiy of another attempt at suicide, he worries that "the Point" will come up, and Will doesn't have a good idea and what "the Point" is. In detailing the daily workings Will's life, Hornsby examines the existential angst and boredom that comes by default to most modern human beings, and when Will finds no one point, but rather, a multitude of daily small points (a daily quiz show, the daily crossword puzzle, and, most importantly, meaningful relationships with other people.), Hornsby proposes a way of coping with the lack of some overarching purpose to human existence that I could relate to.

Sometimes, looking forward to finishing a good book is all you need to get through a tough day.

Dav's Rating System:
5 stars - Loved it, and kept it on my bookshelf.
4 stars - Liked it, and gave it to a friend.
3 stars - OK, finished it and gave it to the library.
2 stars - Not good, finished it, but felt guilty and/or cheated by it.
1 star - I want my hour back! Didn't finish the book.

about this book -- it's great! read it!
"About a Boy" refers ostensibly to 12-year-old Marcus, an uncool only child being raised by his unconventional single mother in London. But it could just as well be refer to 36-year-old Will, very cool aging guy who can't understand his friends' new obsessions with marriage, babies and home ownership (I'm with you there, pal.)

For lack of anything else to do (he is independently wealthy living off the royalties for a Christmas carol his father penned), Will discovers a population of women with whom he could have flings -- single mothers. He joins a support group by claiming he has a little son whom his fictitious ex-wife won't allow him to see very often. He even goes so far as to buy a car seat, put it in his car and mess it up with cookie crumbs so it looks like his son was there!

Marcus takes a liking to Will and wants him to go out with his mom. They have one disastrous date. But though the date doesn't work out, Will somehow ends up being a big brother, if not a father figure, to Marcus.

Because Marcus needs someone to teach him how to be cool. It is intriguing how Will does 'adopt' Marcus even though he no longer wants a relationship with his mom. Perhaps he isn't so selfish after all ....

The great thing about this book is there is no pithy life-affirming change or epiphany -- events simply unfold that involve Will and Marcus, the way they would in real life.

Speaking With the Angel
Published in Paperback by Riverhead Books (06 February, 2001)
Author: Nick Hornby
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An Excellent Sampling of Emerging Writers, A Great Cause
The first thing you should do when you pick up this collection of short stories is to read Nick Hornby's touching introduction. A portion of the proceeds for this book goes to support schools for autistic children, and in his introduction Hornby reveals that his own son is autistic. He goes on to describe what life is like living with an autistic child, and why quality schools are so essential. If you have a heart, you'll already be half-way to the register before you've even checked the list of authors, but you won't be disappointed.

Hornby has assembled an all-star team of emerging young writers, most of whom hail from the UK. Actor Colin Firth pens a sort of twisted fairy tale in "The Department of Nothing." Giles Smith gives a portrait of a cook for deathrow inmates. Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones) checks in with an expectedly sarcastic mother/daughter relationship study. American Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) writes from a dog's point of view in "After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Was Drowned." Melissa Bank's romantic tale, "The Wonder Spot," was one of my favorites, and Irvine Welsh's unsettling commentary on homophobia, "Catholic Guilt," was also interesting. Hornby himself examines the different effects a work of art can have on people in "Nipple Jesus." Other contributing authors are Robert Harris, Patrick Marber, Zadie Smith, Roddy Doyle, and John O'Farrell. This is quite a collection.

Oh heavenly Angel!
Editor, Nick Hornby (HIGH FIDELITY; ABOUT A BOY), has collected twelve short stories here, each written in the form of a first-person narrative, by Dave Eggers (A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS), Melissa Bank (THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING) and many of Britain's hottest writers: Helen Fielding (BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY), Zadie Smith (WHITE TEETH), Irvine Welsh (TRAINSPOTTING), and one by Hornby himself. In his Introduction, Hornby writes that his son, Danny, is autistic, and a portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to several autism charities in the UK and US.

On the whole, Hornby's collection may not rise to the level of great fiction, but it offers some truly entertaining writing along the way. Readers will encounter stories told by a Prime Minister, a middle-aged family man, a prison cook, a skinhead bouncer, and a dog. And while some of the angels collected here soar higher than others, all are hip, and a few are even downright devlish.

G. Merritt

A lot of bang for your buck
Here's a short story collection that gives you a fantastic collection of contemporary authors (and one actor/author) who donated their stories for a very worthy cause--a school for autistic children. I bought it because I'm a Nick Hornby fan (and also a Helen Fielding, Colin Firth, and Dave Eggers fan)--but now I've been introduced to more writers to explore and enjoy. Hornby gives a nice intro about his personal and poignant connection with the cause.

These stories run the gamut and are really fun--coming of age tales, unusual narrators (like dogs, humiliated prime ministers, and death-row cooks), and stories that ask the big question: "What is art?" They're fresh, provocative, and often humorous.

Do yourself and a good cause a favor and get this book. It's at the top of my list for gift-giving this year.

Published in Paperback by Riverhead Books (2003)
Author: Nick Hornby
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Gentle, astute reflections on music and taste
What makes a person like a song? What makes a person love a song? Nick Hornby's reflections on songs he's loved, and why he's loved them, became, for me, one of those works of art that makes me think as much about my own experiences as the author's. He got me considering what music I've loved and why, giving his book a deeper meaning and greater enjoyment than you'd expect to find on its surface.

Sure, this isn't great literature. I wouldn't expect him to rake in the literary awards for "Songbook". But reading it was a quietly enjoyable experience, like sitting down for coffee with a good friend and talking about life, love, and art. Hornby's writing style is, as always, deceptively casual. Accessible, astute, and precise, but not self-satisfied or self-concious. I envy that.

I won't disagree with the critics here who were disappointed that the included CD only contains a few of the selections Hornby describes. But I give you this: Most of the selections on the CD are songs I'd never heard of and wouldn't have been able to find easily. Others that aren't included on the disc, like, say, "Thunder Road", a person might already own. Or could find somewhere, quickly. Given the market pressures that I'm sure shaped the CD selection I'm pretty satisfied with what we've been given. These songs, though, form a nice, mellow soundtrack to read by. I like, too, that they all seem to have the same sort of rhythm to them, and similar lyrical styles. They made me feel like I was getting yet another peek into Hornby's mind, on a more personal level than through his words alone.

Reawaken your love of music
Nick Hornby's gift as a writer is how he manages to express his love and appreciation of music through words. One of greatest pleasures in life that we so easily take for granted is discovering new music that yesterday was missing from our life and today seemingly becomes integral to our existence as we repeatedly play and sing along to the song. Hornby manages to capture and describe this unique feeling that we all feel but have difficulty expressing coherently.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strongest part..."

Although I'm fairly sure the majority of readers, will not be familiar with many of the songs that Hornby writes about, the point of the songbook is more personal. It will help you reawaken your own love of music as you shuffle through your music collection and go through a similar period of self reflection.

Personally, the book was worth it once I listened to Aimee Mann's "I've Had It", a beautiful soulful song that I've lived without for as long as I can remember, and now I can't go without listening to repeatedly along with the Soundtrack to About a Boy by Badly Drawn Boy.

Great book by a thoughtful writer
If you're familiar with Nick Hornby, then you already know he's a huge music fan. In "Songbook", he writes short (each one is about 3-6 pages long) essay pieces discussing some of his favorite songs. His selections are unique and his insights are often wry and humorous. He's truly able to explain what these songs mean to him and what music in general means to fans: how it inspires us and informs the other areas of our lives. The book is an enjoyable (and very quick) read. The accompanying "mix" CD features several of the songs from the book and serves as a great introduction to these bands.

If I have a complaint with this book (and it's a very minor one), it's that some of the essays only tangentially explore their corresponding song. For example, the combined Dylan/Beatles essay only mentions the Beatles "Rain" in the very last paragraph of the essay and it's rather glossed over. This is a minor flaw overall, however, and I highly recommend this book to all music lovers. It will make you think about your passion in some new ways and it will also expose you to lots of great new music.

My Favourite Year: A Collection of New Football Writing
Published in Paperback by Victor (1996)
Author: Nick Hornby
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Mixed bag
Unfortunately this is a mixed bag.

As usual, most anthologies or collection of essays from a range of authors tend to have the 'good', the 'bad' and the 'ugly'. It is no different with this collection.

Ultimately, determining the good and the bad is dependent on personal choice. I found the majority of the essays to be rather dull, and uninspiring. Hornby's piece was probably typical.

However there were three essays that made the experience pleasurable, as they described the highs and lows of the season, the love and hate of following a club and being a ardent club supporter, and the drama that overlays it all.

The central premise of putting together a collection of authors to write about a season in the history of their club, and from the fans perspective, is to be applauded. But somehow, the expectation and the output never quite meet.

Great for soccer fans, but still okay for the less obsessed
The greatest strength of this collection of essays/reminiscences is its diversity. In wonderfully varied pieces, "My Favourite Year" captures a broad band of moods and shows just how multi-faceted our reactions to soccer--and, at a deeper level, our approaches to remembering--are.

For someone not acquainted with the world of (mostly) English football (there are inclusions here as well of Scottish, Welsh, and Irish teams), some of these essays may be a tough go. I'd be tempted to say that the best pieces here are the most widely accessible ones--that is, the ones that cater to a more general public--but that wouldn't be true. The elation of Roddy Doyle's opening salvo could capture anyone's attention, since it seems less about soccer than about infectiously good memories. But some of the most interesting and powerful glimpses here will be impenetrable to those with little knowledge of the inner workings of club politics in England; Ed Horton's amazing probing of the woeful and criminal mismanagement of Oxford United is both engaging and important, but I confess that some of its finer points were lost on this American reader, despite the fact that I know a fair amount about the background.

So, unlike Hornby's "Fever Pitch," which manages to make itself about life-in-general masquerading as life-in-soccer, this collection might be a little harder to penetrate for the casual observer of the beautiful game. If you're a bigger fan of the sport, I highly recommend it, especially during the upcoming World Cup year 2002. "My Favourite Year" is a great hors-d'oeuvre for a month-long World Cup meal of soccer at its best.

The passion of passions
Books about sports tend to be "subliterature". "My favourite year" would definitely be an exception to this rule - if it was a book about sports, or, more specifically, about football. But this collection of short stories is much more than that, utilizing events and facts related to football to describe human passion in its rawest and most exacerbated form. No matter the country, team or period, the stories reflect the kind of love (passionate, unilateral, unjustifiable, absurd, unconditional, etc.) that football fans all around the world know very well. Even with two or three less inspired stories, it is a highly enjoyable read throughout.Among many smiles and memories, it can even at moments bring tears to the eyes of the more emotional fans like myself.

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