2 of 15: “Shakespeare Wrote for Money” by Nick Hornby

Want to share in the 15/15/15 reading project? I’m going to try to finish a book a day till April 30, then blog about it the next day. If you’re interested, share what you’re reading and a link to your blog post so everyone can check it out. Join late? No problem. Can’t finish a book a day? Also, no problem. It’s about the books.

My second book for this project was Nick Hornby’s Shakespeare Wrote for Money. I picked it up because of the title, but, leafing through, I became enamored enough to buy it. It’s the third and final collection of book columns Hornby (author of High Fidelity and About a Boy) wrote for the Believer magazine. He begins by listing the books he’s acquired that month, then the books he’s actually read. Sometimes there’s a high correlation between the two, sometimes there’s not, as for the month of the World Cup finals.

Hornby is a clever, funny, likable guy, and reading his columns was like having a good chat about books with a friend who has far-reaching interests. The critique credo of the Believer is to say nice things about works or nothing at all. He mentions books he’s read and didn’t like, but only names names when he has good things to say. The columns are from 2006 to 2008, and I liked this prescient comment in his take on The Blind Side by Michael Lewis:

There is even a cheesy, never-say-die heroine, Oher’s adopted mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose extraordinary determination to look after a boy not her own is Christian in the sense too rarely associated with the American South. It would make a great movie, althought you’d need a lot of CGI to convince an audience of Michael Oher’s speed and size.

Other than predicting the popular success of the movie based on Lewis’ book and perhaps even Sandra Bullock’s Oscar, Hornby had another connection to a Best Picture contender this year; he wrote the screenplay for An Education, which he seems to hint at in one of the later essays.

One of my favorite parts of these essays was when he “discovered” young-adult fiction after he wrote a book for young adults. He was nicely abashed at all the good books he hadn’t known existed, and now championed:

I’ve discovered a previously ignored room at the back of the bookstore that’s filled with masterpieces I’ve never heard of.

I would definitely read the previous collections of this column, and am sad that it’s no longer going on. At least I got to be in on the end, however belatedly.

11 Responses to “2 of 15: “Shakespeare Wrote for Money” by Nick Hornby”

  1. Inquirer Says:

    2 of 15 … The Time Pirate. Yes, this is my second book set in The Channel Islands. Though officially a book for kids, I think this could easily become a favorite for any age. Ted Bell’s books for kids are my favorites.


  2. Farheen Says:

    I’ve been wanting to read Nick Hornby since ages and just haven’t gotten around to doing it. Now I think I will! The second day turned out to be a little more tough than the first, especially when it came to writing the blog! But I managed it! Went on a shopping spree today to Sunday bazar (a sort of flee market) and got some very good books at dirt cheap prices!

    Follow the link to my book!


  3. Amy Says:

    I gobbled up all three of those books as soon as I discovered them. I keep hoping he’ll change his mind and write another. I discovered some wonderful writers I’d never heard of before, like Julie Orringer and Gina Ochsner.

  4. SFP Says:

    I love Hornby’s columns, although there were a couple that hacked me off quite a bit in the second collection.

    Here’s my second book, Michael Harvey’s The Third Rail:


  5. Jessica Snell Says:

    I am enjoying the feeling of polishing off my TBR pile: it’s the same good feeling you get when you finally tackle a pile of dirty dishes and watch the counter gradually get clearer and clearer . . . but I’m going to be in trouble, because I keep adding new books to the queue because of these reviews! Shamsie yesterday, Hornby today . . . .

    My review for the day:


  6. girldetective Says:

    Did the title bring to your mind the secretary in Infinite Jest, as it did to me?

  7. girldetective Says:

    Farheen, I hoped that this would CLEAR OFF the tbr pile, not increase it! And I too had trouble with the blogging part; wrote it after I got home from going out with my husband.

  8. ChristineMM Says:

    Hi, My book for day 2 is “The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food rights”, a nonfiction book which I shared about here:


    Loving the TBR pile getting lower.

  9. Amy Says:

    I tackled poetry for Day 2: http://www.newcenturyreading.com/2010/04/the-1515-projectday-2.html

  10. Steph Says:

    This is the one book in Hornby’s non-fic collection that I haven’t read. I did read his previous two collections and they were so wonderful. Really witty and insightful, and brimming with book love. I must say, I think I actually like his non-fiction better than his fiction!

  11. Sherry Says:

    Book #2: FOr the Love of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli, YA fiction from the twentieth century, but still serviceable.