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.