Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How To Be Good

How to Be Good is a 2001 novel by English writer Nick Hornby. It centers on characters Katie Carr, a doctor, and her husband, David Grant. Events take a turn when David stops being "The Angriest Man In Holloway" and begins to be "good" with the help of his spiritual healer, DJ GoodNews (who also shows up briefly in Hornby's A Long Way Down).

The duo go about this by nominally convincing people to give their spare bedrooms to the homeless, but as their next scheme comes around, "reversal" (being good to people one has been not good to in the past), this proves to be fruitless and thus David gives up his strivings and his plans for a book on how to be good, appropriately named "How to be Good."

The novel has a funny side, mostly due to the conversion of the husband, David, from an angry, cynical and negative man to a "do-gooder." Nevertheless, its most important subject is the crisis that the couple is going through.

The protagonist, Katie, briefly encounters a minor character named Dick whose description and attitude towards music are reminiscent of the character of the same name from Hornby's first novel, High Fidelity.


The story of a woman's attempts to save her marriage after her husband becomes infatuated with new-age guru. There are so many wonderful things about this book -- instantly engaging prose, credible characterisations, too many laugh-out-loud moments to count... And it was thought-provoking without ever becoming preachy. Ugh, but the ending! Grim and cold and felt like a complete cop-out. Throughout the story, the characters seemed to learn a lot about themselves and their situation and what it would take to move forward in their world... and then in the last few pages, they just turn their back on all that and go back to being more or less exactly as miserable as they all were at the beginning. I understand this must have been a difficult book to end, and I was curious as to how the author was going to pull it off... but in truth, he did not, and it was ultimately disappointing.



High Fidelity

Is it possible to share your life with someone whose record collection is incompatible with your own? Can people have terrible taste and still be worth knowing? Do songs about broken hearts and misery and loneliness mess up your life if consumed in excess? For Rob Fleming, thirty-five years old, a pop addict and owner of a failing record shop, these are the sort of questions that need an answer, and soon. His girlfriend has just left him. Can he really go on living in a poky flat surrounded by vinyl and CDs or should he get a real home, a real family and a real job? Perhaps most difficult of all, will he ever be able to stop thinking about life in terms of the All Time Top Five bands, books, films, songs – even now that he’s been dumped again, the top five break-ups? Memorable, sad and very, very funny, this is the truest book you will ever read about the things that really matter.

Rob Fleming is a London  record store owner in his 30s whose girlfriend, Laura, has just left him. At the record shop — named Championship Vinyl — Rob and his employees Dick and Barry spend their free moments discussing mix-tape aesthetics and constructing "top-five" lists of anything that demonstrates their knowledge of music.

Rob, recalling his five most memorable break-ups, sets about getting in touch with the former girlfriends. Eventually, Rob's re-examination of his failed relationships and the death of Laura's father bring the two of them back together. Their relationship is cemented by the launch of a new purposefulness to Rob's life in the revival of his disc jockey career.

Also, realising that his fear of commitment (a result of his fear of death of those around him) and his tendency to act on emotion are responsible for his continuing desires to pursue new women, Rob makes a symbolic commitment to Laura.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Nick Hornby provided some great insight into the insecurity in relationships and of getting older. I found myself relating to Rob a little more than I would have liked.

The humour is also great in this book. I laughed out loud on numerous occasions and then had to try and explain it to my boyfriend. He didn't appreciate it as much as I did.

I was a little ashamed that I didn't get many of the musical references. I consider myself a connoisseur of off the wall music, but it must be the time gap from the late 80s - early 90s to now.

I highly recommend this book!



You can either download the full eBook for 49p or try the free sample of the first few chapters...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby (born 17 April 1957) is an English novelist and essayist. He is best known for the novels High Fidelity, About a Boy, and for the football memoir Fever Pitch. His work frequently touches upon music, sports, and the aimless and obsessive natures of his protagonists.

The SmartBookWorms collection of eBooks consists of...

A Long Way Down
High Fidelity
How To Be Good
Juliet, Naked