Posts Tagged With: Nick Hornby

About A Boy by Nick Hornby

Addition: Hardback, library book

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 4/5


Will is thirty-six, comfortable and child-free. And he’s discovered a brilliant new way of meeting women – through single-parent groups. Marcus is twelve and a little bit nerdish: he’s got the kind of mother who made him listen to Joni Mitchell rather than Nirvana. Perhaps they can help each other out a little bit, and both can start to act their age.

This book is great! It is funny, engaging, and really worth reading. This is the second book by Nick Hornby I have read, and I think if he is a new author to you, you should start with this book.

The story has two central characters: Will, a thirty-something who has never worked a day in his life. All he does is live off his trust-fund and look out for himself. The other character is Marcus. He is twelve and a touch peculiar. He sings in class, without realising he is doing it, and does not dress like his peers, or like what they like. The two meet when Will has a great idea to find new women to date. He decides the way forward is to pursue single mothers. That way, they won’t be able to have a long relationship, and they will do the dumping, so he won’t be seen as the bad guy. Will is dating Susan when she introduces him to Marcus. Susan is a good friend of Fiona, Marcus’ Mum, who suffers from depression. Occasionally Susan will take Marcus for the day, and on this fateful day, when they get back Marcus discovers his Mum has attempted to commit suicide. Will is thrown into the deep end, and from that point on Marcus starts hanging around Will. The two eventually form a funny friendship and bond, which helps them both in their lives.

This book is extremely well written and very entertaining. Hornby develops both Will and Marcus well, and the story is split equally between them. Some chapters are told from Will’s point of view, and others through Marcus’. From this we get a full picture of how the bond forms and the trials they both face. The dramatic irony in the book is great fun, and adds a wonderful and amusing level to the reading.

I think the storyline is incredible. I don’t know how Hornby came up with this idea, but it very well executed and original. I loved the twists and turns and the crazy characters in the story. Having seen the film first I did find myself visualising the actors used, but the film is very well cast and picturing Hugh Grant as Will was perfect. I loved Will, I found him hilarious. He has no morals but seeing him change – albeit slowly – out of his selfish character was very entertaining. I think Marcus definitely sits on the autistic spectrum, but he was very well written.

This is a great read and I highly recommend it.

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The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby


In his monthly accounts of what he’s read – along with what he may one day read – Nick Hornby brilliantly explores everything from the classic to the graphic novel, as well as poems, plays, sports books and other kinds of non-fiction. If he occasionally implores a biographer for brevity, or abandons a literary work in favour of an Arsenal match, then all is not lost. His writing, full of all the joy and surprise and despair that books bring him, reveals why we still read, even when there’s football on TV, a pram in the hall or a good band playing at our local pub.

I enjoyed this book but I found it to be a slow read. The book contains Hornby’s columns for the magazine the Believer, where he writes about what he has read. There are a lot of columns and a lot of books read, and although I can remember some of the good ones, I can’t remember them all!

I found this funny in places, and hard to concentrate on in other places. However, overall my impression of Hornby as a writer is good and I am glad I kept reading. In fact, I already have another one of his books – this time fiction (About A Boy) lined up to read.

Hornby is clever and honest. It made me laugh that he wasn’t allowed to mention books he didn’t like by title or author, but he was happy to say that he had read a book he didn’t like. I was pleased he took my reading philosophy: if you don’t like a book, put it down – there are too many other books to read to keep struggling through one book! There were some books he mentioned that I have read and didn’t like, whereas he did, such as A Complicated Kindness, but that has not put me off reading some of his recommendations.

This is a slow but informative read. I found it easier to read if I took a break after each chapter. I liked also how he put in some extracts from books – made them seem more inviting. Overall, a good but not amazing book.

Books I Want to Read:

Roddy Doyle: Oh, Play That Thing
Roddy Doyle: A Star Called Henry
Joshua Ferris: Then We Came to the End
Charlotte Moore: George and Sam
Marjane Satrapi: Persepolis
Andrew Smith: Moondust
Anne Tyler: The Amateur Marriage

I’m sure there were more but I can’t remember them!

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Slam by Nick Hornby

Synopsis from Amazon

Just when everything is coming together for Sam, his girlfriend Alicia drops a bombshell. Make that ex-girlfriend—because by the time she tells him she’s pregnant, they’ve already called it quits. Sam does not want to be a teenage dad.

There’s only one person Sam can turn to—his hero, skating legend Tony Hawk. Sam believes the answers to life’s hurdles can be found in Hawk’s autobiography. But even Tony Hawk isn’t offering answers this time—or is he? In this wonderfully witty, poignant story about a teenage boy unexpectedly thrust into fatherhood, it’s up to Sam to make the right decisions so the bad things that could happen, well, don’t.

I finished reading this book very quickly and it wasn’t challenging at all. Hornby has captured the essence of the self absorbed young teenager in this book. I know because I have one of that age! However the other characters in the book are given very little depth. We know what happens to Alicia and Sam’s mother for example, but we don’t know about them as individuals and the orbits they move in. I feel I hardly know Alicia by the end of the book apart from the fact that she has had a baby. But maybe that is the point Hornby is making – it’s all about Sam – It’s not enough for me though. Sam’s dialogue with Tony Hawks was irritating at times and the use of ‘whizzing’, whereby Sam sudenly finds himself in the future for short periods, I didn’t think added anything positive to the book. Overall the novel kept my interest and I read it in big chunks. I’ll leave it out for my teenagers to peruse but neither of them have any interest in skateboarding and I suspect that would put them off choosing it to read it.

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