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The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
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The Polysyllabic Spree (2006)

by Nick Hornby

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,873603,692 (3.75)121
  1. 10
    The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel (kristenn)
  2. 00
    What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both are fun and inspiring books by people who love to read for people who love to read.
  3. 00
    The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life by Andy Miller (nessreader)
    nessreader: Both reader's diaries of what and why they read over about a year. Both readers are middleclass english boys; both are engaging commentators even about the books you'll never want to read yourself. Both reject some Canonical Novels, then say why.
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English (58)  Italian (1)  Piratical (1)  All (60)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
Nick Hornby begins his book with the month of Sept 2003, listing on the left the 10 books he acquired that month (a few Salingers, a couple of biographies, some poetry), and the 4 books he read that month (the Salingers and one from a TBR pile).
And then he tells us, "So this is supposed to about the how, and when, and why, and what of reading--about the way that, when reading is going well, one book leads to another and to another, a paper trail of theme and meaning; and how, when it's going badly, when books don't stick or take, when your mood and the mood of the book are fighting like cats, you'd rather do anything but attempt the next paragraph, or reread the last one for the tenth time."
Well, this kind of book is tailor-made for Goodreads fans. In a way, Goodreads is a polysyllabic spree too.

"All the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal…But with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.”
I would add that not only do our libraries articulate who we are, they also articulate who we want to be.

On quoting Gabriel Zaid, “the truly cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more.” , he enthuses "That’s me! And you, probably! That’s us!"
Yes! it is me! Hi! (nerdy Horshack wave) Thanks for giving me again even more titles for my TBR pile, Nick! ( [b:So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance|282626|So Many Books Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance|Gabriel Zaid|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328757249s/282626.jpg|114378] )

This inaugural volume is the second one I've read in this series (the first was the last one of the series, [b:More Baths, Less Talking|13544149|More Baths, Less Talking|Nick Hornby|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1342858311s/13544149.jpg|19109113]) and it's just as good. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Fell a little in love with Nick Hornby through this book, and discovered several new books to add to my to-read list. Short and fun and worth the read. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
The ultimate read/want to read/reading book. I've devoured all of these books based on columns from The Believer and SO relate to how his books bought get way, way ahead of books read. ( )
  auldtwa1 | Mar 14, 2014 |
Another great collection from Hornby. I need to get the second one of these three to read now :) ( )
  Robert.Zimmermann | Oct 7, 2013 |
Overall, I enjoyed reading his essays. I enjoyed reading his reviews of his book purchasing and actual reading - something I enjoy - and his occasional forays into his personal life. Overall I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys his fiction or reading about "reading."
( )
  LaurieAE | Aug 22, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
Taken in their intended periodic doses, these essays would be simultaneously entertaining and enriching – no small feat, that. Collected, they're still breezy and thought-provoking, but read at once they show Hornby struggling with great seriousness between an Arsenal match, The Fortress of Solitude, and going down to the pub: a dilemma welcomed by, say, Kentucky coal miners or single mothers working retail.
 
Hornby is just humble enough that you cannot hate or resent him, yet authoritative enough that you still retain some reason to respect and be interested in his opinion on books. That in itself is not a feat many writers could pull off so elegantly, if at all.
added by stephmo | editPopMatters, Nicholas Taylor (Feb 1, 2005)
 
This is not a collection of book reviews, but a reading diary of sharp and thoughtful musings on literature that ultimately asks: Why do we read, anyway?
added by stephmo | editBoston Globe, Carol Iaciofano (Jan 19, 2005)
 
Edible poems. The liabilities of blurbs. Books that haunt us and taunt us and keep us up half the night. "The Polysyllabic Spree" is a journey as rich and varied as the world of literature itself, with Hornby perfectly cast as both tour guide and host.
 
What's most valuable about this collection, though, is that Hornby, by dint of his sensibility and the variety of his choices, shows that the distinction still made between reading for the sake of "enrichment" (as that gasbag Harold Bloom insists upon) and reading for pleasure is a phony divide.
added by stephmo | editSalon.com, Charles Taylor (Dec 9, 2004)
 
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So this is supposed to be about the how, and when, and why, and what of reading -- about the way that, when reading is going well, one book leads to another and to another, a paper trail of theme and meaning and how, when it's going badly, when books don't stick or take, when your mood and the mood of the book are fighting like cats, you'd rather do anything but attempt the next paragraph, or reread the last one for the tenth time.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Do not combine this work with ‘The Complete Polysyllabic Spree’, which is a British edition that also contains ‘Housekeeping vs The Dirt’.
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Note "A collection of fourteen months of his essays from The Believer Magazine"--Cover. " A hilarious and true account of one man's struggle with the monthly tide of the books he's bought and the books he's been meaning to read."

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