Last week, Terry was cleaning out her office which means that she would occasionally make the rounds to our various desks asking if we wanted this or that book. Suspecting my fondness for Nick Hornby (Terry is astute.), she offered up Hornby’s collection of essays about reading, Housekeeping Versus The Dirt. Though I had read some of the individual essays, I hadn’t read them all together and plus, it’s a great title: How could I resist?
I started the book on the trolley to work the other day and the introductory essay reminded me of just how much fun and how smart and unpretentious Hornby is on the page. It’s a great plea to just read, regardless of whether it’s Tolstoy or Dan Brown and it left me so ready more.:
And please, please stop patronizing those who are reading a book — The Da Vinci Code, maybe — because they are enjoying it. For a start, none of us knows what kind of an effort this represents for the individual reader. It could be his or her first full-length adult novel; it might be the book that finally reveals the purpose and joy of reading to someone who has hitherto been mystified by the attraction books exert on others. And anyway, reading for enjoyment is what we should all be doing. I don’t mean we should all be reading chick lit or thrillers (although if that’s what you want to read, it’s fine by me, because here’s something else no one will ever tell you: if you don’t read the classics, or the novel that won this year’s Booker Prize, then nothing bad will happen to you; more importantly, nothing good will happen to you if you do); I simply mean that turning pages should not be like walking through thick mud. The whole purpose of books is that we read them, and if you find you can’t, it might not be your inadequacy that’s to blame. “Good” books can be pretty awful sometimes.
So if you, like me, are feeling a little in love with Hornby right now, here’s our interview with him.