The Polysyllabic Spree

Title: The Polysyllabic Spree
Nick Hornby
Pub Date: 2004
Pages: 140
Genre: Books about Books, Non Fiction
Challenges: Bibliophilic Book Challenge

Nick Hornby. Books about books. 'Nuff said right?

S'okay, this is a collection of the monthly columns that Mr. Hornby wrote for the Believer magazine. There are actually three books to the collection. This is the first in the collection (I also have the last, just need to get my hands on the middle!)

The thing that stood out the most while reading PolySpree is how enjoyable his writing is. I've read some of his fiction and have enjoyed it but have to admit was a wee bit weary reading his bookish thoughts. After making an initial perusal of the books he chose to write about I didn't think that I'd have much in common with his literary tastes. And true. For the most part, the books he chose I probably wouldn't have, but damn if he doesn't make them interesting when sharing them. Further, his writing is so comfortable, even if I wasn't terribly interested in the book itself, I was interested in his thoughts on the subject. That, in my opinion, is a brilliant writer!

I thought I'd do this review a bit different. Below are comments that he shared in the book and I've commented back.

NH: "Poetry books work more like books of reference: They go up on the shelves straight away (as opposed to onto the bedside table), to be taken down and dipped into every now and again." (19)

ME: Nick, I couldn't agree with you more. I will go even further, however, and say that my biggest downfall is I leave them on the bookshelf. Don't they look so pretty there?

NH: "I don't reread books very often; I'm too conscious of both my ignorance and my mortality." (25)

Me: Man, did you nail it again. There are so many books out there that I really want to read but I feel...guilt? Maybe even the verge of panic attacks? There are nearly 200 unread books sitting on my bookshelf and another 200 on my "Wish I Could Run Out and Buy" list. I know I'm naturally an anxiety driven kinda gal, and in most cases said anxiety works to my benefit. I realize with my reading, I should probably take more of an eastern zen approach.

NH: "A couple of months ago, I became depressed by the realization that I'd forgotten pretty much everything I've ever read. I have, however, bounced back: I am now cheered by the realization that if I've forgotten everything I've ever read then I can read some of my favorite books again, as if for the first time!" (43)

Me: I spoke about how I cannot remember a lot of my book reads a while back; in fact, that was the impetus of my blogging. I do like that you've managed to turn the lemons into lemonade. It almost justifies me being able to read books again. Thanks Nick!


  1. lol - I had the exact same kind of conversation with him in my head as I read this and his other essay books. And my inner voice calls him Nick too ;)

  2. I had a similar conversation with this book, but my answer to this statement went differently:

    NH: "Poetry books work more like books of reference: They go up on the shelves straight away (as opposed to onto the bedside table), to be taken down and dipped into every now and again." (19)

    Poetry books are great bedside table reading because they can be read slowly, loudly, softly, and prepare you for dreams you never imagined having without them. They should be read nightly, not shelved.

  3. I love the the quotes you selected kind of cancel each other out. Don't reread...reread.

    I enjoy rereading. It can be like reading again for the first time and if the book is good enough you can reread for the first time even if you do remember it.

    How many times have you listened to the same song over and over? How many times have you watched a movie or television program again? You'll never live long enough to see every movie/television show ever made or listen to every song ever recorded.

    So go ahead...read Harry Potter (or whatever) again. ;)

  4. I love these quotes - and your take on them, I totally agree about the poetry!


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