STUFF I’VE BEEN READING

A MONTHLY COLUMN

by Nick Hornby

BOOKS BOUGHT:

  • Eustace and Hilda—L. P. Hartley
  • Hang-Ups—Simon Schama
  • Scenes from Metropolitan Life—William Cooper

BOOKS READ:

  • Scenes from Provincial Life—William Cooper
  • Scenes from Metropolitan Life—William Cooper
  • Death and the Penguin—Andrey Kurkov
  • Ghosting—Jennie Erdal

So this last month was, as I believe you people say, a bust. I had high hopes for it, too; It was Christmastime in England, and I was intending to do a little holiday comfort reading—David Copperfield and a couple of John Buchan novels, say, while sipping an egg nog and….

Oh, what’s the point? No one, I suppose, will remember that I began my March ’05 column in this way. And if no one remembers me beginning my March ’05 column in this way, then there is even less chance of them remembering that I began my March ’04 column in this way, too. The tragedy is that I have come to think of those opening words as a tradition, and I was beginning to hope that you have come to value them as such. I even had a little fantasy that one of your popular entertainers—Stephen Sondheim, say, or Puff Diddle—might have set them to music, and at the beginning of March you all hold hands and sing a song called “It Was Christmastime in England,” to mark the imminent arrival of spring. I am beginning to suspect, however, that this column is making only medium-sized inroads into the American consciousness. (I have had very little feedback from readers in Alabama, for example, and not much more from our Hawaiian subscribers.) I shall keep the tradition going, but more in hope than expectation. It’s the New Year here in England, and I’m sorry to say that, because of the apparent indifference of both Puff Diddle and Alabama (the whole state, rather than the band), I am entering 2006 on a somewhat self-doubting and ruminative note.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please purchase a copy of the magazine from The McSweeney’s Store.

Nick Hornby is the author, most recently, of a novel titled A Long Way Down.


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