Stuff I’ve Been Reading

A monthly column

by Nick Hornby

BOOKS BOUGHT:

  • Rod: The Autobiography—Rod Stewart
  • Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense—Francis Spufford
  • Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar—Cheryl Strayed
  • Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York that Changed Music Forever—Will Hermes
  • Gone Girl—Gillian Flynn
  • Alys, Always—Harriet Lane
  • The Yellow Birds—Kevin Powers
  • How to Stay Sane—Philippa Perry

BOOKS READ:

  • Rod: The Autobiography—Rod Stewart
  • Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense—Francis Spufford
  • Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar—Cheryl Strayed

The first column I wrote for the Believer was published in the September 2003 edition, so technically I shouldn’t be celebrating for another few months, but never mind: woo-hoo. Woo-hoo for a whole lot of reasons, actually. Woo-hoo because this is the first time I’ve ever held down a job for a decade; woo-hoo because it’s kind of incredible that, in the digital age, a beautiful print magazine about books and the arts has survived; woo-hoo that the insultingly young editors of this magazine have a very short attention span—although in their case, it’s too much flash fiction and too many haikus, rather than too much Xbox and MTV—and that they only ever look at the first few pages of the magazine.

The truth is that they don’t even know I’m still here, which is just as well for me and my enormous, shiftless family. They hate older people, and if they ever did read right through to the back I’d be taken out, shot, and boiled down for glue, like a lame cart-horse. If you’re twenty-three, and you’ve made a sculpture of R-Patz out of Play-Doh, pastrami, and your father’s old Pavement albums, then it’s all like, “Oh, hey, come on in! We’ll put you on the cover and do a ten-page interview with you!” If, however, all you’ve done is read books, quietly and patiently, on trains and planes and toilets, and accumulated valuable experience and wisdom over the decades, they don’t want to know. You’re placed so near the end of the magazine that you’re not even in the same time zone as all the cool kids at the front. Ach. The carnival atmosphere seems to have gone flat in the very first paragraph.

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 of six novels, the most recent of which is Juliet, Naked, and a memoir, Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award for music criticism, and editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. His screenplay for An Education was nominated for an Academy Award. He lives in North London.

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