The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
Over the past two years, my reading has become very structured. There's always a queue running and a fluid prioritization of the books I'm reading based on various factors... what's up next in my challenge, what just came out, any books I've received from publishers for review that are coming up on their publication date. It isn't an exact science, and Lord knows there's no formula involved (let's just say that I was a Senior in Pre-Algebra with all Freshmen, mkay?)... but it's become a big part of my life. My reading life has become the thing around which my entire schedule revolves. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I've finally learned how to make reading a vital and necessary part of my every day life... just as important as getting gas or doing the dishes. It is what needs to happen to make each day feel productive and fulfilled.
However, with that comes the tendency to get a little... overzealous. We say it every single year, but 2015 really does seem like an incredible year for books. And because of that, I'm constantly finding books that I OMGMUSTREADRIGHTTHISVERYMINUTE! It's caused me to learn a bit of choreography when it comes to my reading life... and I discovered Hornby's book The Polysyllabic Spree right smack dab in the middle of one of my more elaborate and complicated dances.
Love for some British sport aside (football? soccer? rugby? cricket? Who knows?), I could relate to him in so many ways. People who allow books to ride roughshod over their lives can identify a fellow lunatic very easily. It's the harried but excited look in the eyes, the overdeveloped page-turning finger, the exhausted gait brought on by staying up til 1am, just tonight, just so I can finish this one chapter.
And in Nick Hornby's explanation of his own reading life, we got a lot of honesty. Readers have a tendency to place classics on a pedestal even if they'd more fully enjoy a book about the coach of _insert_your_chosen_sport_here. I find it's something I'm really working hard on this year... as evidenced in the fact that Getting Things Done and What We See When We Read (both perfectly great books... just not necessarily ones that inspire me to stay up past 10pm) have been on my "currently reading" slideshow on this very blog since some time before Christmas. AND THAT'S OKAY! I see my reading list as a constantly evolving, neverending queue... that brings joy and fulfillment into my life.
"Books are, let's face it, better than everything else," writes Nick Hornby in his "Stuff I've Been Reading" column in The Believer. "If we played cultural Fantasy Boxing League, and made books go 15 rounds in the ring against the best that any other art form had to offer, then books would win pretty much every time. Go on, try it. The Magic Flute v. Middlemarch? Middlemarch in six. The Last Supper v. Crime and Punishment? Fyodor on point And every now and again you'd get a shock, because that happens in sport, so Back to the Future III might land a lucky punch on Rabbit, Run; but I'm still backing literature 29 times out of 30." This book collects Hornby's popular columns in a single, artfully illustrated volume with selected passages from the novels, biographies, collections of poetry, and comics under discussion