Book Review(s): The Polysyllabic Omnibus

Housekeeping vs The Dirt

Nick Hornby


200 pages







Shakespeare Wrote for Money

Nick Hornby


200 pages

It all began with The Polysyllabic Spree, wherein Nick Hornby compiled the first year or so of his Believer column entitled “Stuff I’ve Been Reading”, which I reviewed here. Housekeeping vs The Dirt and Shakespeare Wrote for Money are the second and third compilations from that column.

For those book bloggers among you, I think we can all relate to Hornby’s column.

I began writing this column in the summer of 2003. It seemed to me that what I had chosen to read in the preceding few weeks contained a narrative, of sorts–that one book led to another, and thus themes and patterns emerged, patterns that might be worth looking at. And, of course, that was pretty much the last time my reading had any kind of logic or shape to it.  Ever since then my choice of books has been haphazard, whimsical and entirely shapeless.

Housekeeping vs The Dirt

pg 11

Personally, I could care less whether there is any logic to what Hornby reads.  I just enjoy reading about what he has read and what his reactions were.  I will also add that although I could care less about cricket, or any other sports that Hornby tends to read about, I still love reading what his thoughts on such books.  He just has such a great writing style, infused with plenty of wit, that he could write about reading the Encyclopedia and I am pretty sure I would enjoy it.

I was distraught when Shakespeare Wrote for Money ended with the September 2008 column, as Hornby had decided to step away from the Believer. I could not believe that this was the end of “Stuff I’ve Been Reading”. So imagine my elation when I read that Hornby had restarted his column–sometime in the spring of 2010, I think.  Hard as I try, I can’t find anything on the internet that says whether a fourth volume will be released in the future. I am keeping my fingers crossed, because at this point I am not ready to shell out for a subscription to the Believer.  I am not certain whether I will read anything else in the magazine, and $45+ a year is a bit much to pay for one column.

If you haven’t read The Polysyllabic Spree or its followers, I implore you–do it! Any book lover will be instantly enamored with Hornby and his column.

Other Reviews of Housekeeping vs The Dirt:

Stainless Steel Droppings

Life is a Patchwork Quilt

Sasha & The Silverfish

things mean a lot

Other Reviews of Shakespeare Wrote for Money:

Books and Movies


things mean a lot

I purchased both of these books from Borders.

6 Responses

  1. Thanks again for cluing me in that there’s more! I was only aware of Polysyllabic Spree.

  2. They are all such entertaining books. Like you there were several books and subjects that I had no particular interest in but found myself interested because of Hornby’s way of writing about them. I discovered several books through these collections and at least one new favorite author: Anne Fadiman.

    I am truly hoping a fourth (and subsequent) volume comes out. I hate thinking that there are a bunch more of these great columns out there and I’m not getting to read them!

  3. I’ve never read any of Hornby’s work, but he’s been on my radar for a while. I really do want to try one of his books one of these days.

  4. I’ve got both of these on my Wishlist and can’t wait to read them 🙂

  5. I’ve never read these Hornby collections, but I love him as an author so much I’m sure I would enjoy them. Thanks for the review!

  6. I can absolutely relate to that quote. My reading is ALL over the place, mainly because of review books and whatnot.

    Hornsby’s column sounds awesome. I’ll have to check it out sometime!

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