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Books, Movies, Rhythm, Blues: Twenty Years of Writing About Film, Music and Books

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Books, Movies, Rhythm, Blues is the companion volume to Fan Mail, Nick Hornby’s collection of writings on football. This second collection brings together the best of his other non-fiction pieces, on film and tv, writers and painters and music, and including one exceptional fragment of autobiography. With subject matter ranging from the Sundance Festival to Abbey Road Stud Books, Movies, Rhythm, Blues is the companion volume to Fan Mail, Nick Hornby’s collection of writings on football. This second collection brings together the best of his other non-fiction pieces, on film and tv, writers and painters and music, and including one exceptional fragment of autobiography. With subject matter ranging from the Sundance Festival to Abbey Road Studios, from P.G. Wodehouse to The West Wing, these are pieces that ‘were written for fun, or because I felt I had things to say and time to say them, or because the commissions were unusual and imaginative, or because … I was being asked to go somewhere I had never been before.’


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Books, Movies, Rhythm, Blues is the companion volume to Fan Mail, Nick Hornby’s collection of writings on football. This second collection brings together the best of his other non-fiction pieces, on film and tv, writers and painters and music, and including one exceptional fragment of autobiography. With subject matter ranging from the Sundance Festival to Abbey Road Stud Books, Movies, Rhythm, Blues is the companion volume to Fan Mail, Nick Hornby’s collection of writings on football. This second collection brings together the best of his other non-fiction pieces, on film and tv, writers and painters and music, and including one exceptional fragment of autobiography. With subject matter ranging from the Sundance Festival to Abbey Road Studios, from P.G. Wodehouse to The West Wing, these are pieces that ‘were written for fun, or because I felt I had things to say and time to say them, or because the commissions were unusual and imaginative, or because … I was being asked to go somewhere I had never been before.’

30 review for Books, Movies, Rhythm, Blues: Twenty Years of Writing About Film, Music and Books

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lavinia

    I have officially read more nonfiction written by Hornby than fiction. In fact, who am I kidding, I've only read a novel (and a screenplay, if that counts), but quite a few nonfictions. That's because he is a brilliant pop culture lover/writer and in an ideal world we'd have coffee together in London one day and talk books, movies, rhythm, blues and I'd finally get (hopefully) why he's so into Dickens. I have officially read more nonfiction written by Hornby than fiction. In fact, who am I kidding, I've only read a novel (and a screenplay, if that counts), but quite a few nonfictions. That's because he is a brilliant pop culture lover/writer and in an ideal world we'd have coffee together in London one day and talk books, movies, rhythm, blues and I'd finally get (hopefully) why he's so into Dickens.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    Hard to believe that in less than a day it will have been roughly twenty years from when Nick Hornby's first novel changed the direction of my life (of course, it wasn't until the film adaptation of High Fidelity a few years later that the proverbial penny had dropped). Reading this collection of essays, reviews and introductions is a great way to catch up with what the inspiring author has been up to during the last two decades. A little bit distressing that so much of his thirties to forties w Hard to believe that in less than a day it will have been roughly twenty years from when Nick Hornby's first novel changed the direction of my life (of course, it wasn't until the film adaptation of High Fidelity a few years later that the proverbial penny had dropped). Reading this collection of essays, reviews and introductions is a great way to catch up with what the inspiring author has been up to during the last two decades. A little bit distressing that so much of his thirties to forties were occupied with him reflecting upon how ideal his teens and twenties were, but I guess he has a lot of critical support from the world of R&B, Beatles and other emissaries of the best generation ever. Not being part of his past, but building from the iTunes and Internet-enabled culture that I belong to still makes me feel like we are growing up together. Will I be anywhere close to where he was in the next ten years of my life? Meaning will independent film studios like to option my collection of Goodreads write-ups? Just a couple of tablet-taps and we can do lunch!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tina Siegel

    What I love most about Hornby is the unabashed joy he takes in pop culture, and his lack of pretension. He's concerned with the experience, not the pedigree. That egalitarianism combines with self-deprecating wit to create some very intelligent, very affectionate, very passionate columns about reading, writing, movies, music - you know, the things that make the world go round. 'Books, Movies, Rhythm, Blues' is a collection of pieces that document Hornby's relationship with cultural products as b What I love most about Hornby is the unabashed joy he takes in pop culture, and his lack of pretension. He's concerned with the experience, not the pedigree. That egalitarianism combines with self-deprecating wit to create some very intelligent, very affectionate, very passionate columns about reading, writing, movies, music - you know, the things that make the world go round. 'Books, Movies, Rhythm, Blues' is a collection of pieces that document Hornby's relationship with cultural products as both a consumer and a producer. Broad parameters, I know, but necessary for someone with such wide-ranging enthusiasms. Hornby can expound on a photography exhibition, or a sugary Motown standard, or Dickens, because he sees the value in all of them. And, because he shares his joy with such chummy eloquence, we feel it to. Hornby never pretends to expertise (although, in some cases, he could). He doesn't sell himself short, either. Hornby manages to take shots at the adolescent core of his obsessions while acknowledging the time and thought he puts into pop culture. (Plus, he's fucking NICK HORNBY.) The result is a voice precisely poised between fanboy and professor, and it's incredibly endearing. Hornby isn't enamoured of everything he experiences, of course. There are times when he's disappointed, or bored, or he just doesn't like whatever he's writing about. He's an informed enough critic to articulate what didn't work, and to recognize what did, and embrace his reaction either way. And that, in the end, is what's so charming about Hornby. He jumps into pop culture and wades around, open to whatever he happens to encounter, however he happens to encounter it. But he's aware enough to consider and evaluate, too. Make connections. Assess. He uses his head and his heart, and we all get the benefit. Go out and read all of Nick Hornby's non-fiction. Immediately. I don't care which one you start with, just start. Your life will be more enjoyable for it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David Bril

    This was the third E-Book Nick Hornby put out in 2013 as a way to tide over his fans who were desperate for him to write a new novel. This book contains a series of hand picked pieces that Nick has written over his career, which he considers to be his very best. As a massive fan of Nick's work this was a near masterpiece to me, as it took stuff that you can maybe only find on the internet and put it all together in one place for fans to read. Some of the stores are amazingly personal and some of This was the third E-Book Nick Hornby put out in 2013 as a way to tide over his fans who were desperate for him to write a new novel. This book contains a series of hand picked pieces that Nick has written over his career, which he considers to be his very best. As a massive fan of Nick's work this was a near masterpiece to me, as it took stuff that you can maybe only find on the internet and put it all together in one place for fans to read. Some of the stores are amazingly personal and some of them are just Nick being Nick and showing his love for different forms of art. The topics covered include, Nick talking about a job he had before his first novel came out (this is mentioned briefly in Fever Pitch), a piece he wrote about Abbey Road Studio, a piece about how the internet has changed music forever and how he is OK with that, a piece about how he cries in movies, a piece about Marah a band he loves to no end and is friends with, a piece about his love for the West Wing, a complete history of his work on An Education and another about bringing it to Sundance, intro's he wrote for the books Summer Times and Scenes for a Provincial Life, some of the idea's he has for books, and a piece about how the London he once knew, has changed over the course of his life. I can not stress enough how much I loved this book. Sure a few pieces towards the end (The Goons and Humphrey Ocean) did nothing for me but overall this is just a masterpiece collection. I wish more authors would put things together like this. I am not sure they understand just how much their fans love them and want to read everything. I hope now with the introduction of the E Readers, Hornby will have started a trend and more authors will treat their fans with pieces like this!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    This is a grab-bag of articles of the type that digital publishing now makes easier to bundle together: some film, music or TV reviews, some short film business memoirs. Hornby, always self-avowedly in debt to Anne Tyler as a result, has a natural affinity with the reader and a wryly thoughtful and fairly encyclopaedic take on popular culture that shuns cool/difficult for cool/snappy. In other words, don't begin reading Nick Hornby here, but if you do, then there are some nice moments of movie in This is a grab-bag of articles of the type that digital publishing now makes easier to bundle together: some film, music or TV reviews, some short film business memoirs. Hornby, always self-avowedly in debt to Anne Tyler as a result, has a natural affinity with the reader and a wryly thoughtful and fairly encyclopaedic take on popular culture that shuns cool/difficult for cool/snappy. In other words, don't begin reading Nick Hornby here, but if you do, then there are some nice moments of movie industry satire (some of them laugh-out-loud funny) and some interesting takes on music, particularly old R&B. Hornby is indeed "old school", but he doesn't just descend into Blimpish headshaking when faced with the new (meaning: he at least tries). It takes about 10 minutes to read this collection, so it's a good public transport read, although it does jump around a bit between the 90s and the 00s without any real 'thread'. The tale of An Education's trip through development and eventually to the box office is worth the price of admission, as is the autobiographical tale of his classes with South Koreans in the 80s. And the piece on 'You Send Me'.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A good collection of essays covering music, literature, screenwriting, producing and promoting a movie, writing when the author has no idea what to write. The last essay titled "London" was enjoyable as Hornby compared the London of his youth with the London he currently lives with the London of Charles Dickens's London two hundred years before. As Hornby points out it is amazing to think that many of the homes current Londoners live in existed during Dickens time. The collection of essays is enj A good collection of essays covering music, literature, screenwriting, producing and promoting a movie, writing when the author has no idea what to write. The last essay titled "London" was enjoyable as Hornby compared the London of his youth with the London he currently lives with the London of Charles Dickens's London two hundred years before. As Hornby points out it is amazing to think that many of the homes current Londoners live in existed during Dickens time. The collection of essays is enjoyable to read but as an American some of the topics discussed fly over my head. If I was read for any other reason than pleasure I would Google or visit Wikipedia somethings to have a clearer idea.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lee Broderick

    It's now fairly clear that I'm not a fan of Nick Hornby's writing style. Neither insightful nor passionate it fails to engage me on any level - emotional or intellectual. This particular collection of essays is rather disparate, straddling twenty years and almost everything that might loosely be termed 'culture' from his own early writing career to commissioned pieces for exhibitions. It's now fairly clear that I'm not a fan of Nick Hornby's writing style. Neither insightful nor passionate it fails to engage me on any level - emotional or intellectual. This particular collection of essays is rather disparate, straddling twenty years and almost everything that might loosely be termed 'culture' from his own early writing career to commissioned pieces for exhibitions.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    If I was English, this would probably be four stars but several of the essays are so Britishcentric that it is well nigh impossible for me to evaluate them fairly. Hornby is a fine writer, deeply appreciative of his subjects, and the rest of the essays show these qualities in spades. For a selection of quick Kindle reads, the book was worth the sale price ($1.99) but someone more familiar with English comedic and musical traditions would probably enjoy the whole book more than I did.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I'll buy any book that Hornby writes. And I'm sure I would have given this a higher rating had I been more familiar with the subject matter. His writing is probably most effective for readers around his same age with a similar taste in music. As it stands, a solid 3 star rating and I would recommend the book to any fan of Hornby's work. I'll buy any book that Hornby writes. And I'm sure I would have given this a higher rating had I been more familiar with the subject matter. His writing is probably most effective for readers around his same age with a similar taste in music. As it stands, a solid 3 star rating and I would recommend the book to any fan of Hornby's work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Walker

    A collection of essays covering music, literature and screenwriting from the always easy-to-read Nick Hornby. His take on popular culture is at once amusing and interesting, making for an engaging and enjoyable read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Excellent collection of Nick Hornby articles. Always learn even if the subject, music, book, art, etc. is new to me. Haven't found much from Hornby I didn't enjoy. Excellent collection of Nick Hornby articles. Always learn even if the subject, music, book, art, etc. is new to me. Haven't found much from Hornby I didn't enjoy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mike Jozic

    Some really great essays featuring some really outstanding writing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Meg Marie

    fairly solid meh.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Inhabiting Books

    These essays didn't appeal to me personally, but there's nothing wrong with the writing. These essays didn't appeal to me personally, but there's nothing wrong with the writing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    A big chunk of this is included in the kindle version of An Education, but this was only $2.99 and it was more than worth it for the short piece (couple of pages) on soul lyrics.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nadine Lucas

    This book makes me want to read every word Hornby has written. I think I'll do just that! This book makes me want to read every word Hornby has written. I think I'll do just that!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rosa

    A light, fun read if scattershot, sprinkled with ordinary wisdom. Perfect for reading on trains or at bus stops.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Brown

    Enjoyable, sassy reviews of musical groups, particular records, books and iconic and not so iconic names in the business. Hornby represents a certain era that has been practically outdated by technology and that makes what he has to say all the more pertinent because it's so personal. His journal of his involvement in the screenplay of the film An Education is particularly cogent. Highly recommended. Enjoyable, sassy reviews of musical groups, particular records, books and iconic and not so iconic names in the business. Hornby represents a certain era that has been practically outdated by technology and that makes what he has to say all the more pertinent because it's so personal. His journal of his involvement in the screenplay of the film An Education is particularly cogent. Highly recommended.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mechi García

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What I liked the most is that in some chapters Nick Hornby explains his creative process and which are the facts and observations that trigger not only writing, but also choosing this stories that match with him as a novelist. There are also many references to pop culture and how rock music, devices, technology and cities have evolved. There are some parts of the book that were difficult to understand, because they are plenty of cultural references that lead to authors and comedians that I don’t What I liked the most is that in some chapters Nick Hornby explains his creative process and which are the facts and observations that trigger not only writing, but also choosing this stories that match with him as a novelist. There are also many references to pop culture and how rock music, devices, technology and cities have evolved. There are some parts of the book that were difficult to understand, because they are plenty of cultural references that lead to authors and comedians that I don’t know.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jude Brigley

    Amusing and interesting essays on popular culture. Engaging and enjoyable.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steve Carli

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Herrett

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tad

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark Crowe

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Rosen

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paul Vittay

  28. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  29. 5 out of 5

    Professorbs

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Parsons

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