by Nick Hornby


  • The Plot Against America—Philip Roth
  • Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My SoulTony Hendra
  • Chronicles: Volume One—Bob Dylan
  • Little Children—Tom Perrotta
  • Soldiers of Salamis—Javier Cercas
  • The Book of Shadows—Don Paterson


  • The Men Who Stare At Goats—Jon Ronson
  • I Am Charlotte Simmons—Tom Wolfe
  • Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood—Jennifer Traig
  • Palace Walk—Naguib Mahfouz
  • Just Enough Liebling—edited by David Remnick

The story so far: I have been writing a column in this magazine for the last fifteen months. And though I have had frequent battles with the Polysyllabic Spree—the fifty-five disturbingly rapturous and rapturously disturbing young men and women who edit the Believer—I honestly thought that things had got better recently. We seemed to have come to some kind of understanding, a truce. True, we still have our differences of opinion: they have never really approved of me reading anything about sport, and nor do they like me referring to books wherein people eat meat or farmed fish. (There are a whole host of other rules too ridiculous to mention—for example, you try finding “novels which express no negative and/or strong emotion, either directly or indirectly”—but I won’t go into them here.) Anyway, I was stupid enough to try to accommodate their whims, and you can’t negotiate with moral terrorists.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Nick Hornby is the author of five books, most recently The Polysyllabic Spree. He lives in North London.

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