The Polysyllabic Spree

by Nick Hornby

Published: Nov 30, 2004
by McSweeney’s, Believer Books
ISBN: 9781932416244



“…I suddenly had a little epiphany: all the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal. […] But with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.”

I loved this book; even though I’ll likely never read most of the books Hornby talks about, I loved reading his thoughts about them. He’s hilarious and insightful and, I think, fair (although it’s hard to say given the constraints he claims to be under by The Believer).

Each chapter is one of the monthly columns he wrote for The Believer and at the beginning of each is a list of the books he bought that month and the books he read. Hornby talks about the books he read in a free form style; one book leading to the next. Interspersed throughout are excerpts from some of his favourite books, including David Copperfield and a selected letter from Anton Chekov that is brilliant; I want to copy it, frame it and send it to several people I know.

If you enjoy reading about books, I highly recommend this one; it’s a fun read.

Find The Polysyllabic Spree at:

Back home, or, TBR Thursday: the mega edition

Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime - Val McDermidThe Alchemist - Paulo CoelhoThe Graveyard Book - Neil GaimanPlato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar... Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes - Thomas CathcartThe Fine Art of Fucking Up - Cate DicharryBattle of the Books - Henry Morley, Jonathan Swift,

I got home last night, leaving behind sunny, 31C weather to return home to rain and 8C.  Ah well, at least the cats still recognised me and my husband was very happy to have me home.

Along with an astounding amount of new clothes (mid-season sales!!) I brought back a pile of books (of course) and returned home to find another pile waiting for me as my internet buys continued to pile up in my absence.  The tally:

New books in June:  19

Books read in June: 1

One book read this month.  I don’t think I have ever before only read one book in a month so that probably says more about how much fun I had than all of the pictures I took (and there were many!).

The books in the bar above are the purchases I made in Amsterdam at the American Book Center (Highly recommend!) and at the used/antiquarian book fair taking place in the street out front.  The covers below represent my normal haul of internet buys.


The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho was recommended to me by my best friend and he also found The Fine Art of Fucking Up – Cate Dicharry  and I read the summary over his shoulder and thought it sounded good.  Battle of the Books – Jonathan Swift  was a find at the book market and how could I not pick up a gem with that title?

The other 3 at the top are recommendations from my fellow BookLikers, so I know they’re going to be good!

The American Book Center… I could have spent days and days here….