When I was doing my semester in Prague, I was reading constantly. It could have been all the various modes of transportation I was riding all the time – trams, buses, subways, planes, etc – that one doesn’t encounter in rural Indiana. Or it could be that my favorite thing was to go to a park bench sit, read, listen to music, and people watch. That is still one of my favorite things to do in the world…
this is the park bench I would sit at sometimes and some Czech people
View from my park bench
Anyway, I got really into books about males going through an identity crisis. I read Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, They Will Know Our Velocity, Perks of Being a Wall Flower, and a lot Nick Hornby during this era. I read 31 Songs (fantastic book), How to be Good (terrible book), and High Fidelity (to which I will dedicate the rest of this entry).
I loved High Fidelity. That book is amazing. I’ve always liked the movie and was even more impressed by the book. This week, I picked up the book again. I forgot how good it is. I don’t read many books more than once (exceptions being Harry Potter, Little Women, Bridget Jones, What I Loved, and Blind Assassin) but this was just as sweet the second time around
When I’m reading, I feel like Hornby is letting me in on the secret of men. How they’re all silly insecure cowards, but at the same time, I totally relate and love them for it.
Each character is totally likable. They all do stupid things, but I don’t care. I love them in spite of their flaws. That to me is a sign of a great book. I hate nothing more than reading a book where a character is flawless or unlikable.
Since I saw the movie before I ever read the book, a lot of the quotes I hear coming out of John Cusak’s mouth verbatim.
Here are some of my fav excerpts:
“People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands — literally thousands — of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss.”
“I guess I should have forgotten about it ages ago, but forgetting isn’t something I’m very good at.”
“You need as much ballast as possible to stop you from floating away; you need people around you, things going on, otherwise life is like some film where the money ran out, and there are no sets, or locations, or supporting actors, and it’s just one bloke on his own staring into the camera with nothing to do and nobody to speak to, and who’d believe this character then?”
“The unhappiest people I know, romantically speaking, are the ones who like pop music the most; and I don’t know whether pop music has caused this unhappiness, but I do know that they’ve been listening to the sad songs longer than they’ve been living the unhappy lives.”
“If you really wanted to mess me up, you should have got to me earlier.”
“It was the asking that was the important thing.”
Hornby also makes me want to augment my music collection. I feel like such a slacker for buying Greatest Hits albums instead of owning every single song by every single band ever. I want to absorb more and more music till I could hang out with the main character, Rob and his co-workers, Dick and Barry. But I guess the point of the book was that it didn’t matter what he thought, Laura (lady love of the book) should like, it mattered that he thought about what she did like…. or something like that.
Sidenote: I started Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth. PHENOMENAL. Great short stories. I spent all Sunday afternoon sitting at my kitchen counter reading – often being moved to tears. good stuff