by Nick Hornby
Reading history and reviews
Finished in 2007This is another book that I had for a long time before I starting reading it. In fact, since I was unfamiliar with most of the artists (and I think all of the "songs") in the book, I even bought the companion cd as well as trying to locate the tracks that didn't make it onto the cd. It turned out that this was pretty much unnecessary, as the book isn't really about the music at all, it's about how music is more generally part of the very fabric of life, mixed up with all the other things that are also part of living - hopes, dreams, disappointments, good times and bad times.
So he explains why Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road" or Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like A Bird" are significant to him. He doesn't try to make an argument that his choice of songs are the 31 greatest songs in the world (in fact it's not even his 31 greatest songs ever - that's not the point). Instead they're chosen because they illustrate for him a particular connection that music has with his life. I think what Nick Hornby writes about particularly well here is the experience of being a music fan, and a lot of the things he talks about I also identified with - even though my choice of 31 songs would be very different, he captures and articulates something that I also feel about my own relationship with the songs that have significance for me.
There are a couple of things that I didn't identify with so much - I don't have arguments with other people about whether pop music is "real music" or not - and I think even though it's quite a short book (not in itself a bad thing), he still seems to lose his way towards the end. But it had me thinking about my own enjoyment of music, and things like how my walkman and more recently iTunes and the iPod shuffle changed my relationship with it. So overall it was a really interesting and enjoyable read.