Loved this book I didn t think I would, actually, because it opens with the decaying of a marriage between two Brits with kids The subject just doesn t grab me much, I mean, as escapist reading why would I want to read about an unhappy marriage Before I knew it, though, I was sucked in by the marvelous writing and witty humor of Nick Hornby.I had no idea where this book was going There are so many unpredictable twists and turns and just when you think it couldn t get any crazier, it does And it s lovely Rather than give away any of that loveliness, the surprises and twists and delicious ridiculousness of it all, I will just say that while it starts out as a story about the failing of a marriage what it becomes is much deeper and personal and provoking and circular than you would otherwise imagine.I realize that I m being very vague, but you would be happier discovering the plot twists for yourself You ll just have to trust me. I did enjoy some parts of this novel but others are quite inscrutable I would try to read another book of Hornby, maybe High Fidelity or About A Boy, and let s see if he will persuade me to add him on my favorite authors. In Nick Hornby S How To Be Good, Katie Carr Is Certainly Trying To Be That S Why She Became A GP That S Why She Cares About Third World Debt And Homelessness, And Struggles To Raise Her Children With A Conscience It S Also Why She Puts Up With Her Husband David, The Self Styled Angriest Man In Holloway But One Fateful Day, She Finds Herself In A Leeds Parking Lot, Having Just Slept With Another Man What Katie Doesn T Yet Realize Is That Her Fall From Grace Is Just The First Step On A Spiritual Journey Torturous Than The Interstate At Rush Hour Because, Prompted By His Wife S Actions, David Is About To Stop Being Angry He S About To Become Good Not Politically Correct, Organic Food Eating Good, But Good In The Fashion Of The Gospels And That S No Easier In Modern Day Holloway Than It Was In Ancient Israel Hornby Means Us To Take His Title Literally How Can We Be Good, And What Does That Mean However, Quite Apart From Demanding That His Readers Scrub Their Souls With The Nearest Available Brillo Pad, He Also Mesmerizes Us With That Cocktail Of Wit And Compassion That Has Become His Trademark The Result Is A Multifaceted Jewel Of A Book A Hilarious Romp, A Painstaking Dissection Of Middle Class S, And A Powerfully Sympathetic Portrait Of A Marriage In Its Death Throes It S Hard To Know Whether To Laugh Or Cry As We Watch David Forcing His Kids To Give Away Their Computers, Drawing Up Schemes For The Mass Redistribution Of Wealth, And Inviting His Wife S Most Desolate Patients Round For A Sunday Roast But That S Because How To Be Good Manages To Be Both Brutally Truthful And Full Of Hope It Won T Outsell The Bible, But It S A Lot FunnierMatthew BaylisFrom Publishers WeeklyKate, A Doctor, Wife And Mother, Is In The Midst Of A Difficult Decision Whether To Leave Or Stay With Her Bitter, Sarcastic Husband David Who Proudly Writes A Local Newspaper Column Called The Angriest Man In Holloway The Long Term Marriage Has Gone Stale, But Is It Worth Uprooting The Children And The Comfortable Lifestyle Then David Meets A Faith Healer Called Dr Goodnews, And Suddenly Converts To An Idealistic Do Gooder Donating The Children S Computer To An Orphanage, Giving Away The Family S Sunday Dinner To Homeless People And Inviting Runaways To Stay In The Guest Room And Convincing The Neighbors To Do Likewise Barber Gives An Outstanding Performance As Kate, Humorously Conveying Her Mounting Irritation At Having Her Money And Belongings Donated To Strangers, Her Guilt At Not Feeling Generous And Her Hilarious Desire For Revenge Barber Brilliantly Portrays Each Eccentric Character Hippie Ish Goodnews, Crusading David, Petulant Children And, Poignantly, The Hesitant, Halting Barmy Brian, A Mentally Deficient Patient Of Kate S Who Needs Looking After Barber S Stellar Performance Turns A Worthy Novel Into A Must Listen Event Simultaneous Release With Riverhead Hardcover Forecasts, June As I started reading this I said to myself, Jeff, maybe your first Hornby book probably should have been High Fidelity not this one The narrator s a 40ish British woman who s married to an angry guy and who has two kids and is currently having an affair, but you know brutal cynicism and snark transcend everything It really does.The questions is thus If your spouse, suddenly goes from Mr Mrs Truculent, spewing venom everywhere, to someone who wants to do nothing but good deeds, do you 1 Insist upon having their head examined My choice 2 Do you remain on the sidelines and lob sarcasm and jaded remarks and try to undercut all the goodness Her choice, my second choice 3 Do you become an official doer of good deeds HA Let s face it, no one s choice Hornby s a funny and insightful writer, but even I was turning away from the world weary voice of sardonicism by mid way through the book Too much of a good thing. How to Be Good could have appropriately been titled Who Gives a Shit or How to be Good for Nothing because that s what Nick Hornby is with his cheesy writing style and trite observations. A Nick Hornby book through and through whatever that means to you A Long Way Down is still my favorite About a Boy is still my second favorite And this book would bring up the back since I ve only read three Hornby books Even if it s lesser than these other two books, it still has that Hornby charm What is the Hornby charm Take an interesting situation an affair by a self defined good person , add some eccentric details and characters a faith healer named DJ FeelGood , frustrate your expectations and your desire for a clear cut resolution to very human problems divorce and finding happiness , but never go to a place that feels like all hope is lost Hornby will resolve your very human problems very problematically with loose ends and upset expectationsit s as frustrating as life, but never as frustrating as tragedy at times uplifting, often funnySo, what s the problem, if any Well, just like a mainstream movie from a well known director, you might get tired of the formula, you might read the next move a little too well, and if the book is easy to consume well, then you might be left wanting not just fiction, but genuine literatureand thus, my next read will be somethingserious Moby Dick should do the trick The last sentence of this book made me feel daft I think I pretty much comprehended the majority of the book the mild, slightly frantic despair that the main character feels over a marriage that is mutually dissatisfactory the duplicitious and hypocritical nature of trying too hard to do good things when your own life is in shambles and you can t have fulfilling relationships with people that you actually know the ambiguity that someone can feel when no option is without unacceptable costs In fact, I think the most interesting thing about the book is how Hornby illustrats the protagonist s focus on herself and her constant rationalization of her poor choices She teeters on the edge of actually taking responsibility for her mistakes, but never quite realizes that her choices are what lead her to unhappiness Rather, she blames her husband for her choices Instead of making the real life changes that would come from taking responsibility and trying to fix things a bit by being less selfish, she eventually decides that finding some time for herself to read and listen to music may enable her to limp along for the next fifteen years in moderately acute displeasure and unhappiness I m not saying that taking time for yourself to read and listen to music is bad Quite the opposite I think everyone should find things that they like to do for themselves so they can relax and rejuvinate, feel accomplished I just don t think that doing so is a valid replacement for owning up to your mistakes properly and making the hard personality changes to start treating others better This, the protagonist obtusely refuses to do.Other than the last line, my issues with the book focuson the story than the writting Up until the complete change in personality of the husband, which is just not realistic at all, Hornby does an incredible job at describing the horror of a rotten marriage and the selfishness of someone who cannot see their contribution to the mire Then the whole random mystic healing thing leads to the complete personality change, and suddenly the husband is not only no longer angry, but can not longer even recognize sarcasm or humor That just wouldn t happen It s a big pill to swallow I suspended my disbelief to finish the story and see what Hornby has to say, but I think he could have gotten to the same place in the story without resorting to the outrageous and unbelievable Eventually, it works itself out, but not completely So the story is a bit tough to buy, but it can be done.But that last line of the book is just a gargantuan puzzler The entire book was clearly written, except the last line Hornby suddenly, abruptly, uncharacteristically, violently jumps tracks into an affected symbolism that contrasts glaringly with the rest of the writting in the book It s really quite ugly and ungainly If I could only change one thing about the book, I would probably choose to change that last few words, even over the whole husband s personality change thing I would change it to say, I wonder if I can keep it alive indefinitely I figure that s what Hornby was trying to say anyway. Ok it s called How to be Good , so I will try to be good.It s an interesting idea that doesn t go anywhere, and on that basis, it should have been written as a short story.Here s why it didn t go anywhere The characters are one dimensional, there are no backstories, nothing is done with this miraculous faith healer.We don t get to find out why David is so broken and cynical, and we are only told in reported speech about his conversion This is the crux of the book for fuck s sake Someone undergoes a complete personality change, I think we need to see it.Goodnews can perform miracles with his healing powers, so why isn t he already on the telly and in the tabloids The premise that David and Goodness want to do good deeds would be easily covered by making Goodnews a billionaire, then they could give all that money away.Ok, sorry, trying to be good Hornby has tried something different and he is trying to write about a real couple having problems So, props for that, but unfortunately, it s as boring as fuck.Katie the doctor wife is a saint to have put with David for as long as she has already, but when he starts talking bollocks and giving away the kid s computers , anyone would kick him out, but she doesn t, she tries to understand him Oh really I can t be good any longer This book is deathly dull.I blame the author for being self indulgent and writing it, but I also blame his editors, agent and publisher who all let this book go to print Someone has to stand up and say, Nick, this is really bad But after three bestsellers, it seems no one had the gumption to do it. To say I didn t get this book would be a profound understatement Near as I can tell, it s about all the terrible, mundane ways life can grind you down, how hypocracy gets all of us in the end, and the way what was once beloved can turn into what you hate in the ones you used to love.I found this book tremendously depressing Also, it made me never want to get married or have kids Ever.I was tremendously disappointed in the ending as well, at the same time as I admired Hornby s technical skill In general, I found the writing style to be too spare for my tastes, though it did add to the sensation of walking through a barren wasteland in search of color and contrast. how to be goodAs long time readers know or maybe you don t Maria and I read to each other One of the joys of naked Sunday is the fact that we don t have to get up, spend the day wandering around the flat in our pyjamas just cos it is called naked Sunday doesn t necessarily mean that we spend the day nekkid , basically just slob about.This Sunday we spent the whole morning and a bit of the afternoon in bed We ate cereal, we drank cokes and we ate our way through a huge box of Runts While we were doing this I read to Maria.I love Nick Hornby A lot of what he writes speaks to me directly I can understand everything he goes through in Fever Pitch hell, replace the word Arsenal for Sheffield United and it is probably my story I know the characters in High Fidelity , really know But in this case I was reading How to be Good I am a bleeding heart, yoghurt eating, tree hugging, grauniad reading liberal I draw the line at sandal wearing The book is very funny, the book is very clever, the book points out all those little problems that we b h, y e, t h, g r liberals have to face How in the 21st century do I come to terms with driving a car, owning property, earningthan the minimum wage when there are starving people in Africa Well, the fact is I give the odd 50p peso to a homeless person, I phone in my credit card donation to Live Aid, some of my best friends are not white The book asks the hard questions what if you actually did become a fully fledged b h, y e, t h, g r liberal what if you actually took a homeless person in what if you tried to solve all the big global problems but in a small personal way Many of the ideas made me cringe but in that way that The Office makes you cringe Twas a jolly good read Gotta lurve Nick Hornby.