New Read: High Fidelity

I feel like every day I’m posting about a new book lately. I’m not sure if I’m reading more, or if I’m just reading easier books this year, but the number of books is definitely up so far. Looking at my stats, I am reading far more fiction than I usually do, and fiction does sweep by far faster for me than non-fiction.

Now I’m looking at my Amazon wishlist and seeing all my non-fiction reads waiting patiently. Books like Midlife: A Philosophical Guide by Kieran Setiya, The Problem of Democracy: America, the Middle East, and the Rise and Fall of an Idea by Shadi Hamid, and Confidence Culture by Shani Orgad and Rosalind Gill, all books I’ve found through podcasts I’ve listened to in the past.

They’ll have to wait a while because my physical TBR shelves are overflowing. I should read the books I already have, and I’m happy to do so. It just makes it look like I’m overdoing the reading just a bit.

high fidelity cover

Today I’m here to share High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. I picked it up off the shelf at Barnes & Noble a while back, on a whim. Nick Hornby’s Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade of Soaking in Great Books was one of my most favorite reads a few years ago. It inspired me to start writing this blog.

Jeepers, creepers! I did a quick search for that post about Ten Years in the Tub and found it… all the way back in December of 2019. Time flies when you’re having fun. Reading it I find that so much has changed, and so little.

I’m here to tell you about the book. Remember? Yeah, that’s just the way I roll, randomly, like one of those bumbly toys that shakes and bumps around the floor, changing directions at every turn.

I have mixed feelings about the book. I wasn’t a big fan of his style. It felt… grumpy and cynical, like a spoiled child telling his story. By the end I realized that was his point. It’s a growing up story, from a young man’s point of view, if you can call him that. I mean, the character was thirty-five years old, not twenty-five.

I think that’s what irked me. If he were younger, I would have excused most of his behavior. Being thirty-five though… come on. But then, we all grow up at different rates. Some of us mature slowly, some have maturity thrust upon us. I remember being thirty-five, but I was married with kids by then. Everyone changes when they have kids, and fast.

I’ll say that I enjoyed the book by the end, but I don’t think I’d go out of my way to read another one. It was not time wasted, but there are so many books to read in the world. This one did not make me love it.

With that being said, here are my “out of context” quotes!

“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.”

I balked at this when I read it, but then started to think… you know, maybe he has a point. Nothing against “pop” exactly but I had a similar experience. When I fall into listening to pop country, like when I was a kid, watching too many romance movies, reading too many silly novels, I find myself looking around my reality and feeling like I’m missing out. Then I get grumpy and sad, accusing everyone of not living up to my expectations.

It’s the expectations that are off. Real life is not like a romance novel, a rom-com movie, or porn for that matter. It’s even better, if you let it be. When I’m reading non-fiction, I get in the mode of realizing how much worse the world was compared to now, and how much we have in common with others.

“Since I left home, all she’s done is moan, worry, and send cuttings from the local newspaper describing the minor successes of old school friends. Is that good parenting? Not in my book. I want sympathy, understanding, advice, and money, and not necessarily in that order, but these are alien concepts in Canning Close.”

Do you have that kind of mom? Are YOU that kind of mom? I can answer no to both of those, but what I really wanted to comment on here was “Canning Close.” I had to look it up. At first, I thought maybe that was his mom’s name, but it sounded strange. Turns out that it’s a street name. Those crazy English people and their odd words!

“If I was prone to self-pity, which I am, I would feel bad about the terrible irony of finding your parents out when, finally, you need them.”

Been there, done that. I think I’ll write a whole story about the time I sat on my grandparent’s deck in desperation. I didn’t want to admit I was only visiting because I knew they’d feed me and I was starving, but when they returned and said they had just been out to dinner… I burst into tears.

“I’ve been thinking with my guts since I was fourteen years old, and frankly speaking, between you and me, I have come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains.”

Literally. And the sooner we realize that gut feelings are not reliable sources of decision making material, the better. I think I finally figured that out around thirty-five years old as well, and have only just begun to master rational thought at fifty. Talking with my kids, it seems they are way ahead of me.

And that’s all I have for you today! I’m sensing that “in the swing of things” feeling coming on, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me a little more often in the coming months, and on a regular schedule. Maybe I’ll even get around to writing some short stories this year. Only time will tell!

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