If you're looking for a football-lovin', music geekout "Nick Hornby book," just keep walking, 'cause this isn't the next Fever Pitch or High Fidelity. Housekeeping vs. The Dirt is a collection of 14 essays from Hornby's literary criticism column in the Believer. And while reading about an author reading and then writing about books you probably haven't read seems like the most improbable formula for captivation, Hornby manages to pull this amazing feat off.
Full of witty and self-deprecating realizations about his reading life, Hornby covers the full spectrum of the literary world, from Mötley Crüe's biography, The Dirt, to Voltaire's Candide. His job is to devour words and report back on the experience, and he has a wonderful knack for dispensing pithy advice about the ease and entertainment of reading. "It has proved surprisingly easy to eliminate boredom from my reading life... If you're reading a book that's killing you, put it down and read something else, just as you would reach for a remote if you weren't enjoying a TV program."
I was a loan processor for one long year right after college and I had a coworker who viewed my reading habits with much skepticism, going as far as saying, "Oh, you're one of those readers, aren't you?" I'd say that Hornby's felt this same burn and does his darnedest to make things smoother for his fellow readers. "Maybe great art shouldn't be afraid of being elitist, but there's plenty of great art that isn't, and I don't want bright people who don't happen to have a degree in literature to give up on the contemporary novel; I want them to believe there's a point to it all...." He makes an ideal spokesperson for reading as entertainment with an utter lack of snobbery and a no-apologies approach.
Granted, this book fills a very small niche (see above: author writing about the act of reading), but it's well written and full of contagious enthusiasm that will make you want to tackle a dusty classic from your bookshelf. Hornby says it nicely: "If you are so gripped by a book that you want to read it in the mythical single sitting, what chance has it got of making it all the way through the long march to your soul?"