Nick Hornby is the guy who writes the monthly "Stuff I've Been Reading" column for the Believer, the magazine piece of the McSweeney's publishing empire (he's also the novelist whose bestselling High Fidelity made "top five" pop culture lists a staple of barroom banter). In More Baths Less Talking, a collection of his last two years of Believer columns, he reviews--or rather riffs on--everything from old-school Twain ("That Tom Sawyer is a pill, isn't he?") and Wordsworth ("There is more in these poems about the natural world than is strictly necessary") to the contemporary novel American Rust by Phillip Meyer ("Unlike most first novelists, Meyer knows that we're all going to die, and that before we do so we are going to mess our lives up somehow").
Although Hornby had a traditional background that led him to discover "that I didn't want to read or listen to anything that anybody in any position of educational authority told me to," he finally "discovered that some old s*** isn't so bad." And so his reading selections range broadly across all eras and genres, and this collection might best be described with the same words he uses to praise Nicholson Baker's The Anthologist and its protagonist: "It's a wonderful novel, I think, unusual, generous, educational, funny. The eponymous narrator, Paul Chowder... might be an awful mess, but you trust him on all matters related to poetry." It is equally easy to trust Hornby on all things books. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.