Inspirations of a Book Nerd: Nick Hornby

I have spoken and written a lot about how much I love books and while I have talked about the books I love, I haven’t really ever written about the authors I love. I’ve decided that I will periodically do a post about my favorite writers: those that have inspired me to stretch myself and see my writing as more than a passing hobby. One of my favorite authors, normally, wouldn’t get much love on this blog since he doesn’t really write about science fiction or other subjects we nerd out about here. Nick Hornby is an English author, but really he is a writer. I say this because he writes everything, novels, screenplays, memoirs, music, essays…everything.

I love Nick Hornby’s characters; mostly stunted middle age men coming to grips with an uncomfortable truth about themselves,struggling to accept commitment or moving into the next phase of their lives. Though his main characters are normally men, that does not mean that I don’t connect with them personally. His characters and writing are good examples of why  I love YA so much: he writes his characters in times of transition and with a sense of uncertainty that is so familiar to where I am as a person.

People may not think of him as a literary genius, but his books are reaffirming, entertaining and brilliant. As a reader, what more could you want? I discovered Nick Hornby after watching the film High Fidelity during my John Cusack period where I watched all of his films in order. When I found out the movie was based on the book, I had to read the source material. I then do what I always do when I read a book that I love, I devour everything else from the author.

Nick Hornby is a prolific writer. He has written fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, screenplays; he even wrote songs for an album with Ben Folds Five featuring a very catchy tune about Brit Palin’s baby daddy Levi. While I have yet to read everything, I am definitely working my way through his dense and endlessly fascinating bibliography. Nick Hornby has been a major influence on my life; everything from writing style to the football team I support (Go Arsenal!). His writing is both effortless and life affirming. There is a feeling throughout all of his books that you’re reading a novel by a guy who really gets it.

Gets what? Everything; life, relationships, music, films, sports and what it means to be a person who truly loves music, films and sports. Looking at his bibliography and the amount of novels that have been adapted into movies, it’s a very safe assumption that Nick Hornby is a very wealthy man but I have yet to see his success and wealth bleed into his work. It remains authentic and touching and I love him for it. The plots of his books differ wildly but they all have the common strain of humor and sincerity that makes Nick Hornby’s voice unique and memorable.

In his first book Fever Pitch, Nick recounts his life through his fandom with Arsenal. Moments of personal triumph could be dampened by Arsenal’s failures and vice versa. Though I wasn’t familiar with European football before reading the book, I have been a loyal follower of Arsenal from the moment I closed the final page. Hornby recounts years of heartbreak as a loyal supporter of the club, and it felt only natural to follow his lead. If Arsenal could inspire such loyalty in such a brilliant man, they were obviously worth my love as well.

The majority of his protagonists are white middle class and privileged men, diversity is not his strong suit.  How to Be Good was his first novel with a female protagonist and though known for his capturing of men of a certain age, this book showcased his ability to write a different type of character and still make a compelling story.

No one other than JK Rowling has influenced my desire to write and tell stories as much as Nick Hornby. He also proves that you don’t have to be pretentious to write compelling and life-changing fiction.