How to Be Good By Nick Hornby
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is everything the Sunday times promised: hilarious, sophisticated and compulsive.
I would not call the book a comedy, but at the same time i found myself literally laughing out loud on several occasions while reading it. A blurb, as an example:
“Mum,” says Molly, after I have finished with the water, and also a long explanation as to what I think it might have been that caused me to cough in that way.
“Do you want some more?” I ask her. She ignores me.
“How about you, Tom? David? GoodNews?” Sooner or later, I know, I will have to let my daughter speak. One day there will be no more delaying tactics left, but hopefully that day will not arrive for several years yet. “Do you want to get down, kids?”
“Molly. It’s rude to speak when…when…no one wants to listen to you.”
Amen. It is rude to speak when no one wants to listen to you. There are several other parts of the book that have a similar comedic effect. However, a lot of the book is literally about how to be good, and what being good means.
The husband of the main character goes off the deep end very early in the story and starts “living life differently.” This is to say he begins doing things like giving money to all the homeless people he passes, and getting his neighbors to volunteer to house homeless youths in their spare bedrooms, giving away half of his children’s toys to the shelter and cooking everything in the freezer to bring to the homeless in the park.
The main character, Katie, is appalled by most of these actions. She is embarrassed for her husband more often than not. She also starts to realize that even though she is a doctor, and thought she was a good person, she is too selfish to not throw a fit when her husband gives away 1/3 of the computers they own.
The book got me thinking a lot more about what we do in our every day lives that is actually good. In some of my Freak Outs since graduating I was convinced I had to quit my job because I wasn’t contributing to making the world a better place. I wasn’t helping anyone. This book cemented that in my head.
While Katie’s husband in the book took giving and good to an absurd level, he also got everyone in his life, and myself, to start really looking at how selfish we are being. I’m working hard trying to save up for a new car. So what? It’s not like I need a car. It would make my life easier, but I don’t need one. What if I used the money I have saved for a car and did something good with it instead? Does having a job that helps people, like being a doctor, excuse us from doing good outside of work?
I love that this book was written in a way that could show the reader a Big Picture, but also tell a story that was relatable. I would highly recommend reading it, especially if you’re feeling lost right now.
Rating: 4.75/5 stars