Books I Love – Day 7

How-to-Be-Good-by-Nick-Hornby-2002

I like Nick Hornby because he writes with humor and realness. I tend to be generally drawn to that in most of the media I consume. And I’ve read several novels of his. His books often get made into movies (which are mostly plot accurate). He’s another one of those authors I just really enjoy, so choosing one book out of them all was tough. There are a few other titles I could easily fawn over, but I picked this one because of the complex nature of the story.

It was really thought provoking for me. It made me think about a lot issues from the personal to the global, and my own moral stance on a lot of areas of ambiguity and hierarchy and gradation when it comes to ‘goodness.’ It made me wonder about my own ‘goodness’ and about if people perceive me as ‘good’ and if they do why.
What makes a person good? What kind of/amount of ‘bad’ acts and behaviors and words can take a person’s ‘good’ status away? What kind of/amount of ‘good’ acts and behaviors and words can turn a ‘bad’ person into a ‘good one? Where are those lines? How far does a person have to go to be considered a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ person? Does any of that even matter? Does enough good excuse bad? Or does enough bad negate good? How much does intention factor into how behavior and actions and words are or should be evaluated? Like…if a person ‘performs’ good spouse, but doesn’t really love their partner, is that ‘good enough?’ Or is that bad? See also: parent…citizen…philanthropist…friend…etc…
How do other people’s reactions and relationships to you affect ‘goodness?’ Like…if your kids don’t think you’re a good parent, are you a good parent? If your work colleagues don’t think you’re a good co-worker, are you one? Or does only your own opinion of yourself matter?
Everyone makes mistakes, and perfection is an unreachable goal, obviously, but what ‘good’ deeds are the best ones…the most valuable ones, and which mistakes are unforgivable, even if we’ve done a lot of good?

I know. Deep stuff for what is essentially a comedy. No fooling, this book made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions, to where, I was sitting on the couch reading, and I’d laugh, and J would look up at me to ask what was so funny, but then he saw I was reading a book, not an online article or meme or watching TV or a movie and would just shrug. I mean, it has some real knee-slapper moments in it.
But this book really did take me to all those philosophically questioning places when I was reading it. I don’t think people give comedy enough credit for making people think about important shit. But it does. Stand up comedy and fictional comedy and humor columns…just because something makes you laugh doesn’t mean it doesn’t also have something important to say…doesn’t mean it won’t also make you think.

I loved this book because it’s funny and engaging. But also because it took me on a self-awareness and social awareness journey. I want to do that with the books I write. A lofty writing goal, I guess, but I want them to be fun and engaging. I want them to make people feel hopeful and happy (for the most part)…or at least comforted in some way. But I also hope that people think about themselves and the people they know (or the people they really DON’T know) on a more personal level and also maybe even society in a grand scale. I don’t think a writing piece has to be dark and looming to accomplish that. I might not be proof, but I think Nick Hornby is. Especially with this book.

If you want to read Nick Hornby, cheers! But if you don’t, that’s cool too. I hope you read something that makes you laugh and examine yourself and your social environment. And if you want to, you can read my stuff. It’s all here. I’ve been told my stories make waiting rooms and airplane and car rides less bothersome and dull, and that they’re pretty cool to read on the beach or poolside.

Anyway, read some good books! That’s what summer’s for. 🙂

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