Nick Hornby’s finest hour in 31 songs

Nick Hornby’s finest hour in 31 songs

When the author of “High Fidelity” recalls his 31 favorite songs, you can’t count on him to line up mawkish memories, but of course his consummate art of reflection that listening to a good pop song brings out in him.

Hornby would have been remiss if he had only written a book of memories. You can feel it from the very first pages. “There’s a Gypsy Kings song that reminds me of being pelted with plastic beer cans at a soccer match in Lisbon, and lots of songs that remind me of high school, or old girlfriends, or a summer job, he writes, but I don’t own any of them in my record library, they mean nothing to me musically, they’re only worthwhile as memories, and I didn’t want to write a book about memories.

These sentences, taken from the introduction, explain Nick Hornby’s aim: to explain the resonances that certain songs find in our lives, and what drives us to listen to them again and again…

“31 Songs” evokes the author’s “favorite of favorites”, songs he listens to often. You could say that these songs are part of his life: they are by Bruce Springsteen, Suicide, Patti Smith, Teenage Fanclub, The Avalanches, Soulwax, Röyksopp, Badly Drawn Boy (who wrote the music for the film “About a Boy”, adapted from one of his novels), Ani DiFranco, Rod Stewart and Santana.

“All I have to say about these songs,” declares the author of “High Fidelity”, “is that I love them, that I want to sing them, that I want to make other people listen to them, and that it upsets me when others don’t like them as much as I do”.


Nick Hornby “31 songs”, Editions 10/18, Paris, 200 pages, 6.90 euros.

Jean-Marc Grosdemouge