Book Review: High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby


If I had known that Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, by Nick HornbyHigh Fidelity was made into a movie starring John Cusack as the main character, I probably wouldn’t have read it, but I’m glad I did.

Sidenote 1: I really do live under a rock when it comes to movies, I had no idea this had been made into a movie 13 years ago.

Sidenote 2: Not really sure why I dislike John Cusack. He’s a fine actor, I just don’t care for the movies he’s in (except for Being John Malkovic, I like that one).

Anyway. Now that I know John Cusack was Rob, I can’t get that out of my head, but I did enjoy the book. High Fidelity is about a 3osomething music junkie named Rob who has just been dumped by his long-time, live-in girlfriend. He likes making lists, so a fair amount of the narrative is broken into, well, list-form. He rehashes previous relationships in lists, he assesses potential matches via their lists of favorite records and musicians, and he spends one particularly mopey night by reorganizing his extensive record collection in order of purchase. Just reading that bit made my spreadsheet-loving-heart go pitter patter.

I hadn’t read anything by Nick Hornby before High Fidelity, but I decided I was a fan of his writing style. It’s not quite stream-of-consciousness, but it’s conversational. Even though I didn’t understand half of the music references, that doesn’t detract from the story (I didn’t understand half of the music references in Gilmore Girls but it didn’t matter with the Gilmores either). While a fair amount of the book is about sex and relationships from a man’s point of view, it isn’t over-the-top and it doesn’t make me hate men the way I imagine reading Tucker Max would. And mixed in with all of the sadness and confused romance is a good deal of quotable insight.

Even though the characters in the story are all in their thirties, it still has the feel of a coming-of-age story. Rob has created his own destiny and now he has to deal with the consequences. He’s newly single with a dead-end job and a lack of interest in anything besides his music collection. It’s about time for him to get up, get out, and do something, and figure out what sort of purpose his life should have. It’s a struggle that many teenagers and 20somethings deal with, I feel like once a month I hear about another friend or friend-of-a-friend that’s dropping everything to start a new career, or moving across the country to get out of their comfort zone. Deep down past the sexual frustration and obscure music references, it’s downright relatable.

Favorite Quote:

“My friends don’t seem to be friends at all but people whose phone numbers I haven’t lost.”

All those pertinent details:

  • Title: High Fidelity
  • Author: Nick Hornby
  • Length: 323 pages (paperback)
  • Genre: fiction, humor, contemporary
  • Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Buy it on Amazon here.


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