Novelist Nick Hornby: Reading Shouldn't Feel Like a Chore

The High Fidelity and Fever Pitch author recently told Cheltenham Festival attendees that no one should have to pridefully trudge through highbrow novels or force children to labor through books they find boring. Doing so sets a bad precedent.

Novelist Nick Hornby recently spoke at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in England and had some harsh words for those who pressure others to read hard books, this according to Hannah Furness of The Telegraph.


The High Fidelity and Fever Pitch author argued that it's misguided to reluctantly trudge (or be forced to trudge) through a highbrow novel you don't enjoy. Doing so sets a bad precedent and sends the message that reading is a chore. Reading, he says, should be like watching television - something you want to do as opposed to something you have to do. If the show you're watching on TV doesn't compel you, nothing's stopping you from switching to something new. For Hornby, reading should be the same way.

Hornby is especially passionate about this opinion with regard to children and education. Here's Furness' account:

"Hornby argued even children should not be compelled to read books they do not want to, saying setting targets of books they 'should' read is counterproductive."

Naturally, as a writer, Hornby's concern is that more people should be reading, and not just to satisfy pride or an external demand, but because reading is something they love to do. It's not a stretch to say that teaching certain novels in elementary and high school leads to reading casualties. A bad experience with The Catcher in the Rye or Great Expectations could ward someone away from books forever. With so many entertainment alternatives today, can supporters of reading really afford to alienate so many young people?

Hornby's stance is simple: everyone should read, but only read what they want. He's less concerned with reading, on a general level, serving as an intellectual endeavor. For most people without a degree in Literature, reading novels is something done for fun. Therefore, it makes little sense to trim enjoyment from what should be an entertaining experience.

Read more at The Telegraph

Photo credit: Kravtsov Sergey / Shutterstock

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