Quiet Quotes by Susan Cain
Hornby means us to take his title literally: How can we be good, and what does that mean? However, quite apart from demanding that his readers scrub their souls with the nearest available Brillo pad, he also mesmerizes us with that cocktail of wit and compassion that has become his trademark. The result is a multifaceted jewel of a book: a hilarious romp, a painstaking dissection of middle-class mores, and a powerfully sympathetic portrait of a marriage in its death throes. It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry as we watch David forcing his kids to give away their computers, drawing up schemes for the mass redistribution of wealth, and inviting his wife's most desolate patients round for a Sunday roast. But that's because How to Be Good manages to be both brutally truthful and full of hope.
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You can't help but get along with Nick Hornby's books. They look you straight in the eye and, in voices that never strain for effect, tell you likeable truths about lives that are, if you're honest, probably not unlike your own. They are confessional without being creepy; funny but never juvenile; clever but not calculated. They're prepared to risk embarrassment and know you'll laugh with them; you even have the sense that, given half a chance, they'd be good listeners, too. Hornby bets everything on authenticity. He rarely strays even a 73 bus ride from the emotional geography he knows best.
Katie Carr. After more than 20 years of marriage and two children, Katie has had it: she's having an affair, feels intellectually dull and wishes her husband, David, would turn into a different person. Unfortunately for her, she gets her wish when David, a bitter, semi-employed intellectual who writes a column for a local newspaper subtitled "The Angriest Man in Holloway," becomes a secular saint. To spite her after an argument in which she suggests that they divorce, he goes to a dreadlocked faith-healer named DJ GoodNews. When GoodNews lays his hands on David, he suddenly becomes loving, concerned and utterly humorless. He gives money away, stops writing his column, organizes housing for the homeless inconveniently enough, with neighbors whose houses have empty rooms and invites GoodNews to move in. David donates the children's surplus toys to charity and asks them to adopt the uncool kids at school as their friends; their son, Tom, hates this, but his sister, Molly, develops an alarmingly patronizing friendship with a smelly little girl named Hope.