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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

RAL VS Nick Hornby

I love to read - it's one of my genuine pleasures in life and something I wish I had more time to do. For me reading is like dating. Sometimes I find myself surrounded by books, with no time to read them, other times I've got plenty of time and nothing to read.

Usually I have a few books lying around waiting for me but this Shabbos I had NOTHING. No library books, no loaners from friends, not even any magazines...nothing. So eventually my husband caught me re-reading "High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby for about the 6th time (that HE knows of.) I love that book (and most by others by Hornby) and I think I may have a bit of a crush on the main character (who can resist a depressed Englishman with a massive record collection?!) Being a good husband, and fearful that my brain would turn to rot he quickly offered to find me something else that I had not read before.

A minute later he returned with a copy of Rav A. Lichtenstien's "Leaves of Faith" (which I know for a fact he has not read although he bought it with the best of intentions at this year's YU sefarim sale.) Even the introduction was a hard read. That man has no mercy on his readership. I just felt stupid. I felt like a fourth [edited thanks P] grader reading the Wall Street Journal. Sure I could do it but it was so arduous that it just didn't feel like it was worth the effort.

I understood what I did read but after 4 pages I was tired.
"High fidelity" wins again. Sorry Rav Lichtenstien.


At 12:02 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der ┼íteg) said...

hey, i don't understand the wall street journal either ;-)

At 1:37 PM, Blogger DTC said...

"no mercy on his readership" is an understatement. Even the Israelis in his shiur need Hebrew dictionaries.

At 2:38 PM, Blogger StepIma said...

I feel for you. My bookshelves are 99% fiction, because I just can't do the heavy stuff. When I get married next month, the shelves are going to go 50-50 fiction-nonfiction (not to mention 40/60 secular-Judaic, where now I'm at 80/20). I'll be gaining tons of books - and almost nothing to read ;)

The latest Nick Hornby (A Long Way Down) is really great, by the way. I TOTALLY recommend it.

At 3:37 PM, Blogger projgen said...

Oooh, oooh, a new author for me to check out! Thank you! I usually have the best of intentions on Shabbat to read relevant books, but usually I give in and read my read-aholic fun books!

btw, is it okay if I tease you for mispelling "fourth" in this sentence, of all sentences: "I felt like a forth grader reading..." ;)

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

Steg - ok ok me either...
My eyes glaze over at the words "marketing" "portfolio" or "investment" so I can really say I understand the WSJ either.

DTC- welcome to the blog (if you've been here before and I have a short memory then welcome back!)
I believe it! One wonders if he writes and speaks that way intentionally to keep the riff-raff away... any thoughts?

Step Ima - that's my house!
A million books and nothing to read.
I will find that book and read it as soon as possible!

Projgen - I am a terrible speller and lazy to boot! Feel free to point out my errors anytime. I'd rather fix them now then have them online in the archives forever mispelled.

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

LOL, boy can I relate! I have ALWAYS been an avid reader myself, so of course I try to translate that love of books to reading Jewish texts... especially on Shabbos. unfortunately, a good novel all-too-often wins out!

At 10:52 AM, Blogger DTC said...


Certain people are simply not on the same level as the masses and therefore, no matter how hard they try to lower themselves, will still never be fully comprehensible to us. RAL tries, but I don't think that he's deliberately driving us up the wall.


At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good book makes life better.


At 4:20 PM, Blogger Lab Rab said...

As a student of RAL I can relate ... but at the same time, the things I have learned from him continue to guide my life to this day; whereas brain-candy novels tend to pass through very quickly.

Full disclosure: I have never read Hornby or even heard of his work until reading this post.


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