High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Open discussion. Put your thoughts here.

Follow-up question: It is easy to criticize Rob for putting everything in terms of pop music, but would we be so critical, say, if he used classical music in the same way? Or the kind of art you find in art galleries? Is part of our frustration — as well as Laura’s & other characters’ — that Rob finds meaning in mass culture rather than elite culture?

45 Responses to “High Fidelity by Nick Hornby”

  1.   Lauren Says:

    When I first started the novel, I didn’t really care for it. I thought that Rob was a whiny aging man who had nothing better to do than complain about the loss of his lover. And I didn’t blame Laura for leaving Rob either. Actually, call me cynical, but I found myself hoping that Laura would go back to Rob just so that he could focus on something else other than his misery. But as the novel progressed, I realized that the book didn’t get under my skin as much as I thought it might. Actually, I loved Rob’s poignancy (due in fact that the novel was written in first person let his unique style of thinking shine through) and the stream-of-consciousness style Hornby often employed. I also liked how the novel was written in present tense: it make the book feel a little more real and, well, present.
    I also realized that there is a movie to this novel and wondered if we could watch it in class? This seems like the type of novel that would make a good movie…

  2.   Zac Says:

    I have enjoyed this book a lot so far. Rob seems a bit hopeless, but he is definetely a very believable character. I mean, who has never recognized something in a song that reminds them of their situation? It’s comforting to know that someone else has gone through the same things you’re going through.
    Although I find the fact that he remembers and considers some of his first relationships life-changing a little creepy, I love his descriptions of the events that brought about his being dumped.
    Overall, I think that he depends too heavily on the music to “guide” him through situations, but the relationship between pop music and life is a very interesting one.

  3.   Rod B Says:

    I really liked this book. It was more of a down to earth kind of novel and I really enjoyed it. I liked how Rob brought everything back to the records. “It was like listening to ____ when I could have listened to ___.” It was all around cleverly written, with direct conversation with the reader (which made me laugh on more than one occasion.) When he goes back and decides to reconcile with his OLD girlfriends, that is where I though there was a turning point in the novel. He decided that maybe he could grow up, even being a grown-up. Some of the outcomes are a little unexpected, but he still takes the initiative to do it.
    All in all this novel was excellent, and an intuitive look into the kind of ruts that you don’t want to get yourself into.

  4.   Kelly Whiting Says:

    Overall I have to agree with everyone I also enjoyed the book. Not sure if everyone is finished yet but I was a little disappointed with the ending even though it is nice to see Rob come to some type of realization, but won’t discuss anymore of that until next week! I really agree with someone’s last comment on how music “guides” Rob, it is almost an obsession and on several occasions he even says that it is his life and that is all he knows. Like we mentioned in class I feel that everyone tries to find something that helps them explain life and why things happen to us (religion, art, music, sports etc.) Even though sometimes I think he took it a little overboard I could still relate to some of his comparisons or the way he uses music to cope with situations. I am sure many people agree that one of the first things we do when we are pissed off, sad, lost etc. is listen to some music and all different types according to which mode. Another characteristic of Rob’s that I could relate to was how much of a “thinker” he was and boy was he, he seemed to over analyze everything! Maybe I am not to that extreme but I definitely could relate and understand. I like it when a character thinks about things that I often think about and like it even more when they bring up things that I have never thought of before but agree with. He did this a couple of times about the subject of death, which I am sure is a common subject to think about but nonetheless relevant.

  5.   Frances Says:

    Like Lauren said, I did not enjoy High Fidelity at first. I was almost disgusted with Rob and his helplessness and own misery. I wished he would “get a grip” and start living. As the novel went on, I started to enjoy it more. Rob was not as bad as I first thought and turned out to be an interesting character. I like how Nick Hornby writes from the point of view of the inside of Rob’s head which makes Rob’s life so much more real.

    There was one point in the book where Rob was wondering whether he listened to sad music because of the way he was or whether listening to that music helped make him the way he was. I read that and have been wondering about it ever since. I wonder if some people would not have turned out so melancholy if they hadn’t listened to the music they did. I think that because of the way people feel, they are drawn to a certain type of music and this may then feed their sadness. Music may make people more depressed but if they weren’t somewhat depressed already that type of music probably wouldn’t seem so attractive.

  6.   Steven Brown Says:

    While beginning the story I pull similar feelings as previous posts but also I tend to side with Rob in a sense that some people cannot help but be captured by music and let it draw their life. True, he could take and change things around but the music he listens to would be the equivelent of a bad addicting drug that only drags him down and pulls out all his energy to change the life he lives. I also see him and Laura breaking up as more he seeing things on many levels and Laura only can see with blinders on. I think throughout the book Rob will be seen just letting the music paint his life and he needs to find someone else with similar taste before he can leave his slump.

  7.   Jessica Says:

    I have enjoyed the book so far. I found it interesting to read about all the experience’s Rob has had with his girlfriends and all the reasons he has been dumped. Some of the pity and hopelessness he has on himself has gotten a bit annoying at times, but overall I find the book to be easy to read so far. And I’m interested in seeing what happens in the end.

  8.   Jessica Says:

    I agree with Zac that Rob is a believable character and can easily be related to. I find that whatever mood you are in it is easy to find a song to go along with it. I also agree that it is comforting to know that other people have, or are, going through the same things as you and I feel that you get this comfort often when listening to music.

  9.   Anthony Gorrell Says:

    This book is a pretty easy read just because it is enjoyable. I feel like the characters are very realistic, and that they have pretty funny personalities. It is very interesting how when Rob’s girlfriend, Laura, leaves him, he feels overjoyed and just cant wait until she leaves. But then when talking on the phone with his mom, he feels so bad about telling her what happened. When he is talking to his mom he feels really embarrassed but when thinking to himself he did not mind that she left. I am looking forward to getting deeper into this novel.

  10.   eric Says:

    The book is easy to read, and despite Robs misery, it is easy to enjoy. By including music for certain moods, Hornby does an excellent job at pulling the reader in, and in turn the reader and Rob have something in common. Sometimes it seemed as if the music was shaping him,and that led to times when he was overrun by misery.

  11.   Kelly Whiting Says:

    In regards to Frances last post; I have to agree I was also interested by Rob’s comment in the beginning, “What came first—the music or the misery? Did I listen to music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to music? Do all those records turn you into a melancholy person? The unhappiest people I know, romantically speaking, are the ones who like pop music the most; and I don’t know whether pop music has caused this unhappiness, but I do know that they’ve been listening to the sad songs longer than they’ve been living the unhappy lives.” I know personally I only listen to sad music if I am sad however, it seems to help so does it really make you more sad or does it just help since this song relates to your feelings and therefore helps you cope? I guess there are a million explanations according to different people so it is hard to say but, it is still another very good point Rob has considered in relation to music and life.

  12.   Ariel Says:

    I haven’t gotten very far (a hundred pages or so), but I really get a kick out of this book. My favorite part by far is the beginning, when he is reliving his most memorable break-ups. Although Zac found his clear memory of these events a little creepy, but I found it very believable. Maybe I’m a bit too Rob like then. (The first man to break my heart was Evan,who when I was three, dated both myself and my best friend. I swore off men for a full four years until I lost my heart to Bobby West…who spoke Klingon, and so on.)

    I also enjoy the moments where his thought process is described. For example, when he doubted that the singer (I don’t remember her name, sorry) and then started trying to figure out what it would mean if she did and how he should act.

    Overall, I find this book to come across as very believable and genuine. I guess that Janis would like it.

  13.   Tom Myers Says:

    So far of what I’ve read of this book I’m just not into it. It seems to predictable and a little dull. I do like that it is straight forward and to the point. It’s very easy to read as well. Also it has a concept in dating that many people can relate to. So its an alright book in my view, but don’t take it personal cause everyone likes there own style.

  14.   Howard J Says:

    I really enjoyed how Hornby starts us off in the book with the way that he frames irony. He states, “we were twelve or thirteen, and had recently discovered irony-or at least, what I later understood to be irony.” In my opinion, this definitely set the tone for the novel and has carried through the point I’m at now. I have a lot of reading ahead of me but I’m sensing and hoping that this isn’t the last time irony will come up.

  15.   Christina Says:

    I agree with Howard, the beginning of the book is very interesting. I enjoy how he starts talking about all the different girls he has been with throughout the years, and how they each affected him in different ways. It shows his personality more than just talking about how he had girlfriends. He goes into detail, which is very descriptive.

  16.   Kelly Whiting Says:

    I really liked Howard’s point about irony. I remember reading that and thinking the same thing. And it is very interesting how it does really set the tone for the rest of the book, in more subtle ways but I hadn’t thought about it again until he just mentioned it. In fact it even makes the ending make more sense to me now.

  17.   Michaele-Lynne Jacot Says:

    I love this book. I think i am going to add it to my top 5 favorite books of all time. I love how it’s written and I love the dialogue. I really feel like I know Rob as a person. I have laughed out loud multiple times, especially the part about Peter Frampton, I too, agree with Rob…How wussy can you get? (Sorry to any Peter Frampton fans). I’m looking forward to finishing up the novel and seeing where Rob ends up. Sometimes you just know what is going to happen in a book, or can at least make a pretty good guess..And right now I am stumped. That, to me, is a good book.

  18.   shannon m Says:

    So far I’ve enjoyed the novel. The first person view makes it easier to relate to and makes for an enjoyable and sometimes comical read. Rob is an interesting character who overanalyzes everything and applies music to every situation in his life. I wonder if he will ever find a woman to truly understand his ways or if he’s doomed to live a perpetual life of loneliness.

  19.   Leslie Says:

    I really enjoy this book, and I’m not much of a reader. It takes quite a bit for me to enjoy a book. It may be frustrating to some people that Rob relates everything back to pop music. I actually think that is the best part of the book. Rob is very passionate about music and its only right that he brings everything back to that. Everyone has to have something that is the center of their life. I think this story is easy for a lot of people to relate to. We all go through numerous relationships in our life until we find the right person, and you never really forget about things that happened with each previous relationship. I think Rob is just saying how it is, and I like him for that.

  20.   Megan D Says:

    I believe everyone has a way of viewing the world and using other things to put it into perspective. For some people it’s art, some people it’s poetry, some people novels, etc… So I don’t think it’s so bad that Rob sees his life in perspective of pop music. It’s his way of viewing the world and if characters in this novel understood this then they wouldn’t have judged him. Maybe he related more to what the mass culture was saying instead of the elite culture he probably felt right at home with them.

  21.   Casey O Says:

    I’m the kind of person who reads 30 pages and then has trouble staying awake, regardless of the text. I’m pleased to say that I’m able to stick through each 70 or so pages and I really do enjoy the text. I like the fact that Rob tells us every thought he’s having. So instead of trying to read through the text to figure out who a character is, Rob is telling us straight forward who he is. I found it funny how he makes the comment about being depressed and how it’s an excuse for poor behavior, and then with that backing he gets a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude and blatantly asks Laura if the sex is better with Ian. Then of course his boost in confidence with the news that not everything is going well for Laura helps him to act upon his feelings toward Marie.

    What I enjoy most about the book are Rob’s under-his-breath comments. Frequently when he says something but means/knows otherwise. Just for reference, Laura says, “Well, the answer is that I don’t know either. We haven’t done it yet.” Then Rob’s response without quotes is, ‘Yes!’ but his actual comment is “Never?”

    That little trick makes Rob very relatable, and that’s what keeps me going through this book. Plus I think everyone’s had their share of depression at one time or another and can relate to his excitement due to Laura’s misery.

  22.   Casey O Says:

    Reading back a little, Megan has a good discussion topic of how people view the world through a medium like art and music. What I immediately think of is the questionnaire that Barry (I can’t remember if it was him) and Rob made up. The point of which was that if your tastes didn’t line up between you and your better half, things were going to be difficult. One can argue the ‘opposites attract’ theory, but for the most part, similar tastes are important. I think that the reason why Laura left Rob is fundamentally because her tastes had changed. She met rob when music and clubs was a big part of her life, but when she changed her focus to working almost devoutly, she was seeing Rob in a different light. Nevermind the failing record business or any of his lower points, I think the change in direction in her life, the change in her viewing medium, is what put them apart.

  23.   Jasmine Says:

    Like Casey, I tend to get my best naps from books. Yet after getting over the hump of Train Whistle Guitar, I have been able to keep with the flow of the novels and stay involved with Hornby. I will have to say that the top 5 break-ups threw me off. I wasn’t expecting to jump into bad times with Rob immediately, but that seems to be what Rob always does and have. Just when things seem to be getting brighter, i.e. working as a DJ, meeting a new girl, even starting family, Rob manages to be caught by bad times, i.e. the club no longer is the hot spot and screws over Laura with Rosie. But this seems to be the same pattern music tends to take. With Blues, Jazz, Rock-N-Roll, the new emergence of the genres are extremely popular initially. Then after awhile, boredom sets in, the leaders of the music style lose their control of their music and lives, and unfortunately a new genre of music comes next.

  24.   Zac Says:

    I think that Jasmine makes a really good point that Rob seems to get bored with his relationships kind of like new genres of music appear. Maybe it is his fascination with the mass culture and his observations that people get bored of the same music that contribute to his relationship problems. Then again, we know that Rob doesn’t especially like the newer types of music coming out during the course of the book. One thing that I think that Hornsby makes clear is that Rob doesn’t like how things change. So maybe it is just his perception of love from pop music that contributes to his relationship problems.

  25.   Kevin Says:

    What I really like about this book is that the people in the story are like people that you can compare to in everyday life. I really Rob because he is just confused and does not really know what he wants in life and when he does find something he wants he thens finds out that it really was not what he wanted. This is why he is a very interesting character in this book.

  26.   Mike Says:

    I have enjoyed this book vary much. I agree with Howard and Cristina. The beginning was great, I liked how he talks about the girlfriends he has had and what he was thinking at the time he was with them. He really hits the nail on the head of how boys can act about girls and sex while growing up.

  27.   Evan Says:

    Compared to many of texts we’ve read so far. I find this book almost more enjoyable that the others. The way Hornsby begins the book, as Howard Christina and Mike have said. The fact that Rob revolves his life, realtionships, and personality around music I feel make this book very interesting. Because this would seem odd to most people, you cant help but wonder what will happen next. Every aspect of his life relates back to music which I think is very clever. Some people have said the changes in Robs life are kind of like new genres of music coming about. I dont think that is a bad thing at all and I think that is why I am enjoying this book. Lots of drama and always something happening.

  28.   Jessica Says:

    Overall, I found this book very interesting. I think Rob was a little crazy in the sense that he was always over analyzing things, but then again a lot of people do. I think over thinking things was a lot of Rob’s problems with his life and his relationships. In the end, I also found it interesting that Rob was so desperate to get Laura back, and when he finally did, he acted like he didn’t want her anymore. It seems like Rob is all about chasing things that he can’t have.

  29.   Steven Brown Says:

    I would agree with Jessica in the last statement that Rob chases things he can’t have. It feels like he always has his world spinning in 30 directions to fast to focus on just one and when he does focus he isn’t intresting anymore. I would say Laura was at times the only person he focused on that he really did still want throughout the story. In response the the origional post, I think it is more that what culture you pick becomes your from of elite culture. I doubt anyone could know everything about every genere of music, instead people tend to focus on one or two types and know them. The classical music is just as involved as popular music, no so much as level of high and low class, a series of likes and dislikes ties people to the hight of their listening tastes.

  30.   Frances Says:

    I don’t think that the criticism of Rob really comes from his use of pop music to relate to life but from the way he presents his thoughts. Rob’s personality may have the effect of turning the reader off. I think that even if he used classical music or art as the medium for his thoughts then the reader would still get the same impression. It’s not because of the music it’s because of Rob. No matter the level of culture Rob would still just be Rob.

  31.   Kelly Whiting Says:

    I agree with the last comment Rob is Rob no matter if he was obsessed with classical music, the fine arts or pop music I feel we still would have criticized him because of his obsessive and whiney personality. Also, if anything I think it is easier to relate to Rob since he finds meaning in mass culture rather than elite culture. However, that may be just because I am more apart of the mass culture and would think it even stranger if he were to find meaning the elite culture mostly because I wouldn’t be able to relate to that as well. As we have all mentioned, there is a little of Rob in all of us and some comfort is found in pop music one way or another.

  32.   J. Fenson Says:

    The mass culture music that Rob likes versus the elite culture classical makes no difference to me on my perspective of Rob. Although classical has the connotation of some higher connection- I get the image of Willem Defoe in Boondock Saints, where he listens to classical music and has an is whirling around. One of the tough parts about being Rob is that he is basically a fan of the music. He has the attitude of someone that is completely engulfed in the music-he makes it part of his life in every aspect. If he was a composer, an artist this would be viewed as genius. However he is a fan and worships what other people have created which makes him unimpressive.

  33.   Christina Says:

    I can definetly relate to what J. Fenson said about the movie Boondock Saints because it is one of my favorite movies. When Willem Defoe is solving the case he is always listening to classical music, and that helps him work through what happened and helps him understand it better. This is just an example of how music can be a different influencer in ones life. Rob loves music and it surrounds almost every part of his life, and he knows so much about it. There are many movies and novels that compare but I thought that Boondock Saints was a very good example.

  34.   shannon m Says:

    I don’t think Laura’s frustration has anything to do with the fact that Rob relates with mass culture instead of elite. She isn’t into highly sophisticated music herself. She critizes him for being so judgemental on others who don’t have the same tastes as him or his friends which is mass culture pop music. Rob just tends to relate to pop music more because you can pull out the meaning and feeling easier in my opinion. Elite culture music is highly opinionated and often classic music has no words so the listener has a harder time relating to the music without the emotion of say a singer to convey the feeling for them.

  35.   Anthony Gorrell Says:

    From reading this book it seems as though Nick Hornby is the kind of author who likes to get into the characters heads. He applies this to his good sense of humor to create a very vivid image of a troubled man. Rob is clearly always thinking about the person that he is, and it made me laugh to hear some of his thoughts. Especially when he was with Marie, and he was talking about how it is harder to be a guy when making love than a girl. I have enjoyed reading this book because of these humorous thoughts.

  36.   Sean Bonnell Says:

    I agree with Anthony and furthermore I feel that this novel can help us understand our own lives. You may not have experienced everything Rob has but chances are you are able to relate to some of the situations Rob has encountered and know how to better deal with them. It was said in class that many of us listen to different types of music depending on our mood, just like Rob. Also, we all ask ourselves the “what ifs” before we do anything although we may or may not overanalyze it like Rob does.

  37.   Keri Albanese Says:

    I can definitely agree with Sean’s comment. When I am in a certain mood, there is a type of music that I will always refer to. It is interesting how listening to music can change your mood so fast. Rob was obviously infatuated with his music, but it would be interesting to see what his collection really looked like.

  38.   Katie Woods Says:

    I think Rob would be just as irritating if he had more “refined” taste in music. In fact, I think he would be even more obnoxious. At least popular music is more accessible for most people. If he was interested in only “high class” music or art he’d probably come off as really pretentious. Arguably he does put on airs as it is, but at least it’s entertaining (kind of like pop. music!)

  39.   birch Says:

    I didn’t really like this book. Rob was kind of out of touch with reality. He kept making things up in his head and making odd comparisons. The most annoying thing in this book was the lists of 5 that he made up. I didn’t really get that. I don’t think that he would be any less annoying if he compared his life situations with classical music. Towards the end, Rob was a little easier to stand, but I still found him quite annoying.

  40.   Laura Says:

    I thought that the major problem with Rob and his interest in music was that he thought the only his musical tastes were good ones. I also do not think that it would have mattered if he liked classical music instead of pop music. It was Rob’s bashing of his friend’s and Laura’s music that was so irritating. I found him to be incredibly immature in this way and completely missing the point of music, which is to entertain. If other people are entertained by types of music that he does not like then all he has to do is not listen to it and accept that, to that person, the music is what they like. Besides I am sure that many music critics would disagree with many of his top choices for artists and songs. For example, Rob mentions how overrated The Beatles are several times; but real critics have often called them the best band of all time.

  41.   Jasmine Says:

    For Barry to always prepare Rob with his top five songs list, I was disappointed in him to not know what to tell Caroline. He is supposed to be the one who lives for music, yet it took Laura to remind him of his favorites. At that moment, it seemed like Laura needed to connect Rob back to his senses, because without her he did forget who he was and what he was like. Also, when Laura had to do everything for him to get his life together and really be true to his passion of music, redoing the Groucho and having Marie perform, even Rob could not deny that he would be lost without Laura. (If I were a worker at Championship Vinyl I would say, “Lost without you, isn’t that a song by Robin Thicke,” completely missing the purpose of the blog).

  42.   Phil T. Says:

    I think it would be slightly different if Rob was into classical music instead of pop music in that we would have thought he was living centuries in the past. While he is extremely obsessive about his taste in music being the only kind, if it was classical, I know I would have thought he was way out of touch with time.

  43.   Jeff Crompton Says:

    I just completed the book and I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. Its not just a story about his love for woman and the way he missing his ex girlfriends, especially laura, but it also talks a lot about his love for music. Although some people don’t want to admit it, everyone is like Rob when it comes to music. Everyone has those certain songs for whatever mood they’re in and music truly does keep everyone going through life cause its always there for you.

  44.   Christina Says:

    I agree with Jeff actually, that everyone has their music for their certain mood that gets them either feeling better or just mellowing them out. But I do have to disagree with the fact that it is mostly a novel about love, and how he goes through his different relationships that shape his style of music in a way.

  45.   Tim R. Says:

    This Book was decent. I thought that Rob was a little bit of a complainer and seemed to be a bit pathetic. I also found it a bit interesting how his music arrangement would change to the way he was feeling. Honestly, I thought the ending could have been better. For the most part I thought the book was entertaining. However, not my kind of book.

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