“How to Be Good” is a book about morals, about saving the world, about what people are really willing to do for others less fortunate. It’s about being angry, about the homeless, about drugs messing someone’s head but also giving them supernatural powers. About London, about families and religion. It’s about what being good really means, on how hard people find it to know how to be good. About the helping hand they’d need on becoming good. It’s about facing an important question: can you make other people’s lives better, when your nearest and dearest are going from bad to worse?
Or it would seem the book is about all of the above. Nick Hornby actually tells the story of a failing relationship between “the Angriest Man in Holloway” and his wife, Katie Carr. Tired of his anger, sarcasm and general dislike and dismissal of everything around him, Katie has an affair. They talk divorce and just when you think their relationship is over, David’s anger gets miraculously cured by a certain DJ GoodNews, who later comes to live with the couple and their two children. David and GoodNews start to work on their mastermind plan to end homelessness in their neighborhood and then make the world a better place, and they do have some luck with it.
The cured anger, although it gives the couple a second chance, is diminished by the ever present GoodNews, whose powerful powers to ‘heal’ came from substance abuse, and David’s strict views on how they should all live their lives. During all this, Katie is the only one working and supporting the family and GoodNews, handling the problems her son and daughter are having. She’s also constantly concerned about her not being a good person, although she’s a doctor and she helps people, and about how exactly to make it work with David. Should she move away, should she ask a vicar about what to do? I invite you all to find out for yourselves.
And here are two quotes from the book that I find very interesting. I’ve finished the book a couple of weeks ago, and I still think about them quite a lot.
“Sometimes we have to be judged by our one-offs.”
“Love, it turns out, is as undemocratic as money, so it accumulates around people who have plenty of it already.”
As for the very copy I’ve read, well, there’s a story of a traveling book to it 🙂