I picked up a few of them including High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (written in 1995) which I have just finished. A lot has been said and written about this book, which was of course made into a film (relocated to the US) in 2000 starring the underrated John Cusack.
The story follows Rob, who owns a not very successful record shop in Holloway in north London, and the end of his relationship with Laura. Rob is a bit of a loser, one of those slightly daggy intense men who is really into making lists (which I love being an inveterate list maker myself), music, smoking, being juvenile in his life outlook and spending a lot of time alternately regretting then justifying what has happened in his life.
The book opens with a description of his top 5 break ups, beginning with Alison Ashwood in 1972. As with everything which happens when you are 12, he can remember each slight, each crushing humiliation, with crystal clear detail.
The thing which has struck me the most about this book is how different my reaction to it today is compared to if I had happened to read it in my mid 20s.
If I had read it then, I know that I would have really related to the relationship aspects of the book - the pain of the break up, and the obssessive going over of earlier break ups and wondering if at heart it was in each instance my fault.
At this stage of my life however, I have had a completely different reaction. I found myself connecting with Rob's business, with his slowly failing shop, and his attempts (admittedly not very dedicated) to get business through the door. As someone who runs a business, I can completely relate to the feelings of panic and frustration he feels. The feeling of 'why bother' and 'maybe I should just give up and do something, anything, which is easier and less challenging'.
And as such, this paragraph at page 33 really appealed to me:
We have all been there - the temptation to look towards a mega corporation to protect us from the slings and arrows of outrageous GFC fortune.
However, persistence is all, and this is what Rob discovers for himself at the end of the book.