I saw the excellent Jon Cusack movie before reading the book (some years ago), but I still like this novel a lot. (Note: I read half this book years ago when a woman I was dating loaned it to me, but I only got halfway through before it ended and I had to give the book back. How apt.)In the book, Hornby did a brilliant job of writing a realistic, sad-sack male character (Rob) who -- despite his often mean self-centeredness -- remains relatable, if not likeable. The book is about a thirty-something male who is stuck; he's a music snob who flunked out of college, his record shop is failing, and his longtime girlfriend just moved out (and in with the former upstairs neighbor). Rob represents the men in every generation who can't quite find their way to a "normal" life but can't make headway in any other direction. Hornby fills his novel with interesting characters and while the arc of Rob's character is somewhat predictable, it still creates tension and in the end leaves us hopeful without becoming too saccharine.There are a few rough spots in the story and dialog; this was Hornby's first novel and in places it shows. His more recent work features smoother transitions between scenes and character dialog, and in one or two stretches, the story felt a bit forced. That said, I became a Hornby fan because I saw Fever Pitch (the excellent English movie, not the awful American version) and High Fidelity, and was transfixed by his characters. I'm a partisan; what can I say?NOTE ABOUT THE MOVIEI'll give High Fidelity's screenwriters a lot of credit for keeping the book largely intact, paring away only the stuff that didn't really need to be on the big screen (the casting was superb -- especially Cusack as Rob and Iben Hjejle as Laura).If you've read the book you'll probably like the movie.