I first read High Fidelity when I was sixteen and I immediately knew it was my favorite novel. Hornby might not be the most complex writer, but I firmly believe in the value of doing simple things well over difficult things poorly. The amazing thing about High Fidelity is that as far as the plot goes, nothing particularly exciting happens, but that doesn't matter. The strength of High Fidelity is in the main character Rob Gordon, and Hornby's ability to put you in Rob's head as he tries to understand where his top five relationships went wrong, while reorganizing his record collection. He makes sense of the world by ranking everything into "desert island top fives" while debating the merits of old b-sides and hunting for limited edition singles and LPs to add to his near Alexandrian sized collection.
If you're anything like me, you'll read this book and feel an instant connection to Rob, particularly as he struggles to understand himself and his identity. Like most of Hornby's books, High Fidelity focuses heavily on the theme of poorly defined masculinity. Rob is essentially a thirty-something year old teenager, who's inability to enter adulthood continuously sabotages his relationships. The novel asks the question, In a society where masculinity is no longer defined by providing or protecting, how do boys become men? I think one of the reasons I loved this book so much as a teenager (and still do) is because I was comforted by seeing this adult, almost on the verge of middle-age struggle with many of the same emotions and confusions that I and probably most boys experienced as a young adult. High Fidelity tells us that it's okay not to know who you are, to take our time growing up, and to remember that maturity is a process, not an overnight transformation.