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Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of…

Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Susan Hill

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8326110,861 (3.75)240
Title:Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home
Authors:Susan Hill
Info:Profile Books (2010), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library

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Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill (2009)


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On the face of it a perfect indulgence for a booklover. A book about books. I am at an early stage in my reading experience ( less than a year of sustained reading for pleasure under my belt ) and so I was drawn to Susan Hill's memoir as a means of discovering other great reads that I may want to explore and also the pure pleasure of a cosy read that would indulge my bookish obsession. Throughout her memoir I experienced thrills of recognition from my childhood through to present day in her bookish reminiscences. Some may say the author name drops quite a bit and yet somehow I don't really think it is too out of place in a memoir about books and reading - mentioning great writers she has encountered is surely a sprinkle of fairy dust on this literary confection.

Clearly Susan Hill is a classic example of a ' clever ' girl with certain advantages made good. Grammar School educated and then onto King's College in London with all the benefits that come with being educated in the capital, she has certainly made the very best of her opportunities and good for her. The vision of her mixing in the literary circles of her student days with her well worn college scarf about her neck and no doubt sporting sensible shoes and pile of books in hand is a bit of a fantasy life for me. I used to have a fancy about living in an attic room amongst the dreaming spires at one time in my life and although her memoir is set in London in part rather than Oxford nevertheless she touches this youthful fantasy of mine.
There are a couple of opinions she expresses which I find difficult to take. Dismissal of modern technology being one - a kind of Luddite attitude to reading. I am with her in part in her opinions on actual physical books yet I can also see certain benefits in e-readers and online reading forums where ' you can shelve your books ' and I have to say that this is probably where the mean bit comes in - if you are so averse to e-readers Mrs Hill then why are you allowing your ' books ' to be flogged as Kindle editions? Embracing technology as a means of adding to and enriching the reading experience is fine by me and if I am on holiday and run out of real paper reading material then I would happily resort to the e- reader because it is the reading that is the essential part of the whole book experience.

So in summary, this book did exactly what it says on the tin. I found myself jotting down snippets for further reading and overall this is a feel good kind of book. One to curl up in bed with and perfect for someone like me as a novice reader as an introduction to further reading. One of the things I took from this memoir is to take my time when reading - there is no rush. Savour what I read - absorb it. feel it, experience it. ( )
  MarianneHusbands | Feb 3, 2017 |
A lovely little book, Susan Hill picks books at random from her vast collection and reminisces about the where and when of reading them. Much name dropping, but the people she has met are all interesting authors. ( )
  mlfhlibrarian | Nov 7, 2016 |
This book already has me reading Trollope again. I love the premise. Spend a year reading the books you have on the shelves in your house. Why are they there? Spend a year reading those books, she says. Don't buy more. But of course, reading her book, I have bought more.

Would love to stop.

Finished the book. The premised of the book and its overall impact is more successful than any one essay. Like her list of 40 books. Should probably try to create one myself.

Have now finished both of the books on her top 40 from Trollope. Also in the midst of Our Mutual Friends (predates starting this book) which ends up being her Dickens choice. I could get hooked on Trollope. Is that a good thing. Just finished The Last Chronicle of Barset. And now I'm ready to go back to the Warden. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
While searching for a specific book from her library, Susan Hill discovered that the book was not where she thought it would be. However she did discover many books that she had not read, or deserved a re-read. This inspired a new reading project, to spend the next year dipping into her own library and read the books she has forsaken. Howards End is on the Landing not necessarily charts her reading but more Susan Hill’s opinions on literature and the bookish world.

First thing you discover is that Susan Hill’s house is full of books, not sorted and no order. She had to search for the book she was looking for, expecting it in the one place but not finding it. I love having my library like this, I recently had to look for my copy of Anna Karenina and I just loved looking at all my books and remembering the stories and memories that go with each one. This is the basic premise of this memoir; Hill goes through her bookshelves and shares memories and thoughts she has about the state of literature.

Susan Hill goes on talking about her thoughts on being an author, the publishing world, self-publishing, libraries, bookshelves, re-reading and even the joys of reading slowly. I have recently discovered the joys of re-reading and reading slowly so on so many thoughts, Hall and I were on the same page. Even though we come from different lives, it was such a joy reading a book devoted to her memories of all the books that sit on her shelves, and scattered across her house.

I have tried to spend a year not buying any new books, in the hopes to read more of the books on my shelves. It did not work. I did however discover how great the library is and started using my local library more. I also discovered how easy it is to get books without having to spend money, especially ARCs. The book buying ban did not work, I still have shelves full of books I still need to read. I know my taste in literature has drastically changed, and I am not sure if I should cull some of these books even if I have never read them.

The end of Howards End is on the Landing talks about if she had to cut down her library to forty books, which ones she will keep. The thought of culling your library so drastically terrifies me but I did enjoy pondering which books I would keep if I did have to cull that much. Or maybe my house burnt down, which books I would rebuy to start my new collection. I know Frankenstein, Crime and Punishment, Lolita, and most of the books on my favourite’s shelf would remain. However it is not about picking favourites, more about picking the books you would like to read over and over again. Which makes for an interesting thought process.

I am interested in the topic of memoirs in association with books like what is found in Howards End is on the Landing. My memories with this memoir will be closely associated with sitting in a hospital in Nouméa as my mother-in-law passed away. It gives me mixed feelings to love a book so much in such a sad time for my family. I even read this as an eBook on my phone, an experience I do not enjoy either but it was more convenient than carrying a book around.

I found Howards End is on the Landing to be one of the better books about books out there, I am disappointed that my memories of it will be attached to such a tragic event. I found Susan Hill to be very tender towards her love of books, while remaining unafraid to express why she did not like a book. She is never dismissive of the books she did not enjoy, she just does not have the desire to read them. I think it would be a hard balance to get that balance right without sounding like a cranky reader. Howards End is on the Landing will hold a special place in my heart and I do hope others get a chance to read it.

This book originally appeared on my blog; http://www.knowledgelost.org/book-reviews/genre/non-fiction/howards-end-is-on-th... ( )
  knowledge_lost | Dec 21, 2015 |
A book about books, reading, life, and so many other things. This is the type of book that is always easy for me to sit down and get caught up in. In this memoir Hill takes the reader on a journey through her bookshelves and her reading life by only reading the books she already owns, for a year. The exploration of this collection shows that there is so much more to a collection and the individual books in that collection than just the words between the covers. Books take on a life of their own and hold memories that surround the books.

I find that Hill shares much of my love for books and of owning books. I'm a reader and collector who might spend more time reminiscing about buying particular books than actually reading them, but I'm ok with that, as I feel that Hill is too. It was great reading an author's appreciation for everything that is "The Book" and books. I only wish it kept on going. I savored every word and stretched out my reading when I could have devoured the book in a day. ( )
  Robert.Zimmermann | Oct 15, 2015 |
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Early one autumn afternoon in pursuit of an elusive book on her shelves, Susan Hill encountered dozens of others that she had never read, or forgotten she owned, or wanted to read for a second time. The discovery inspired her to embark on a year-long voyage through her books, forsaking new purchases in order to revisit her own collection.
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Early one autumn afternoon in pursuit of an elusive book on her shelves, Susan Hill encountered dozens of others that she had never read, or forgotten she owned, or wanted to read for a second time. The discovery inspired her to embark on a year-long voyage through her books, forsaking new purchases in order to revisit her own collection.… (more)

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