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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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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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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
It wasn't, as I expected from the title, a story about someone's "year of reading from home." Instead it was more of a journey through the author's large book collection, each shelf triggering anecdotes about authors she has met and known, as well as critical comments about some of the works she has read.

There are bits of nice writing, and quick memorable sketches of some (now dead) authors, and it's sometimes nice just to read about writers and writing.

I love reading criticism, and some of hers is intriguing -- I’d never heard of F.M. Mayor, for example. But other pronouncements rankle. I don't share, but can pass over, her dislike of Jane Austen, since we all have different tastes. But I was taken aback by her sniffy dismissal of the entire written product of Canada and Australia, which comes across as parochial and even snobbish. Clearly she's okay with that and probably sees it as a virtue.

I believe her final list of the 40 books she'd keep, if she could only keep 40, contains 37 originally written in English. The only exceptions are The Bible, Crime and Punishment and a Tove Jansson children's book. So safe to say, her tastes and prejudices are not my own. But it's always better to see a book for what it can give you. I think this book does give a sense of the importance of a reading life, which is nice, and would be appreciated by many people looking for a reading list. ( )
  Laura400 | Jun 18, 2014 |
Author Susan Hill was looking for a book in her house one day, and ended up coming across others which she had read and loved, or intended to read but never got around to, or some which she had read and wanted to read again. As a result, she decided to not buy any new books for a year, and to only read those books which were already in her house. What follows is a journey through Hill’s bookshelves, where she talks about which books and/or have inspired or moved her. She uses these examples as a starting point for relating anecdotes and memories about her life, and about the authors who she has met.

I have read two novels by Susan Hill, and while I can’t say I actively disliked them, I also can’t say that I was blown away by them, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this non-fiction work. However, the premise really appealed to me – and has inspired me to at least consider doing the same thing – so I thought I would give this a try, and I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed Hill’s reminiscences, and her musings on such subjects as items which fall out of books (presumably used as a makeshift bookmark) and the importance of an interesting title, or why new books are often published first in hardback, when they have not really earned that right. (It makes sense when you read her view, even if you don’t agree!)

Definitely an enjoyable and uplifting read, and one I would recommend to all fellow bibliophiles. As I mentioned, this book has made me think about doing the same thing myself, and not buying any new books for a year. Hill was successful, but I don’t know if I would be – but what a wonderful idea, to really get to know the books on your shelf, to rediscover old loves and maybe find some new ones. ( )
  Ruth72 | May 31, 2014 |
Every book lover should read this incredibly informative, yet simply and accessibly written book.
The author writes not only about books that marked a certain period or event in her life (some are well known classics, some were unfamiliar to me), but also about people who wrote them. She writes about her own experience of meeting them in person or meeting people who have known them or wrote about them. These events are as interesting as her account on books scattered through her personal library. Being a writer herself (and also a publisher),as well as a passionate reader, she connects with the books and their authors on multiple levels.
An excellent read that will inspire you to read some of the book gems she mentions and also encourage you to reexamine your personal library. ( )
  Sanja_Sanjalica | Mar 14, 2014 |
So-so. A few interesting observations, but not as good as I had hoped for. I had to knock it down half a point for the sole reason that she listed Isabel Colegate as one of her top female authors. Also not impressed w/ how she'll knock an author such as Jane Austen, yet goes on and on about one of her half-baked faves. I'm getting just a bit tired of the snobbery of the Brits.... ( )
  untraveller | Oct 14, 2013 |
A completely delightful memoir by a passionate bibliophile. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
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Wain has written an utterly convicing, honest and sensitive account of the deep, inarticulate, agonised love of a father for his brave, confused and lonely child.
Fast reading of a great novel will give us the plot. It will get us names, a shadowy idea of characters, a sketch of settings. It will not get us subtleties, small differentiations, depth of emotion and observation, multilayered human experience, the appreciation of simile and metaphor, any sense of context, any comparison with other novels, other writers. Fast reading will not get us cadence and complexities of style and language. It will not get us anything that enters not just the conscious mind but the unconscious.
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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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