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Howards End is on the Landing: A year of reading from home Hardcover – 8 Oct 2009
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A totally beguiling, utterly persuasive, argument for reimmersing yourself in literature's past... it reminds you of the overlooked treasures we miss in the chase for novelty. Hill's work is part memoir, part outpouring of affection for these she has loved and, en route, she provides us with a reading list the equal of any degree course (Michael Gove The Times 2009-10-12)
An impressionistic autobiography... offers fascinating sketches of literary and artistic figures she has known... an eloquent advocate [for] the virtues of wide-ranging, deeply felt and considered reading... to be cherished (Michael Arditti Daily Telegraph 2009-10-10)
Evoked with precision and grace... She is nicely opinionated throughout... She is whimsical and intimate, scattering rhetorical questions and colloquial half-sentences... beguiling (Victoria Glendinning Spectator 2009-10-03)
[A] vividly experienced journey... viewing books and their authors with a learned, gossipy warmth. She understands that the best books make great companions, and this one is no exception (Metro)
The blend of book chat and personal memoir, though apparently serendipitous, is associative and intimate (Iain Finlayson The Times 2009-10-17)
A light-hearted memoir using books as anchors on which to fasten life experiences. Funny, educational and occasionally surprising (Catholic Herald 2009-10-09)
What a delightful book this is - and so old-fashioned in approach almost to be trendy... a timeless creation, a vademecum which will give endless pleasure not only to Hill's many admirers but also to anyone who values books... An engaging and buoyant book (Herald 2009-10-10)
Hill's style is vivid and measured and the book is both a passionate reminder of the importance of reading and a revealing glimpse of a writer's life (Jessica Holland Observer 2009-10-25)
Delightful... an idiosyncratic commingling of fiction, non-fiction and poetry...Hill has a voracious and varied appetite and her taste, with a few exceptions, is impeccable (Leo Robson New Statesman 2009-10-26)
A patchwork of literary musing, quotation and anecdote, the memoir's texture is wholesome and cosy; an indulgent quilt in which to nestle before the blazing hearth of literary tradition drawn by its author (Caroline Howitt Times Literary Supplement 2009-10-23)
A year of reading from home, by one of Britain's most distinguished authorsSee all Product description
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That said, I can see why Susan Hill (an author and publisher) is keen to promote reading books and I agree with her that some books need to be read as such– especially those for children and she discusses much about the joys of pop-up and picture books. Obviously, as an author, she has also met many great authors and is willing to share stories about her encounters with some of the greats of the literary world. However, it is really when she wanders her bookshelves that she opens up and talks about what these books, and authors, mean to her – Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Thomas Hardy, travel writing, forgotten authors, diaries, humour, libraries and more are all covered in this delightful memoir. I did not agree with all her choices; I love Proust and Thomas Mann and Jane Austen, all authors she finds difficult; but likewise I struggle with some books and authors that she loves. What we both share is a love of reading and, for any reader, this book is a delight. It may even lead you to new books and authors, and a sense that you have your own collection to explore anew.
It is really a celebration about the love of good storytelling and it is one that I personally found interesting. I, myself, know that I have encountered a good book if I hold some strong memory that I associate with the experience of reading it for the first, second, third, etc, time. I think that literature has the power to do that and I think that the association between book and memory is one that Susan Hill is trying to impart on the reader.
I won’t lie, sometimes that stories did get a bit lost and slow; they weren’t all equally enjoyable but the overall love of literature jumps off the page. One thing is for certain, I would love to have a really good mooch among Susan Hill’s bookshelves.
Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill is available now.
The book begins with Susan searching for a particular book to read one autumn afternoon. She can't find it, but instead begins to look through her collection of books which appears to be vast. Basically a rambling farmhouse filled with books - Heaven! Each chapter deals with a particular type of book or author or topic about reading. Chapter headings include: Picture Books, Hardy, Slow, slow, slow - slow, slow. I particularly liked the latest one as she talks about the value of reading slowly. Susan says; "book-bloggers boast of getting through twenty books plus, a week, as if they were trying for a place in the Guinness Book of Records. Why has reading turned into a form of speed dating?" She has a very valid point. In this chapter she brings us back to the joy of simply savouring a book.
Many of the books she finds and re reads, I must confess, I'd never heard of some of them, but that was good. It piqued my interest in a few of them - though not all. A few of the passages she quoted which she thought were astounding, I just found plain dull. But as Susan herself would say it was probably me and not the book. Books are Classics for a reason even though they're not all my cup of tea. She even confesses herself how she didn't really get on with Jane Austin's novels.
Anyway, this was a pretty enjoyable roam through her collection, although most of us would all have different final forties. The book lost a star for me because of all the name dropping which got a bit tedious after a while, and there were a couple of dull chapters. I'd still recommend it though:)
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