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Howard's End is on the Landing
on 15 September 2017
Having noted there is a further volume by Susan Hill, about her reading life, “Jacob’s Room is Full of Books,” I decided to go back and re-read the wonderful, “Howard’s End is On the Landing.” In this volume, Hill decides to re-discover her own book collection, by spending a year just reading the books in her house. Like all readers, I tend to have endless amounts of books to get through – books to review, reading group choices and all those new purchases that are begging to be read. Although I have books everywhere in my house, a lack of room has meant that I have happily switched most of my reading to what Hill refers to as a ,”wretched e-reader,” but I cannot say that I find much difference between reading books or reading on my kindle. When commuting, travelling or just reading in bed, I find my kindle comfortable and, after all, it is what is contained within the book that is more important to me than the format.
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.