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VINE VOICEHALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 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.
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on 13 April 2017
What a charming book! If there's only one fault, it's that, rather than help me review the books I've already bought, it's persuaded me to add a further 30 to my kindle wishlist.
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on 11 April 2016
Howards End is on the Landing is a charming book which invites you to visit Susan Hill’s personal library along with hearing some of her fascinating memories from the world of literature.

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.
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on 9 June 2017
Came across this book here on amazon very recently. A book about books with a beautiful cover. The "reading and writing" is set in a very cozy atmosphere - an old farmhouse surrounded by rolling hills. Who likes books, might be interested to read this one - it is mostly an enjoyable read, and one might find also one or several authors, yet still not familiar with.
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VINE VOICEon 29 July 2012
Howards' End is on The Landing is a book I've been threatening to read for a while. The fact it is a book about books and as such has to be every book lover's idea of a good read. Also the whole idea of not buying a book for an entire year and just reading what you have at home I would find somewhat of a challenge.

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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on 23 January 2011
The basic premise is that Ms Hill does not buy a book for a whole year, reading only what already resides on her shelves.

It's an intriguing concept, but she seems to forget about it half way through. The first half of the book is brilliant, where the author explains her reasons for doing this and describes some of the shelves and books that line her house. I really felt connected to her during this part and didn't want the book to end. Unfortunately, it loses steam half way through and turns into a rather drab collection of essays about books and other, more irrelevant, topics (like famous composers).

Around this point, she decides to list her Top Forty books for no apparent reason othe than, presumably, to take up space. That's a fine idea, but she details which Dickens books she'd choose no less than three times. It's very repetive.

Annoyingly, she name-drops other authors as frequently as possible, to the point where I'm pretty sure she's never read a book that wasn't written by somebody she knows. Where possible, she also mentions her own books.

I did enjoy it and I will be keeping it. I just enjoyed the first half A LOT more than the second.
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VINE VOICEon 28 November 2009
I suspect this title rather appeals to everyone who, like me, has a tottering pile of books bought long ago but never actually read lurking in their house. I tend to acquire books in magpie fashion. I'll buy them in shops and online simply because they're by a favourite author; or because they are volumes I feel I should read; or because a friend recommended them; or because (ahem) they have such a fetching cover.... Susan Hill clearly found herself in the same situation and so she decided to refrain from buying any new books for a year and instead confined herself to the unread titles she had already purchased, and which positively proliferated within the walls of her house. The result is a book about other books: old favourites and neglected gems, newly discovered delights and surprising finds. It's also a book about the joy of reading and something of a hymn to the art of book production - the importance of good quality paper, decent cover jackets, beautiful and clear typefaces. If any of this sounds tedious beyond belief then this book is clearly not for you, but if you have ever spent a pound or two more to buy a copy of a classic novel with a lovely cover or creamy paper, as opposed to a cheaper but less well thought-out edition of the same text, then this is definitely a book you'll appreciate.

Hill is an interesting, and opinionated, commentator on the classics. She doesn't especially like Jane Austen, which is a brave and bold admission, and she doesn't appear to have too much time for those heavyweight 19th century Russians. But she loves Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hardy, Graham Greene and Elizabeth Bowen. I found myself disagreeing with her on many books, but then that's part of the fun, her opinions rouse you into saying 'nonsense! Such and such is a tremendous novel!' and that's exactly as it should be. Her comments gave me several new leads for books to search out, and I enjoyed her accounts of famous authors met after lectures and book-signings, and if her selection for the forty books she couldn't live without is actually fairly conservative then, well, if it makes you think about how wild and eclectic your own list would be then that's all for the good. A great book to dip into of a winter's evening.
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VINE VOICEon 30 March 2011
Susan Hill's year of reading is described in a manner which is enjoyable to read, as befits a literary novelist.
Throughout her meanderings, I found some familiar books, sensations and emotions. I can never forget the annuals at Christmas and the endless supply of Enid Blyton books which grew with me.
As expected, the language used is beautiful and made me want to read more Susan Hill books - so much for her idea of not buying books for a year (not for me, although I have got enough for a year in my "to read" pile).
I could picture her wandering around her farmhouse, picking up books and reliving past times.
The book is structured into chapters about related books which works well.
My main problem with this book is that I wanted her to be very specific about which books she had read, why she had chosen them and explain if the book had met her expectations - and she wasn't.
This is a lovely little book to read and I wanted to come away with some ideas of new authors. Her "40 books to read for the rest of your life" list at the end of the book helped but did not really relate to the main theme of the book. Also I came away feeling rather humbled, as my bookshelves will never be as worthy as Susan Hill's.
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on 14 December 2009
I was attracted to this book by the title, the cover, and a peep inside, and was pleased I had ordered it. The descriptions were atmospheric and beckoning, and I loved the fact that Susan Hill's bookshelves were as haphazard as my own, with no system of classification and no alphabetical arrangement of authors. Even so, she knew where almost all her books are, although they sometimes proved elusive:

`It began like this. I went to the shelves on the landing to look for a book I knew was there. It was not. But plenty of others were and among them I noticed at least a dozen I realised I had never read.'

There follows a journey through the author's bookshelves to select a year's worth of reading without buying any more new books to add to her collection. On the way she treats the reader to fascinating autobiographical snippets of her life, including glimpses of meetings with eminent writers of the past from Arnold Wesker and Elizabeth Jane Howard to W H Auden and composer Benjamin Britten. By the end she has taken out far more books than she could read in a year, and condenses her final choice into just 40 books. For some reason, this surprised me - I imagined that someone whose life and work so closely revolve around books would read at least one a week.

The book is easy to read and enjoyable although I wouldn't rave about it - maybe because I've never been a particular fan of Susan Hill. It's less compelling than the first two chapters hinted but even so, it's a book that will continue to give pleasure, to dip into from time to time, if nothing else for ideas about what to read next. I'd certainly recommend it to all book lovers.
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on 2 January 2011
I have enjoyed most of Susan Hills books but this one is very different from other of hers that I have read to date. I understand why some people think that it appears to be "a list of people I have met and places I have been" but look beyond that and enjoy the journey through someone else's bookshelves and the memories the books evoke.

I am not one for writing in books, normally I cringe at the very thought, but this book called for annotation to ensure that one can revisit references and reread those bits of particular interest. I now have a long list of books I will simply have to read, some new titles but many read in years past and forgotten until I read Howards End.

This is a book I found very difficult to put down and did actually read it in two sittings. I enjoyed it so much that as soon as I finished it I had to order a copy for my dear friend, and voracious reader, because I want to share it with someone else who I am certain will enjoy it as much as I.

If you do choose to purchase this book and only enjoy it half as much as I did, it will still have been well worth the investment.
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