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Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,084 Ratings  ·  378 Reviews
This is a year of reading from home, by one of Britain's most distinguished authors.

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
...more
Hardcover, 236 pages
Published October 8th 2009 by Profile Books
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Book Description: 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 get to know her own collection again.

A book which is left on a shelf for a decade is a dead thing, but it is also a chrysalis, packed with the po
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Karina Westermann
I adore books about books - and when I saw a Guardian Book Review of this book, I was interested. Unfortunately this book is not so much a book about books (nor a book about reading) as much as it is a book about People Susan Hill Has Met.

Did you know she had lunch with Benjamin Britten who liked her novel? That she once waited on a doorstep with TS Eliot? E.M. Forster once stepped on her toes? Kingsley Amis once said to her in 'a genuine tone' that he was very proud of his son? That she interv
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Mark
Feb 21, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it
Really clever memoir. Susan Hill, searching for one book uncovers oodles that she had forgotten she had, forgotten she had read, didn't rememeber ever having seen before. If this sounds familiar you'll really enjoy this traipse through literature. Wonderfully ' name-droppy ' ( I know there is no such word but it fits I assure you ). In a year when she decides to buy no new books, (Good grief) and opts to re-discover her own collection ( Hmmmm, interesting ) She reflects on the power of books, th ...more
Bev
Books help to form us. If you cut me open, will you find volume after volume, page after page, the contents of every one I have ever read, somehow transmuted into me? Alice in Wonderland. The Magic Faraway Tree. The Hound of the Baskervilles. The Book of Job. Bleak House. Wuthering Heights. The Complete Poems of W. H. Auden. The Tale of Mr. Tod. Howards End. What a strange person I must be. But if the books I have read have helped to form me, then probably nobody else who ever lived has read exa ...more
Halli
Mar 26, 2011 Halli rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For the most part I liked it, little gems of quotes here and there but all-in-all I found Susan Hill pretentious and severely name dropping. I enjoyed her experience in literally running into E. M. Forster but after the first couple of run-ins with prevalent authors, it just gets old. She's entirely British-thinking which I can appreciate but not when she's letting her reader know that obviously they haven't lived if they didn't have experience with a certain amateur printing press all because s ...more
Michael
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 tha
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Debbie
Oh, I feel really harsh giving it a 2 star review, my reasoning behind this is my frustration at the constant name-dropping.
I loved the concept of writing about the books she had treasured and loved for years and do enjoy Susan Hill's writing. If only there had been more exploration of that, I would have been very happy and given 4 stars. When she was discussing her books I felt very engaged in whichever book or author she was describing. I felt very let down when another inconsequential anecdo
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Paul
You know that moment when you think, ah, I had a copy of that book; where is it now? This happened to Susan Hill one afternoon, when looking for Howards End, she had a vague recollection of the shelf it was last seen. But in the process of searching for it suddenly realised that her shelves were packed with books that she had not read for a long time, books that had been bought or given, but never opened and books that she had no recollection of ever receiving.

Pledging to not buy any new books f
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Catherine
Oct 21, 2011 Catherine rated it it was ok
Being a book about books, I thought it was a pretty sure thing that I would really like this. And I did enjoy it - devoured it quickly and was inspired to gaze adoringly at my bookshelves and reminded of various authors I want to read.

But I also found it a little bit irritating - there's rather a lot of what can feel like name-dropping, and Hill's dismissal of e-readers, of certain authors, and of, you know, the literary production of entire nations ('I have a problem with Canadian as I do with
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Sydney
Jun 17, 2011 Sydney rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I found this book annoying. I expected a thoughtful approach to reading — what we read, what we neglect, what we return to — but much of the text is self-aggrandizing (Ms. Hill has published many novels and knows many authors). Even comments on the great writer E.M. Forster are limited to the time she ran into him at the British Library. Ms. Hill is approximately my age, so she has lived through the second half of the 20th century and seen the wonderful explosion in literature in diverse voices. ...more
Louise Turner
Jan 20, 2011 Louise Turner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book about books, authors, and the pleasures of reading. When the author was looking for her misplaced copy of Howard's End she noticed many unread books on her shelves and determined that for a year she would buy no new books, but simply read from those she already had. Each chapter is a consideration of the books she owns and authors she has met, along with thoughts about such things as the things that fall out of books, how important a title is to the success of a book, children' ...more
Brian Robbins
Loved the book on my 2nd re-read. This time limited myself to one chapter per night at end of day. Almost managed to keep to my resolution - well almost most of the time. Had the feel of an enjoyable conversation about books. Perhaps the favourite of anumber of favourite moments was her touching portrait of Charles Causley. Increased the 'to read list' further than many enthusiasts have.
Jeanette (jema)
I really enjoyed this book for a number of reasons. First of all the dust cover is stunningly beautiful.
Secondly it is written in short chapters which made it perfect for those quick dip-in readings, like when you are waiting in a car, or for your cookies to bake in the oven.
And it made me want to read and most importanly to re-read a lot of books I already own.

Some people here mentioned that Hill seems to name-drop a lot, that she seems full of her self for knowing all those famous people. I ne
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Terri Jacobson
May 14, 2014 Terri Jacobson rated it really liked it
The author of this book is an English professor and a writer and publisher herself. She found her house to be overflowing with books, and decided not to buy any new books for 1 year and only read things that were already in her library. Hill's musings on different works of literature were quite insightful. I liked how she emphasizes reading slowly enough to really appreciate the language and the story:

"Everything I am reading during this year has so much to yield but only if I give it my full at
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Tweedledum
Susan Hill invites the reader to join her on a journey of exploration, back through the pages of memory, meetings and much much more and she rediscovers the books she has squirrelled away in her home. And what a glorious jumble they prove to be. For Hill has not arranged or catalogued her books all in one room or in any particular order. They crowd on scattered shelves like people who turn up for a train. Some on busy stations jostling each other hoping for a seat, some waiting in more out of th ...more
Felice
Oct 10, 2010 Felice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do not keep every book that makes it's way into my house. If I start it and don't like it, out it goes. Most times even if I loved it, it leaves. I keep a few much loved books, books that I want to pass onto a friend, books to give a niece or nephew when they reach the right age and any and all knitting books that I come in contact with. But. Those count as reference, right? We can take those out of the equation. And... I don't need to dust more and since love won't dust I have to have a might ...more
Gerry
Apr 08, 2015 Gerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel sure that author Susan Hill has been to my house, although I can't recall the visit, or has unknowingly crept into my psyche!

Her opening two paragraphs read, '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./ I pursued the elusive book through several rooms and did not find it in any of them, but each time I did find at least a dozen, pe
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Aneta
Dec 25, 2015 Aneta rated it liked it
'But if the books I have read have helped to form me, then probably nobody else who ever lived has read exactly the same books, all the same books and only the same books, as me. So just as my genes and the soul within me make me uniquely me, so I am the unique sum of the books I have read. I am my literary DNA.'

I quite enjoyed Susan's Hill's journey through her bookshelves and books which have created her 'literary DNA'. I've added some new titles to my TBR list but most of all I was taken on
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Cathy
Jan 25, 2015 Cathy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dusty-shelf
I found this book hugely enjoyable on so many levels. I felt a couple of points of connection with Hill from the start. I too have family roots in Scarborough. And I also arrived in London as an undergraduate to read English, though more than two decades after Hill did. The fashion for college scarves had gone out by then, but the English syllabus was pretty much the same – a chronological survey starting with the Anglo-Saxons and finishing somewhere in the early twentieth century. It was the st ...more
Ian Laird
Sep 22, 2014 Ian Laird rated it liked it
Great title: and quite a good book.

I have a Goodread's category Books and Reading and this one fits the bill pretty well.

Susan Hill devoted a year to reading or re-reading a selection of books from her own library, scattered about the many rooms of her old farmhouse in the Cotswolds where she has lived for many years. She came up with a list of 40 titles which represents a synthesis of what she thought was the best and most worthwhile, along the way giving an account of the many literary luminar
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Heather
Not reading the books I already own: this is a problem I have, a common problem, it seems, and Susan Hill had it too. So she decided, one day while hunting for a book on her shelves and not finding it (but finding lots of other interesting books), that she would spend a year reading only books from her own shelves.

Howards End is on the Landing, the book that came out of that decision, is the story of Hill's exploration of her bookshelves (of which there are many), but it's also the story of her
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DJ
Feb 01, 2010 DJ rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-it, the-watermill



I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!
And not only because it was the very last Book that Husband bought me at the end of the first Decade of this Millenium,or even because he had arranged to take me on New Years Eve to my most Favourite Bookshop in the World-THE WATERMILL in Aberfeldy,although I have to admit that it does give it a "je ne sais quoi" all of it`s own.
This book is written by Susan Hill ( many of you may know her as the author who wrote "Mrs De Winter"-a sequel to REBECCA ),I have some of this Auth
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Choco
Oct 03, 2011 Choco marked it as unfinished
"There is no doubt that of the thousands of new books published every year many are excellent and some will stand the test of time. A few will become classics. But I wanted to stand back and let the dust settle on everything new, while I set off on a journey through my books (p. 3 )."

This book is about the author's journey to read only books from her collection for a year. It is intriguing, but it didn't feel like the right time for me to read it. (I only skimmed through, so it doesn't have a ra
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Rachel
Jul 30, 2011 Rachel rated it really liked it
I have savoured this book slowly much as I do a bar of good quality chocolate, a chapter at the time. I've really enjoyed it.

I would love to have a look around the author's house. I bet there are quite a few rare books there and some really quirky ones from what she says in this memoir. I also wonder quite how large it is - how many landings and vast shelves which house hundreds of books can it have?! (743 books on ONE...!)

As for the name dropping element which has irritated other readers of thi
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Ellie
Jan 27, 2013 Ellie rated it liked it
I loved the premise of this book. The author went to one of her shelves to find a book, but it wasn't there. While looking for it she found many, many other books that she had intended to read, or re-read. She decided to spend a year enjoying the books already on her shelves, instead of buying new ones. I can relate! But from there, the book rambles a bit; she goes through various genres of books, and talks about her likes and dislikes. You rarely hear what she's reading or re-reading; the book ...more
Ali
Aug 07, 2011 Ali rated it really liked it
Read on kindle


This book is a fairly quick read, and I would think an absolute must for all book lovers and voracious readers. Those of us with a lot of books in pour houses (although I have far fewer than Susan Hill) have those which we have read several times, those we have never read and those which seem to have appeared without us realising. This is a book about how those books of Susan Hill's got there, what they mean, or why they have so far remained ignored. Susan Hill decided to spend a y
...more
Julie Davis
May 13, 2012 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing
This was all the rage a little while ago (in book reading time) and the library finally filled my long-standing request. Having something like 9 books I'm partway into (including audio), I knew I'd better wait to begin this. I read the first chapter to make sure I'd be interested and Susan Hill's beautiful, expressive prose swept me away for an hour before I looked up.

This is more than the standard recounting of "book's I've read and loved" as Hill incorporates the brief memories that each elic
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Celtria
Feb 16, 2013 Celtria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
I really liked this charming read: a memoir of a literary life as seen through Susan Hill's bookshelves and the memories conjured from them of the writers she has met - and Benjemin Britten.

Hill gives the reader an interesting, quirky in places, steady read, offering her personal views and opinions on particular books and authors(she doesn't like Jane Austen so she gets my vote!), the place for books and reading in our lives, the future of the book, and more.

From the book: "Book collections grow
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Lee-Anne
Oct 04, 2012 Lee-Anne rated it did not like it
So not worth the effort! Effusive name-dropping and self-aggrandizing between two pretty covers. Yes, she's met or brushed up against loads of interesting writers in her life. Yes, she had a novel published at 18. Yes, she's all very clever and well read. And annoying. Don't forget annoying... This book reads more like an inventory of her bookshelves and very little about her actually reading them. The kicker was her dismissal of all Canadian and Australian writers as not worthy. How's that for ...more
Laura
Feb 03, 2016 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Is this really a five-star book? Probably not. But it's one of those that came along at just the right time for me. I could pick it up, read a few chapters, and let the words sink in and digest. There is much here to think about and turn over and look at again and again. This year is the year that I'm reading mostly off of my shelves (stop it, don't laugh) so having this as a little inspirational signpost to return to over the coming months is something that I'm looking forward to. A gem of a bo ...more
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Literary Adventure : October Reads #50 Howard's End is On the Landing 1 4 Oct 05, 2014 08:35PM  
  • A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books
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  • At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries
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  • Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde
  • Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World
  • A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict
  • The Child That Books Built: A Life in Reading
  • A Reading Diary: A Passionate Reader's Reflections on a Year of Books
  • An Alphabetical Life: Living It Up in the World of Books
  • Ruined By Reading: A Life in Books
  • The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You'll Never Read
  • Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books
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Susan Hill was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire in 1942. Her hometown was later referred to in her novel A Change for the Better (1969) and some short stories especially "Cockles and Mussels".

She attended Scarborough Convent School, where she became interested in theatre and literature. Her family left Scarborough in 1958 and moved to Coventry where her father worked in car and aircraft factor
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More about Susan Hill...

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“Books help to form us. If you cut me open, you will find volume after volume, page after page, the contents of every one I have ever read, somehow transmuted and transformed into me. Alice in Wonderland. the Magic Faraway Tree. The Hound of the Baskervilles. The Book of Job. Bleak House. Wuthering Heights. The Complete Poems of W H Auden. The Tale of Mr Tod. Howard''s End. What a strange person I must be. But if the books I have read have helped to form me, then probably nobody else who ever lived has read exactly the same books, all the same books and only the same books as me. So just as my genes and the soul within me make me uniquely me, so I am the unique sum of the books I have read. I am my literary DNA.” 107 likes
“I love the book. I love the feel of a book in my hands, the compactness of it, the shape, the size. I love the feel of paper. The sound it makes when I turn a page. I love the beauty of print on paper, the patterns, the shapes, the fonts. I am astonished by the versatility and practicality of The Book. It is so simple. It is so fit for its purpose. It may give me mere content, but no e-reader will ever give me that sort of added pleasure.” 53 likes
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