Martha's Reviews > Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home

Howards End Is on the Landing by Susan Hill
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May 08, 12

bookshelves: 2012, reading, reviews
Recommended for: people who like Susan Hill, Brit authors, reading about reading, i.e. GR subscribers I'd guess.
Read from April 20 to May 08, 2012

This is fun, illuminating, and helpful if read for what it is--a rumination on the book collection of someone who loves to read and can also write well. It's not literary criticism; it's not a memoir. Hill looks over her vast book collection in no particular order, reminisces about how she came by some of the books, what reading them was like, and digresses on various philosophical and literary questions. In a life of studying literature, writing books, and running her own publishing house (Long Barn Books), she's met a lot of literary figures and known a few well.

I agreed with some of her assessments, some not. Some of the forty titles she comes up with that she will read in her year of not buying new books are not the ones I would have chosen, nor were her methods of accepting and rejecting titles always the ones I would have used. But that's not surprising. And she knows a lot more than I do.

Her speculations are a bit superficial; she doesn't come up with many answers, and sometimes wonders whether the question is answerable or important (e.g., if you didn't know the author of a given novel, could you guess if it was written by a man or a woman?). She occasionally makes coy references, for instance to mutual friends she and other figures in the book had without identifying or explaining circumstances.

If this were a memoir, you'd demand more of it, greater detail, deeper thinking. As it is, it led me to some books and authors I want to read or read again. And it's an interesting look into the literary history and attitudes of a writer whose novels I enjoy.
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