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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Howard's End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home, by Susan Hill

Susan Hill, an accomplished author and publisher, went looking for a particular book in her extensive personal library, but couldn't find it. Instead, she found many books she loved but hadn't read in a long while, and books she owned but had never read. She conceived the idea of challenging herself only to read books she already owned for one whole year. Howard's End is on the Landing is her account of her reading during that year.

I liked this book, as you, gentle reader, no doubt surmised from the subtitle of the book alone. And yet, and yet. Mrs. Hill personally knew, or at the least met and was acquainted with, many of the authors she discusses. On the one hand I grew a bit tired of reading such things as, 'When I met Ian Fleming at the party...' (I made that quote up), and on the other hand, I was fascinated by the sort of behind-the-scenes views of authors whose works I've read: 'The beam of light falls on a man standing leaning against a fireplace. His cocktail is on the shelf beside him. In his hand there is a cigarette holder. He has a high colour to his high cheekbones, a high forehead, too. High style. I am old enough to know that it is rude to stare but who would not stare at the craggy remains of such mesmerising good looks?' (I quoted that.)

And, I really should have learned better self-control by now, because of course my already stupendously-long TBR list has grown even longer by reading this book. Not only did I discover authors and titles I was previously unfamiliar with, not only did I gain a better understanding of titles I had perhaps disdained (and therefore never planned to read), but I also now must look into other works by Mrs. Hill herself.

So, gentle reader, beware. If you, like I am, are easily led to expand your TBR, don't pick up this book. (By which I mean to say, I recommend this book to those who like to read about books.)

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