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

By Susan Hill

Profile Books paperback, $15.95, 240 pages

Who is this author?

Susan Hill is a British author of 44 fiction and non-fiction works, including children’s books. Her novels include “The Woman in Black,” a suspenseful ghost story similar in its style to Daphne Du Maurier’s chillers, which was adapted for the theater and has been running since 1987 in London’s West End. Other novels include “The Mist in the Mirror” and “I’m the King of the Castle,”  which won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1971. In1972, her “The Bird of Night” won the prestigious Whitbread Novel Award. Her latest is “The Small Hand” (2010).

Hill also is known for he Simon Serrailler crime novels: “The Various Haunts of Men” (2004),  “The Pure in Heart” (2005), “The Risk of Darkness” (2006),  “The Vows of Silence” (2008),  “Shadows in the Streets” (2010) and “The Betrayal of Trust” (2011).

Here’s what she says about the series: “… the crime novel has become a serious literary genre over the last few decades and I realised that it presented the sort of challenge I wanted.

My aim was to look at issues in the world around me and contemporary life – which I have not done in my novels before. I also wanted to know not ‘who dunnit’ but much more importantly, WHY? What motivates a criminal? Why does someone murder and perhaps not only once?

What is this book about?

In “Howards End Is on the Landing,” the riddles to be solved are not about crimes but instead are related to reading.

Why do we collect books but fail to read them all? Why do we fail to recall the contents of some books that we actually have read? Have we got the time and stamina to pick up each and every book on each and every shelf to find out what we have in our home libraries? How do we decide which ones are worth reading again? If we could keep only 40 of them, which ones would we pick? To answer these questions, she spent a year reading, re-reading and assessing books from her personal collection and not buying any new ones.

Why you’ll like it:

Hill answers those questions for herself in this charming memoir about browsing through her many books, and her account is sure to inspire readers to assess their own collections and choose their own list of must-haves. Her selections may also encourage readers eager for good advice about books to add her choices to their own shelves. The Times of London says studying her list is “the equal of any degree course.”

What others are saying:

Says the Wall Street Journal: “…So skilled is Ms. Hill at bringing her books, and their authors, vividly before us that by the end of her year of reading we come to feel that her book-brimmed house is itself a lively presence, not so much haunted as animated by these familiar spirits.”

“…Delightful bibliophile’s memoir…Just try to read this book without nosing around your own shelves,” says Booklist.

When is it available?

It’s on the shelves, with thousands more, at the Hartford Public Library.

One Response to Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home By Susan Hill

  • Kat Lyons says:

    My first post-retirement project: following the example of Susan Hill’s mission in Howard’s End Is on the Landing: a great way to begin the year! Can’t yet commit to “not buying any new ones,” however.

    Among those to go into my in-case-of-tornado tote: David Macaulay’s Motel of the Mysteries, the Time-Life Foods of the World sets from the ’70′s, and Connecticut resident Jessica Helfand’s Scrapbooks.