Call me a book skeptic. I’ve read gazillions of books on books and the most recent ones contained more personal information than I cared to know. Besides, I had never heard of Susan Hill and wondered if she even had a right to impose her opinions on me. So in the midst of packing up for our move, I grabbed Howards End Is on the Landing and plopped on the couch with an air of self-resignation. If it didn’t appeal to me within the first few minutes, I’d go back to sorting our stuff.
Fortunately, I was charmed from the very first page. Hill (who I now know is a successful British author) tells of a day that she spent in search of a particular book. Going from room to room, she rummaged through various bookshelves, noticing books she had always intended to read and others that she wanted to re-read. She decided to put a moratorium on book buying and spend a year reading forty choice books from her own collection. Each chapter details the process of narrowing down the list.
She discusses everything from e-readers, to her favorite fonts, to famous authors she has known, to her dislike of Jane Austen, but she never gives you so many personal details that you want to squirm.
I liked her gentle sense of humor and her writing style even when I didn’t always agree with her point of view. (How could I dislike an author who uses words like peripatetic and inchoate?) Apart from one or two off-color comments, I thoroughly enjoyed my literary stroll with the companionable and articulate Miss Hill.