Howards End is on the Landing

by Susan Hill | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 1846682665 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingelizardbreathwing of Bella Vista, Arkansas USA on 1/23/2021
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5 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingelizardbreathwing from Bella Vista, Arkansas USA on Saturday, January 23, 2021
I purchased this online from Better World Books.

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 potential to burst into new life. Wandering through her house that day, Hill's eyes were opened to how much of that life was stored in her home, neglected for years. Howard's End is on the Landing charts the journey of one of the nation's most accomplished authors as she revisits the conversations, libraries and bookshelves of the past that have informed a lifetime of reading and writing."

Journal Entry 2 by wingelizardbreathwing at Bella Vista, Arkansas USA on Sunday, January 24, 2021
This book was not at all what I thought it was going to be --- but it turned out to be a touching and thoughtful read that I know I'll be thinking about for a long time to come. Plus, it helped me add A LOT of books to my wishlist!

I started off really liking this author. In my notes, I wrote how great it was to read something like this from an older reader, a British reader, an educated reader, and one who understands quality. A big shift happened somewhere around half way through and I really struggled with my thoughts about her. Then, weirdly and providentially, she actually addressed the very thing close to the end of the book. I feel like I've been on a very long journey with author Susan Hill, even though it took me only two days to read through this short work.

I loved quotes like:

"A book which is left on a shelf is a dead thing but it is also a chrysalis, an inanimate object packed with the potential to burst into new life."


"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 loved some of her phraseology: "bumptious", "purple passages", and anthologies that are "puddings full of plums".

I got annoyed when she would make faulty assumptions (prideful remarks?) that one who organizes their books must not be a real reader or that collectors are somehow lesser than whatever she considers herself to be. Like I said, I started out really liking her...then I got to know her.

I started to realize she was a bit over-obsessed with Virginia Woolf. About that same time, I took a little time to research her bio information so when I got to the part in the book about her wanting to "emulate" Woolf in publishing, I was kind of sickened. This book was written before she wrecked her family and knowing what was coming made me wonder how much of her obsession with emulating Woolf played a part in her leaving her 40 year marriage to move in with a female lover. I think it's a heartbreaking poetic justice that her "lover" soon left her and I'm so sad for her poor husband and daughters. I think I've learned my lesson about looking up bios, though. I was enjoying her so much before that.

Weirdly, (prophetically?) she addresses this very issue in an unrelated chapter. She says, "Knowing about a writer's life is rarely necessary to an appreciation of their work. But occasionally it is." And later, speaking of a friend who also read a book by an author who did something he found to be morally wrong: "He was not being judgmental, simply stating a truth. -- that the book which had meant so much to him had been fatally diminished for him when he discovered what had happened." She seems to come to the conclusion later that an author's past, current, and future life should not have any influence on the artistic work they produce. I think this is true, for the most part, but also virtually impossible in reality.

The book ended as it began---fun and informative. I thought her "Bad Bed-Fellows" chapter was pretty creative and thoughtful and I loved this thought she had when seeing related books sitting serendipitously together on a shelf: "Can books learn from one another? Can they change as a result of sitting on a shelf beside another for years? If not, might they regret being forever trapped, as it were, within their own content, doomed never to grow old, never to return to a state before they were created?"

All in all, I didn't love this book, and I have anger issues toward the author, but I'm very glad I read it. It's given me some really worthwhile things to ruminate on.

Journal Entry 3 by wingelizardbreathwing at Bella Vista, Arkansas USA on Monday, January 25, 2021

Released 3 yrs ago (1/25/2021 UTC) at Bella Vista, Arkansas USA


Sending this book to perryfran for the wishlist tag game. Enjoy!

To the finder of this book:

This book is gift, no strings attached, from me to you. You may keep it forever, pass it along to a friend, or release it into the wild to be found by someone else.

If you are new to BookCrossing, welcome! Enjoy the site, the book, and the BookCrossing community. I hope you'll join's free! If you do, please consider using me, elizardbreath, as your referring member. You can even remain anonymous if you wish!

I hope you'll make a brief journal entry so all the previous and future readers can track this book's journey.

Thanks, and Happy BookCrossing! :)

Journal Entry 4 by wingperryfranwing at Elk Grove, California USA on Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Thanks for sending me this wishlist book. Will look forward to reading it sometime soon (I hope)! 😉

Journal Entry 5 by wingperryfranwing at Elk Grove, California USA on Monday, May 31, 2021
For the most part, I really enjoyed this memoir of Susan Hill's where she decides to take a year and read books that are already on her shelves without buying anything new. These could be books she hasn't read or books that she wants to reread (most of what she discusses fall into that category). Hill is very well read indeed and her house is apparently overflowing with books she has collected through the years even going back to childhood. She discusses everything from pop-up children's books to very dense literary fiction that most people find unreadable. Examples of this include Proust and James Joyce's Ulysses, a book that I have tried reading more than once and can never make it past the first 50 pages or so. She also discusses detective fiction including the works of Dorothy Sayers which I have been meaning to read more of. And yes, she is a big admirer of Virginia Woolf who she apparently tries to emulate, even going so far as to start a publishing house in the vein of Woolf and her husband. Towards the end of the book she decides to make a list of 40 books that she could read and reread for the rest of her life. This list is quite diverse and includes The Bible as well as works by Dickens, Hardy, Eliot, Trollope, Henry James, Raymond Chandler, and many more.

As I said, I mostly enjoyed this memoir about books. But sometimes I felt that Hill talked most praisingly about books where she had met the author in person. She would discuss how much she liked a certain author and then tell how she had met him or her at a gathering or book panel. In this regard, her criticisms may have been a little prejudicial. But then again this narrative did remind me a lot of my own book collection and the books I still haven't got around to reading that have been sitting on my shelves for years. These include most of Dickens novels, works by Faulkner, the Brontes, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, E.M. Forster, Dorothy Sayers, and many others. There were also some books that I don't have and had never heard of that I definitely want to read after Hill's recommendations. These include The Bell by Iris Murdoch, The House in Paris by Elizabeth Bowen, In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin, and My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. As far as Hill's own works, I have only read The Woman in Black which I did enjoy. I should probably seek out more by her.

Journal Entry 6 by wingperryfranwing at booklady331's nonfiction VBB, A Bookbox -- Controlled Releases on Thursday, February 10, 2022

Released 2 yrs ago (2/10/2022 UTC) at booklady331's nonfiction VBB, A Bookbox -- Controlled Releases


Selected by rhythmbiscuit from the NF VBB. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 7 by rhythmbiscuit at Northglenn, Colorado USA on Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Thank you for sharing this book. I look forward to reading it.

Journal Entry 8 by rhythmbiscuit at Northglenn, Colorado USA on Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Released 11 mos ago (6/20/2023 UTC) at Northglenn, Colorado USA


I'm adding this book to the Bookish BookBox (in memory of MaryZee) . The box will be on its way again soon.

Journal Entry 9 by tabby-cat-owner at Bellingham, Washington USA on Friday, June 30, 2023
I am taking this book out of the Bookish Bookbox. I have read it before, but it was a while ago, and I would like to read it again.

Journal Entry 10 by tabby-cat-owner at Bellingham, Washington USA on Saturday, April 6, 2024
Okay, so this is the second time that I have read this book. I just read the journal entry that I wrote the first time that I read this book (eight years ago). My evaluation of this book is still pretty much the same, although I had forgotten much about the book and reading it a second time was like reading it for the first time. That being said, I am a slow reader, and it takes me a long time to read a book, probably because I can only grab short amounts of time here and there to read books. Like most Americans, I am ignorant as to who Susan Hill is. A quick google shows me that she has written a lot of books, the first was written when she was still a university student. She has enjoyed a successful career as a writer. She hobnobs with a lot of well-known authors and other people. This book on reading the books she owns is rather a strange memoir. The author shares about her life as a reader of books, and I enjoyed reading between the lines, so to speak, about her life.

One thing irritated me. She labels certain children's books "middle class". First, how can a book be middle class? I got the idea (from reading this book) that Susan Hill's upbringing was also rather middle class. So, I guess all her study of literature and hobnobbing with the famous (at least people that are famous in Great Britain) does make someone feel somewhat of an "elite"(?). That statement made me think, and I think, that it was probably more revealing than the author wanted it to be. What kind of books do the children of the aristocracy read? My guess is that they don't read at all.

Susan Hill attended King's College in London. I know very little about the British system of higher education, but the author mentions wearing scarves at her college that were orange and black, and this time, I noticed that the two books on the cover were orange and black. I still feel that the best thing about this book is the cover. I love the artwork on old book bindings. It reminds me of when I visited Oxford University. They have a lot of stuff that you can buy there (stationery, posters, etc.) that display the art on bindings of books.

As I read this book, I found (once again) that the reading tastes of Susan Hill were not similar to mine. She values a book, it seems, by the quality of the writing, the extensive vocabulary of the author, etc. I don't think that I judge the quality of writing so much as to whether I can read and enjoy or learn or concur with what is being said. I have never like sordid or violent topics, so there.

Like Elizardbreath, I did google the biography of the author and found the disturbing turn that Susan Hill's life took towards the end of her life. (I had not done this when I previously read this book.) All of this certainly does make one think about life.

One last comment: I liked reading about the author's love of music. Her fascination with the British composer, Benjamin Britten was interesting. The author gets to meet him. She shares with Britten a fascination with World War I which was a completely devastating experience for Great Britain. She has written a book about World War I. Benjamin Britten tells her that he would not be reading her book on World War I because he has gotten over his obsession with World War I and could not revisit it.

Journal Entry 11 by tabby-cat-owner at by mail, A Bookbox -- Controlled Releases on Thursday, April 11, 2024

Released 1 mo ago (4/12/2024 UTC) at by mail, A Bookbox -- Controlled Releases


This book has been put into the Bookish Bookbox (in memory of MaryZee). It is traveling to haahaahaa98 of Massachusetts.

Journal Entry 12 by winghaahaahaa98wing at Watertown, Massachusetts USA on Thursday, April 18, 2024
Retrieved from the Bookish Book Box, April 2024.

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