I decided to move away from Clarissa for the Easter weekend, and read something slightly less scary, so opted for Susan Hill’s ‘Howards End is on the Landing’, and I am incredibly glad I did. On a search around the house for an elusive book, Hill discovers many books that had been forgotten about, not read for years, or in the case of some books, and something I completely understand, books that had been bought and NEVER read! Hill decides to spend the year reading just books she already owns, and ‘Howards End is on the Landing’ follows her journey, from spiritual books to children’s books and beyond.
This book was not quite what I was expecting, and didn’t talk about certain texts in as much detail as I would have liked, but inspite of this Hill raised so many points about reading and books that completely reinforced why I love reading in the first place and why it is so important and something I could not live without. I can always tell when I haven’t been able to read as much as I would like as my temper flares up much quicker than usual, strange!
One of the most amusing paragraphs for me centred on Hill’s dislike of ereaders, and how much we lose as readers when we are looking at a screen. This was particularly resonant as I was reading the book on my Kindle, so I almost felt like a small child being told of for talking in the classroom. And to a certain extent I agree with Hill:
‘No one will sign an electronic book, no one can annotate in the margin, no one can leave a love letter casually between the leaves.’
I do smile when I open a second hand book and I find something hidden inside, or I pick up one of my own books and a photo/letter fall out (this is especially true for ‘Love Letters of Great Men’, which when last opened enclosed a photo of myself, my old housemate and a half naked Abercrombie model) or I read an inscription from a friend and remember why they gave me a certain book. However I think you can still capture this magic as long as you buy books as well as using your ‘small, flat, grey, hand-held screen‘. Besides I have moved 10 times in the past 5 years and although the 300+ books haven’t come on every single move, after last summer’s epic self move and with the 11th move looming in the not so distant future, I think it is safer for my arms and my sanity if I download some books that I am desperate to read.