Thursday, January 13, 2011

But Could I Do It For a Year?

I've just finished reading  a rather remarkable little book titled Howard's End is on the Landing by British author Susan Hill.  I've read a number of her fiction books and when I saw this one on Amazon I was intrigued.
The book opens with her going through her house looking for the book Howard's End which she was sure was on the landing but she is unable to find it, and from there the book goes on to be the account of how she spent a year reading or in many cases rereading the books she found that she already had in her house.  It's a book about authors she had met and known, the many she'd never met, but admired, and how their writing had affected her life and writing.  She explains how she came to own many of the books, and sometimes was surprised by why she'd ever bought certain titles.
For many reasons he loves the writings of  Charles Dickens, Graham Green, Thomas Hardy, P.G. Wodehouse, and most of all Virginia Wolfe.  How's that for eclectic taste?
As she moves through the year reading different genres of books, diaries, travel books, plays, biographies,  autobiographies, and fiction, she decides to pick the 40 (no I don't know why she picked 40) books she would have to keep if that was all she could have for the rest of her life.  Her book sorting was knowledgeable, humorous, entertaining and it got me to thinking about the books I  own, and whether I could just read them for a year.   I also wondered about which books I would pick  if I could only keep 40 of them .
Well, I don't know about going a year without buying a book, I tend to be a bit of a bookaholoic, but I'm going to give it a try for a month.  After deciding to give that a go I took  a look  through my bookshelves to find where I'll start and I've decided that I'm going to start with my King Arthur books, I'm an Arthur freak having read numerous books about him, visited  every site in England that people associate with him and just plain love reading about him.  Probably the best books about Arthur are the Camelud series by Jack Whyte, but I just reread them  last year, so with that in mind I think I'm going to start with The Winter King by Bernard Cornwall.  I'm not sure where I'll go after Arthur.
As for my 40 books, I'm going to have to give that a lot of thought.  The first book on her bookshelf of 40 was the Bible, not a bad one to begin with.


  1. The selection of books at our county library is very limited. I've been unpacking my own books adn re-reading--so far its kept me entertained. Oh yes, there were a few visits to Alibris.

  2. I'm a bookaholic as well and have hundreds of books quite a few of which I have still got to get round to reading. Almost all my books are non fiction and about things I'm interested in - if I had to confine my collection to 40 of them I'd have to think very hard, there are half a dozen that would make it without a second thought but the others?

  3. I'm similar to Rowan re: books and tastes in reading. I have read Susan Hill though ~ she has a house near me. Currently I'm reading an authorised history of M15.

  4. Thanks for an interesting post; and I'm also delighted to learn that you're an 'Arthur freak'. I've been interested in Arthur too ever since my early teens or so... I think travels in Britain in my teens (with my family) got me started. I read Mary Stewart's series several times, that remains a favourite. A few years back after reading and discussing the Harry Potter series my interest was rekindled, and I read Howard Pyle's stories, and re-read John Steinbeck. Your post now reminds me that I still have some other unread Arthurs waiting in my bookcase... Have not heard about the ones you mention, though.

  5. Hi! Found your blog via Hester's. I'm a bookaholic as well.


  6. RowanI read mainly fiction, throwing in a few nonfiction each year, my husband is the non-fiction reader.
    liZZie, I found Susan Hill through her crime series featuring Simon Serrailler, from there I've found her ghost stories and have a non-fiction by her waiting to be read. Her book about books was so interesting.
    Dawn Treader, if you haven't read the Bernard Cornwall or Jack Whyte books about Arthur you must! Two books by Parke Goodwin Firelord and Beloved Exile are also outstanding.
    Morning Minion, As I said in another post our local library leaves a lot to be desired so I usually buy lots of books, mostly used, from Amazon.
    Jake, thanks for stopping by, always good to hear from a fellow bookaholic.


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