Thursday, 15 September 2011

"Howards End is on the Landing" by Susan Hill.

I found "Howards End is on the Landing" by Susan Hill in Waterstones yesterday and what a find it is - "I decided to spend a year reading only books already on my shelves for several reasons..I sometimes wonder if the books came into this house or if the house grew around them. Either way, they feel as organic a part of it as the beams, the Aga in the kitchen, the wood burner in the sitting room, or the old pine wardrobe that arrived in half a dozen sections and had to be assembled once it was in the right bedroom."

Books are indeed the decor of my flat- I decorate with bookshelves, and adorn with second hand copies or with a beautiful-with-etching new copy. The good ones are each a little world, taking you back to where you were when you first read it (rattling through India by train to Agra reading all of Jane Austen) or taking you forward providing some new insight.

On the internet :-
"The start of my journey also coincided with my decision to curtail my use of the internet, which can have an insidious. corrosive effect. Too much internet usage fragments the brain and dissipates concentration so that after a while one's ability to spend long focussed hours immersed in a single subject becomes blunted....The internet can have a pernicious influence on reading because it is full of book-related gossip and chatter on which it is fatally easy to waste time that should be spent paying close careful attention to the books themselves, whether writing them or reading them."

She never said a truer word- and here I am writing this on Facebook. And on my blog. But some fasting needs to take place with my internet use. My powers of concentration were greater as a teenager and I do think it was the lack of television and computer use.

Susan Hill explains further:-
"Rationing it strictly gave me back more than time. Within a few days, my attention span increased again, my butter-fly brain settled down and I was able to spend longer periods concentrating on single topics, difficult long books, subjects requiring my full focus. It was like diving into a deep cool Ocean after flitting about in the shallows, Slow Reading as against Gobbling Up."

However that is only the first few gems. Our reaction to individual books is so personal - and it is heart-warming, like sitting by a fire in winter with cocoa to read of her personal and extremely well-read history and thoughts on different literature. Harry Potter and Dickens. PG Wodehouse and Enid Blyton. Poetry and Pop-Up books. She is not snobbish about literature. The only thing it needs (boring, I know) is an index and then you could look up what she thinks about every individual (and there are many) book that she mentions.

I have only just started it- but it is splendid and soothing at the same time. A September Holiday leaves-turning- brown rainy afternoon, Read, if ever there was one.

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