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Simon T (StuckinaBook)

Such a wonderful book (though yes, she is very given to pronouncements - even moreso in the sequel). And it's such an interesting concept, isn't it, working out where best to start - it can make all the difference between finding a new favourite author and never going back.

iliana

Oh dear, I love buying books at flea markets, Half Price Books, etc. and hadn't really thought about those types of illnesses. Yikes. Ok, I'll just go back to pretending i didn't read that :)

Claire (The Captive Reader)

Oh I'm so glad you're enjoying this! It's a contentious book among readers but I loved it. Hill is opinionated and I certainly don't always agree with her but I love her passion and bookish focus. The recent companion book fell a little flat for me but this one I adore.

Michelle Ann

I would disagree with Susan Hill on where to begin with Barbara Pym. I would recommend Excellent Women or Some Tame Gazelle as a starter. I found Quartet in Autumn rather depressing when I read it in my 20's, but I must re-read it, as I am sure it it will have greater resonance with my more mature self! Some of her later books were also completed after her death, and are much weaker, and would put off many readers if they were their introduction.

Jeane

I've been wanting to eat this book too, and the quotes are intriguing. I know there are people who only read new, bought books because they are leery of germs on library books! I always thought that a bit silly, most viruses wouldn't live long on such a surface would they? But those from before do sound a lot more serious.

victoria

I kind of feel that way about a few authors -- Magda Szabo (really glad I started with The Door, although her others are quite good too), Shusako Endo (really glad I started with Silence), and Gary Shteyngart (glad I did NOT start with Absurdistan). I think sometimes when you know what an author is capable of you can read stuff that might not be quite as successful with more grace.

Danielle

It is a very enjoyable read and eventually I do want the sequel she wrote. First impressions with a book/author can be very difficult. There are some I have sort of jettisoned that I wonder now if I might get on better with--reading for me is such a mood-thing! And timing can really be everything!

Danielle

How long can germs live on something inanimate anyway? Probably we are safe, at least I hope so. I try and get new books from the library that have not been handled much, and occasionally I will get an older book that is a little scary and I admit I tend to return those unread and unhandled by me! (Yes, it's best not to think too much about used books--lol).

Danielle

Isn't that the truth--readers vary so much in taste and outlook--sometimes it is best to agree to not agree and go on liking (or not) something. You are right about her enthusiasm-I think that is what I enjoy most. There are books she loves that I might not find so appealing, but I understand that love (or annoyance) when it comes to certain books. Good to know about the sequel--I am enjoying this one very much.

Danielle

I think I agree with you on this one. With Pym, once you are hooked you could easily pick up any of them, but for a first time and a younger reader, Quartet in Autumn might be off putting. I think it is my favorite by her, but I read it just recently--had I read it when I was twenty I would not have felt like it related to my life. A few years on now, and it is something I totally appreciate! I read Excellent Women first and loved it. And then promptly started buying all her other books! :)

Danielle

I don't mind library books at all, though I especially like the fresh new ones. Library books from the library where I work tend to be safe/not so heavily used as public library books which can be scary! I don't think a germ lasts for too long on a surface, but I can see where the fear of getting polio back then or something else would have been worrisome.

Danielle

I want to read Magda Szabo--I have The Door on my TBR pile, so glad to hear it is a good place to start with her. I like how you put that--if you know an author's best work you can be more forgiving for one that is not quite in the same class. I do think timing can be everything--what a reader brings to a book can also decide how much you love (or not) an author.

janakay

I read (and loved) Hill's Howard's End is on the Landing; so glad you liked it too! I've always been inclined to like books about books, so to speak, and I enjoy strong opinions (unless they're negative about a very few of my cherished icons!) -- when you care so strongly about books you just instinctively warm to others who do as well. The concept of WHERE you start with a writer is really interesting and I agree that it does make a serious difference. Silas Marner put me off Eliot for at least a decade! If I had read Where Angels Fear to Tread, I probably would never have made it to Passage to India (or Howard's End!). And I have to agree with you that Quartet in Autumn is NOT the place to begin with Pym!

Margaret Powling

Hello, Danielle, I've not looked in for a long time and then suddenly remembered your lovely blog!!! I love this book and also her next book of literary essays, Jacob's Room ... I also loved Quartet in Autumn. I haven't been able to read all of Barbara Pym's novels, I have tried and failed, but Quartet in Autumn is excellent.
Margaret P
www.margaretpowling.com

cath

I do like a book about books so much I am always tempted to buy it, how come I somehow never come to reading it? I do have Howards End is on the Landing as well as Will Schwalbe's much praised The End Of Your Life Bookclub. Yes also unread. I wonder how often I must have written that word unread here:).

Rhonda

Susan Hill is definitely a woman of strong opinions kind of a cranky aunt that’s part of the fun of reading her essays,I’m reading another book about books Bookworm by Lucy Magnan really enjoying I think you might enjoy it.She has a lighter more humorous personality then Susan Hill.

LizF

I have to confess that I am a long time admirer of Susan Hill and loved both 'Howard's End...' and its sequel 'Jacob's Room...'. She definitely has strong opinions and there are a couple of things I don't entirely agree with (for one thing the only book by George Eliot novel I have ever read is Middlemarch and I thoroughly enjoyed it ) but she has the right to them and each of the books resulted in several new additions to my notebook as over the years her recommendations have almost always been successful with me.
I have just started reading the Lucy Mangan book (on the bus on the way home from work as it happens) and so far so good.

Danielle

Susan Hill is very passionate which I love, and as you say, so far she has not crushed any particular favorites, which is a good thing. I am sure there are books I talk up that others might not get on with. I love hearing about her experiences with other writers. She makes me want to look up books and writers I am not very familiar with.

Danielle

Hi Margaret, so very nice to hear from you. I hope all is well with you. I am really enjoying Susan Hill's essays and plan on getting her other book when I finish this one. I have not read all of Pym's novels but I am enjoying slowly working my way through her work. So far Quartet in Autumn is my favorite!

Danielle

Unread--yes, I can also apply that word to far too many books. I am trying to fit in as many as I can, can you tell??! ;) The Susan Hill book is great and you can read it slowly, too. I am just reading one (or maybe two if they are really short) essays every day or so. The last one I read was about poetry!

Danielle

She seems quite formidable to me--LOL. And totally unwavering in her opinions, too. I am not at all famailiar with the Lucy Magnan book, so I will look it up--is it new? I have a small row of books about books that I tend not to read from--as much as I love the topic, too!

Danielle

I have read a number of Susan Hill's books--she is pretty diverse in her writing actually--I have not yet read any of the Simon Serailler mysteries, which I think I would like. As long as she does not totally slam a book I love, I think I can safely say I will love this book, too. I plan on getting the second book by her when I finish this one. And good to know you like the Lucy Mangan book--it must be new? I have missed it somehow.

LizF

The Lucy Mangan book 'Bookworm' is quite new I think. It has only just become available in the library and there is quite a long waiting list for it.
It is very good but quite different from Susan Hill's books.

I do love Susan Hill's work but I have to confess to not being blown away by the first Serrailler novel. Admittedly I read it quite a few years ago and the series had really only just got started so maybe I need to give it another try to see if it appeals more now.

Danielle

It looks like it is so new that it is not even listed on Amazon--not sure when it will be published here. I see it is only in cloth in the UK, which means I will have to be patient... I see it is childhood reading, which would be interesting as I think I pretty much did not read the classics of childhood like others did. I had no adult direction in my reading selections as a kid so it was all over the place--good but also I missed out on books that were staples of most children's reading. I have picked up that first Serailler book so many times but it is always a case of 'I have far too many books started already--need to finish one Before starting another'! Often those first books of a mystery series are only so-so and the author gets better as the books move along. Have you read other books of her mystery series? She is certainly a diverse writer.

LizF

Im not familiar with some of the books she mentions, possibly because she is about 15 years younger than me. Some of them I know because I read them to my children although there are some cross overs - books which were old for both of us.

I dont recall having a great deal of direction from my parents over what I read apart from when I was very small. They just encouraged me to read because they were both readers so I read a wide range of stuff from the 1920s school
stories from my mums childhood and my dads battered copy of Black Beauty which broke my heart plus whatever caught my eye in the library and at school.

That also meant I read some books it might have been better I hadnt at the time - I wouldnt recommend Lady Chatterleys Lover as reading for a 10 year old and my mum was horrified when she found out!

Sent from my iPhone

Margaret Powling

Right now, Danielle, I am cleaning my bookshelves and 'weeding' out books I know I shall never read! I hate parting with them, but space is finite and as more come in, so some must depart ...
Right now I'm re-reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in preparation for seeing the movie next Monday. A lovely read, really enjoying it; it's a decade since I read it, so have totally forgotten the story.
Margaret P
www.margaretpowling.com

cath

You know exactly how to make it (almost) impossible not to read it now:)

Danielle

I was thinking I need to reread the novel, too, and after seeing the movie trailor--I am really looking forward to it. I also need to do some weeding--I think you are generally very good at keeping your shelves tidy, Margaret!

Danielle

It is definitely a must read and a keeper! So nice to be able to just read an essay or two here and there--draw out the reading experience! I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am!

Margaret Powling

Danielle, have a look at my blog post at www.margaretpowling.com and you will see my thoughts on the film which husband and I saw yesterday. I loved it, I don't need to say more!
Margaret P

Danielle


Thanks Margaret! I will check it out. Cant wait to see it, too!

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