Howard's End is on the Landing
Susan Hill

Howard's End is on the Landing by Susan Hill

It began like this. I went to the shelves on the landing to look for a book I knew was there. It was not. But plenty of others were and among them I noticed at least a dozen I realised I had never read.

I pursued the elusive book through several rooms and did not find it in any of them, but each time I did find at least a dozen, perhaps two dozen, perhaps two hundred, that I had never read.

And then I picked out a book I had read but had forgotten I owned. And another and another. After that came the books I had read, knew I owned and realised that I wanted to read again.
I found the book I was looking for in the end, but by then it had become far more than a book. It marked the start of a journey through my own library.

Some people give up drink for January or chocolate for Lent, others decide to live for a year on just a pound a day, or without buying any new clothes. Their reasons may be financial (to save money), physical (to lose weight), or spiritual (to become more holy). I decided to spend a year reading only books already on my shelves for several reasons.

The journey through my own books involved giving up buying new ones, and that will seem a perverse act for someone who is both an author and a publisher. But this was a personal journey, not a mission. I felt the need to get to know my own books again, but I am not about to persuade other people to abandon the purchase of new ones.

I wanted to repossess my books, to explore what I had accumulated over a lifetime of reading, and to map this house of many volumes. There are enough here to divert, instruct, entertain, amaze, amuse, edify, improve, enrich me for far longer than a year and every one of them deserves to be taken down and dusted off, opened and read. 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. Wandering through the house that day looking for one elusive book, my eyes were opened to how much of that life was stored here, neglected or ignored…

Howard’s End is on the Landing is published by Profile Books Ltd.