My copy of this book is full of post-it stickers marking this and that paragraph. And that alone conveys how much I enjoyed reading this book. This is not in the least bit a “structured” book or a story of any form, it’s written like a personal diary full of random thoughts, trips down the memory lane and simple yet powerful observations.
It all starts with Susan Hill searching for a copy of Howards End through her enormous book shelves and while searching for this elusive books, she finds scores of books she hasn’t read or books that she has loved in the past and wants to re-read again. This book is about Susan Hill exploring her own book collections- old favourites, unread books, picture books, pop up books, there’s everything here. She remembers stories around the books, the authors she has met and formed a close friendship with. She walks around her house examining different sections of her bookshelves and writing about them. Her bookshelves are completely unordered and dictate the order of her chapters, so naturally, you find chapters on Pop-Up books and Charles Dickens right next to each other.
For those who love reading books, this is an absolute treat and you will be able to thoroughly savour this and nod your head happily when she talks about what books and her library mean to her. She talks about her favourite authors and their works, quotes snippets and is basically another booklover having a thoroughly passionate conversation with you about books, authors and collecting books. For those who aren’t avid readers or not interested in classic literature, this book will probably only annoy and bore with references to a hundred different authors and scholars.
One of my favourite quotes from this book is:
“I love the book. I love the feel of a book in my hands, the compactness of it, the shape, the size. I love the feel of paper. The sound it makes when I turn a page. I love the beauty of print on paper, the patterns, the shapes, the fonts. I am astonished by the versatility and practicality of The Book. It is so simple. It is so fit for its purpose. It may give me mere content, but no e-reader will ever give me that sort of added pleasure.”
I absolutely loved it. Each chapter was a short exploration of a certain kind of books for example children’s books or talking about a specific author. For someone who loves to read and collect books, this will be the perfect book to plop on the sofa everyday with. I have so many new authors that I want to explore (for example, Elizabeth Bowen) after having read her devout recommendations of them. And if you are going to read this book, chances are you will too (so get the paper and pencil ready). Everything is discussed in this book in tiny bits (that leave you craving for more) from P.G.Wodehouse, Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, Virginia Woolf to J.K.Rowling.
I absolutely relished everything about this book. And I hope to re-read it again someday having read more of the authors from her Final Forty.
My Rating – 5/5 stars.
P.s. – A HUGE thank you to my best friend for gifting this special book on my birthday. Love you loads!