13 April, 2011

April's non-fiction read is in the bag

Susan Hill wrote a book that I read years ago, called The Woman in Black. It’s a ghost story, and it was scary and good. They made a play out of it, which Center Stage did some time back. I did not go see it but I hear that the play was The Scary. Not sorry I missed that, I can dismiss things I read, but once I have a scary visual, I’m done for.

I’ve never read any of her other books, but my April foray into non-fiction was her slim book called Howard's End is on the Landing. She decided that for one year she would only read and re-read books that she already had in her home. No library books, no buying books, she had to stick with choices from the (large number of) books she owned.  Then she wrote about them and what she learned from what she chose to read/re-read, what she didn’t, and what she learned about herself during that year. I would give this a solid B-.

Ms. Hill gets points for loving books and having read a lot, and writing with love about the books that have meant a lot to her. She gets points off for name-dropping, not liking Terry Pratchett, and saying that she doesn’t like Australian or Canadian authors. I mean, What? You can’t just not like someone’s books because they came from a certain country; that makes as little sense as not enjoying cookies made by a baker with red hair. One thing has nothing to do with the other. 

I’m kidding about the Terry Pratchett thing, but the insistence on telling us how she loves the books of Blah Blah, who she met when she was an 18 year old university student and first time novelist, which she mentions repeatedly, got on my nerves. Guess what, Susan! It is possible to love books by great authors you have not met, and your insistence on harping on Famous Authors I Have Known, and You Have Not (neener neener) wore on me.

One thing I did like was that she decided to make a list of Desert Island Books, or the 40 books that she would take were she ever put in the position of having to choose 40 books to take into exile with her.  Her choices and mine would be very different, as I am sure yours would be from mine, but I did like hearing how she made her choices, what she’d look for and what she thought each book would contribute to the list.

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