Martha's Reviews > Feel Free

Feel Free by Zadie Smith
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bookshelves: netgalley, non-fiction, read-2018, read-women-18, big-books-18, 2018-yorwoc, black-authors

It was not even like going to one of these farmers' markets that have sprung up all over London at the crossroads where personal wealth meets a strong interest in artisanal cheeses.

From the writer of White Teeth and Swing Time (among others) comes a new non-fiction collection, pulling together essays and reviews from other projects.

I love Smith's style of writing. She has this quiet, subtle wit where every word feels intentional and a sentence can feel perfectly ordinary until it ends with "a strong interest in artisanal cheeses" and I laugh in surprise. Hers is a style of intellectual writing that feels aspirational to me; it takes more mental effort than the average book I read, but I don't feel alienated by that, and I feel like I've achieved something worthwhile when I come to the end.

However, I have mixed feelings about this particular collection. This was a rare occasion where I often did feel alienated; her style is such that if you are familiar with her subject, her commentary is witty and insightful, thinking about the subject in a way you probably never considered. However, if you aren't familiar with the subject, then it all becomes a bit highbrow and you can't see the nuance anymore. Her essays on her local library, Brexit and Facebook were excellent, for example, I'm familiar with the latter two, and familiar enough with London to appreciate the former. I didn't get anything out of the multiple essays about art because I don't have a particular appreciation for art; and didn't particularly enjoy the reviews of books I'd never read and that didn't sound like the type of books I'd want to read. Those essays became laborious because I couldn't find an access point of common understanding and most of it went over my head.

I would still say it's worth a try, particularly if you are a Zadie Smith fan, because when she's writing about a familiar subject, it's wonderful.

Thank you to Penguin Books UK and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

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Reading Progress

January 4, 2018 – Shelved
January 4, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
February 8, 2018 – Started Reading
February 11, 2018 –
February 15, 2018 – Shelved as: netgalley
February 15, 2018 – Shelved as: non-fiction
February 15, 2018 – Shelved as: read-2018
February 15, 2018 – Shelved as: read-women-18
February 15, 2018 – Finished Reading
February 16, 2018 – Shelved as: big-books-18
February 16, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018-yorwoc
February 28, 2018 – Shelved as: black-authors

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