On my bookshelf – On Beauty

Zadie Smith’s books have been on my ‘to read’ list for as long as I can remember, and White Teeth has been sitting on my bookshelf, unread, for almost as long. I picked up On Beauty for pennies a few months ago and read it almost straight away, finding it a lot funnier than I was expecting (sorry, Zadie)!

The blurb says that the story is about two families, which it is, but mostly about one, headed up by a white, male, British university lecturer in the US, his african-american wife, and three teenage/grown up children. He has a long-standing rivalry with a fellow lecturer and the plot develops as this rivalry impacts on their respective families, careers, and relationships.

What struck me the most about Smith’s writing was just how funny and on the mark it was, even when talking about things (i.e life as a mixed race american teen) that I have no experience of, it still had me chuckling and nodding in agreement. I suppose a lot of the teen experience transcends race and country.

There’s also a lot of sadness in this book, from the frustrations that come with thirty years  of marriage, to the struggle in being liked at college, the heartbreak of affairs and pitifulness (is that a word) of the cliched mid-life affair with the much younger woman…But that’s life, innit? Mostly funny, with lots of tears along for the ride, families that sometimes just don’t click but ultimately stick together and make it work because, faaaam’ly.

I want to say I’ll  continue the theme and read White Teeth next but let’s be real, my ‘to read’ pile is..not decreasing. Insert *see no evil monkey emoji* here, damn you charity shops with your 3-for-£1 shelves. As of 1st January though, I am on an official book buying ban, so hopefully that will change!

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