HelloKatieO’s #CBR5 Review #16: On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith’s On Beauty was fascinating because it read like a classic novel, except modern. The story focuses on the Belsey family, an interracial family living in a small town centered around a liberal arts college just outside of Boston. Howard, the white, hyper intellectual, almost unfeeling patriarch married his intelligent, political, passionate African American wife Kiki and gave birth to three children, struggling to find their place in the word. The story spirals out to include the Kipps, the family of Howard’s academic rival. As the Belsey increasingly interact with the Kipps, they slowly fall to pieces. Watching them crumble really highlights the pressures and constructs placed on individuals by gender, race and intelligence.

It’s modern because it acknowledges technology exists. Cell phones. Emails. Googling. It’s surprisingly rare to see a novel that squarely fits into the literature category acknowledge that technology is pervasive in our lives. And that it shapes our interactions. It wasn’t fully integrated into the novel, not at all. But it was there, and it struct me as notable because I so rarely read a modern novel that receives this type of literary attention that acknowledges that times have changed.


Popcultureboy’s #CBR5 Review #12: Kind of Cruel by Sophie Hannah



How can saying one sentence of five words while under hypnosis lead to you being arrested for a murder of someone you didn’t even know? To fully understand how, you’ll need to read this dark thriller. To find out what I thought, read my review here

TheGreatUnstainer’s #CBR5 Review #01: Books v Cigarettes by George Orwell

Of all the early 20th Century writers, George Orwell continues to be an intriguing character.  Despite being a socialist, his two most famous books, Animal Farm and 1984, caused him to become the darling of the modern libertarian, of the tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theorist, and of the perpetual adolescent of the Internet.

But this popular caricature of Orwell as the friend to the neo-con is difficult to reconcile with the Orwell who emerges from his essays.  Books v Cigarettes — a collection of seven essays published as part of Penguin’s Great Ideas series — presents some of Orwells musings on society, particularly his relationship with the intelligentsia.  The collection paints a picture of an Orwell who is at once both a self-conscious outsider — almost desperate to be acknowledged as a contrary, free, and independent thinker — and a painfully self-conscious product of middle class England.

Continue reading