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Intimations
Intimations: Six Essays | Zadie Smith
65 posts | 59 read | 35 to read
Deeply personal and powerfully moving, a short and timely series of reflective essays by one of the most clear-sighted and essential writers of our time Written during the early months of lockdown, Intimations explores ideas and questions prompted by an unprecedented situation. What does it mean to submit to a new reality--or to resist it? How do we compare relative sufferings? What is the relationship between time and work? In our isolation, what do other people mean to us? How do we think about them? What is the ratio of contempt to compassion in a crisis? When an unfamiliar world arrives, what does it reveal about the world that came before it? Suffused with a profound intimacy and tenderness in response to these extraordinary times, Intimations is a slim, suggestive volume with a wide scope, in which Zadie Smith clears a generous space for thought, open enough for each reader to reflect on what has happened--and what should come next. The author will donate her royalties from the sale of Intimations to charity.
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Sydneypaige
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This is my first introduction into Zadie Smith and the lore of the writing did not show up for me here. I think Zadie told the story of 2020 well, with lockdown experiences and racism on a global stage. It‘s maybe a bit difficult for me to read in 2022 because the lessons of community and love dissipated and the real work of antiracism didn‘t start. I‘m so glad art exists from 2020 though, for us as humanity to go back to.

8 likes1 stack add
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BekaReid
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I've found myself largely draw to rereading books this month. Seren and I spent some time with Zadie Smith's Intimations this evening.

LiteraryinLawrence Seren must be very talented to read upside down! 10mo
mhillis So cute!! 10mo
14 likes2 comments
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SaunteringVaguelyDownwards
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Pickpick

Got my first introduction to Zadie Smith in this curriculum review project! Not a bad choice for a contemporary writer, and I can see Intimations generating a lot of useful conversation about pandemic experiences and their wider implications.

SaunteringVaguelyDownwards Was less enthused about Grand Union, though I'm less of a short story reader in general unless the stories feel cohesive to me, which many of these didn't. The exception is "Two Men Walk Into a Village," which I thought was very powerful and am considering adding to my own Intro to Literature course this spring. 11mo
9 likes1 comment
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arkei
Pickpick

★★★★
On race & privilege, on parenting & fertility, on writing & purpose, on lockdown & livelihood—it's a joy to have found a book that resonates the feelings & ideas that sparked, flickered, & ignited during a panic-stricken year. It may not be the best book that readers hoped it to be—one that opines & acts on every silent struggle—but it is one resounding voice, evidently lacking in relatable courses of action.

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Esin
Pickpick

Freeing and heartbreaking, a love (and live) letter

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flybluejay
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Mehso-so

Finished yesterday. Smith is an escapee of New York during the pandemic. Her essays are very much of-the-moment, a snapshot of the early days of quarantine in a very particular part of the world. She‘s a very strong writer, and clearly very reflective. Yet her words feel empty at some level, and it‘s hard to describe why. Maybe it‘s simply because time has passed when she wrote and what is happening now.

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Caryl
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Pickpick

I read this collection of essays thanks to both #AuthorAMonth and #BookSpinBINGO. Another author I‘ve been meaning to read for a long time! These essays are timely and insightful. I‘m tempted to buy a copy for myself. Will be interesting to read again in five or ten years, remembering this time. I definitely need to read one of Zadie Smith‘s novels now, and I can look at all of the #AAMZS posts for your recs!

This was my #DoubleSpin pick. 😊

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 2y
26 likes1 comment
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Cinfhen
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Mehso-so

Was this brilliant, no, I don‘t think so. Was it timely and worth the 50 minutes of reading time? sure.
But now I‘m sure ZS is not the author for me.
#AAMZS @Soubhiville
I read 2 books this month by ZS and both were just ok for me 🤷🏼‍♀️

Soubhiville Unfortunately I think most readers agreed with you, although I did see a few thumbs up for her books. 2y
Cinfhen Yeah, I had high hopes @Soubhiville but I just couldn‘t get behind her writing 😩 2y
Cinfhen I‘m looking forward to Daphne Du Maurier @Soubhiville 2y
See All 8 Comments
Soubhiville 😊 me too! I feel like I‘m one of the only folks on Litsy who hasn‘t read her before! 2y
MaGoose I have this ZS book, but haven't read it yet. Thanks for the heads up. 2y
Bookzombie @Cinfhen I feel the same way about ZS. I gave this one a pick but it was really because I thought the Contempt as a Virus essay was so good. 2y
Cinfhen It‘s gotten some glowing reviews @MaGoose but like @Bookzombie said it was only THAT one essay that was exceptional - the rest were just ok and it is VERY SHORT. I read it on my kindle so I‘m not sure how many pages it was but definitely less than 100. 2y
TrishB I don‘t think she‘s for me either! 2y
88 likes8 comments
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Carolyn11215
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#authoramonth2021 A short book of essays written during the pandemic. Most mention/touch on pandemic in some way but only one is really centered around the pandemic.

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Butterfinger
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Pickpick

This was brilliant. Smith's thoughts on race and pandemic made me think. Very powerful. Contempt as a virus is a true analogy. Very evocative.

#AuthorAMonth @Soubhiville

#Nonfiction2021 @Riveted_Reader_Melissa -something by a person of color

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OutAndAbout
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Panpan

👍“Talking to yourself can be useful and writing means being overheard.“
“Experience has no chapter headings or paragraph breaks or ellipses in which to catch your breath....it just keeps coming at you.“

👎Essays from a NY academic bestselling author, about 2020. Read more like ramblings from someone I just couldn't relate to, someone with a lack of curiosity about other people which I found off-putting and strange for an author.

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Bookzombie
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Pickpick

Overall, I think this short essay collection is good. There is a lot to think about throughout the book, but I found the essay “Postscript: Contempt as a Virus” to be the most powerful and thought-provoking. I recommend picking this up even if you only read that one essay. The author‘s audio narration is excellent. #AAMSmith #AAM #AuthorAMonth #BookspinBingo

CarolynM I agree with you about Postscript. Powerful stuff. 2y
Cinfhen I forgot to add this to my #weeklyForecast 🤦🏼‍♀️ 2y
Bookzombie @CarolynM I was just telling my husband about it. 🙂 2y
Bookzombie @Cinfhen It‘s okay. It‘s a quick read/listen. 🙂 2y
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Skygoddess1
Pickpick

While a short essay collection, I find that I enjoyed her nonfiction essay collection more than I do her fiction pieces. I may have finally found some Zadie Smith that I actually enjoy. #AuthorAMonth #BookSpin #BookSpinBingo

Soubhiville I‘ve seen a few people express that same sentiment. 🙂 2y
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vlwelser
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Pickpick

I thought this was interesting. She is obviously an amazing writer. But the thing that I found most interesting was her perspective as a Londoner that had been living in NYC for 10 years. I know this author isn't for everyone but she remains one of my favorites.

#AuthorAMonth with @Soubhiville

#BookSpinBingo square 6
@TheAromaofBooks

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 2y
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Christine
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Pickpick

I‘ve been in a mini reading slump and figured, as I usually do, that I needed something that didn‘t involve much thinking to get out of it. Wrong! This made me think a lot and worked perfectly. And now I‘ve finally read my first Zadie Smith book! More will follow, as I was really into her voice. I‘d read another collection of her pandemic musings in a heartbeat (loved how she in one essay called it “the global humbling”). #AuthorAMonth

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dariazeoli
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Pickpick

This was my second attempt at Smith, and while I liked this more than Swing Time, I feel like it was just fine. A bit better than so-so. Maybe Smith just isn‘t for me?

I did enjoy her narration!

#AuthorAMonth

Librariana I have this one on my Goodreads TBR as I've never read anything by Smith. Would you say this is a good introduction? 2y
dariazeoli @Librariana I‘m not sure I have a good answer having read one novel and one collection of essays. But this one is under 100 pages, so it‘s worth the investment to see if you like her writing! 2y
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slategreyskies
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On sale today on Kindle in case anyone wants to read this for #authoramonth. @Soubhiville :)

See All 11 Comments
Bklover Thanks Soubhi! 2y
Lcsmcat Oooh, thanks for sharing! 2y
Eggs Thank you ❣️ 2y
StellarDoc I *just* bought the print copy! 😆 2y
Cinfhen I just bought this a few weeks ago for $5.99 😩😩😩 2y
LibrarianRyan 👍🏻 2y
Andrew65 Thanks for the tag. 😊 2y
58 likes11 comments
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Eggs
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Mehso-so

Smith has some interesting self-reflections, and clever word/phrase combinations but not much that is truly insightful...nothing that is truly illuminating or memorable. It was meh
#bookspinbingo @TheAromaofBooks
#authoramonth2021 @Soubhiville

Cinfhen Uh oh! Im about to start this one later today 😝 2y
Vansa I find Zadie Smith very overrated! I keep reading all.her books, just to understand the hype, and have still not got it! 2y
Eggs @Cinfhen don‘t worry-it might really speak to you 💁🏼‍♀️ 2y
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Eggs @Vansa thanks for your input- I‘m trying this one next 2y
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 2y
51 likes6 comments
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Deblovestoread
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February‘s #Bookspin list. Those not read in January moved to February. Maybe this will be their month 🤷🏻‍♀️

TheAromaofBooks Yay!!! 2y
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CarolynM
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Pickpick

Lots to think about in this slim volume of short essays. I particularly enjoyed Suffering Like Mel Gibson and Contempt as a Virus. Thank you again, Barbara, for sending me this book.
#BookspinBingo

Linsy Excellent collection!!! 2y
BarbaraBB I‘m glad you liked it. I haven‘t read it but I love those titles you mentioned 🤍 2y
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 2y
Cathythoughts Sounds great ! Stacking 2y
Ruthiella I‘ve never tried Smith‘s essays! I should. My experience with her fiction has been hit and miss. 2y
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AnneCecilie
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Pickpick

I loved this short essay collection from Smith.

Now I need to read her other essay collections.

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AnneCecilie
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#BookReport

Finished:
📚 Don‘t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
📚 The tagged essay collection
📚 Under the Udala Trees #NewYearWhoDis

In progress:
📚 Anne of the Island #KindredSpiritsBuddyRead
📚 The Italian #ItalianBuddyRead

Cinfhen Is this your first #NewYearWhoDis read?? 2y
AnneCecilie @Cinfhen This year, yes. 2y
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Well-ReadNeck
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Pickpick

Beautiful, poetic essays about life during the pandemic. My favorite piece was “Contempt as a Virus” which ties the social justice movement and pandemic together.

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Angitron
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Pickpick

A quick read - six essays reflecting on the pandemic. Unbelievably, this was my first Smith read! I really loved the way she was able to dissect the strangeness of this time so gracefully. My favorite essays - a piece about racism as a virus, and the other was a list of things she‘s learned from various people in her circle. I‘ll definitely be reading more by her.

Blaire Her essays are so good! I read this on New Year‘s Eve and loved it. 2y
WomanistBibliophile I prefer her nonfiction far more than her novels! 2y
Angitron @WomanistBibliophile That‘s interesting! I‘ve always heard such good things about her novels but have to admit the synopses never quite grabbed me, so I never got around to reading them. 2y
Angitron @Blaire That‘s a perfect time to have read this! It really did a beautiful job of summing up some of the larger themes of 2020 and the pandemic. 2y
Blaire @Angitron @WomanistBibliophile I tend to agree. Her essay on joy and parenting is so good. I‘ve read two of her novels and liked them but her essays I find myself underlining and remembering far longer. 2y
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Blaire
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This quote captured parenting in a pandemic for me. Trying to find some quiet. Another quote that hit me “the single human thinks I have never known such loneliness. The married human, in the country place with partner and children, dreams of isolation within isolation.”

BiblioLitten 💙 2y
Magpiegem Yup 😭 2y
50 likes2 comments
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Blaire
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Pickpick

The perfect book to end 2020 with - beautiful essays about the pandemic, racism, humanity, and community.

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Nitpickyabouttrains
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Pickpick

This book felt very timely. Non fiction written during quarantine.

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TrishB
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I‘m not a big fan, but this seems like one I could read for #authoramonth

arlenefinnigan It's really good, very readable. 2y
See All 20 Comments
LauraBeth I picked this up yesterday since it was on sale. I kept hearing about it from the Bookriot podcast. 2y
Andrew65 Thanks for this @TrishB and @Soubhiville 2y
TrishB @arlenefinnigan your review and @MicheleinPhilly persuaded me! 2y
TrishB @LauraBeth it‘s definitely worth a sale price 👍🏻 2y
Chrissyreadit Where is it on sale? 2y
Cinfhen Oh, good to know!!! 2y
Cinfhen Thanks @Soubhiville going to check it out/ thanks @TrishB 2y
Soubhiville Oh @Chrissyreadit , I‘m not sure... 2y
Deblovestoread @Chrissyreadit It is currently $4.99 on Kindle 2y
Bklover Thanks Soubhi! I‘ll go check it out. @Soubhiville 👍👍 (edited) 2y
Bklover And thanks for the post @TrishB !!😁 2y
eraderneely I don‘t like her novels that much, but I think she‘s an excellent essayist 2y
TrishB @eraderneely I‘ll give the essays a go as I‘m not a fan of the novels either 👍🏻 2y
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DyAnne
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Yes, this slim book of short essays is about the pandemic, but also about much more.

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starrdom
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Mehso-so

This short collection of pandemic-era essays was my introduction to Zadie Smith and probably wasn‘t the best place to start. Even as she mocked her own pretentiousness during one essay, there was still a cold feeling to the writing and almost a lack of understanding of the situations of people around her. I was expecting to land at a higher level of consciousness by the end and see things through a new lens but that didn‘t happen for me.

AmyG Paula, did you recieve my Creepy Christmas box? Tracking says it was delivered. 2y
starrdom Yes @AmyG I did! Was going to post about it today. It was HEAVY and I‘m dying to open it 😸 (edited) 2y
AmyG Thank you for letting me know. One less swap to worry about! 🤣 2y
merelybookish On Beauty is her masterpiece. Or earlier essay collections are worth checking out. 2y
starrdom Thanks @merelybookish I will keep that one in mind when I give her another shot! 2y
32 likes5 comments
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derr.liz
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"Do you feel ever more distant from the world? Or has the world, in its new extremity, finally come to you?"

For me, the pandemic has brought out both sentiments. Zadie Smith has captured the experience impeccably. This may be my favorite read of 2020.

#quarantinereads

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Kathrin
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Mehso-so

This was my last dirch effort to connect to Zadie Smith's writing and once again I just don't get it.

This is not a bad collection, it just feels so very uneven to me.

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BekaReid
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Pickpick

Such poignant, reflective writing! Needed this now.

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BekaReid
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Trying to focus on the things I can control today and took advantage of the gorgeous weather for an afternoon walk and some time with Zadie Smith's Intimations before getting back to work.

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SkeletonKey
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Currently reading Intimations, a short book of essays written mostly during quarantine, I think. As observant and poignant as always.

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eraderneely
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October #Bookreport
Leave the World Behind upset me more than any book in a long time. But good? Maybe?
Thursday Murder Club and Dani Brown both have me a good laugh though.
Really looking forward to Summerwater!

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BekaReid
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The Zadie Smith kick continues. I'm loving her writing especially in these essays.

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BekaReid
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Seren must inspect all new books! Can't resist posting her as it's apparently national cat day (as if I need an excuse to post a Seren picture!) I've been reading a lot of Zadie Smith recently and am really looking forward to Intimations.

Leftcoastzen 😻 2y
rubyslippersreads 😻😻😻 2y
14 likes2 comments
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mrsthilkey
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Wow, it's my 4 year Litsyversary. 😁 That's fun to know. 🎉🎈

#litsyversary

readordierachel 🎉🎉🎉 2y
14 likes1 comment
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arlenefinnigan
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Pickpick

This is a great read and a vivid, heartfelt reflection on the extraordinary times we're living in. They'll make kids and students read this on their history courses in the future. I thought 'Postscript: Contempt As A Virus' in particular was absolutely excellent and all the better for being so angry.

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MicheleinPhilly
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Pickpick

I adore Zadie Smith and while I have a slight tendency to hoard some of her titles unread for fear that I‘ll run out, I knew that I wanted to engage with this sooner rather than later. Despite it being firmly “of the moment” (and let‘s face it, this moment is a shitshow), I found this oddly soothing. It was very quiet and contemplative. I most enjoyed the snapshots of her neighbors and found myself wondering how they‘ve fared through this.

Megabooks Great review 👍🏻 2y
TrishB Agree with @Megabooks lovely review 2y
ValerieAndBooks Swing Time has stayed in my TBR for this very same reason. She doesn‘t have enough books! I‘ll have to check this one out. 2y
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arlenefinnigan
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Next up

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catiewithac
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Pickpick

This didn‘t grab me but there are some interesting thoughts. Nothing very deep, but it‘s relevant for right now.

Buechersuechtling Years ago I tried “London NW”but bailed quickly, the story and her style of writing somehow didn‘t grab me. But since then I always have a tiny feeling of guilt because I feel like she is an author one “should” read. So, what do you think, is this one suitable for a restart❓ 2y
catiewithac @Buechersuechtling Definitely a good restart. It‘s only 100 pages!!! 2y
Buechersuechtling Oh that‘s perfect. 🤩 Thanks for your advice. 😁 2y
54 likes3 comments
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Riveted_Reader_Melissa
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Pickpick

I have no idea of this tiny little book of essays will make any sense in whatever future the future holds, they definitely wouldn‘t in the past, but 2020 is an odd & “special” year. The too much and not enough of isolating in place, the parts of our life we took for granted or thought unimportant that are suddenly essential, and the crazy turns the world has taken since then... it‘s all here in 6 essays, ruminating on this unique time and place.

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Riveted_Reader_Melissa
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Riveted_Reader_Melissa
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Augustdana
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Really feeling these essays right now. I‘m also happy to report that with my last book, Summer, I finished my 2020 reading challenge ???? 32 books this year!!

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ReadingRachael
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Pickpick

Enjoyed this short collection of reflections on life, change, uncertainty, and our common humanity. The essays are very current as they reflect on how our lives have changed and perhaps how we see the world has changed since the onset of Covid-19. I especially liked the essays “Suffering Like Mel Gibson” and “Screengrabs.”

Sparklemn Mel Gibson was my favorite essay as well. 2y
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conorpunchbook
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Sometimes when I finish a book I kiss it and say thank you. On finishing Zadie Smith‘s Intimations this morning I hugged it to my chest and had a stupid little middle-aged cry sigh

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akaGingerK
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Pickpick

I feel like I‘m constantly overwhelmed by this year: the ongoing pandemic, the racial reckoning w/in the US that some are still trying to ignore, the stories of corruption and the willful breaking of any sort of social contract by leaders. I sometimes can‘t read, much less write. Somehow, facing NYC‘s shutdown, Zadie Smith found ways to put together word after word into beautiful essays, mostly-but not entirely- about this strange, heavy spring.