This is part of a series I’m doing on my summer reading. I’ve chosen nine books, with a few ground rules: nothing by straight white men, balance fiction and nonfiction, limit the amount of theology. I’ll write something here about each book…a review? reflection? something else? We’ll figure that out as we go, I guess. You can find all posts from this series here.
Zadie Smith’s nonfiction collection, Changing My Mind, is subtitled “Occasional Essays,” and, according to the forward, was “written without [the author’s] knowledge.” Subject matter ranges from Franz Kafka to her experience of Los Angeles during Oscar weekend. This is all to say that there is nothing in particular which binds these essays, no deliberate through-line. Sure, the pieces are divided into categories (Seeing, Being, Remembering, etc), but lacking a cohesive subject matter, what truly unites the works contained in the book is the voice of its author. Through her wonderful gift for the phrase and a slightly non-standard approach to punctuation (the use of colons in particular is delightful), Smith suffuses these essays with a voice that is at once intelligent and self-conscious.