I usually don't like reading fiction. Fiction seems so at odds with my brain that they are almost incompatible. I do not doubt the insights and marvels of great novels, but reading them requires a suspension of disbelief that I actively resist. As further evidence of my firm realism, I have the least tolerance for fantasy, a genre which has made me shake my head at friends since I was eight years old.
Over the last year or so I have come to realise that the only way to make reading worth my while is to focus on non-fiction. Luckily, I am already interested in philosophy and science, so that I usually don't get aggravated at these books. Only sometimes do I envy those who can entirely escape into the world of a book; I at least read findings of the one I inhabit.
But I am happy to report that hope has returned to me! In the form of Swing Time, Zadie Smith has again made me believe in the value of fiction. Her books exist somewhere in the valley between fiction and non-fiction, though in my mind they firmly hold on to the non-fiction cliff. I usually hold a clear deterministic view of the world, but the possibility that in an alternative reality, my sixteen-year-old self may not have discovered NW still gives me the shivers. I am quite sure that Zadie Smith has changed my view of the world in a significant way.
I don't feel equipped to describe her writing, but this essay will have been successful if it convinces one more person to buy a Zadie Smith book. Anyway, if I were my reader, I would want this recommendation as spoiler-free as it is. Enjoy!