Book Reviews of On Beauty

On Beauty
On Beauty
Author: Zadie Smith
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ISBN-13: 9780143037743
ISBN-10: 0143037749
Publication Date: 8/29/2006
Pages: 464
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.

3.2 stars, based on 181 ratings
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

34 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed On Beauty on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
Hands down ,the best book I read all year. Really, this book captures what it is to be human, and how it is that we interact with other people. Oh man, so damn good. READ IT!!!
reviewed On Beauty on + 44 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Although not as humourous as White Teeth, I found this to be an interesting look at a period of life of two intertwined families. It is quite lengthy, but I read it in a few evenings. It's one of those books that is truthful enough to make you squirm in your seats as you watch the characters get caught in their mistakes and make amends.
reviewed On Beauty on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This book was an intense, all-nighter read. Alternately had me squirming in dismay for the hapless characters and giggling at their foibles, while thinking seriously about the issues raised. You can skim along and enjoy or dig deeper. Great, great read.
reviewed On Beauty on + 42 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
A story of a family in a small college town near Boston, this book has engaging characters and addresses so many themes: love and marriage, infidelity, strong friendships, race, family struggles...all wrapped in the context of a college town where everyone knows everyone else. I thoroughly enjoyed this book--much more than I expected.
reviewed On Beauty on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Our book club had a lot of fun with this book. So many characters that each have their own direction in life. Zadie Smith is one of my favorite authors.
reviewed On Beauty on + 211 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is a wonderful and unusual story about family, academia, love, race, and generations. It's one of the best books I read in 2008! It gave an interesting view of both a bi-racial family and working in academia.
reviewed On Beauty on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
About a woman who loved blindly. Good book.
reviewed On Beauty on + 83 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
excellent book
reviewed On Beauty on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The Belsey family home is author, Zadie Smith's, mixing bowl for questions about race, gender, socio-economic status, intelligence, values, etc. where every member represents a different recipe. I enjoy the topics Smith explores. However, I found parts of the book to be bland and certain characters to be too flat or underdeveloped.

On Beauty would be a great book to read in a book club or group because it asks questions that merit discussion. I will not re-read it on my own, though.
reviewed On Beauty on + 410 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Zadie Smith lives up to the high standards which she established in her first novel "White Teeth". This is a wonderful novel which takes place in a college town otside of Boston. It delves into issues of class and race with gusto and honesty--and definitely humor. I loved it.
reviewed On Beauty on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Brilliant! I bought this book for an english lit class I was going to take 3 years ago, but never did. I was bored a few days ago and just picked it up and started reading. I havent been able to put it down! It is 443 pages, but you wish it was longer. Many times while reading I saw myself EXACTLY in the characters. Many times while reading I laughed out loud. Just amazing!
reviewed On Beauty on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The character development is superb. These are real people in the real world. We are introduced to the tedious white professor trying to get tenure, his wife and their three bi-racial children who range from nerd to wanna be street hustler, and all the multi-faceted characters in their lives. If you like to see the inner workings of the characters minds and how discordant their thoughts are with the reality of a situation, you will love this book.
reviewed On Beauty on + 52 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Well this may be on the 2001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List but that doesn't mean you'll like it! Read 100+ pages and never could get into it. Gave up because I've still got at least 800 more books on this list to read.
reviewed On Beauty on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Not as good as her debut, but still a good read. Well crafted characters & dialogue
reviewed On Beauty on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I read this book for a Eng Lit assignment and from the very start of the book I was like WOW! Not the usual piece of literature I'm used to reading for school. But I have to say even though some parts of the book made me uneasy overall this book was very interesting and informative. What I enjoyed most is how realistic the characters where and the plot itself. Not every piece of fiction needs to be straight-laced and neat & tidily wrapped in a pink box. The intellectual sparing between the characters where quite intriguing.
reviewed On Beauty on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is an award-winning book, but I don't know that I got it. :) It is the story of an academic family in New England and how they all handle the tension caused by infidelity. It is interesting, but it did not move me all that much.
reviewed On Beauty on
I really enjoyed this made me laugh outloud and it had some very interesting twists.
reviewed On Beauty on + 4 more book reviews
This book by author Zadie Smith is listed in "1001 Books to Read Before You Die".
reviewed On Beauty on + 25 more book reviews
Rich, involving book. Great for long rides and walks.
reviewed On Beauty on
Very well written.
reviewed On Beauty on
An interesting opportunity to see inside the walls of academia and consider where the multivarious forms of beauty lie.
reviewed On Beauty on + 16 more book reviews
This was a good read, it wasn't something I would traditionally pick out, but I read it for my book club and enjoyed it.
reviewed On Beauty on + 11 more book reviews
An intense satire of the ivory tower of academia in a politically correct time. Very well written and incomfortable story of families and one's place within them.
reviewed On Beauty on + 7 more book reviews
The author's hommage to EM Forster, this is an absorbing work of fiction that confronts issues of race, class and privilege with humor and satire.
reviewed On Beauty on
Very good!
reviewed On Beauty on + 17 more book reviews
A writer to watch! Very interesting account of 2 academic families; very realistic portrayal, particularly of the younger members thoughts and plans.
reviewed On Beauty on + 84 more book reviews
On Beauty is a story about the failure of a family, and about beauty and intellectual pride. Howard Belsey is a 56 year old caucasian Brit; he used his intellect to escape a blue collar childhood via a career in academia. Wife Kiki is African American from Florida; she is a nurse, not an intellectual, although she is profound and smart. The three Belsey children, Jerome Zora and Levi, vary in their degrees of intellectuality. This book kind of rams intellectivity in the reader's face a lot.

Prof. Howard Belsey is engaged in a trans-Atlantic academic war with Prof. Monty Kipps in England. Then the Kipps family moves to America, to the same Massachusetts neighborhood and college as the Belseys. With the exception of Mrs. Kipps, everybody in this book demonstrates a lot of ugliness. I get that this is satirical, but I found it a bit of a slog.
reviewed On Beauty on + 5 more book reviews
I became hooked on Zadie Smith with her first book, 'White Teeth'.
None of her subsequent books has bowled me over, but this one does have some evidence of her amazing ability to bring to life rich, vibrant characters. It is an enjoyable read, and one that does make you reflect upon life, love and how things are never as they seem to appear.
reviewed On Beauty on + 15 more book reviews
My book club read this book. At times I really enjoyed it, and at other times I thought it was just so/so. I really loved the central female character but found the central male character pretty unsympathetic. We had some great discussion at the meeting.
reviewed On Beauty on + 51 more book reviews
It took me a while to catch on to the rhythm of this author's narrative. She speaks with so many voices, and so eloquently. I found myself changing loyalties to the characters, withdrawing sympathy only to give it to another. This book is true and honest and beautiful... and offers many samples of what beauty is and can be. It bears a second read!
reviewed On Beauty on + 109 more book reviews
this book prompted one of the best discussions ever on my online book group!
reviewed On Beauty on + 3 more book reviews
Winner of the 2006 Orange Prize. Great book!
reviewed On Beauty on + 91 more book reviews
Smith is showing up on every "hot new writers" list.
reviewed On Beauty on + 21 more book reviews
"On Beauty" by Zadie Smith
Amazing story. As soon as I finished I wanted to read it all over again.
Complex. Emotionally rich. Each character is memorable. Multi-cultural.
I would rate it as a top 10 novel, and the best I read this year.