This will be a very brief reading update: After finishing Strong Poison (Dorothy L. Sayers) last week as my last read for Halloween Bingo, I took a couple of days off from reading and then read at a very leisurely pace for the rest of the week. I would not call it a slump as such, but I just feel like I wanted a change from mainly plot-driven mysteries.

I only finished one novel this week and it was part of a Goodreads group read: The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen (1934), was my first taste of American pseudo-author Ellery Queen, who seems to have been renowned for writing mysteries with a leaning towards the hard-boiled police drama.
In this story, Ellery Queen, who is also the main character of the series, is called to solve a mystery involving a body found wearing his clothes back to front.
I did not enjoy this book at all, but it did give me pause to examine why I struggled with the book. I added a link to my review below.

The second book I finished was Carol Ann Duffy’s collection Sincerity (2019). This was the last collection of poetry that Duffy published in her role as Poet Laureate, and having finished the collection in only a few sittings, I got the feeling that she wanted to take the opportunity to clear the air about certain subjects. Parting shots, so to speak.
I loved it.
Of course, not all poems spoke to me, not all were accessible to me, but those that were packed a punch.

One of the most powerful ones was her poem A Formal Complaint, which also seems to have resonated with Mike. I hope he won’t mind that I add a link here to his blog post that has a copy of the poem.

Lastly, I also finished Zadie Smith’s Feel Free: Essays (2018), which was my first read of Smith’s work. I really, really enjoyed her essays, but not so much her art criticism. This collection includes both.
The essays included in this collection were written a few years ago and now feel curiously dated in places, which is more of a sign of the speed at which the world around us changes than a sign that there is a lack of applicability in Smith’s writing.

I particularly enjoyed the essay about Justin Bieber and philosopher Martin Buber (the title of the essay is “Meet Justin Bieber!”), in which she explores the meaning of “meetings” and the way that identity is both shaped and reflected in meeting others.
This was not the only essay I enjoyed, tho. There are so, so many of them that I finished the book this morning (I started it just before Halloween Bingo) with a slight regret that I have left it so long to pick up anything by Smith.
I definitely want to read more by her.

“We were free! In memory, freedom is obvious. In the present moment it’s harder to appreciate, or recognize as a form of responsibility.”

from the essay “The Shadow of Ideas”

Other reviews posted this week:
Ellery Queen: The Chinese Orange Mystery