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Through discussions and interviews with writers, artists and health professionals, author friends James McKenzie Watson and Ashley Kalagian Blunt explore the big questions: how do books get written? How do people navigate life with chronic illness? And just what are you reading?

Ashley Kalagian Blunt is the author of Dark Mode, an internationally published psychological thriller. Her earlier books are How to Be Australian, a memoir, and My Name Is Revenge, collected fiction and essays. Her writing appears in the Sydney Morning Herald, Overland, Griffith Review, Sydney Review of Books, and more. Ashley is an enthusiastic teacher of writing and creativity. Originally from Canada, she has lived and worked in South Korea, Peru and Mexico. Find her on Twitter and Instagram or visit her website.

James McKenzie Watson is the author of Denizen, which won the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize and was shortlisted in 2023 Ned Kelly Awards for Best Debut. His writing has appeared in The GuardianMeanjinKill Your Darlings and the Newtown Review of Books. He has appeared at events including the Sydney Writers Festival, Newcastle Writers Festival and BAD Crime Sydney. He works as a nurse. Find him on Twitter and Instagram or visit his website.

Dec 7, 2021

The best (and most!) book recommendations of the year! We share the 'What Are You Reading?' highlights from a wide range of our 2021 guests, including Nardi Simpson, David Vann, Kavita Bedford, Luke Stegemann, Ruhi Lee, Joanna Nell, Fiona Murphy, Heather Taylor Johnson, Jacinta Dietrich and – of course – James and Ashley. 

Books discussed in this episode (all 44 of them):

  • Bindi by Kirli Saunders
  • The Road to Woop Woop by Eugen Bacon
  • The End: My Struggle Book 6 by Karl Ove Knausgaard
  • Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
  • Shadow Child by PF Thomése
  • Eight Lives by Susan Hurley
  • The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright
  • Disoriental by Négar Djavadi
  • The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen
  • Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon
  • Deepfakes by Nina Schick
  • The Possessed by Dostoevsky
  • Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marias
  • A Heart So White by Javier Marias
  • The Stranger and short stories by Albert Camus
  • When We Dead Awaken by James Robins
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas
  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
  • Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
  • The Ripping Tree by Nikki Gemmell
  • On Quiet by Nikki Gemmell
  • Beautiful Kate by Newton Thornburg
  • The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  • The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Betty by Tiffany McDaniel
  • The Animals in that Country by Laura Jean McKay
  • Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez
  • A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet
  • Ghost Species by James Bradley
  • The Past by Tessa Hadley
  • The Iceman by John Sandford
  • Storm Prey by John Sandford
  • Love, Clancy by Richard Glover
  • Flesh Wounds by Richard Glover
  • Prosopagnosia by Sonia Hernandez
  • No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer
  • Late Bloomer by Clem Bastow
  • The Rúin by Dervla McTiernan
  • Earthlings by Sayaka Murata
  • Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

What about you – what are you reading? Get in touch and let us know!