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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 16, 2022

This special episode gathers the best 'What Are You Reading?' segments from 2022 into a comprehensive summary of book recommendations from Australian and international authors. These well-informed highlights will give you plenty of last-minute gift solutions and ideas for how to spend your Christmas gift cards!

Plus, James and Ashley each declare their book of the year for 2022. 

Books discussed in this episode:

From episode 48, with Shankari Chandran:

  • Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell;
  • Song of the Crocodile by Nardi Simpson (from ep 18);
  • Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie;
  • They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall;
  • Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian translated by Mabel Lee

From episode 49, with Jacinta Dietrich:

  • Certain Prey by John Sandford;
  • Mortal Prey by John Sandford

From episode 50, with Sarah Sentilles:

  • Bewilderment by Richard Powers;
  • A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet
  • The Rabbits by Sophie Overett;
  • This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

From episode 51, with Dinuka McKenzie:

  • Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding;
  • How to End a Story: Diaries 1995-1998 by Helen Garner;
  • Theft by Finding by David Sedaris;
  • A Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris

From episode 55, with Katherine Collette:

  • Found, Wanting by Natasha Sholl;
  • Love Stories by Trent Dalton;
  • After Story by Larissa Behrendt

From episode 56, with Ellis Gunn:

  • The Writing Life by Annie Dillard;
  • The Luminous Solution by Charlotte Wood;
  • How to Be Australian by Ashley Kalagian Blunt;
  • Outline by Rachel Cusk;
  • The Break by Katherena Vermette

From episode 57, with Yumna Kassab:

  • Blindness by Jose Saramago;
  • The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez;
  • Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann;
  • The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez
  • Divorce Is in the Air by Gonzalo Torne;
  • Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au

From episode 56, with Rae Cairns:

  • Autumn by Ali Smith;
  • The Children's Bible by Lydia Millet;
  • Negative Space by BR Yeager;
  • Goat Mountain by David Vann;
  • Black and Blue by Veronica Gorrie

From episode 63, with Bronwyn Birdsall

  • Indelible City by Louisa Lim;
  • The Writer Laid Bare by Lee Kofman;
  • A Kind of Magic by Anna Spargo-Ryan

From episode 65, with Al Campbell

  • The Signal Line by Brendan Colley;
  • Denizen by James McKenzie Watson;
  • The Writer Laid Bare by Lee Kofman (who we spoke to back in ep 4);
  • Curlews on Vulture Street by Darryl Jones

From episode 67, with Darryl Jones:

  • The Writer Laid Bare by Lee Kofman (featured in ep 3);
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez;
  • Auē by Becky Manawatu

James' novel 'Denizen' is out now! Learn more about it and buy your copy here. 

Make 2023 the Year You Write Your Book! Monday 30 January 2023, 7:45-9pm AEDT. Online via Zoom. Tix $9-14.

Launch of Taken with Dinuka McKenzie in conversation with Ashley Sunday 5 February, 4pm. Better Read Than Dead, Newtown (in person). Free, RSVP required.

Get in touch!