Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

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 12, 2023

Our most popular episode of the year is back! James has gathered the best 'What Are You Reading?' segments from 2023 into a comprehensive summary of book recommendations from our guests.  

We discuss a huge variety of books, including thriller, mystery, memoir, rom com, literature, essays, poetry, nonfiction, plays and audiobooks. We also delve into reading habits. Do you read several books at a time, or restrict yourself to one? Do you finish most books you pick up, or allow yourself to quit? And so much more. 

This episode features Hilton Koppe, Sanchana Venkatesh, Lee Kofman, Anna Spargo-Ryan, Karina May, Hannah Bent, Holden Sheppard, Hayley Scrivenor, Danielle Binks, Julie Janson, Mark Brandi, Indira Naidoo, Amy Lovat, Jonathon Shannon, Ali Thomas, Jacinta Dietrich, and Annette Higgs. 

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence, and Grief by Victoria Chang;
  • The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill; 
  • Lost Connections by Johann Hari;
  • Homesickness by Janine Mikosza;
  • The Fire and the Rose by Robyn Cadwallader;
  • Turning Points in Medieval History by Dorsey Armstrong;
  • Crying in H Mary by Michelle Zauner;
  • Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata;
  • Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason;
  • Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner;
  • Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom;
  • The Wych Elm by Tana French;
  • In the Woods by Tana French;
  • The Others by Mark Brandi;
  • Stolen Focus by Johann Hari;
  • Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka;
  • Crushing by Genevieve Novak;
  • No Hard Feelings by Genevieve Novak;
  • The Shot by Naima Brown;
  • The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka;
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy;
  • The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy;
  • Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy;
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho;
  • Ghost Music by An Yu;
  • Eta Draconis by Brendan Ritchie;
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson;
  • The Long Knives by Irvine Welsh;
  • We Could Be Something by Will Kostakis;
  • Windhall by Ava Barry;
  • The Sun Walks Down by Fiona McFarlane;
  • Limberlost by Robbie Arnott;
  • Benevolence by Julie Janson;
  • Compassion by Julie Janson;
  • Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami;
  • The People of the River by Grace Karskens;
  • Nardi Simpson (from ep 18);
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte;
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky;
  • Praiseworthy by Alexis Wright;
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka;
  • Mistakes and Other Lovers by Amy Lovat;
  • Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier;
  • Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier;
  • A Country of Eternal Light by Paul Dalgarno;
  • Brilliant Lies by David Williamson;
  • Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller;
  • Summer of the Seventeenth Doll by Ray Lawler;
  • A Swim in the Pond in the Road by George Saunders;
  • Lee Kofman (from ep 76);
  • Kate Mildenhall (from ep 13);
  • Sarah Sentilles (from ep 50);
  • From Bhutan to Blacktown by Om Dhungel;
  • Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver;
  • Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
  • Stolen Focus by Johann Hari;
  • Yellowface by Rebecca Kuang;     
  • Dress Rehearsals by Madison Godfrey;
  • Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey;
  • Lucy Clarke;
  • Echolalia by Briohny Doyle;
  • Bunny by SE Tolsen;
  • On a Bright Hillside in Paradise by Annette Higgs;
  • When One of Us Hurts by Monica Vuu;
  • Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld;
  • A Mile Down by David Vann;
  • A Burglar's Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh;
  • The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger;
  • The Reader by Bernard Schlink;
  • The Tilt by Chris Hammer;
  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes;
  • The Joy Thief by Penny Moodie;
  • We Didn't Think It Through by Gary Lonesborough;
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo;
  • Obsession by Nicole Madigan 
Learn more about Ashley's psychological thriller Dark Mode and get your copy here or from your local bookshop
Learn more about James' award-winning novel Denizen and get your copy here or from your local bookshop.
Upcoming events 
Get in touch!