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James and Ashley are staying at home. Partly because there’s a pandemic, partly because they’re writers, and partly because of their health. Through discussions and interviews, they explore the big questions: how do books get written? How do people live with chronic illness? And just what ARE you reading?

Ashley Kalagian Blunt is author of two books, How to Be Australian, a memoir, and My Name Is Revenge, a thriller novella and collected essays. My Name is Revenge was a finalist in the 2018 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Woollahra Digital Literary Awards. Her writing appears in Griffith Review, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Big Issue, Westerly, Kill Your Darlings and more. She lives and works in Sydney, NSW. Find her on Twitter and Instagram or visit her website.

James McKenzie Watson won the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize for his novel Denizen, which also received a 2021 Varuna Residential Fellowship and 2021 KSP Fellowship, and was highly commended for the 2020 Writing NSW Varuna Fellowships. His short fiction has been recognised in competitions including the International InkTears Flash Fiction Contest and the Grieve Writing Competition, and featured in publications such as Baby Teeth Journal and Brave Voices Magazine. He works as a nurse in regional NSW. Find him on Twitter and Instagram or visit his website.

Ashley Kalagian Blunt and James McKenzie Watson

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!