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What have you been #reading ?

By 13/04/2018reading

Reading books and short stories ParamoReading novels and short stories has been my salvation for as long as I can remember. In the past few months, I’ve struggled with travel and other family issues, and reading has once again come to the rescue.

These novels and short stories have been on my bedside table: I’ve dipped into one or the other as time and health permitted, and they have, as always, taken me away from my self, my problems, and made me care for people who do not exist.

  1. Pedro Paramo’: Jean Rulfo: Surrealism at its best. Vivid, lifelike characters that populate a story given to us in fits and starts, and dizzying POV shifts between the present and the past, the alive and the dead, the major characters and the minor.Nightmarish in parts, stunningly beautiful at others, this book will hold up to repeated readings.
  2. Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingslover: Smashing writing and characters, especially the child at the heart of it all. Some of the lines from the book still resonate.Reading books and short stories Erofeyev
  3. The Pool in the Desert by Sarah Jeannette Duncan: Gorgeous short stories, and excellent observations of the colonial life in India. The language is of the early 190s, when it was written, and the author has a fascinating life story.
  4. Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna: an epic tale with some brilliant descriptions of the Indian town of Coorg, in colonial India.reading novels and short stories
  5. How to be both: Ali Smith: A stunning novel. I took time to read it, re-reading bits and pieces, but if you love novels that take you away from yourself and make you think, you can’t miss this one.The novel is in two voices in two parts, both equally compelling and incredibly clever in different ways. Either part could come before or after the other, and that’s the whole point. I’m a Smith fan, but this was one of her best, really. Definitely recommended.
  6. Life with an Idiot by Victor Erofeyev: This is a cruel, brilliant, unputdownable collection full of the ugliest and the best of humanity, sparkling sentences, and stories that open up a whole new world. The title story is a difficult, but absolutely worthwhile read.Reading books and short stories Erofeyev
  7. Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas : A fast, pacy romance, because every once in a while I need me some light, not-very-stressful reading.

Of course, I’m also reading fabulous short stories for the Forge Literary Magazine  where I’m the editor of the month. Please spread the word to any writers in your life who write short stories, flash fiction, and essays or creative non-fiction.

What novels and short stories are you reading? Would you recommend a book you read this year? Drop me the title in the comments, and I’ll look it up!

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • subroto says:

    I find now that while I still love to read, I have no recollection of what I read last week. However if I was to be given the name of a book, I have total recall about that book. Strange! One of my new favourite authors is Claire Fuller and her two stunning novels ‘Our Endless Numbered Days’ & ‘Swimming Lessons’. I do have to say I was disappointed by his Salmaness’ new work ‘The Golden House’. At the moment I’ve had a productive visit to the library and have acquired a Murakami, a Yann Martel and an Ali Smith that I will be reading soon.

  • I recently finished *Jamaica Inn*, I’m reading *Lonesome Dove* now, and I’ll read *Stranger in a Strange Land* next.

  • Alison Juste says:

    I finished Behind her Eyes recently, and although I’d consider it a “not usually my type” I read it at my friend’s recommendation and loved the twist ending! Another one recommended was A Study in Scarlet Women, which was great! I also want to read the sequels…
    And I’ve just started Gone Girl, because– free book, and I’m behind the times anyhow. ^^;

  • M.T. Bass says:

    Being Written by William Conescu was a fun read.

  • Lisa Southard says:

    How to be both is a stunner, I’ll be re-reading that! The others I have not heard of, and will look out for. Just bought The Sea, The Sea: Iris Murdoch. I’ve discovered her work late but it has been worth the wait!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Murdoch was a revelation when I first read her, and then I attended a workshop on how to read her, and that was the next revelation!

      I think I have this one somewhere on my bookshelves. Got to dig it out!

  • macjam47 says:

    I love Barbara Kingsolver’s books!! I’ve read several of Lisa Kleypas’ books, but not Devil in Winter. I’ve added Ali Smith’s How to be both to my TBR. I’ve read some books that were pretty bad this year, two that I couldn’t even finish. I have a stack here on my desk I haven’t been able to get to yet. The best books I’ve read in 2018 so far are Summer of New Beginnings by Bette Lee Crosby, A Man too Old for a Place too Far by Mark Sasse, The Right Wrong Man by Pamela Wight, Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman, and Time Trail by Janet Slater. I’ve reviewed all on my blog. Time Trail was my favorite because it takes place practically in my back yard. Hugs, dear Damyanti.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I’m going to check out all the books you liked this year, Michelle!

      How to be Both was an amazing read, absolutely recommended.

  • subroto says:

    Thank you for this. Apart from Ali Smith, none of these other writers were on my radar (tho I had heard of Tiger Hill). So I plan to check out Jean Rulfo as soon as I can.

  • Anita says:

    There are so many wonderful books to read!
    I have some that I am supposed to read and write reviews…

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      All the best with the book reviews: that’s a huge favour to writers and readers alike!

  • Gargi Mehra says:

    I am way behind on my reading! Recently read Ready Player One in anticipation of the movie and now reading Remains of the Day. Enjoying it, though its a little slow. Love your list, and hope to pick these up some time.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I need to check out Ready Player One. I read Remains of the Day a long while back: don’t remember much of it now other than that I liked it.

  • robertcday says:

    Love the way you engage your readers by asking them questions.
    I could learn a lot from you, Damyanti.
    Thanks for being here. 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for your kind comment, Robert. I love listening to people, so the questions. Folks are kind enough to answer them, and I love that.

      • robertcday says:

        Nice. 🙂
        “Damayanti is a character in a love story found in the Vana Parva book of the Mahabharata. She was a princess of the Vidarbha Kingdom, who married king Nala of the Nishadha Kingdom.” Any relation? 🙂

  • What a wonderful collection of books. I’m dying to read the Ali Smith. And I haven’t relied on Barbara Kingsolver to whisk me away into another world for a long time, but maybe I should return to her! I just finished _Crooked River Burning_, which is set in my native Cleveland, Ohio, and I reviewed it on my blog. At nearly 600 pages, I’m taking a little breather and reading short stories (at the moment, my latest issue of New Ohio Review). I didn’t know you were with Forge, but I will put it on my list for my next round of submissions. Happy reading! Thanks for a great post!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Ali Smith is amazing, as is Kingslover, in different ways. Love them both.

      Look forward to reading your submissions at the FLM. I made my picks for April, and am thrilled with both the stories!

  • Deepti Menon says:

    What a treasure trove of stories, Damyanti! Must try and read at least some of them! Thanks for the share!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Glad you like them, Deepti! I’m receiving a few good recommendations as well, so I think it is a win-win.

  • Oh, wow! I read Pedro Páramo back in high school (required reading in Spanish literature), and really didn’t get it, in spite of the teacher’s great discussions. Then I came across it a couple of years ago and decided to give it another go… and loved it. Yes, it’s weird, and sad, maybe even a bit depressing, but it’s so TRUE.

    I’m currently reading Hawking’s Brief History of Time, and I’m loving it. Also ‘The Story of Art’, which has been on my nighttable for going on three years now, haha (I’m close to the end now, finally). And something by a writer friend, ‘Knowing Joe’, just released last month. Kind of stream-of-consciousness, which has made it difficult for some of her readers, but I’m loving every page. She has such a way with words.

    The others you listed here are unknown to me, but several sound well worth the read. Thanks for the recommendations!
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      The Story of Art sounds fascinating!

      And I want to read more of Jean Rulfo: I hear he was one of the authors who influenced Marquez.

  • Vidya Vasudevan says:

    Hi Damyanti,
    Reading your post makes me wish I had the time to read more. Would love to read ‘Tiger Hills’ since I’ve been to Coorg.
    Would recommend the book ‘Wise and Otherwise’ by author Sudha Murthy.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Vidya!

      Tiger Hills is set in colonial Coorg, and was a very atmospheric read.

  • DutchIl says:

    At the moment I am into romance, when I am not venturing out to see who love’s arrow has found, I read mysteries…

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      When in need of a light read I pick up Romances and Mysteries, too!

  • BellyBytes says:

    You are a voracious reader but then I suppose that is common for a prolific writer. I’ve taken up reading again this year and enjoyed reading “The Riviera Set” by Mary Lovell and ‘Notwithstanding” a collection of short stories by Louis de Bernieres. I don’t have any particular theme in mind when I read but generally land up reading non fiction or literary realism.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Bernie red is a fab writer. Will check out the Lovell Book: thanks for the recommendations, Sunita!

  • mammaspeaks says:

    That’s a great list, though I must admit I have not read any of them. The current book I am reading is Anton Chekhov’s. I would recommend “fried green tomatoes at the whistle stop cafe” – it’s a fabulous book. Also, I write short stories, how can I get mine read??

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      There are so many books to read and such little time: I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be able to read all the books I want to.

      Chekhov is my favorite, and a brilliant short story writer.

      If you want you stories read, submit them to anthologies and journals: Duotrope is an excellent place to find venues that would suit your stories!

      Thanks for stopping by, and hope to hear from you again soon.

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    I am quite fascinated by the title life with an idiot. Will try to find the ebook. You read so many interesting books… I need to step out of my genre ?

  • pjlazos says:

    What a voracious reader! I’ve only read Barbara Kingsolver. I’ll have to look more closely at the others. Thanks for the tips, Damyanti. :0)

  • Mayur says:

    Best way????
    If you take people suggestions then you will fail.
    Book is our right friend.?

  • I love seeing what other people are reading. I always have a selection of books on tap, depending on my needs at the time.

  • I’m reading Great Australian Outback School Stories by Bill Marsh, Published Australia by HarperCollins Publishers Sydney Australia. It’s an interesting glimpse into the lives of teachers and students of a long past era in this country.

  • Obsessivemom says:

    I’m between books and looking out for a new read. Loved the ones you shared here.

  • datmama4 says:

    I haven’t had much time for pleasure reading lately, so when I found some moments, I looked for short stories and grabbed one of Eric Lahti’s books: The Clock Man. I just finished it, really enjoyed it, and will be sure to review it. The book was a collection of short stories that all tied together, and the world he created was vivid and fascinating.

    I’m with Jacquie Murray—I’ve never heard any of these books but now you’ve made me want to read them.

  • marple25mary says:

    I’m halfway through the Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman and i’m also reading Eva Trout by Elizabeth Bowen.

  • ccyager says:

    Right now I’m reading Bill Bryson’s “Shakespeare: The World as a Stage” and loving it. Before bed, I dip into Virginia Woolf’s short story collection “A Haunted House and Other Short Stories.” It’s always interesting to read Woolf, but I’m finding these stories not nearly as successful as her novels. I just finished a wonderful sci fi novel, “Mind Changer” by James White that I highly recommend. It’s set in a gigantic multi-species hospital at the edge of the galaxy and tells the story of the Chief Psychologist and his experiences treating non-human as well as human patients. Really original sci fi.

  • Libby Sommer says:

    thanks for all those wonderful book recommendations. always on the look out for a good read 🙂

  • I’ve been reading Ken Liu’s fantasy epic (seems dense at first, but once you get past the names and geography, it is flowing and beautiful), and Frances Harding’s novels

  • Elsie says:

    Reading is a great escape, isn’t it? I love Nelson DeMille. His characters are so snarky. Right now I’m reading some self-help books, but also some pre-releases.

  • This is one of the reasons I follow your blog, Damyanti. What a list of books I’ve never heard of! I’ve added several to my wish list.

  • Quest Quilts says:

    I am rereading Tess of the d’Urbervilles and beginning Anne of Green Gables.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I read Tess for the lit degree, and even after decades, haven’t recovered from the experience.

      • Quest Quilts says:

        Haha! I read it in high school and wanted to reread to see what my 17 year old self missed.

      • datmama4 says:

        I read Tess as an adult (I’d never heard of it in school) and was astounded by how it just kept getting more and more depressing. I still own it, but I’m not sure I will ever be ready for a reread.

  • Thanks for sharing. Exactly what I was looking for

  • Shilpa Garg says:

    That’s a great list of books. I am adding them to my TBR list.
    Thanks to the April AtoZ Challenge, reading has taken a back seat at the moment for me. But have to get back to it soon.Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, The Giver by Lois Lowry are some of the books I loved reading earlier this year!

  • Kim says:

    Ooh, I like the sound of a lot of these, especially the Victor Erofeyev short stories! I love a good short story collection – I’ve just finished a reread of Roald Dahl’s adult short stories. A little nasty and a little wonderful all at once 🙂

  • Thanks for this… I needed a list like this, right now. I have been playing it safe, re-reading old classics like Wodehouse, Agatha Christie and Stephen King. I need to find new books!

  • I am reading IT a novel by Stephen King. It is an amazing piece of American Literature. Very impressive prose. And frightening story to boot. Cheers!

  • franklparker says:

    I loved How t be Both. I’m presently reading on the Window which is a detective novel set in small town USA where racism and police corruption are endemic.

  • I’m on the last Binti novella by Nnedi Okorafor. It’s been a fantastic series so far.

  • Hi –

    I just happened to finish a fabulous novel. As a crime writer I have to admit, I’d never read … Sue Grafton. I knew her name, knew she had been acclaimed, and when I heard of her passing, I thought What? So I purchased 3 in one, starting with A for Alibi. I was a bit dubious: I had never read literary detective novel. I stuck with the short, punchy action. McDonald’s style, if you know what I mean. But the first page really did suck me in, and she wrote in first POV, possibly breaking every grammatical rule including the adverbs that Stephen King warns of, but her writing immersed me into her PI’s world, seeing through her main character’s eyes the world around her, two different crimes, her descriptions of the people she met, worked with, and interrogated along with inner thought — even during an interrogation. The PI was mildly cynical (well, perhaps more), described her life even in detail, another rule broken; backstory. Well. I loved it. I am not a fan of sex scenes but one, was less than 10 words, that without porn summed up all of the best sex scenes I’ve been force fed to read and ultimately skip. Grammar perfection? I didn’t give one whit. Book was great and looking forward to the next.

  • I highly recommend “Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine” by Gail Honeyman.

  • I read good reviews of “Asymmetry:A Novel,” then read the first chapter on Amazon (actually thought I was reading “Alice in Wonderland ” for a few pages), couldn’t wait for the paperback to come out in October, so I downloaded it to my iPad. So far it has not disappointed.

  • laurenlola says:

    I just finished reading an ARC of Crystal Chan’s upcoming second novel, “All That I Can Fix.”

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – what a wonderful selection of books to read … and authors to read up on … and I do hope you feel easier soon … take care – cheers Hilary

  • sparks1524 says:

    Are you a murder mystery fan? After completing my masters in history two years ago, I HAD to escape to fiction for a bit and binged out on Agatha Christie. Currently I’m caught up in Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series.

  • Meg says:

    I’ve read 15 books so far this year. My favorite 3 are A Man Called Ove, The Handmaid’s Tale and Moonglow. I fell out of the habit of daily reading when I started writing more. And I think my entire disposition suffered for it! Always a great way to escape in a good book!

  • John Hric says:

    keep reading please. and while you are please remind me to start reading again. be well Damyanti !

  • Ally Bean says:

    I recently read The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe. On the surface the story is about teenage best friends who grow up to become very different adults. But the subtext of the story is an examination of what we believe to be true versus what is true. This novel has stayed with me more than most.

  • gruundehn says:

    I have been rereading the Nero Wolfe, Brother Cadfael and Sister Fidelma mysteries. I have also been reading various historical non-fiction books, mainly about aircraft.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I’m going to be on a mystery-reading spree in the coming weeks, so will check these out!

  • Almost Iowa says:

    I have been reading The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens, a local guy who hit it big on the NYT’s Best Selling list. He has three novels, all great.