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What are you #reading ? #FridayReads

By 12/08/2016September 26th, 2016Uncategorized
Reading novels and short stories

Books, books!

Reading novels and short stories has been my salvation for as long as I can remember. This year, I’ve struggled with health and work issues, but my reading has again come to the rescue.

In these past few weeks these novels and short stories have gathered on my bedside table:
1. This isn’t the sort of thing that happens to someone like you : Jon McGregor

2. The Oxford book of Japanese short stories : Theodore W. Goosssen

3. The Ballad of a Small Player: Lawrence Osborne

4. The Night Guest: Fiona McFarlane

5. Gold boy, Emerald girl: YiYun Li

6. Midnight Sun: Jo Nesbo

7. Chocolat : Joanne Harris

8. Instructions for a Heatwave: Maggie O’ Farrell

9. High Rise: J G Ballard

I’m dipping into one or the other as time and health permits.

Of course, I’m also reading fabulous short stories for the Forge Literary Magazine. Recently these short stories I picked and edited were published: A Little More Full and Less Empty and Sea Wolf.

Add to the hit counter on both of them, if you please, and tell me what you think?

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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  • Hi Damyanti, thats quite an interesting list you have. I have found my respite and escape in books too since like forever 🙂 Currently I am reading Lord of the Flies. Just finished with The Girl on the train, saw the movie too, didn’t like it as much, the book was better.Like always 🙂

    Hope you get well soon.

  • Christy B says:

    Look at all of these great books to read! 🙂

  • randyjw says:

    Your reading list looks interesting.

  • Shom says:

    I’ve just bought, and started on a translation of a celebrated recent Kannada novel(la) called Ghachar Ghochar, by Vivek Shanbhag. It’s translated very well I hear, and while my knowledge of written and spoken Kannada are non-existent and patchy respectively, having stayed in Bangalore, I guess I do understand the milieu somewhat. Reading more of Indian Literature in translation has always been an aim, and this is a start.
    Do get well soon. Cheers.

  • LOL!!! I forgot I commented on your CBF posts before. Sorry about that. But I did want to say I liked the newer look.

  • Hi, Damyanti!!! I’ve been away from your site for so long, I was surprised to see the newer look. I love it, though 🙂

    Well, I’ve been reading these past, maybe, 3 months, though still not-that-fast. Currently on to the WICKED book. I was supposed to start with TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES but I left it at home (I am away on weekdays) and incidentally found WICKED, so….

    Sorry to hear you’ve not been well. I know the feeling somewhat. Ditto.

  • I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been ailing this year, Damyanti. I hope for a positive resolution for you, to all the woes!
    On another note, I loved reading yours and others’ reading recommendations and lists. Unfortunately, I do not get to read a lot of books yearly. Besides family, the two other reasons are (1) I’m writing or (2) I’m reading mostly shorter fiction to improve my writing. This relates to my goal of ‘perfecting,’ as much as I can, my writing in the short-form before I move onto novelettes, novellas, and novels.
    I would recommend some things, but I don’t know if you read in the SF/F genres very much these days. I was very pleased to read how many women and people of color won Hugo awards for fiction this year, so I’d like to read a lot of them. I definitely recommend Analog magazine, monthly; Tor Forge puts out a weekly newsletter and they usually choose a lot of original fiction for those.
    For literary fiction, I highly recommend the Best American Short Stories series. I have read most of 1997 edition recently and found a lot of them that I liked and could learn from (even when I didn’t like them, I think I was learning, honestly!)—and would enthusiastically recommend them to all fiction writers, but particularly literary fiction. [The same goes for George Saunders’ Tenth of December, which I read last year.] The only novel, beside a friend’s ARC, that I’m hoping to read soon or in the next month is a recent book by Dean R. Koontz (I think it’s called Breathless; don’t know if it’s any good, but if you like popular thriller/horror/paranormal fiction and stories featuring dogs, you can’t go wrong with Koontz). I’ve got to read it ahead of my kid and decide if it’s thematically appropriate for her; she wanted to read King’s Doctor Sleep, but I’ve said no because it’s too gory and situationally inappropriate for her just yet, I think.

  • I just finished Elena Ferrante’s” My Brillant Friend” and immediately had to pick up the next sequel “..a New Name.” They are set in the backstreets of Naples. She’s won awards in Europe and began garnering readers of English with this series.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      She’s definitely on my TBR. I’m hoping to reward myself by reading her in Italian and English 🙂

  • Mary Lou says:

    You’re reading a lot! Is the book Chocolat better than the movie? 🙂 Here’s my summer reading:

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I haven’t watched the movie, but I want to. The writing is gorgeous– I love how I can mouth the words. I’ll definitely read more of Joanne’s books. Thanks for sharing your list!

  • John Hric says:

    I am reading A Girl and Her Monster by Landon Porter. I am reading it very slowly. I need to put down the internet and step away from the computer. and step away from the daylilies. and that last part is not going to happen. I do need to pick up that book thing again….

  • You seem to have an impressive reading list.Latest I read was ‘The Alchemist’.Had been wanting to read this since long time.Could do so only recently

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Subha, I’m reading these over three weeks, so really not that impressive. 🙂

  • pratikshya2 says:

    I read ”Glitter and Gloss” by Vibha Batra . I really enjoyed it.. laughed out loud in the weekends.. 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Sounds like just the kind of light read I need at the moment!

  • macjam47 says:

    Damyanti, I am so sorry to hear you’ve not been feeling well. I hope you are feeling better soon. One of my favorite reads is Marlen Supaya Boden’s The Wedding Gift. Any of Holly Robinson’s books are winners, as well as Dry Leaves of Grass by Anna Jean Mayhew. Anna and Jean’s are based on life in the American South in years past. Hugs.

  • I’m reading The Word Reclaimed by Steve Rzasa and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. Kind of opposite, but I love them both!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I checked them both out, and you’re right, it is an interesting combination!

  • J.R.Bee says:

    Eek, at least reading can come to the rescue. Hope that you feel better soon, in all aspects of life.
    I don’t read a lot of things in that vein, but I love Chocolate by Joanne Harris.
    One of my other favs is Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde, you might enjoy it, if you haven’t read it already.
    I’m currently reading The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which is, so far surprisingly light hearted. It has a wonderful opening line, and the book seems to continue on in that style. I reckon it’d be great for a pick me up.

  • mitchteemley says:

    Enjoyed Lev Grossman’s The Magicians trilogy–but they’re very dark (not for younger readers). And never get tired of C.S. Lewis.

  • Gary says:

    Hi Damyanti,

    I am having a terrible time trying to comment on your post. Predictably, the comment I had formulated, which was, of course, super awesome, has vanished! I’m going to copy and paste this comment in case I have further problems…..Let’s see what transpires.

    I’m heartened to know, despite your health concerns, you embrace your passion for the written word. A positive distraction and therapeutic for your good self.

    I hardly do any reading these days, when it comes to books or short stories. It seems I’m too busy reading about people who read plenty of books and short stories.

    Take care of YOU, Damyanti.

    Gary 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Gary, hope your Canada debacle sorts out soon. Hugs, and I’m sorry you had to face trouble commenting here. Usually a URL and Name works fine.

  • I can’t believe how much you read. That’s wonderful and I’m a bit jealous! I’ve read a couple books by fellow bloggers that I think are worth a shout out – Ordinary Handsome by Steve Baird and The Eternals by Richard Ankers. Both use language and imagery beautifully, which I love. Happy Reading, Damyanti. I hope your health is improving with each day <3

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thankyou. I’m going to check both books out. I’m still exhausted, but recovering nicely.

  • Julia Lund says:

    I’m sorry health issues have dogged you this year – I empathise. Reading, however, is great medecine. This week, I have read Francis Hardinge, The Lie Tree; Jesse Burton, The Miniaturist; David Almond, The Fire Eaters. I am now half way through a book my daughter was desperate for me to read, The Hunting of the Last Dragon by Sherryl Jordan. I also read the bible regularly, taking 18 months to go through from cover to cover – such a rich experience.

    Hoping your health improves.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks Julia, and I admire your reading discipline.

      • Julia Lund says:

        I wish health would allow me to get more writing done. But at least I get to appreciate some great books – I always learn from other writers, so all is good.

  • cleemckenzie says:

    I do believe that diving into a book is one way to health or healing. What a wonderful reading list you have.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Lee. I went and checked out your garden and your writing and editing spot. Am so full of longing now.

  • Lily says:

    I wish I could read multiple stories at once, so that is sort of what I’m doing. One that I am intending to include in my wishful library is Dante’s Inferno and one called Holy War by John Bunyan (it’s a much longer title than that, but I don’t remember it now. It seems like a challenging read).

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I do read multiple books at a time: I usually have either a heavy and a light read or a collection of short stories and a novel going at the same time.

  • ajaybpai says:

    How do you find time to read such a pile of books? Do you get paid for this reading (on a lighter note though). Amazing.
    BTW I am reading currently, ” The sky is falling” and it has taken a month and yet i am only half through. Phew.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Been reading it over 3 weeks, so it isn’t as much of a feat. I couldn’t find a way to visit you back 🙁

  • Okay, I don’t read novels hardly ever anymore — I listen to books (unabridged) while working in the studio, and favorite recent authors are Donna Leon, Craig Johnson, and Nero Wolf. When I find an author I like I listen to all of it, and then again…. I recently found out that Michael Crichton wrote gumshoe novels under the name John Lange and so bought one but have nto cracked it yet. When not reading Buddhist tomes, I read autobiographies and “thinking” books — and am working through Tessa Hainsworth’s life move to Cornwall (three books) nd loving Rebecca Solnit’s “A Field Guide to Getting Lost.”

  • I’ve not read any of these authors but giving Jon MacGregor a try…. Not fond of short stories but ordered his novel.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      His short stories were lovely and luminous. will try get his novel. I can’t find your site– it sends me to a weird page with links…

  • Bumba says:

    My bedside table features a novel by Philip Roth, Everyman, which is excellent alongside Call It Night by Amos Oz. These two writers are about the same age and somehow I see them as comparable. There is also a book about the Beatles written by their recording engineer and a big fat book by Roger Penrose about mathematics. I would recommend Oz and Roth, though.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Excellent suggestions, both. I haven’t heard of Oz, but do have a Roth or two on my shelves.

  • I declare “Peace Like a River” by Leif Enger to be my favorite novel read in the last year. It was one I’d had in my bookcase a long, long time and finally got around to reading.

  • G.B. Miller says:

    My reading has been mostly non-fiction this year as my fiction choices have pretty much bit the big one (fortunately, no money lost as all my books have come from the public library). I just finished reading a very cool non-fiction book that took me about four hours to read called “The True Tails Of Baker & Taylor”, the original cat mascots for Baker & Taylor book distributers. Highly recommend it.

  • Sounds like interesting reads. Right now, I am on Shobha Nihalani A Silent Monument and I recommend Urban Shots, set in Mumbai. You just reminded me that it’s been long I haven’t read short stories and need to make amends.

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – I’ve just read Lady Susan – an epistolary by Jane Austen … and To my Children’s Children by Sindiwe Magona – written as a letter from a Xhosa grandmother … a series of snapshots of life in South Africa from 1943 when she was born …she achieved through the travails and changes of SA, to a Republic to apartheid … thanks so much for the list of all your books and thoughts …

    I hope life eases for you … but am glad you’re reading and it offers solace .. cheers Hilary

  • simonfalk28 says:

    Another great post, Damyanti. I do hope your health improves. I have long enjoyed Joanne Harris’s ‘Chocolat’, having read the book and seen the film. It just makes me want to make and eat more chocolate! I have also read ‘Blackberry Wine’ and an abridged version of ‘Coastliners’ by Harris. I haven’t read much this week, but the current bedside novel for me is Anthony Doerr’s, ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ . It is a beautiful novel and I really miss reading it on the nights I cannot do so.

  • Birgit says:

    I’m so sorry you have been so ill and this would affect your work because you can’t be there which means the employer may not be so happy. I’m glad you at least have the time to read some good books. I retread a biography on Marlene Dietrich called Marlene and written by her daughter, Maria Riva

  • shanayatales says:

    I just finished reading the recent Harry Potter book. Do I recommend it? To Potterheads, yes. I am also currently ‘listening’ to Lean In, and this one – I recommend to everyone. 🙂

  • pythoroshan says:

    I am presently re-reading an old horror classic I last read 2 decades ago as a teenager: Stephen King’s “IT”
    Would I recommend it? Well, yes.
    It is a huge book at nearly a 1000 pages but man, does the guy know to draw images in your head or what! You can picture the children running down the street and even the fear in their hearts.

  • I recently read ‘Station 11’ by Emily St. John Mandel; I loved it so much I renewed the book (got from the library) and am rereading portions of it.

  • Parul Thakur says:

    You are reading a lot and that’s awesome. I usually finish one and then head out to the other..Currently, I am reading To kill a mockingbird.
    One from my all time favorites is Letter from Peking by Pearl Buck. I have read it many times and I can’t still stop. 🙂

  • msw blog says:

    What a list 😉

  • pjlazos says:

    I’m reading “Lincoln in the Atlantic World” by Louise Stevenson which is a change for me because I usually don’t read scholarly books for fun, but this one reads like a novel! Also, “The Ancient Minstrel,” by Jim Harrison. I’ve been writing a lot so it’s a slow reading summer. Hope you’re on the mend, Damyanti!

  • I too love reading, recently I am reading paper towns by john green. Some of my favourite books are an ember in the ashes by saba Tahir, it is such a good book to read, and silent sister is again book of twist and turns, palaces of illusion, power of a women, dan brown series and so on. Also thanks for sharing your list.

  • Thanks for the list! I didn’t know there was such a collation of Japanese short stories out there- I’ve added that to my list now 🙂 I’m in the middle of reading Fates and Furies, the novel by Lauren Groff. The writing is incredible- I would thoroughly recommend it!

  • Chocolat is a wonderful book, I love Joanne Harris’ writing.
    I really recommend Rules of Civility, about a young woman trying to start her life in 1930s New York City. It was out a few years ago but reminded me of F Scott Fitzgerald. Despite the period setting it feels very relatable.
    I hope you’re feeling better. Keep reading! x

  • Beloo Mehra says:

    That’s quite a reading list, Damyanti. Enjo! I am not into much fiction reading, at least not since the last several years.

  • Shilpa Garg says:

    Wow! That’s quite a pile of books! Based on your recommendation, I have bought ‘Instructions for a Heatwave: Maggie O’ Farrell’, I am looking forward to read it 🙂

  • Lately I’ve been reading ebooks by indie authors. I can recommend That Weekend in Albania, a travel adventure book by Peter J. Meehan and The One Rule of Magic, a quirky take on the vampire theme by C. Harrison. From the traditionally published realm I really enjoyed Experimental Film by Gemma Files.

  • firobertson says:

    Hi Damyanti,
    I’m sorry to hear you’re having ongoing health issues. I hope things turn around for you soon.
    I loved ‘The Night Guest’ too – so brooding and suspenseful!
    Right now I’m reading ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara (recommended to me by friends), and I’m totally immersed and completely invested in the lives of the characters.
    Take care.

  • Jan says:

    I am reading Liane Moriarty’s new book Truly, madly , guilty. Looking forward to it since I loved her previous books.

  • “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. Its about the lead up to the Second World War from the perspective of a young French girl and a German orphan boy. Almost finished and its one of those books I love, but at the same time want to end because of what is going on. Usually I really enjoy books that you are a little sad to finish because you don’t want it to end. This one I think will be a relief. I want the characters to finally be at peace.

  • Reading Maugham’s ‘ here and there’

  • Reading two fantasy books at the moment.

  • dehelen says:

    This year I’m reading books only by women. A few days ago I finished Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl, and I loved it. I’ve read several by Val McDermid already this year, the favorite one was Darker Domain. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta is really good. My favorite book of last year’s reading was Falling From Horses by Molly Gloss. Reading has saved my life many times in the past many decades. All best to you!

  • I’m reading the recent issue of the Paris Review and gave enjoyed all of the shorts there. I’m also reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, it’s a debut novel about two sisters, one sold into slavery and one not, and the story spans the dovetailing family for 200 years – it’s very well written and lived up to the hype.

  • ccyager says:

    I’m reading “Peace Like a River” by Leif Enger. Wasn’t sure I’d like it. Written by a Minnesotan. Set in 1962. Reminds me a lot of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” another book I’d highly, highly recommend. Both are literary stories, both told from the perspective of one of the characters grown up. I’ve been laughing until I cry with Enger’s book, surprised by the humor in such a serious story. Highly recommend.

  • Sha'Tara says:

    Sorry to hear about your health problems – we all have those I’m afraid. Interesting reading list by the looks. Keeps your mind off “things” does it?

  • matheikal says:

    You already have quite a set of books! Well, the best book I read recently is Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro.

  • Jasmin says:

    This seems like an interesting list you have there. I shall check out some of those stories.
    Currently I am reading The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry. Before that I read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson because I am following her blog here on wordpress and enjoy her writing very much. (Quite easy to read for a non-native speaker as well.) Before that I read The Book Thief for the second time and cried as much as the first time. Then I read The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn because I had seen the movie ‘Limitless’ and – the next day – stumbled upon a blog post that had the length of an essay, in wich the blog author pointed out the differences between the novel and the movie. So out of curiosity I read the novel and got through its 420 pages in three days, it was that good. And I also read Filth by Irvine Welsh because I had seen the movie and I wanted to know the uncensored version of the story. A lot of Scottish slang, yet a joy to read. Very unsettling but in a fun way. Plus, it gave me the opportunity to tell people that I was reading filth in public. Ha! The one I’d recommend most is Filth but you have to have a high tolerance for ugly scenes and…well…filthy language. (The title is programme here.)
    Hope your health will let you read enough. Take care and bless.

  • Your list is more interesting than what’s on my table. I was at a conference last week and the hosting resort had a little library. In between boring sessions I started reading Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. I got hooked in the beginning but the pace is slowing, which is kind of ironic, in that the book is about a race horse. I recently read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCuller. It can be offensive to today’s sensibilities but the book has stayed with me.

    Hope your health and work situation are on the mend.


  • I just finished Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. I really enjoyed it. If you’ve ever lived in New York, worked in a restaurant, been in love, or started over (or, like me, done all four), you will probably enjoy!