Books Editor’s Note
We’re in the final quarter of a year that has flown by at dramatic speed, and I’m not sure if I should be grateful for its brevity or long for more time, stuffed as it has been (and continues to be) with upheavals across the globe. At the end of the day, I do remain glad for all the good news, and for books, of course. Here’s some bookish readings for you to start this final stretch.
A list of good literary reads
One: The Guardian takes a deep dive into the venerable Booker Prize, and the many “arguments, controversy and speculation” that surround each year’s process. The money is huge, the transformative power it holds for the winner (and even the nominees) is abundant, and this juicy behind-the-scenes takes us everywhere, from the complicated, no-one-can-remember-offhand criteria of how a book can be submitted, to the many drama-filled, semi-bizarre stories behind the prize’s evolution over the years.
Two: My horror mode is now switched on, and this piece on CrimeReads on horror films about writing, reading and the book business in general, has given me enough fodder to last until mid-November (if I pace myself). From the list, I’m personally a sucker for the instant gratification of the Scream series, adored everything about ‘Knives Out,’ and am most eager to watch ‘Shirley’.
Three: On Tor.com, I love this meditation on personal libraries and what the books you keep and those you decide to discard make up who you are. “Why do we keep anything? Why do we choose anything? Everything we do says something about who we are, what we value, even if all we can say in a given moment is that we’re tired and worn out and just need soft pants and a book we know every word of already, a book we could follow along with while half asleep.”
Four: On LitHub, Askold Melnyczuk defends writing and reading about unrelatable, unsympathetic characters. He is puzzled by how often relatability is touted as a legitimate criterion for a character, and argues that they might be appalling, their behaviour less-than-model, but fiction doesn’t exist to provide readers with people to emulate. For him, though, there’s more: his reasons to understand the moral complexities in fiction are rooted in family history. It is a fascinating read.
Five: The US (and the world) recently celebrated Banned Books Week, a celebration of the right to read. Teen Vogue takes a look at censorship in the US, especially in the light of the recent wave of schools and libraries being forced to remove literature about race, racism, anti-racism, diversity, and equality. The history of banning materials is long and murky, and the article takes a journey through censorship as a concept, from Ancient Rome attempting to ban ‘The Odyssey,’ students burning over 25,000 books written by Jewish authors in Germany under Nazi rule, to the most challenged books in the US, including ‘The Hunger Games’ and the Goosebumps series.
Six: The Los Angeles Review of Books has an interesting take on Jhumpa Lahiri’s shift from writing in English to writing in Italian. It irks some people that Lahiri would basically abandon the language that gave her, and the world, so much; it irks others how strong her command is over her adopted language. These questions and more make up this study of her love affair with the language, which has ultimately infused new life into her and her work.
To subscriber Simran Savlani, who has recently become a cookbook author! Called ‘A Spark of Madness,’ it is an Asian vegetarian cookbook consisting of 116 recipes, including several vegan & gluten-free options, originating across the continent, from Thailand to Taiwan, Indonesia to India, Seoul to Singapore and beyond. Find out more about the book here.
Note: Reading Habit is curated by our book editor Anushree Kaushal. Want to send along recommendations, feedback or just say hi? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.