Book Editor’s note
There’s no bigger joy for a book lover than organising their books (yes, I’m including buying and reading them), and I’ve now spent countless hours in my apartment trying to find the best way to make my 150+ odd books the central decorative element. I am greedy for so many more bookshelves!!! Honestly, no other activity has relaxed me in this relentless heat more.
A list of good literary reads
One: I don’t usually go for lists because they are a stark reminder of all the books I haven’t read and will probably never have the time to read <gulp>, but this one in LitHub, as a friend put it, is very “yummy”. Featuring everyone’s favourites like ‘A Suitable Boy’ and ‘The Secret History,’ this list somehow motivated me to speed up my reading so that I can get to (almost) all of these on the list (I’ll probably give ‘Infinite Jest’ a pass for no real reason).
Two: This is from 2018 but still a goodie: top crime writers choose their favourite crime novels for the Guardian. The best of the best participate, from Lee Child to Val McDermid, SJ Watson to Laura Lippman, and soooo many more. It’s exhilarating to see authors fawning over their favourite books and writers and how they changed their lives. Plus, it’s always a good exercise in discovering new authors!
Three: Jeanette Winterson’s blurb-induced book-burning might have been a fleeting meteor in the giant universe that is our news cycle, but the concept of blurbs itself is old as time and likely to stick around forever. In Prospect, a brief, entertaining history of the blurb, with everyone from Dante to Milton to Shakespeare participating.
Four: All budding writers know it’s crucial to have a protagonist who stands out, who’ll leave a lasting impression on readers’ minds. Smart, intelligent characters are relatively easier to dream up but much harder to execute. In Tor.com, author Ryan Van Loan writes about his own struggles coming up with his super smart protagonist, and there’s much to learn about creating someone who is arguably a lot smarter than you are.
Five: In Words Without Borders, translator Yilin Wang takes a deep dive into translating from an Asian language and the many inherent biases and prejudices that come with the task. Wang tries to answer the question “should any translator have the right to translate any text?” and sets alternative parameters to the translation process. It’s an insightful, educational read.
Six: True crime remains a booming genre, with more and more people driven to realize their own cold-case-solving dreams. The subsequent books, podcasts and docuseries are often credited with solving these cold cases. But that might not be an accurate summation of their impact. Los Angeles Times investigates the difference true crime as a genre is making, and the results are ambiguous at best.
Quick fixes, aka a few varied recommendations
What I’m reading: I just began the book I had been waiting for since 2017—‘The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne’ by my favourite author Jonathan Stroud. So far, it is everything I had hoped for and more, as gunfights and monsters meet in a future England. It has action and humour and mystery and adventure and just warms the heart in every possible way. ❤️
A nonfiction fave: I read proportionally fewer nonfiction books but sometimes I come across one that just ups my reading game entirely. I would have expected this from a writer who has had a few books under their belt already, but turns out it was ‘Open’ by Andre Agassi, a tennis player (!), which proved to be a breath of fresh air in a stuffy room full of formulaic sports autobiographies. You do not have to be a tennis fan to love this book, because Agassi regales us with experiences that could apply to all of us. On top of that, the writing and storytelling is led by ghost writer JR Moehringer, who is a lot more fantastic than he gets credit for. An absolute must read.
Book-adjacent rec of the week: Author Kelsey McKinney runs Written Out, a monthly newsletter about women of literature who have been written out of history. In Kelsey’s own words. “It will dredge up old novels and the drama that goes with them. It will include interviews with contemporary leaders in women’s literature. There will be a recurring feature that pairs a great old book by a woman with a great new release, and another that does close readings. I will share fun charts and fun rumours and try and get some people in publishing to talk about the TV show ‘Younger.’” I’m so here for it.
Underrated author of the week: Oscar de Muriel was born in Mexico City but having visited and fallen in love with Edinburgh, has set his historical mysteries in the gorgeous city. It is 1888, and Scotland Yard has sent Inspector Ian Frey to investigate a murder with supernatural overtones. But Frey's new boss, Detective ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray, actually believes in the supernatural, making everything that much more complicated. The tropes are hilariously utilised in this series, which you should begin with ‘The Strings of Murder.’
Bookish adaptation to watch out for: I watched ‘The Dig’ on Netflix starring a bunch of British actors who make me feel really comfortable (Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan, Lily James, you know what I mean). It is based on a 2007 novel of the same name by John Preston, which in turn is a reimagination of the 1939 excavation of Sutton Hoo. It is a charming period piece made sensitively and intelligently. Best to sit back with a cuppa of your choice of poison and enjoy.
Note: Reading Habit is curated by our book editor Anushree Kaushal. Want to send along recommendations, feedback or just say hi? Email her at email@example.com.