Books Editor’s note
Welcome to the second half of 2022! Though in my mind, we’re still in March, somehow. But the humidity in New Delhi is intent on snapping me out back to reality. I hope you are having a great year, a fruitful month and a relaxing week. To make your day just a little bit more bookish (and better), here are some literary links for you to peruse.
A list of good literary reads
One: I would be lying if I said that I’ve not wanted to solve an unfortunate murder that occurred in my vicinity as I lay on a beach somewhere, neck-deep in my vacation. It’s no surprise, then, that this particular sub-genre of detective fiction appeals to me immeasurably. On CrimeReads, the trope of detective-on-vacation is discussed with the love and care it deserves, plus eight books that pull it off admirably.
Two: As someone who loves reading about the intricacies of languages—and is currently learning one—this essay on Book Riot about the joy of fictional languages (known as conlangs, short for constructed languages, in bookish parlance). Their evolution and a handy list of books that use conlangs beautifully was catnip for me. Bonus: Check out this documentary called ‘Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues’ if you want to take a proper deep dive into this magical world.
Three: Here’s something you don’t hear every day: the author of the multi-million bestseller ‘Where the Crawdads Sings,’ Delia Owens, and her then husband, Mark, are wanted for the murder of a poacher that took place in the mid-1990s in Zambia. The book has been turned into a movie, to be released soon, by Reese Witherspoon’s production house. All these words sound fantastical but are totally true. The Atlantic has the details of the incredible story. Truth is always stranger than fiction.
Four: Author Steven Johnson, on his blog Adjacent Possible, pens a love letter to libraries inspired by his recent visit to the Library of Congress in Washington, DC “[T]here is still something magical to me about the physical institution of a library, something uniquely inspiring. We create tools to help us think or remember more effectively, but we also create spaces that serve those same purposes—libraries most of all.”
Five: It’s almost Friday, so for inspiration, see this delightful LitHub roundup of 35 cafés and bars from around the world where famous writers drank (primarily) and got a bite (occasionally). The Café la Habana in Mexico City, is giving me the best vibes.
Six: BBC News got a glimpse into the Future Library, a 100-year art project set up in Oslo, Norway, that houses new manuscripts by some of the most celebrated authors of our time—including Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell and Elif Shafak—the contents of which will only become available for the public to read in the year 2114. Conceptualised by Scottish artist Katie Paterson, the project aims to make you think about our relationship with long-term time, “about how to make something last, and also about what it takes to inspire people to think beyond short-term distractions.” It’s bound to send you down many a rabbit hole and make you very aware of your mortality.
Seven: This one is to do less with books and more with memory, but it’s still pertinent. In The Guardian, a meditative essay by a cognitive psychologist who answers the question: why do I keep forgetting the books I’ve read
Quick fixes, aka a few varied recommendations
Currently reading: I’ve been listening to ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory’ by Caitlin Doughty, a mortician who took her morbid curiosity and fascination with the macabre and turned it into a career. I’m only a little way through but I’m properly loving this book. Doughty is witty, irreverent, honest and yet still sensitive about the subject at hand. Her book is full of fascinating stories about the many strange funeral practices from different cultures, among other things.
Book-adjacent rec of the week: I follow Courtney Cook’s newsletter ‘Survival By Book’ that offers, in its own words, “stories of love, loss, and other life stuff delivered weekly, usually with a bookish lens, always with a lot of heart.” Read this guest post about discovering strong female leads and vulnerability in literature to get a sense of the terrific stuff she publishes.
Bookish adaptation: All I’ve watched in the past two weeks is S4 vol. 2 of ‘Stranger Things’ and S3 of ‘Barry’, both non-adaptations that somehow have a whiff of something decidedly bookish about them. I was, however, in the nick of time, turned to this podcast retelling (thank you, Lakshmi!) of Sherlock Holmes, available on Audible, called ‘Moriarty: The Devil’s Game’. The premise is straightforward but brings with it endless possibilities of Holmesian shenanigans—what if the detective’s greatest nemesis was an innocent man? The game is, indeed, deliciously afoot.
Bonus: Book Riot has some reading recs for you based on your favourite theme from ‘Stranger Things’—found family, ‘80s nostalgia, small town mystery and more.
Note: Reading Habit is curated by our books editor Anushree Kaushal. Want to send along recommendations, feedback or just say hi? Email her at email@example.com.