Booknotes: Favorite Writing How-to Books Part 5

In this month’s installment, let’s look at podcasts related to writing. I am a huge fan of literary podcasts (especially the ones from BBC Radio 3 and 4 and, of course, NPR) because I get to listen to conversations with favorite writers from the comfort of my home, at my convenience, and while I’m multi-tasking. The podcasts I am listing below, however, are ones I have stuck with for more than three years or so. I do not listen to every single episode but I do subscribe to their feeds. One thing I will say upfront about these is that they are not as diverse as I would like them to be. To be clear, I do not mean only in terms of racial or ethnic diversity, though that is also a gap, but diversity in terms of gender identity, class, caste, sexuality, disability, etc. I do hope this will improve over time. Continue reading Booknotes: Favorite Writing How-to Books Part 5

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5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads for June 2017

Father’s Day falls on June 18th. So here are a few short stories of fathers-and-sons and fathers-and-daughters — another double bonanza collection because there are far too many good ones out there. I had to put some aside to share for next year or this list would get too long. As always, these are free to read online — just click the story titles — so please do share and read with your own families. The stories are from these amazing writers: Ben Marcus, Jesmyn Ward, Premchand, Yu Hua, Junot Diaz, Amy Bloom, Rick Attig, Sharon Telfer, Grace Paley, Lesley Nneka Arimah, and Ian Frazier. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for June 2017

5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads from January 2017

The 2016 BASS collection is my all-time favorite edition of the entire series so far. For one, a terrific writer of color who actively advocates for other writers of color has guest-edited it: Junot Diaz. For another, it includes stories from smaller literary venues and not just the traditional establishment names. What is rare for me is that I enjoyed every single story in this particular collection so much (with, perhaps, the exception of one — see below) that I am unable to even pick my top favorites. So, instead of choosing, I have simply shared ten out of the twenty stories because they are all available free online. Stories by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mohammed Naseehu Ali, Ted Chiang, Louise Erdrich, Ben Marcus, John Edgar Wideman, Yuko Sakata, Meron Hadero, Daniel J O’Malley and Karen Russell. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads from January 2017

Podcast Review: You Are Not So Smart

Despite our brain’s evolution, when we come across something outside of our normal scope of experience, we tend to rely on this limbic system, or gut/intuition, more than anything else to figure out how best to respond. And, in addition to making us prone to fear, impatience, hate, anger, lying, and other such survival-driven behaviors, this gut/intuition response also causes us to react with more pronounced cognitive biases and logical fallacies. Also, it has been my personal experience that people who have not had the opportunity to broaden their life experiences or their perspectives through reading/education tend to have a greater reliance on this gut/intuition or limbic system response. And, now, more than ever, when our world is increasingly complex, it is just not enough Continue reading Podcast Review: You Are Not So Smart

incarnations sunil khilnani

Incarnations: India in 50 Lives

At the risk of making a general statement, I believe that part of the Indian psyche has always been to glorify/romanticize our past, belittle our present, and fatalize our future. Whether we’re doing this in the context of the country at large or in our own day-to-day lives, this cultural trait is embedded in our DNA, it seems, from the day we’re born. So, whenever I come upon anything in popular media with hooks like, say, “Remarkable individuals who shaped India, and sometimes the world”, I sit back and think: “Yeah, right.”. Continue reading Incarnations: India in 50 Lives