Now that we’re in the throes of summer, some of the Ladies have asked for reading suggestions. As it happens, I’m spending the month of June in northeastern Wisconsin, and while the local library just granted me a card (you just have to love libraries), I find that I’m doing a lot of my reading on devices. One day, after reading my critique partner’s latest novella on my laptop, I looked for sites that recommended books or talked about books. As you might expect, sites abound. So if you’re stuck in the airport, have read all the thrillers, and are looking for new things to try, here are a few sites that you might find interesting.
Many people are familiar with The Los Angeles Review of Books, which was launched on Tumblr in 2011 to rival New York’s literary arts scene, and which now it has. Other well-known sites include Granta, which publishes essays, interviews, and short fiction, and The Millions, which also posts reviews, essays, and links. The Paris Review Daily has daily posts (and sometimes multiple posts per day) that include news roundups, essays, interviews, and more. The last time I checked in, the discussion was of an Ann Beattie story, in which the narrator quotes a poem by James Wright, who writes “I have wasted my life,” which seemed fitting for my internet browsing session.
Other sites are less well known. Book Riot is a fun site that takes books but not itself seriously. My favorite column name: “Genre Kryptonite” which has posts on “Tornado Stories” and “Beauty and the Beast Retellings.” It discusses 18 genres including mystery, literary fiction, romance, and children’s literature, and hosts podcasts.
One site that failed and then succeeded (a novel, if I may say so, progression of events) is Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading. Originally conceived as the “literary journal for the Internet era,” it ultimately ceased regular publication. Then like the Phoenix, it was reborn, smaller and simpler, but no less effective. A writer, an indie press, or an editor picks one story each week, and that’s it. This week’s story is “The Sacred Family” by Rachel Kushner, recommended by the PEN World Voices Festival, and available for free download in both Kindle and ePub formats.
The Largehearted Boy blog showcases news and discussion about music, literature, and pop culture as well as daily free and legal music downloads. Regular features include “52 Books, 52 Weeks” and “Antiheroines.” One terrific feature is the “Book Notes” series, in which authors discuss the music that played in the background as they wrote their books.
Lapham’s Quarterly Roundtable publishes essays on unusual but fascinating historical subjects. The June 19 “The Rest is History” roundup includes articles on euchre (a card game), womanless weddings, how trashy genre book covers (now hidden behind ereaders) were once used as a bait and switch to lure readers into opening serious works of literature, and why historical reenactors prefer Napoleon to the Duke of Wellington, among several other articles.
The quirky fun of the McSweeney world is distilled into McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Check out columns such as “Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond,” “Interviews With People Who Have Interesting or Unusual Jobs,” “Teddy Wayne’s Unpopular Proverbs,” and “Best Joke Ever.” Recent articles include “Purify Your System With the Seven-Day Chili Dog Cleanse” by Django Gold and “The Results of Doc’s Medical Examination On the Other Six Dwarfs” by Dan Carroll. There are overtly serious articles, too. With a twist.
A not-for-profit project dedicated to promoting and celebrating the public domain in all its richness and variety, The Public Domain Review focuses on the surprising, the strange, and the beautiful, as it says on its About page. This week’s opening story is a review of Sir Thomas Browne’s Pseudodoxia Epidemica, a work that debunks myths relating to the world of animals. Also featured: “The Nightwalker and the Nocturnal Picaresque,” which discusses how the advent of street lighting in 17th-century London gave rise to the selling of sex—and a new literary genre.
You’re still looking for something to read? I can’t help you. Maybe others can!