Kay: It’s Not All about Books

Girl-ReadingNow 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!


7 thoughts on “Kay: It’s Not All about Books

  1. LOL, I don’t go to McSweeney’s nearly enough. They are like a psychic mirror of my soul. I have to endure a health check every year, and I often break the fast with a chili dog afterward. Mmmmm, chili dogs!

    I’m not sure what to read this summer. Life isn’t letting up, and I wind up reading a lot of short stuff from the internet (I am hooked on advice columns/blogs like Lifehacker, even when their site doesn’t agree with my phone very well. I am sure they are mining my information like crazy, given how much time they suck from me before showing me any content. I really can’t recommend them, but they are like a chili dog as far as reading consumption goes. Full of protein, probably cleansing if you get a bad one. As in, you’ll have to reboot your system.)

    • Ha! I know what you mean about getting mined for information. More info, all the time. I also love McSweeney’s and don’t go there enough. I’ll have to check out Lifehacker more often. When I went there during class, I always enjoyed it. A person can never waste too much time on the internet. 🙂

  2. So many great sites! I will have to pace myself or I will be paraphrasing James Wright: ‘I have wasted my allotted writing time’ on the interwebs :-).

    My recent internet browsing has mostly revolved around self-publishing blogs or posts on writing-related sites. I think I’ve been bitten by the self-pub bug! It’s equal parts terror and exhilaration to think about jumping into it! Unless I hear something at RWA Nationals that really dissuades me from it, I’m pretty sure I’m going the self-pub route with my romance series, not after trying trad pub, but in lieu of it. Anyone else here who is considering self-pub is probably already following Marie Force and Howey Hughes. I usually find plenty of links on their sites to take me down lots of rabbit holes!

    • I’m a fairly recent convert to Marie Force’s site, and it’s incredibly awesome. So much information there, and so many authors trying new things! Very inspiring. I think those of us who decide to go indie will need to form a subgroup, or something.

  3. Oh no – I really didn’t need to see this 🙂 I’ve been up to my ears in builders and dust for months, and I’m so far behind it’s time to set the clock to zero and start anew. I love the sound of these, but I daren’t go down any more rabbit holes, at least until after Nationals. Bookmarking this page for August!

    Enjoy Wisconsin!

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