Do you go through reading phases? I know I do. And I don’t just mean within certain genres, though I phase in and out of contemporary fiction, nonfiction and classic literature constantly. I also go through these intense blog and news binges, sometimes even to the point of neglecting my books. I hadn’t done this for several months until last night, when I clicked a link on my Google Reader and spent a delightful hour with an old favorite. What a joy it was! It won’t be news to any of you who read blogs regularly, but for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, let me just tell you, the blogosphere is full of intelligent writing, exquisite photography, and such interesting people and stories.
So I thought I might share some of my favorites with you, and maybe you could share some of yours.
Needled: Yes, it’s a knitting blog (and one respected equally for it’s treatment of the “hobby” as a legitimate academic subject, as well for its aesthetic and recreational value). But non-knitters, too, will find beauty in Kate Davie’s wonderfully reflective and transparent journalings. She writes about her adventures in fiber arts, researching, writing, hill-walking, nature, life, and, a recent theme, recovering from illness. Her photographs glory in the beautiful Scottish scenery in which she lives, it’s sometimes playful, and occasionally, breathtaking. Needled, for me, is an oasis of calm, a place where I retreat mentally with my knitting (and a cup of tea) and muse on life’s struggles, and also its joys. Also, did I mention she lives in Scotland? Takes pictures of Scotland? Knits sweaters in Scotland? Talks about life in Scotland? I know our friends in the Isles won’t understand this, but can there be any better escape from a busy, hot, fraught day in the States that the heather-sheathed hills of Scotland? I didn’t think so.
Smitten Kitchen: So I just took an unplanned 30 minute hiatus in the middle of writing this entry to salivate over Deb’s French Onion Soup recipe. That then turned into an additional 1.5 hour-long hiatus during which time I took a trip to the grocery store, returned, wept for a full ten minutes while slicing and dicing 5 cups of onions, slow cooked said onions with my vegetarian substitute of beef bouillon, added freshly grated Gruyere and french bread croutons, and then luncheoned as I haven’t luncheoned in many many weeks, without a thought of work, my to-do list or, alas, finishing this blog entry. Does that paint a clear enough picture about why this blog is amazing and also potentially disastrous?
Caustic Cover Critic: For book design geeks everywhere, this is the place to come for inspiration. While I am by no means a designer, I’ve tootled around on Photoshop and InDesign enough (ahem, very little) to be in awe of the pros who do it well. Maybe you can’t or shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (though, let’s be honest, we all do), but this blog has taught me that good cover designers get to the heart of a book’s themes, its ideas and ideals, its quirks, its characters. The end product alone can be worth the price of the book. And then, you know… whenever I get bummed out wondering what will happen to book culture when/if digital takes over, I come to this site and I think,’Yes – this! This is art! This is worth fighting for!’ I know nothing’s holding designers back from delivering amazing cover designs to eReaders, and probably to comparable aesthetic affect, but it really begs the question, Should they? Should we knock down the Sistine Chapel just because we have a way to render Michelangelo’s art in 3D digital form? Should we put Le Louvre in a websites? Oh dear, there I go again… Seriously, just check it out. If only for these needle and thread embroidered covers of classic books.
Read All Day: Okay, so for the book lovers out there, how’s this for a reading schedule: one book a day, every day, all year around… and don’t forget you have to review that book on your website each night. Sound good? Nope, me neither. But that’s what Nina Sankovitch did and with incredible humility and grace, I might add. She started in 2008 as a way to come to terms with the tragic death of her older sister, and in an effort “to find purpose and meaning in life,” she explains on her site. She called it her 365 Project and, although she no longer reads a book a day, she’s still reading and reviewing at a somewhat reduced pace: she’s down to two or three books a week. But it would be unfair to praise Nina’s blog purely for the quantity of her output; as I say, she is a gracious and humble writer, reviewing books with gentle insight and contemplation. She is completely devoid of snark and pretension, admitting that she rarely writes a “bad” review because she is so intentional in the books she selects. She transfers the joy and peace she finds in literature to her readers and, I can avow, she has inspired many of my own book selections. Another gentle site for when you’re feeling literary and want to be talked into reading all day, which, if you’re like me, doesn’t take much arm twisting.
There are many more; some are listed in my good reads links to the right. But right now I want to hear about your favorites. What are your favorite blogs, journals, eye-candy sites?