the complete review Quarterly
Volume III, Issue 3   --   August, 2002

Literary Weblogs
An Overview

(- updated: 6 March 2005 -)

Note (27 November 2005): Literary weblogs continue to proliferate (and existing ones continue to shift in character (and quality)) and merely updating this Overview is no longer feasible. Consider it now a relic of the times (last image from early 2005) -- and refer instead to our Literary Weblogs-links page, which is now considerably more comprehensive and up-to-date (and will continue to be regularly updated).

We will probably eventually offer a new literary weblogs-overview in a future issue of the crQuarterly; when and if we do we will also post the link here.

I. Blogging Literature
II. The complete review Quarterly's Overview
III. The Best Literary Blogs
IV. Worthwhile Literary Blogs
V. Other Literary Blogs
VI. Foreign-language Literary Blogs
VII. Other Sites and Blogs of Interest



       Weblogs, popularly also called "blogs", are all the rage. Blogging is fairly simple and inexpensive (set up one for free at Blogger, for example), and weblogs have proliferated all across the Internet -- an increase from some 30,000 blogs in 1998 to 500,000 by mid-2002 according to a recent article in The Economist.
       Most weblogs are individual undertakings, run and written by a single person, focussing on personal interests (which are, of course, often very broad and far-reaching). Some weblogs provide only self-created content, but the features of the most interesting ones are that they:        The result is a running commentary, peering into the World Wide Web, offering insights and information to curious readers. Weblogs are public diaries, and personalized media outlets. The best ones lead readers to places they might not have found for themselves. They are especially valuable for their far reach, leading readers to pages and information not found at the most popular mass media sites.

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I. Blogging Literature

       Many weblogs make mention of books: current reading, books in the news, interesting (or amusing or particularly vicious) reviews are all popular subjects. But on most blogs literature is just one topic among many.
       Blogs tend to be general-interest sites. Some bloggers are obsessed with particular topics, but most cover a wide variety of subjects. Very few focus exclusively (or even extensively) on literature -- though there are a considerable number of library-blogs (or rather: librarian-blogs) which, beside library-related information do also often offer a variety of literary coverage.
       We were actually surprised to find so few literary blogs. The weblog seems well-suited to, for example, the reading diary -- a running commentary on books read, with links to relevant sites and pages that a reader might have sought out looking for more information about the subject matter of a book or the author, or reviews and other opinions of the books. There are, in fact, a considerable number of reading diaries to be found on the Internet, but most of these are a more limited sort of weblog, focussing only on commentary and rarely offering links to external pages and sites (one of the hallmarks -- and most useful aspects -- of weblogs).
       In some senses even the complete review's book coverage is weblog-like, adding review-links and other links as we stumble across them for each title under review, to go along with our own commentary (i.e. our reviews). (See our newest reviews, which are likely to be the most frequently updated ones.) Organised book by book, this is perhaps a more useful model of providing users with access to specific information. Similarly, even a large, ongoing literary debate can be better summed up on a fixed page rather than in an ongoing blog -- see for example our piece on the Oprah-Franzen debacle, A Book, an Author, and a Talk Show Host and specifically the still occasionally updated links-list at the end of the piece.
       Nevertheless, the blog approach also has a lot going for it. Much of the fun of weblogs is that they go wildly in unexpected directions. They are also personality-driven, and the personal is often a welcome (and appropriate) touch when reading about reading.
       Among the reasons that there is limited literary coverage in weblogs appears to be because people actually seem to read very little. One doesn't come across many who read (or at least blog) more than say a book a week (though some of the reading-diarists do consume books at a furious rate). A slow pace does limit the viability of an online reading diary cum weblog -- but we're still surprised at how few we found.

       (Updated (5 November 2003): The situation clearly has improved over the past year -- see the numerous additions now included below.)
       (Updated (10 September 2004): Literary weblogs keep on sprouting, making for an increasingly unwieldy list.
       (Updated (6 March 2005): The (wonderful) proliferation of literary weblogs continues apace -- the selection grows ever bigger and more varied

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II. The complete review Quarterly's Overview

       Our criteria in this overview are specific and limited. All we are interested in is the amount and breadth of literary coverage provided in these weblogs -- with a focus decidedly on the consumption of literature (reading) rather than its production (writing).

       This is not a survey of the 'best blogs'. Many of the weblogs that we praise here are, in fact, not as impressive overall as others that go unmentioned. Inclusion (and recommendation) here focusses solely on how literary these weblogs are. Often others, with more far-ranging interests, are far more interesting. But the paramount consideration in our evaluation of weblogs is literary content.

       We have also been fairly broad in our interpretation of what qualifies as a weblog and included several sites which aren't, strictly speaking, blogs but are close enough to be of interest to users. When looking at sites such as online reading diaries we only considered an unrepresentative sample, to give users an idea of what is out there.

       Note also that we are certain to have missed many blogs -- perhaps even some that are superior to any of those that are mentioned. As a literary site constantly scouting for literary-related links and information we believe we do a decent job of trolling the Internet, but we don't find everything. New blogs constantly appear and others elude us; we hope we haven't missed too many. Certainly, we suggest to all users that they see this overview only as a starting point rather than a definitive compilation. (In the first two weeks of August we have already amended our list and added two overlooked lit blogs.)

       In each category weblogs are listed alphabetically. Our preferences should be fairly clear from our comments.

       (Note also that in the meantime (since this piece was first published) the complete review has actually inaugurated its own weblog, the Literary Saloon -- in large part because after surveying the literary weblogging scene it seemed to us there was still much room for additional literary coverage through blogs.)

       In the interest of full disclosure, note that many weblogs have linked to pages at the complete review. We note this where possible (at least with regards to the weblogs discussed in at least some depth), but we have likely missed some of them: some links from weblogs yield only a handful of hits and thus are easily overlooked. (The complete review itself rarely links to weblogs because of their shifting character.)

       (Note also that we expect this piece, within a short time after its initial publication, to be the most-linked to article at the cr Quarterly -- at least from weblogs. We only note who linked to us before this initial publication (August, 2002).)

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III. The Best Literary Blogs

Bookninja | Blog of a Bookslut | The Elegant Variation | Maud Newton
MobyLives | MoorishGirl | NewPages Weblog

         Added to survey: 6 March 2005

       Previously outrageously overlooked in this survey because of Bookninja's far-reaching ambit (i.e. we always categorised it as a large literary site that merely incidentally had a weblog), but since 2004 it has easily become one of the leading weblogs, with extensive links and commentary. There's a slight Canadian focus, but coverage ranges far and wide, and there's no question that Bookninja has become a must-visit literary weblog.

       Blog of a Bookslut

       (Update (5 November 2003): Blog of a Bookslut has, over the past year, easily moved up from the merely worthwhile category to being one of the top-of-the-heap literary weblogs.)

       (Update (6 March 2005): The addition of Michael Schaub as a regular contributor (alongside the original Bookslut, Jessa Crispin) in late 2004 means there is now even more extensive coverage at the site.

       Part of the Bookslut site.

       The weblog:        Excellent links, in all sorts of directions, with more focus on pop culture (including comics) than elsewhere. The variety is particularly noteworthy, and there's usually something of (literary) interest for everyone.
       A must-visit literary weblog.

       The Elegant Variation
         Added to survey: 5 November 2003

       Solid commentary, literary focus, updated pretty much daily. Consistent updating and comments, good links to sources often not noticed elsewhere. Relatively new, but has now (15 February) established itself as a leading literary weblog.

       Maud Newton
         Added to survey: 5 November 2003

       Describes itself as: "Occasional literary links, amusements, politics, and rants."

       The weblog:        Far more than occasional, Maud Newton offers extensive links to a wide variety of literature-reltaed pieces. Much is collected from other literary weblogs, but the sheer number and variety of links always make it worth a visit. Quotes from the linked-to pieces, and occasional commentary also add to the value of the site.
       A must-visit literary weblog.

         (Update (12 November 2004): After a lengthy hiatus MobyLives lives again.)
         (Update (27 November 2005): As of November 2005, MobyLives has gone audio -- podcasting, rather than offering text (hence also no links).

       Describes itself as: "news & commentary about books & writers".

       The weblog:        In addition, the site offers (fairly unobtrusively):        The site's one glaring weakness used to be that material was not archived; this is no longer the case (i.e. there now is an archive).
       The focus of MobyLives is entirely literary, and it offers all types of literature-related links: publishing and bookselling industry news, a great deal of book and author news, extensive coverage of all the fun literary controversies (the Oprah-Franzen brouhaha, the epidemic of plagiarizing historians, etc.), and more. Of particular value and note is that there are often several links provided on the same topic or piece of news, pointing users to coverage from different perspectives.
       The weblog is also extensively annotated: this isn't just a list of links with a few brief notes. MobyLives offers generally entertaining commentary, putting the links in context. Stories are also often followed up on and revisited as links to new pieces on certain subjects become available.
       At this time, MobyLives towers above all other literary weblogs.

       Note: MobyLives has linked to stories at the complete review. MobyLives does not have a permanent link to the complete review site.

         Added to survey: 5 November 2003

       Describes itself as: "my own take on literature, culture, politics and other things that strike my fancy."

       The weblog:        Useful, serious considerations, mainly literary focus.

       NewPages Weblog

       Part of the NewPages site, which describes itself as: "The Alternative Guide to New Books, Magazines & Music along with News & Views from the Net of Interest to Booksellers, Publishers, Librarians, Writers & Readers.".

       The weblog:        Part of the impressive NewPages site, this weblog offers useful and interesting literary coverage, though it also covers other areas -- including music and the alternative press. (The site also includes other useful pages; the Literary Magazine Stand, with reviews of literary magazines is particularly recommended.)
       Commentary is generally more limited than at, for example, MobyLives, but often includes useful quotes from the pages linked to. The NewPages Weblog provides links to more off-beat, anti-establishment points of view. Many of the links deal with first amendment issues, government interference, and small and alternative press stories.
       Well worth visiting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (the days when it is updated).

       Note: NewPages Weblog has linked to stories at the complete review. NewPages does not have a permanent link to the complete review site.

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IV. Worthwhile Literary Blogs

Arts & Letters Daily | Arts Journal - Publishing | beatrice | Bookdwarf | Booksurfer
Buzzwords Deux | Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind | Galleycat | Golden Rule Jone |
Grimm Perspectives | Grumpy Old Bookman | Kitabkhana | Nipposkiss | Rake's Progress
The Reading Experience | ReadySteadyBlog | Return of the Reluctant
scribblingwoman | So Many Books | splinters | 3 AM Magazine - Buzzwords | Tingle Alley
Waterboro lib blog | wood s lot | Yahoo! News Full Coverage - Literature and Authors

       Arts & Letters Daily
       "An updated report of news and reviews"

       (Update (7 October 2002): Arts & Letters Daily has decided to call it quits: it no longer exists.)
       (Update (26 October 2002): Arts & Letters Daily is back: briefly lost in the Lingua Franca bankruptcy proceedings, it has now been bought up by The Chronicle of Higher Education and is back to its good old self.)

       Arts & Letters Daily is one of the earliest and most popular weblogs. There are three columns on the weblog: "Articles of Note", "New Books", "Essays and Opinion". One new entry is made in each column daily, five times a week, plus a double-dose on Saturday for the weekend.
       "New Books" focusses on the literary, while the other categories occasionally also include entries that are of a literary nature. Each entry includes a brief comment, and often there is more than one link for any given story (always commendable !)
       There is relatively little fiction coverage at Arts & Letters Daily, but it is still of interest to all readers.
       Arts & Letters Daily also has an excellent links list.

       Note: Arts & Letters Daily has never linked to any stories at the complete review. Arts & Letters Daily used to have a permanent link to the complete review site but this was removed early in 2002 (we do not know why). (Update (26 October 2002): Arts & Letters Daily restored the permanent link to the complete review site in September 2002.)

       Arts Journal - Publishing

       Part of Arts Journal, "The Daily Digest of Arts & Cultural Journalism", which is a weblog devoted to arts coverage in various fields. The Publishing blog usually offers only one or two stories daily, and coverage tends to be of bigger (rather than quirky) stories about publishing and literature. The blog is not updated daily, though it is updated regularly.

       Note: Arts Journal has linked to stories at the complete review. Arts Journal does have a permanent link to the complete review Quarterly site.


       "Items of interest from literary circles."
       General literary links and information. So far, so good.

         Added to survey: 10 September 2004
       Good general literary coverage.


       Decent, personal weblog with literary focus.

       Note: Booksurfer does not appear to have linked to stories at the complete review. Booksurfer does not have a permanent link to the complete review site.

       Buzzwords Deux
         Added to survey: 10 September 2004
       3AM Magazine weblog, with solid contemporary (mainly British) literary coverage.

       Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind
         Added to survey: 5 November 2003

       Sarah Weinman's weblog. "My interests run the gamut from crime fiction to klezmer, from publishing to music, forensic science to gossip."
       Lots of links, especially good on current publishing scene in US and mystery writing -- a welcome additional perspective not found elsewhere. Frequent updates.
       Relatively new at this time (5 November 2003) and looks like a very promising weblog.

         Added to survey: 6 March 2005
       "Blogging about books and publishing", by Nathalie Chicha
       Good coverage, especially of American book industry (publishing, reviewing, reporting).

       Golden Rule Jones
         Added to survey: 6 November 2003
       "Literary events and topics, with a Chicago angle"
       Chicago focus, not quite daily updates, also of general interest. Good commentary, establishing itself (15 February) as must-read literary weblog.


       One daily link, usually without annotation.
       Also includes a calendar of book news and occasional editorials and commentaries on literary matters. Site also offers book reviews.
       Canadian slant, but links and commentary are of general interest.

       Note: has linked to stories at the complete review. does have a permanent link to the complete review site.

       Grimm Perspectives
         Added to survey: 10 September 2004
       "Publishing, Culture & Whatnot".
       Solid literary coverage.

       Grumpy Old Bookman
         Added to survey: 10 September 2004
       "A blog about books and publishing, aimed at both readers and writers.".
       Generally one longer entry daily. Personal, opinionated, informed (and grumpy).

         Added to survey: 5 November 2003

       Describes itself as: "Books, reviews and literary news -- Indian and otherwise -- as blogged by The Babu".
       Lots of links (and some commentary), usually updated several times a week. Especially strong on India-related literary news, providing links not usually found elsewhere.

         Added to survey: 10 September 2004
       Michael Standaert's weblog. Good, broad literary coverage.

       Rake's Progress
         Added to survey: 6 May 2004

       "Prowling the vast wasteland between the coasts"
       Good literary coverage.

       The Reading Experience
         Added to survey: 15 February 2004
       Daniel Green's "literary literary weblog". Longer commentary, generally on a single subject, some links.

         Added to survey: 10 September 2004
       "Mark Thwaite's blog at".
       Part of useful, larger site. Good book information, especially about new literary publications.

       Return of the Reluctant
         Added to survey: 15 February 2004
       Good literary coverage and commentary, but also general interest weblog.

         Added to survey: 6 May 2004

       "Mostly about books, writing, sf, the eighteenth century, parenting, and books. "

       So Many Books
         Added to survey: 6 May 2004

       "The agony and ecstasy of a reading life"

       "Spikemagazine daily weblog"
       "Splinters is designed to provide Spike readers with a daily dose of new sites, gossip, mini-reviews and whatever else won't fit into the rest of the site."

       Not quite daily updates, personal focus. A UK focus, too.
       Lots of serious literature, as well as some other stuff.
       Part of the excellent Spikemagazine site, which also has reviews, interviews, and author information.

       Note: splinters has linked to stories at the complete review. splinters did not have a permanent link to the complete review site when this article was first posted.

       3 AM Magazine - Buzzwords
       "Your daily dose of literary & cultural news from around the global village"

       Part of the excellent 3 AM Magazine site. Provides links to reviews and literary information, generally of more out of the mainstream literature and culture, with fairly extensive commentary. Some self-promotion too. Blog is updated anywhere from several times daily to only a few times a week.
       Biggest drawback: can't be reached by a single link, as a new page (with a new URL) is opened every month. But certainly worthwhile.

       Note: Buzzwords has linked to the complete review. Buzzwords does not have a permanent link to the complete review site.

       Tingle Alley
         Added to survey: 10 September 2004
       "Carrie AA Frye's "quasi-literary blog".
       Good current literary coverage.

       Waterboro lib blog

       The weblog:        The Waterboro lib blog offers a great deal that is of interest to the reading public as a whole. Certainly worth frequent visits.

       Note: Waterboro lib blog has linked to the complete review -- albeit only after this article first appeared. But Waterboro lib blog was also only added after this article first appeared (we overlooked it entirely).

       wood s lot

       Links to reviews and literary information, often with long quotes from the linked pages. Fairly serious literary focus.

       Note: wood s lot has linked to stories at the complete review. wood s lot does not have a permanent link to the complete review site.

       Yahoo! News Full Coverage - Literature and Authors

       Okay, this isn't really a blog -- and Yahoo ! is pretty hard to take seriously any more anyway. Still, this link-list adds about one literature-related news link daily, and also offers links to "Opinion & Editorials" and "Feature Articles". Not exactly a goldmine, but yes, they do thus provide links to more literary news than most blogs .....
       Note that the links are offered without any editorial or other comments -- it really is practically just a links list.

       Note: Yahoo! News Full Coverage has not linked to stories at the complete review. Yahoo! News Full Coverage does have a permanent link to the complete review site.

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