Book news travels via word-of-mouth in New York and, more often than not, the internet is where writers, publishers, and—above all—readers compile the best reviews, gossip, and literature-related bulletins. The term “blog” has become something of a blanket-terminology for a variety of different sites. Some of these are independent, while others are maintained by presses or magazines. Each has its own identity, and serves a multiplicity of functions, usually some combination of marketplace, forum, and publicity.
No list of book-related sites can hope to be exhaustive, though a few have become institutions and even boast their own original writing. There’s also the fact that many of these platforms pay their contributors, providing an ideal opening for writers early in their careers or hoping to pick up some extra cash from reviewing. Below are 10 of the very best of the web’s literary blogs, well worth a visit for anyone hoping to stay abreast of the latest in reading, reviewing, and contemporary thought.
Founded in 2002 by former editors of the defunct Gawker, The Awl’s motto is “Be Less Stupid,” a promise it has fulfilled with passionate writing about all manner of internet minutiae. Along with sister site The Hairpin, which caters to a women-focused audience, The Awl has helped to redefine the media environment with irreverent pop culture commentary and news that is “resonant, weird, important, and frightening.”
Founded in 2009 as a quarterly print magazine, Electric Literature has gone on to become one of the most savvy and invigorating websites concerned with writing—or, in all honesty, best websites period. Besides all manner of news and essays, the editors maintain Recommended Reading, a forum for original fiction chosen and introduced by their huge network of writers.
Run out of Canada by Random House, Hazlitt is one of the cleanest blogs you’ll ever see in terms of prose. Whether personal essay, investigative reporting, or criticism, the distinguished list of contributors—which includes Soraya Roberts and Sarah Gerard to name just two luminaries of nonfiction—make for much more than a publishing news site, they make for a magazine as incisive and hard-hitting as anything on the news rack.
Combining politics with nonfiction and photography, Guernica is another fully-fledged magazine that happens to publish online. For first-class reportage as only Guernica can deliver, look no farther than Jacob Albert on life in a Kurdish refugee camp or Abigail Rabinowitz on student writing in the age of Trump.
The New Inquiry
The literary world post-New Inquiry looks very different from when the online magazine first appeared in 2009. Now one of the most respected and scholarly authorities currently operating, and boasting contributors like Teju Cole and Aaron Bady, The New Inquiry proved that the younger generation of literary minds had something to offer the critical establishment and it has remained an outstanding and complete compendium of responses to all the intellectual and pop-cultural engagements of our time.
In all likelihood the most charming and offbeat book blog comes from small press publisher Melville House, which maintains MobyLives, your one-stop shop for topical political commentary, Dolly Parton-based news bulletins and Saturday morning cartoons. It follows that a press named for the author of “Bartleby, the Scrivener” should be so charmingly idiosyncratic, not to mention committed to the online life of the mind.
Since its launch in 2015, Literary Hub has quickly become the internet’s most comprehensive literary website, with contributions from virtually every corner of publishing: mainstream publishers like Simon & Schuster frequently post excerpts from eagerly-awaited titles, while smaller houses like Graywolf Press and New Directions solicit original material from their stable of authors. Nor is it unusual to see bulletins from non-profits like PEN American and independent bookstores from around the country.
The Quarterly Conversation
A true labor of love and an all-important resource for anyone with even a passing interest in contemporary letters, Scott Esposito’s Quarterly Conversation spotlights independent publishing and literature in translation, alongside brilliant essays that are often all that stands between an under-the-radar masterpiece like Sergio De La Pava’s A Naked Singularity and obscurity.
Long-running book blog The Millions can claim seniority over most of the blogs on this list, having been online since 2003—it can also lay claim to some of the most distinguished contributors conceivable, with its regular reviews, personal essays, previews, and news items being authored by Sam Lipsyte, Rivka Galchen, Wells Tower, Margaret Atwood, Jeffrey Eugenides, and many others.
When it comes to book news, appreciations, and first-class writing from The New Yorker’s staff and stable of prize-winning writers, their literary blog, Page-Turner, often gives the print magazine a run for its money, with a huge archive of weekly contributions rising to the standard of the city’s most-read culture magazine.