I swore I’d never link to a Flavorwire click-bait list, but this one on the 25 best websites for literature lovers is worth reading. It’s also worth a few comments. Some of the sites listed are very good, and I follow them—The Paris Review Daily, The New Yorker’s Page Turner, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, The Awl, etc. But the list does have a certain slant. I don’t really read The Rumpus or Guernica because the literary stuff is so predictably “transgressive.” Well, that’s a bit of an over-statement, but you get what I mean.
Missing from the list are sites for the sensitive reader who likes a little spice in his or her politics and doesn’t go to the local Unitarian Universalist. So, here are a few additional literary websites worth reading:
Books and Culture. John Wilson has been putting together this great bimonthly for close to twenty years now. They offer 3-5 free reviews or essays each week.
RealClear Books. While RealClear is heavy on the non-fiction links—particularly political non-fiction—its ten every morning, six days a week, are always worth checking out.
Maureen Mullarkey, just a few tabs over here at First Things, offers serious, clear, and entertaining commentary on modern and contemporary art. Think of it as the anti-Thomas Kinkade.
Books and Arts at The Weekly Standard. Phil Terzian puts together a good weekly selection of arts and literature stuff for the print magazine. You can access ten articles a month for free. He has a particular interest in Victorianism, twentieth century English poets and Anglicanism. But the section is always quite varied. He doesn’t shy away from French surrealism, John Milton, and even ran an excellent profile of rising crime fiction talent J. Mark Bertrand.
Chapter and Verse at The Christian Science Monitor. Get your genre fiction and publishing news fix here.
Open Letters Monthly. Edited by Sam Sacks—the fiction chronicler for the Wall Street Journal—Open Letters covers a fair share of literary fiction and contemporary poetry by people who are not afraid to call bull or praise.
Good Letters. This is Image’s blog. Certain writers are better than others—read everything Tony Woodlief writes—and it can occasionally be a little too predictable in its kind thoughtfulness. J.F. Powers once said of The Commonweal of yore that most of its writers “are so fair-minded that it makes you tired.” This sometimes applies to Good Letters—mildness is not always the right response—but it is still often worth reading.
Standpoint. I always particularly enjoy their Overrated/Underrated section.
Arma Virumque at The New Criterion. Sharp, knowledgeable criticism from a source you can trust.
D.G. Myers’s Commonplace Blog. Read Myers whenever he posts something new, which is not as frequent as I would like, but it’s free, so I can’t complain. His main interests are fiction and literary education. There is no false divide between “genre” and “literary” fiction for Myers, which is refreshing.
There are, of course, other sites, but this will at least serve as a quick antidote to Flavorwire’s list. Things are not as varied or deep for right-of-center readers as they are for those on the left. And let me be quick to add that these political terms—right and left—are very unhelpful when it comes to thinking of art and literature. What I look for in a website or publication (or book for that matter) is an interest in craft, a respect for tradition that is neither blinded by unquestioning devotion or spite, and a skepticism of ideological trends that remains open to new subject matter and inventive (I won’t say original) style. Unfortunately, there are too few sites or blogs like this.