I have this little routine that I go through each morning in reading the blogs and Web sites that interest me. The fact that I can do this still seems a bit of a miracle to me, one that I’ve never find tedious or the least bit repetitious. It’s like waking up each morning in the library.
I start with the Arts and Letters Daily that has three columns of short descriptions of new ideas, topics, issues, etc. First there is the Articles of Note, then New Books and the last Essays and Opinion pieces. In light of the brief sentence or two about each listing, I decide whether or not I want to click on the “more” link which in turn takes me to the full document itself, whereupon I can add it to my list of Unsorted Bookmarks to be read later in the day.
On Monday I always move from this tremendously rich page to The New Yorker’s Web site to find out what’s in the issue for the week. Then I move on to three sets of Blogs.
Blog 1 consists of Anecdotal Evidence by Patrick Kurp who writes with considerable insight and wisdom based on his exceptional knowledge of literary history. The Book Bench, the second is this group, is the New Yorker’s literary blog that presents a half dozen or more topics each day, and lastly the Commonplace Blog of David Meyers that presents one of the sanest and most thought provoking literary commentaries on the Web.
Blog 2 begins with Conversational Reading that has a good deal of literary news, especially about Latin American literature but far too many ads. Then I move on to the New York Times book blog, Paper Cuts, and then to the Guardian literary site that includes a good deal of news, special reports, and its own blog. Here you get the benefit of three extremely interesting Web pages that bring together a wide range of literary articles and videos.
Blog 3 consists of another three Web sites beginning with The Situationist that treats an enormous number of topics in the social sciences broadly conceived. I follow it with the Frontal Cortex written by Jonah Lehrer, the author of Proust was a Neuroscientist and How We Decide. The last of this batch is Letters from a Librarian, a site that I’ve recently discovered and has become one of my favorites, although lately its author doesn’t post comments very often. However, it is far and away the most aesthetically pleasing, as you will note at once if you visit it. It is also a extremely personal blog in which the author does what I think is so important in writing about literature, namely describing the way the experience affects them personally.
I do all this first thing in the morning and then later in the day, I return to those links I’ve saved in my Unsorted Bookmarks to read with more care. I am struck by what an extraordinary experience this is and what a wealth of information is offered up to me each day by these bloggers
None of this was possible a few years ago. Now it is and as far as I’m concerned this is a bit of a revolution in the transmission of thought and ideas and teaching.
And when I cannot get on the Web, say when I’m traveling or my server is down, I find myself terribly distressed. Something important is missing from my daily routine and I will spend the better part of the day trying to find it. Yes, it is truly an addiction and yes, I do experience withdrawal symptoms in the absence of my morning literary fix. It is like working out each day, another one of my addictions. If I unable to get to the gym or head out for a morning jog, I just don’t feel quite right the rest of the day.