What’s In Your Ultimate Blogroll? (2012 Edition)

XKCD's "Startling"
Randall Munroe’s XKCD

Nearly four years ago, I wrote a post for GalleyCat called “What’s In Your Ultimate Blogroll?” I was riffing off a book called Ulimate Blogs where Sarah Boxer laid out some info on her 27 favorites. (The book’s still available, though as far as I know it’s never been updated; I wasn’t convinced by all her selections, but the attempt was certainly commendable.)

Then, a few weeks back, I was talking with a friend about some projects that I’m lining up for 2012 when I mentioned a post I’d recently read at one of my ultimate blogs, John Scalzi’s Whatever. My friend had never heard of it, so I started telling her who Scalzi is and what his site’s about; back in 2008, I’d described it as “a perfect example of how a writer’s blog can be a promotional tool without being uselessly annoying about it,” and that’s basically how I put it that night, too. (If you’re looking for a more detailed introduction, you’re in luck: Scalzi just wrote one.) Afterwards, my friend said something along the lines of how she wanted to know what the blogs I read every day are, which is why I’m revisiting (and revising) my ultimate blogroll and sharing some of those links with you tonight.

(Of course, I haven’t actually used a “blogroll,” in the sense of a list of blogs that I access through an active web page, in years—instead, I use Google Reader to keep up with blogs through their RSS feeds. But the metaphor still holds up.)

I follow a lot fewer book blogs than I used to, but I’m always interested in what Maud Newton has to say about literature and culture (and literary culture), and the romance fan blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books continues to teach me how to write about genre fiction with an authoritative passion. That’s actually the same reason that I’m a huge fan of Comics Alliance, even though I’m actually reading fewer comic books and graphic novels these days; editor Laura Hudson has put together a roster of sharp critics who challenge the sexual and racial assumptions of mainstream comics on a near-daily basis, but also aren’t afraid to give themselves over to the fun of great storytelling. When it comes to literary blogs affiliated with mainstream media institutions, the only one I admire enough to pay attention to regularly is Carolyn Kellogg’s Jacket Copy at The Los Angeles Times, although The New York Daily News launched a book blog in late 2011 called Page Views that I hope works out. (As for the other “corporate” book blogs, I count on the people I follow on Twitter to ferret out the must-read posts and bring them to my attention, though sometimes I’ll spot-check if I’m looking to see if anybody’s talking about a particular book.)

For professional inspiration, I keep an eye out for new posts at 43 Folders and Presentation Zen, and Seth Godin usually posts about once a day (sometimes more). Personal inspiration comes from my friends Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project) and Jonathan Fields.

Finally, when I just want to be entertained, the following webcomics never let me down: Randall Munroe’s XKCD, David Malki’s Wondermark, and Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant. Each has a particular type of “geek humor,” so there’s very little thematic overlap between the three, but they all “work” at a consistent level of excellence.

As I mentioned, these aren’t the only blogs I follow regularly, but they are among the best, and I encourage you to pay attention to any (or all) of them, and see for yourself what rewards that attention will bring.

1 January 2012 | housecleaning |