I know, I originally said that I was going to do this post tomorrow, but I found myself with a lusciously free Sunday afternoon, before time to have my afternoon coffee or go for my walk (I hate vigorous exercise, but you just gotta do something, right?). It seemed the right time to honor that old saw, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” so here I am, writing about the 5 blogs I’ve started following since my site first went up on July 4, and what qualities I go to those blogs for (and I don’t go to them all for the same thing, by a long shot). My interests are perhaps a bit narrow, but I like to read and talk about books and ideas from books more than about fashion, or gardening, or sports, for example. I’m willing, however, to extend myself to other topic areas in which I have no particular expertise, upon occasion.
The first blog I went to was “Truth and Cake,” because I saw it on “Freshly Pressed” and just had to tell people about the picture in the header–it’s so half-retro/half-nouvelle! The site immediately attracted me with its discussion of “Selective Truth and Social Media,” a thought-provoking and wise article by a woman only a few years more than half my age (I’ve come to computers late in life, and really admire not only her grace and fluidity with her written topics, but her practical skill in getting it on the Internet). The topics and links of hers that I’ve investigated so far are well-covered, perspicacious, just plain smart articles and evocative pictures in words and images. Her topics are strongly on target (she seems to have her head on very straight whether she’s writing about personal issues or societal ones). Last but not least, I really appreciate the amount of careful editing that’s gone into making her blog as well-written as it is. Some people blog with the apparent impression that getting things down in a hurry is the most important point on the Internet at least, and while there’s a certain amount of truth in this, neatness counts, too. A basically good strong post or blog that’s riddled with spelling/grammatical errors or errors (worse) of fact is not only hard to follow and distracting, it’s less appealing. I’m happy to say that hers has none of these faults, but is regularly quite well-edited. Her most recent post, “Crow, Baby, Crow” is an encouraging and uplifting message to all who are inspired to follow her in their efforts to make good as bloggers, and it has justifiably drawn a lot of hits since I’ve been following it (I’m sorry to say I was out of contact with her post for a day or three, but luckily found it again, just in time to read “Crow, Baby, Crow”). It’s no wonder that she’s been “Freshly Pressed” now two times (I’m waiting for the third).
My second-selected blog was “Jessica Stanley,” and I follow her also on Twitter at @dailydoseofjess . She is another very talented younger person (I’m getting to be an old fart, so everyone looks younger to me some days). I was first attracted to her site when I saw her regular post (with links) on “Freshly Pressed”: it’s called “Read.Look.Think”. I saw it first when she covered Hila Shachar and feminism. There’s usually more than one post or link that I find stimulating, and quite a large number of absolutely marvelous bits of photography from Jessica herself, who has covered her own recent vacation in Italy with beautiful scenic photos and quite talented blog posts that explain some of the things (and people) in the photos. She too is a careful editor, which gives old windbags like me hope that civilization hasn’t yet thrown in the towel. Her personal story (of having recently relocated from Melbourne to England) has given her a valuable perspective on things, which I hope she will share more of when she has had a longer span of time in England. As a person who once lived 6 years in another country myself, I can speak for the fact that even when you’re going to a country where the same language (you think!) is spoken, it’s not always the same language. So far, however, she seems to have largely escaped any unflattering culture shock.
The last three blogs I need to mention (starting with this one) are all ones I’ve begun to follow in the last day or so; therefore, I can only speak to how they have struck me so far, and cannot predict even at my witchiest what their trajectory will be, though the fact that I’m still intrigued and following a day or two later will vouch for something, certainly a strong interest in how they develop from here on out. The blog “Becky Hutchinson” is one which I located yesterday or the day before on someone else’s post, and her blog has continued to get mail all day today on the topics she raised: (1) about the differences between movies and the books they are made from, and (2) about the notorious trilogy of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books. Her ability to attract many readers and many enthusiastic post-ers has been the main thing I’ve noticed so far, and I have to say that this is a quality not to be underestimated, since we are all in this together, and an intelligent remark some one person makes may well lead to stimulating discussions on more than one blog. I think she is inspired and generous towards her readers, and she also has generally respected the good editorial practices that may seem negligible to some, but that make the reading experience so much more enjoyable when they are present. I look forward to seeing much more of her blog when it gets published.
“ohdizzle” is a blog that rather unusually has stricken me to the core of my guilty fiction-lover’s heart with its recent post on the importance of non-fiction books. My sneaking know-nothing position has always been that though non-fiction may spill the beans about someone or something in a fashion calculated to arouse interest and speculation, I really preferred my facts about life to be presented via fictional characters because fiction writers tell universal truths whereas non-fiction books just tell about a particular place and time. This is a debatable issue (and I do recall more than one English or composition or history professor throwing this issue open for debate, but I was smug in my fiction heaven, what can I say?); I will say, however, that now that I’m older (don’t automatically assume wiser, except under persuasion such as “ohdizzle”), I can see a purpose to all those great non-fiction books that everyone reads. First of all, as “ohdizzle” has comprehensively proved, there is still an amount of fictionalizing that goes on in writing even the most starkly addressed issues of fact. For one thing, the author has to imagine and conjecture about events a certain amount of the time. Secondly, how is it going to hurt me to imagine that maybe all object lessons don’t come just as fiction, but may be drawn from life? Didn’t Henry James, the great author and literary theorist of the late 19th-early 20th century say that all fictional “fruit” that wasn’t plucked from the garden of life was “stale” and “uneatable,” or words to that effect? So, I’ve learned my lesson (finally) from “ohdizzle” . I don’t know which non-fiction book I will feel most drawn to yet, but the exploration of some titles I read on “ohdizzle’s” site gives me a wide list to choose from, with entertaining editorial comments.
Finally, and also recently, I’ve started to follow “Forever – More Reviews”. For this blog, I have a different principle of inclusion for myself. First of all, I’m up early in the morning, so in order to get the requisite number of hours of sleep that we are all being preached at to get these days, I go to bed surprisingly early (9:30-10:30, with the last hour reserved for reading whatever print book or Internet text I’ve currently got my hands on). This means that I’m often in bed or doing other things in the evenings when television shows like “Glee,” “Revenge,”and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (which “Forever – More Reviews” engagingly assesses) are on. And, I’m a little too old (though not too mature) to be sighing over the characters from “Vampire Diaries” or “The Twilight Saga,” upon both of which the blogger exercises a vital wit. I do know about these things, however, from hearing younger and/or more involved viewers talk about them. I like to feel that though I’m asleep and antiquated, I’m not entirely out of the know and can perhaps carry on a five-minute conversation about some aspects of these shows for other people. And as to books like “Fifty Shades of Grey” and its sequels, from the blogger’s warnings I’m beginning to think that forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes. The blogger has advised me (on another site where our discussion of the series first emerged) that the books are a disappointment, and she (I want to say “she” is the blogger) has nevertheless encouraged me to see them for myself, always a good quality in a reviewer. After all, even when a reviewer solidly pans a book or movie, it’s important to feel that that reviewer isn’t trying to censor or block your access to something you might like (though in the case of “Fifty Shades,” many other voices have also spoken against it already, and for what seem like cogent reasons). “Bared to You,” which “she” also reviews, is another story. I may very well enjoy what seems (in the blogger’s take on it) to be an agreeable and informative experience of delving into the screwed-up characters’ psyches to see what makes them tick. I plan to put it on my reading list anyway, on her recommendation. If there is any way in which I was made uncomfortable by the blog, it was by the discussion of why other women “hate on whores,” which took up a lot of space and was somewhat repetitive and filled with what seemed like a lot of run-on sentences. The blogger had a number of good points to make on this subject, among which were those that excessive promiscuity isn’t good for anyone, male or female; nor is it a promising introduction to a serious relationship. All well and good, so far. As a serious feminist myself, however, and yet one who tries to retain a sense of humor about sex and sexual mores, I found the discussion a bit off-putting because it seemed to encourage women to accept the double standard, while admitting that it is unfair. If it’s unfair, then we as women should be the first ones attempting its abolishment. Still, I know that this blogger has a lot of talent and some serious things to say, and I look forward to continuing to follow the blog. For one thing, I think she(?) shows a certain ability to deal with the very modern contemporary novel which shouldn’t be slighted, and I can say that I really appreciated what she had to say about the series beginning with “Fifty Shades of Grey,” to name only one thing she did well. I feel sure there are more good reviews to come.