The Guardian just launched its Reading group revolution page, and readers worldwide can choose which book to begin with starting today. Old or new, in English or in translation — all books are fair game under this innovative reading rubric. We’ve been excited about all the new literary and creative nonfiction websites in the past year that have sprung up in order to show us that the big bad Internet didn’t kill reading after all — it improved it. Here are a few websites worth bookmarking to keep you sharp and informed while you are at work, at school, or as you sit in a café for hours and scowl at the patrons without laptops. (Please stop doing that, by the way.) So read on, dear readers, and tell us what new literary websites have been making your life better these days.
Curious about buzz words? Newswordy offers a new one each day during the week, along with its definition, a sample of how it is quoted in the media, and a Twitter feed on the subject in question. Want to know more about those “opportunistic” Londoners rioting? Then head over to Newswordy now!
A group of self-described “publishing nerds” from Slice Magazine take to the streets (and subways, and local watering holes) in order to find out what New Yorkers are reading. Check more covers out here, which include a description of the book’s owner. For instance, the person reading Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag is listed as: “F, 20s, black dress, glasses w black frames, G train.” Well, we could have guessed that, couldn’t we?
Byliner.com, which launched in June, suggests new authors you might enjoy, and will send you Facebook updates whenever your new favorite writer pens a story. It has a tab on the left for stories that were just added, as well as those that are popular. You can subscribe to get “the best articles of the week” sent to your email address. Wondrous technology!
VSL Books is coming soon, so get ready to receive recommendations of upcoming titles in your inbox. As it says on their website: “It’s your early-warning system for the best new titles and authors that everyone will be chattering about next month — as well as a discriminating guide to the excellent few that slipped under the radar last month or last year.”
“Now you can read the greatest literary works of all time in mere seconds!” Dan Wilbur cuts through the crap and gives you the real message of a weighty literary tome on the cover of the book so you don’t have to actually read the damn thing. See more hilarious entries here.
A sample of the barcodes used in Alice in Wonderland
Books2Barcodes converts English-language books into QR codes, aka 2D barcodes. The entire text of, say, The Art of War or Moby Dick is translated into several thousand barcodes for your reading pleasure. If you have a fancy new cellphone or “mobile device” that can scan barcodes, then you’re in business, just as long as you don’t mind reading a book through “800-character fragments.” Just pretend you live in Japan, okay?
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and to celebrate, various alumni will be publishing new essays on their Tumblr page throughout the summer. Read an excerpt from Joyelle McSweeney’s “Iowa Occult: a Mütter Pedagogy; Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Vomit Art” in N+1.
As it says on their website, “Full Stop aims to focus on young writers, works in translation, and books we feel are being neglected by other outlets.” It was launched in January and features a slew of interviews, features, and recommended books for your reading pleasure. Check out Alex Shepard’s great interview with Chris Adrian, author of The Great Night and The New Yorker‘s 20 Under 40 finalist, here or find out their fiction picks for the week here.
Longform.org “posts new and classic non-fiction articles, curated from across the web, that are too long and too interesting to be read on a web browser,” which you can then save to your Kindle or whatever else you use nowadays. We suggest you read Trey Smith’s account of sneaking into “the cash- and porn-filled home vault of his friend’s father” here before you tell us that long form nonfiction makes you bored.
“The future of publishing” is still in beta, so don’t get too hung up on the stripped-down format. In fact, take it as an exciting, empowering moment where you can have a say in what’s being published in the future. Richard Nash wrote in an email, “Cursor is for everyone. It’s designed to help publishers bring writers and readers together on the same site, and it’s designed not to be one single massive one-size-fits-all site, but a platform, like Squarespace, that any publisher can use to support their community of readers and writers.” So get started at Red Lemonade, the first “Cursor-powered publisher,” here.