Type “books” into Google’s search engine, and the result is millions of hits. Where do you start? It depends what you are specifically looking for, of course, but even with a relatively narrow focus the selection is apt to be (too) large. Here are a few worthy sites that have come to our attention.
Alimentum: The Literature of Food
This print publication is a biannual review that celebrates food utilizing the best of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. While you can only read short excerpts online, the hints they offer are unquestionably tantalizing. Do yourself a favor and subscribe.
Arts & Letters Daily
It says of itself that it is devoted to “philosophy, aesthetics, literature, language, ideas, criticism, culture, history, music, art, trends, breakthrough, disputes, gossip” which makes it sound wonderful. I can tell you it’s even better than it sounds. A fabulous site of amazing quality. Superb in all ways.
ArtsJournal is a “daily digest of arts, culture and ideas” that focuses on societal issues, ideas, media, dance, music, people, publishing, theatre and visual. They search more than 200 English-language newspapers, magazines and publications for stories on arts and culture, choose a few, then describe and link to them here.
Authors ‘Round the South
ARTS is a unique site that offers a calendar of events—book signings, author appearances, book festivals and other literary events—in more than 300 independent bookstores across the south. Excellent resource for southern folks.
Bibliomania is an attractive resource site which intends to be, as it notes, “the ultimate source of information for book buyers, sellers, & collectors . . . [and] to inform and educate book enthusiasts so that they can make wise decisions in their internet transactions.” Links include Authors and Illustrators; Book Arts; Book Collecting; Organizations; Repairs, Cleaning and Conservation; Supplies and Services and more. This place makes me lust over old-fashioned bookbinding classes and letterpresses for sale. Wonderful!
This is one of the premier sites for book clubs, a place that offer social networking through technology. You’ll find literary news, book reviews, author interviews, podcasts, online discussions, calendars, groups’ home pages and calendars, e-mail lists, and more.
Su Blackwell, an artist, has taken books and created fantastic art images out of the pages. Normally I’d be horrified at the destruction of the books, but these creations are so beautiful I can do nothing but admire them. Stunning!
BEA is the annual trade show for the publishing industry. Their podcasts offer up a wide range of panels on all aspects of the publishing industry from book reviewing ethics to author interviews to business strategies. Now anyone can listen.
Both a print and online publication, BookForm is one of the best art/politics/social/books publications around offering quality writing, thoughtful commentary, literary criticism (rather than book reviews), and societal observations. The online version includes weekday links to excellent articles elsewhere. If you enjoy the best in writing and ideas, you’ll find it here.
Another resource site, it says it has not been updated since March 2000, but there is still a lot of good information on all aspects of “books, book arts, book history, letterpress printing, fine printing, book schools, book and paper restoration and conservation, paper and papermaking, book artists, bookbinding and bookbinders, antiquarian books, book search services, book auctions, individual book dealers, manuscripts, pop-up books and the history of printing.” This is a recommended place for any bibliophile.
Book Inscriptions Project
This project is devoted to collecting the personal messages given as gifts (no author dedications or autographs) written inside books. They also include poems, pictures and notes on paper. Don’t just enjoy the ones on there; they are asking for everyone to send them in.
Book Sale Finder
If you like book sales, you’ll like this site which calls itself “the online guide to used book events” in the U.S. and Canada. Not all sales are listed, but it appears to be quite good.
This site is a way to develop online book clubs. You can join a club, start a club, talk with members all over the world, help choose books and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow aficionados.
Books & Book Collecting
Though it hasn’t been updated for a while, this is a wonderful research site. The left side of the page lists a number of book-related sites including those for associations, author signatures, dust jackets, uncorrected proofs and much more.
A book town is often a small rural town or village of historic interest or scenic beauty in which secondhand and antiquarian bookshops are concentrated. The original and most famous book town, established in 1961, is Hay-on-Wye, Wales. The idea of book towns as economically viable models has grown, and today there are quite a few throughout Europe. Sadly, only one exists in the United States. Perhaps more will come soon. Meanwhile, if you are headed to Europe, check this site to get information on book towns in your destination.
One of the great book sites out there, BookTrib has weekly giveaway contests, blogs, videos, e-vents, a radio show, and more for readers and booklovers. This is one fantastic place to go on a regular basis.
Think books and television are incompatible? Think again. This cousin to the public affairs station, C-SPAN2, spends each weekend (8:00 a.m. Saturday to 8:00 a.m. Monday) on nonfiction books. If you are television-free (as I am), you can also enjoy Book TV's offerings online.
One of the best regional web sites I’ve ever seen, this site focuses on bringing together “California’s often fragmented literary scene.” You’ll find the latest books, an author directory, lists of bestsellers, independent stores, publishers, excerpts, essays, shopping and more.
Caribbean Review of Books
This is a quarterly magazine exclusively covering new Caribbean books and writing. Each issue includes reviews of new and recent writing of Caribbean interest (about the Caribbean or written by Caribbean authors): novels and poetry collections, plays and films, biographies and memoirs, books about history, art, culture, politics, and current affairs.
Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
The Library of Congress does it again. Making itself fantabulous. Chronicling America is a new web site that allows anyone to search and view actual newspaper pages from 1880-1922. States currently listed are California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Texas, Utah, and Virginia, and newspapers do not necessarily reflect the largest or longest lasting. Nevertheless, this is an enormous and valuable resource, and fascinating to boot. You can also find information about American newspapers between 1690 and the present day.
Its subtitle is “A Literary Saloon and Site of Review,” which well sums it up well. It has a tendency to make you click several links to get to where you want, but it is quite interesting and well worth visiting.
Though this site includes commentary on design in general, one of the commentaries was on Tables of Contents. It’s an unusual and intriguing look at how 31 different books have designed this ubiquitous part of many nonfiction books.
Dirda’s Reading Room
Former Washington Post Book World editor and reader extraordinaire Michael Dirda hosts this forum that replaced his weekly online discussion. Readers gather to share their insights, questions, and thoughts on books, reading and related issues. It’s a great place to talk about literary interests with a group of erudite and companionable readers. Superb; highly recommended. az
This UK newspaper loves books! It’s positively mind-boggling to view their page and see stories and links to the editor’s picks, reviews, interviews, essays, podcasts, book news, blogs, multimedia, writers’ rooms, book clubs, featured articles, and more. Now this is what every newspaper’s book section should look like. Highly recommended.
How Books Are Made
Compare how books were made in 1947 and how they are made today with the help of this video and the one below. Here, you can see how technology has developed to automate so much but not all of the process of turning pages of paper into a physical book.
How Books Were Made
A fascinating video originally produced by Encyclopedia Britannica Films in 1947, it shows the process of turning a manuscript into a physical book (minus the editorial part) using the technology of the time.
Here you can listen to a rare recording of James Joyce reading his own work. It’s wonderful to hear that Irish accent speaking the words as he meant them to be heard in readers “ears.”
Talking about books is host Michael Silverblatt’s specialty. The show features interviews with writers of fiction and poetry. It airs live on Thursdays at 2:30 p.m. (PST); you can listen live online or download it via podcasting.
Latin America Review of Literature
Like its sister site, African Review of Books, this site focuses on a specific region’s books and authors, here the countries of Latin America. Its English-language reviews include literature and fiction, children’s books, non-fiction and coffee-table books. They “hope to provide an objective source of information in English about writing on Latin America from outside the hemisphere, offering where necessary unconditional support for voices that might otherwise struggle."
Library of Congress Webcasts
The LOC offers an astounding array of interviews via webcasts that include, among others, poetry and literature. Currently, there are more than 300 in that area alone. Brilliant and wonderful.
This wonderful site is an online service—a “cataloguing application”—that helps you record your books and connects you with people who have the same books. No software is needed, and there is no cost for a limited but useful version. (The full version is inexpensive, costing only $10 per year or $25 for a lifetime.) You can search out information on your books, sort it and tag it. There is a “Talk” section with numerous literary-related chats.
A unique site that combines tours with literature. Do you like Dante’s Divine Comedy? Visit the book’s Italy and read along with the sites. How about Mark Twain’s Mississippi or Sherlock Holmes’ London? Does 1920s Paris interest you? It’s all here and much more. They also have a fascinating and extensive array of literary articles.
Miniature Books Society
The MBS is for those booklovers whose passion is for small books, those less than three inches in size—height, width or thickness—that are not novelties. but serious expressions of the book arts, finely bound and produced. Their history is fascinating, and this site offers articles on miniature books, links to publishers, dealers, conventions, exhibits, stores and more. Fascinating.
This is an incredible site by someone who has a passion for those books that have mostly been forgotten. Using more than 40 sources, the man behind Neglected Books gathers “lists of thousands of books that have been neglected, overlooked, forgotten, or stranded by changing tides in critical or popular taste.” His essays and commentary (for they are more than mere posts) would make this an outstanding place, but his reading recommendations are remarkable.
A spectacular readers’ and writers’ site offers “news, information and guides to independent bookstores, independent publishers, literary magazines, alternative periodicals, independent record labels, alternative newsweeklies and more,” as they say.
I love this site’s description: “Overbooked is a web site for ravenous & omnivorous readers. Overbooked provides information about fiction and readable nonfiction.” Since many of us enjoy thinking of ourselves as ravenous readers, the description is apt, And its lists—Hotlists, Stars List, Featured Titles, Booklists, Readers’ Advisory, Genres and more—make this one spectacular site! Overbooked also has a forum for the “chronically overbooked.”
Oxford English Dictionary
Addictive might be the best description for the web site of the dictionary that is the standard against which all others are measured and defined. The OED has been the subject of several popular books. While access to the online version requires a rather hefty (and endless) fee, it also offers a word-of-the-day, an appeals list (volunteer contributors), history, updates and more. This is a site worth visiting regularly if you like the complexities of the English language.
This blog is written by the editors of the New York Times’ Book Review, and features book news, commentary, interviews and other features. It’s always an excellent source of information for booklovers.
The Paris Review
This publication needs no introduction. Even if you have never read it you have likely heard about it. But if you haven’t read it, get yourself on over here and start reading some of the best writing around—though you’ll have to subscribe to the print editions to read more than an introduction. The Paris Review has regularly introduced the most important writers of the day. Its reputation for quality is unsurpassed, having been called, by one critic, “one of the single most persistent acts of cultural conservation in the history of the world.”
Penguin Classics on Air
Take a look at this new online radio series where the more than 1.400 titles that comprise Penguin’s classics line are discussed and explored in depth with either the line’s editorial director Elda Rotor or the Classics editor John Siciliano. Associate publisher Stephen Morrison wraps up each show by reading the first pages from one of the works discussed. This fabulous “online network” also offers the “Penguin Audio Book Break” where readers can hear audio book excerpts from new literary voices, “A Cup of Poetry” that features exclusive recordings of contemporary and classic poems published by Penguin, “YA Central,” “Project Paranormal,” and “Penguin Storytime.” All of the programming is original with new episodes produced each publishing season.
PennSound is a project of the University of Pennsylvania that is “committed to producing new audio recordings and preserving existing audio archives.” It’s an amazing place with recordings of authors, series, anthologies and collections, video, classics, podcasts and more. All their material is free and downloadable.
This site is the Internet’s oldest producer of free e-books. It began as a public service project by Michael Hart in 1971. Today, you can download enormous numbers of public domain books than can be searched by authors, titles, languages, categories, Top 100 or recent additions. Amazing.
Abe Books, the used book community, now has this daily round-up of podcasts featuring books and authors from all over the world. Just click on the Shelfsound button and choose and listen or to download to your computer for later listening. You can even rate them.
Today in Literature
Its subtitle is “Great Books. Good Stories. Every Day." It is a superb, unique site whose founder, Steve King, is a former English teacher. King began it as a weekly radio series in Canada and now hosts it online. Obviously a labor of love. TinL shares fascinating daily vignettes of literary figures. This is literary breakfast at its best.
Though it’s missing several expeditions, this interactive graphical map shows the actual routes of journeys and travel vehicles, both fictional and factual, including the Trans-Siberian railroad, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road trip, Amelia Earhart’s fatal flight, and much more.
Washington Independent Review of Books
One of if not the best book sites for serious readers is WIRoB, which offers top-notch book reviews, Q&As with authors, podcasts, essays and blogposts on book topics. They post new material every weekday so there is always something to check out. Like us, it is a labor of love by its writers and editors—and more importantly,it is a beautifully designed, superbly written literary website.
Words Without Borders
Even literate Americans are often ignorant of literature and magazines from around the world. This spectacular site gives you access to an astounding “world of words.”
World Digital Library
WDL is a new site that makes available, in multilingual format, “significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, architectural drawings, and other significant cultural materials.”
WOUB's Wired for Books
Recordings of one-on-one interviews as well as readings by famous literary voices of the 20th century. There is a fabulous selection including a brilliant reading of Homer's Iliad, Book I in ancient Greek and a stunning audio performance of Virgil's Aeneid in ancient Latin.