Literary Columns to Keep Your Bookish Knowledge Up to Date
Literary columns can be a godsend for book lovers, especially when you’re more in the mood to whet your appetite for reading than actually pick up a book. Being able to return to a familiar feature with a cozy format that spoon-feeds you the latest happenings in the book sphere is an underrated comfort in our extremely online world. Sure, you can always go on social media and hate-read whatever everyone else is getting mad about, but that can get old and not leave you in the best place mentally.
So the next time you’re struggling to find new books, authors, or bookish interests while avoiding the rest of the internet, check out these online literary columns.
Dana Snitzy’s This Week in Books on Longreads
This column gathers the best of the bookish internet for you. Each week, you get a list of literature-related online content (including essays, reviews, articles, stories, and excerpts) along with a personal intro from Snitzky, the books editor at Longreads. The lists give you a window into the latest online literary reading, linking out to publications like Lit Hub, The Paris Review, Bookforum, and others.
Snitzky’s column is a great opportunity to discover new books, authors, and concepts, all without the dread of scrolling through Twitter to see what everyone else is reading (even if you’re still going to do that anyway). In recent weeks, the column has showcased short fiction from Sally Rooney featuring characters from Normal People, a conversation with the translator of the first non-dissident North Korean novel to appear in English, and an essay on cooking inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron.
Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading
Recommended Reading isn’t just a series that publishes fiction; as the name suggests, it presents stories and novel excerpts based on the recommendations of its editors and other established writers, who write short intros to each piece explaining why they chose it. This demystifies the reading experience and allows you a glimpse into the brains of authors while also giving you the opportunity to discover new writing.
An interesting accompaniment to Recommended Reading is Read Like a Writer, a relatively new column that began in February of 2020 and has been updated in roughly monthly installments by the Electric Lit Recommended Reading editors (Halimah Marcus, Brandon Taylor, and Erin Bartnett). It talks about elements of craft in reading, and uses examples from stories that have been published on the Electric Lit website. This column is great for writers but also really for anyone who wants to be a better reader.
The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project
The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project, which brings you “short interviews with interesting people,” isn’t limited to interviews with writers, but many (and all of the most recent) are with poets, novelists, and other various wordsmiths. Despite the name of the feature, these interviews are about as substantial as you might expect to find anywhere on the web, but can still be easily taken in over the span of a lunch break. Since The Rumpus is a publication that is openly dedicated to providing space for marginalized voices, you’ll find interviews here with writers from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Past interviewees have included Kaveh Akbar, Hanif Abdurraqib, and Lara Vapnyar, to name just a few. And as with the Recommended Reading series, this column tends to be not just about the featured people but their connections to those presenting them.
Catapult offers space to many writers for regular themed contributions, so it’s worth browsing all of their columns to see if there’s anything that catches your interest. Not all of these columns focus on books and reading, but they arguably still encompass literary space, as they highlight the creative thoughts and reflections of contributors. Recent series that are more directly bookish include Love and Silence, a new column by Matthew Salesses on Asian American literature, and Gabrielle Bellot’s Wander, Woman, which focuses on “books, the body, memory, and more.”
The above columns will take you far and wide in your knowledge of books and authors, and hopefully lead you to new literature you love. Happy reading!