I have updated my blogroll with a more transparent list of what I actually read on a regular basis.* After Bloglines shut down, I tried on about a million feed-readers and finally settled on Netvibes. Netvibes is a little complicated to explain, but I will try, because I have found it to be a useful organizational tool as well as an effective distraction. Netvibes allows you to organize yourself a “dashboard” – or more (I have three). You can add feeds and/or widgets to this dashboard, and view it in reader or widget mode. Reader mode looks a lot like Bloglines: there’s a window for reading the posts and a sidebar with all of your feeds listed, and when new posts appear the blog is bolded with the number of posts next to it.
But widget mode facilitates my ongoing job search and my ongoing research. My jobsearch dashboard includes a preview of my Gmail inbox, a preview of Craigslist’s writing/editing job page, two boxes of links to jobsites I check frequently (one for general publishing jobs and one for specific presses I follow), and a to-do box where I copy links to specific jobs I want to apply to later. The Food Research dashboard is similar, but with links to Calls for papers and web previews of sites I refer to periodically, and – crucial to getting shit done! – a timer.
If you join, I think there’s a social networking component I haven’t explored. Look me up; I’m tanglethis, as usual.
Reading feeds is part of my daily routine; I check them when I wake up and when I get home from work, both to to keep tabs on issues that interest me and to unwind with some good reading. The blogs I choose to read actually have considerable impact on what I know and how I think about it. It sounds strange to say so; I think it’s not uncommon to feel suspicious of a fairly democratic medium, on which any asshole with an opinion (to paraphrase one of my grandmother’s aphorisms) can broadcast. On the other hand, some folks who get payment and/or prestige for putting their opinions to print are publishing some truly ignorant and speculative fictions, so. . . Periodically I’d like to take time to respect and admire writers who write carefully, and with care.
Sometimes I’m a tl;dr reader, but lately the posts that cause me to reflect have been posted in something of a series.
- Ta-Nehesi Coates has been reading Jane Austen, and he loves her. I think Jane Austen can be somewhat of a divisive figure: people tend to either love her or find her quite overrated, and the former is nowhere near a cohesive group, peopled as it is both by fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and by diehard canonists who hate film adaptations except the BBC version. For my part, I’ve never counted myself as among her biggest fans, but I devoured several of her novels in a week one summer when I had the time to do so. Coates’ posts remind us that Austen remains readable in part because of her craft – her sculpted sentences, her gleefully dry sense of humor – and I appreciate seeing a male writer admire a female (and, as we culturally code her, extremely feminine!) writer this way. But Coates also finds intersections between the world of Austen’s marriageable women and the language of hip hop, the texts of American slavery, and his own lifelong education. I like this not only because I need to be reminded that gender and class always entangle themselves with race, too – easy for a white reader to forget in the ivory landscape of pre-Victorian gentry – but because Coates’ insights are more about why literature matters.
You can search The Atlantic for Jane Austen, but here are some that stood out to me: “How do you teach beauty?” ; “Snobbery“; “No one man should have all that power“.
- Captain Awkward has several posts on the art of saying NO – at work, in date situations, and more. Captain Awkward knows you’ve been socialized to do everything in your power to avoid saying no, or telling people you don’t like what they’re doing, because expressing these negative sentiments are impolite! Nonetheless, she insists, it is far more polite and safe to set clear boundaries as soon as possible; it’s much harder to tell people NO when you’ve already shown them what you’ll let them get away with. Saying no gently, firmly, and immediately can save you a lot of irritation, or worse.
This series has come up in conversation a lot lately; I know a lot of people who could use a refresher on being a little “impolite” in order to put an end to (or at least a damper on) bad coworker or date behavior. I also wonder what I would have thought if I read these posts in my early twenties, when I needed to hear them most. I am not sure if I would have understood then. But now reading these posts is cathartic, almost, because I’ve been there and I know, right?
No at work; No on dates; and more No.
- The Fat Nutritionist has some food rules for you: eat food, stuff you like, as much as you want. These posts are like a manifesto for intuitive eating, which is a concept that I may have alluded to in the paltry few of my “Body Unapologetic” posts, but is well described on FN’s blog. The blogger, Michelle, has some fairly unpopular views that I happen to share: for example, that people are smarter than we give them credit for (or at least, they could be if we equipped them with information rather than punitive restrictions); that how other people eat is not really our business to judge or control; and that eating is about gaining (nutrition, energy, pleasure) not losing (weight, calories, whatever). We want to eat food that is good; No really, we want to eat food that makes us feel good; and for a bonus, “If only poor people understood nutrition!” (which includes a pyramid of food needs that I find pretty compelling).
*If you were previously on the blogroll and were removed, don’t feel sad; it’s just because your blog hasn’t seen an update in an even longer time than my blog. If I know you and you want me to link you or at least read you, let me know!