Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Newspaper Lit Blogs: A Study in Mixed Feelings

The book blogs of most major newspapers started off, well, not so good -- infrequently updated, with stale content. I'd written most of them off, figuring I'd stick to Bookslut, Book Ninja, and Shaken and Stirred for my lit world round-ups, and at least they'd amuse me in the process.

However, I've noticed marked improvement on several fronts lately.

Ever since Carolyn Kellogg of Pinky's Paperhaus signed on as lead blogger for the L.A. Times lit blog, Jacket Copy, it has gotten really, really good, managing both international coverage and a strong local flavor.

For awhile there, the NYT's Paper Cuts was among the worst offenders, almost pathologically boring; however, they too seem to have stepped up their game.

The Washington Post's Short Stack doesn't usually write about new books, but its Top-5 list format is fairly irresistible, and a great introduction to overlooked titles.

However, others like the Boston Globe's Off the Shelf seem to be struggling along with a skeleton crew, posting mostly calendars of literary events and bestseller lists. And the Orlando Sentinel called it quits with theirs last year.

I was surprised that many papers, while hosting literally scores of staff blogs, didn't have lit blogs -- the Chicago Tribune (which has blogs on theatre and religion, but no books), the Baltimore Sun, and even the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Not in the famously book-loving Seattle? Shocking.).

As many newspapers are scaling back the book coverage in their print editions, are newspaper lit blogs stepping in to fill the gap, and are they doing a sufficient job? And are there any other good newspaper lit blogs that I've missed?

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