About two months ago, The Millions joined the Tumblr community. So far, the going has been great. The platform is perfectly suited for dynamic storytelling, and as a direct result, it is home to some of the friendliest book lovers around. However, the site’s SEO (or lack thereof) is regrettably unkind to Tumblr outsiders, and this leads to two things. On the one hand, the insularity stokes the kind of kinship that makes its community so tightknit. On the other, the lack of easy searching reduces each blog’s chance of attracting new (or outside) viewers. I’d like to change that. By creating this list of my favorite “literary Tumblrs,” I hope to turn you on to some of the sites that make The Millions’ dashboard that much brighter.
For convenience, I’ve broken this list up among several categories, but I haven’t put these in any preferential order. “Single-Servings” are the most quintessentially Tumblr-like Tumblrs: blogs that fill one particular, ultra-specific niche. “Reviewers,” “Publishers,” “Magazines,” and “Booksellers/Libraries/Foundations” are exactly what they sound like. Sites classified as “Marginalia” are streams of miscellaneous book factoids, images, and, well, marginalia. I’ve tried to avoid listing personal Tumblrs except for a few here and there. Finally, I’ve included a “Wish List” of entities I’d like to see enter the world of likes and reblogs.
- Awesome People Reading: Where to see what famous people read.
- Cover Spy: Where to see what MTA passengers read.
- Lisa Simpson Book Club: Where to see what Lisa Simpson reads.
- Bookshelf Porn: The SFW (despite its title) spot to ogle bookshelves.
- Slaughterhouse 90210: The middle of the television/literature Venn diagram.
- The Art of Google Books: Who’s scanning those books? Whose hand is that?
- The Final Sentence: An effort to spoil every book’s ending.
- Better Book Titles: Where spoilers and humor coexist.
- n+personals: As Malcolm Harris put it, the apex of The New Sincerity.
- Ransom Book Quotes: Title supposedly wasn’t meant to be “random.” Sure.
- Writers No One Reads: Neglected authors and philosophers.
- (un)justly (un)read: Same as above, but perhaps even more obscure.
- 50 Watts: Book design from around the world and across the ages.
- The Books They Gave Me: The intimate details of books gifted by exes.
- The Collected Blurbs of Gary Shteyngart: The man gets around, doesn’t he?
- Poor Yorick Entertainment: Now-defunct, but a must-see for all fantods.
- Lady Journos!: Highlights the best female journalists and their work.
- The Los Angeles Review of Books: Rapidly increasing L.A.’s literary cachet.
- The New Inquiry: The Times can look down its nose all it wants. Who cares?
- The Boston Review: Loose updates from the Boston non-profit.
- Housing Works Bookstore Café: Dispatches from a great cause.
- New York Public Library: The epicenter of literary Manhattan. (& its events)
- McNally Jackson: One of New York City’s favorite bookshops.
- WORD Brooklyn: One of New York City’s favorite bookshops across the river.
- 57th Street Books: One of Chicago’s favorite bookshops.
- Tattered Cover: One of Denver’s favorite bookshops.
- Powell’s: One of Portland’s favorite bookshops.
- PEN American Center: Great quotations from the PEN folks.
- 92nd Street Y: One of New York’s best curators of cultural entertainment.
- Books and Books*: Originally on the Wish List below, they’ve since come around. Welcome aboard!
- Proustitute: A highbrow, poetry-heavy mental treat.
- Dostoesvky: All things Fyodor.
- Russkaya Literatura: All things Fyodor, Lev, Anton, Mikhail, etc…
- F*ck Yeah Manuscripts: Like LettersOfNote, but exclusively authors.
- John Jeremiah Sullivan: Dispatches from the essayist’s book tour.
5. Publishers (Big Six) — Bear in mind: most of these lean pretty heavily
towards being just marketing tools.
- A. A. Knopf: The intersection of books and borzoi.
- Harper Perennial: The most exciting Big Six imprint in the game right now.
- Farrar, Straus & Giroux: Welcome aboard, newcomers! Way to get off on the right foot.
- Scribner: Bookish miscellany from the Simon & Schuster imprint.
- Doubleday: One of the more stereotypically Tumblr-like publishing Tumblrs.
- Vintage & Anchor: Great stuff from Random House’s paperback wizards.
- Pantheon Books: Image-heavy in a great way.
- Classic Penguin: It’s about time the Penguin folks joined the Tumblr crowd.
- Viking Penguin: Updates from the Viking & Penguin publicity team.
- Riverhead Books: Penguin’s got the most imprints on Tumblr, bar-none.
6. Publishers (Littler Guys)
- W. W. Norton & Co.: Plus ten points for their GZA post.
- NYRB Classics: The inimitable publisher of overlooked classics.
- Fantagraphics: The premier publishers of alternative comics in the U.S.
- New Directions: Come back, guys! You were great while you lasted.
- OR Books: Small, politically-minded indie publisher.
- Ugly Duckling Presse: Photos from one of the best book designers in the U.S.
- Bloomsbury Publishing: The U.S. office of London’s reputable house.
- Verso Books: Very #OWS-heavy of late.
- Nouvella Books: The most Downton Abbey-obsessed publishers around.
- Longreads: Looking for something to read? Not anymore.
- Hobart Pulp: They came here to drink bourbon and publish stories.
- BOMB Magazine: The best of the BOMBsite.
- The Missouri Review: Multimedia posts from the underrated journal.
- Lapham’s Quarterly: Witty and smart, and with a great design to boot.
- The Atlantic: A steady stream of interesting links.
- Utne Reader: Good stuff from the Minneapolis (and soon Topeka) institution.
- The Believer: Special features from the monthly magazine.
- Specter: Not to be confused with the James Bond villains.
- The Atavist: More people should know about these folks!
- Poetry*: Originally on the Wishlist, they’ve since joined the fun. Happy 100th birthday!
8. Wish List
- The Paris Review: They’re on Tumblr, but they never post Tumblr-specific content. Dive all the way in, Parisians. You can do better.
- More authors!: With so many on Twitter, it’s only a matter of time.
- Books & Books: South Florida’s best indie deserves more attention.* *[Ed note: they listened!]
- The Oxford American: The South is underrepresented on the platform.
- Poetry Magazine: Poems just beg for reblogs.* *[Ed note: they listened!]
- Book Soup: The L.A. shop would be a nice complement to NYC’s dominance.
- Vroman’s: They’re there, but they haven’t updated since 2010.
- The Strand: The New York City icon is sorely missed on Tumblr.* *[Ed note: they listened!]
Perhaps the Flatiron folks are on their way soon.* *[Ed note: they listened!]
This list, of course, is by nature incomplete. I am sure I’ve missed a ton of standouts. Please feel free to let me know which ones I’ve overlooked in the comments!