The Great Taxonomy of Literary Tumblrs: Round Two

August 7, 2012 | 15 books mentioned 45 10 min read

cover[Ed Note: Don’t miss Part One and Part Three!]

Six months ago, I rounded up a list of my favorite literary Tumblr accounts. Half a year later, I’m pleased to see those blogs still going strong. I’m also pleased to see that a pile of the names on my Wish List came around to the land of likes and reblogs. In that regard, some shout outs are in order: Picador Book Room (and its “Sunday Sontags”) has become a favorite of The Millions’ social media team; The Strand made its way onto the blogging platform and we’re all better because of it; Poetry Magazine continues to draw from its enviable archives to bring some really exciting content to our Dashboard; and — whether it’s due to my friendly dig or their own volition — The Paris Review’s presence has been especially awesome of late. Indeed, the literary community on Tumblr is growing stronger by the day, and it has to be noted that a lot of that growth is due to Rachel Fershleiser’s evangelism and infectious enthusiasm. (An example of Rachel’s work was recapped recently by Millions staffer Lydia Kiesling as part of our own Emily M. Keeler’s Tumblr-centric #LitBeat column.)

Alas, six months in the real world is different from six months online, and Tumblr now has not only its own Storyboard curatorial system (run by the vaguely Soviet-sounding Department of Editorial), but it’s also grown by a few million blogs. The site boasts a growing number of blogs that have inked book deals. Rachel maintains a running tally of poets and writers who use the platform in exciting ways. This past week, Molly Templeton organized a blog, The How-To Issue, specifically aimed at countering the gender imbalance in the recent “How-To” installment of The New York Times Book Review. As a testament to the number of smart, engaged literary folks on the site, that blog has since received posts from a Salon writer, a former New Yorker staffer, and quite a few artists and freelancers.

So with all of that in mind, I’ve decided it’s time for another list — a better list, a bigger list. This list aims not only to cover blogs I missed last time, but also new blogs that have been born only recently. To that end, my rubric has been simple: 1) I’ve chosen blogs I not only believe to be the best and most compelling accounts out there, but also blogs that were overlooked on the last list — in some cases, readers helped me out in the last post’s comment thread. 2) I’ve done my best to ensure that these blogs are active members of the Tumblr community. 3) I’ve tried to make sure that the content on these blogs is “safe for work,” however I am but mortal, and perhaps some NSFW material will slip in between now and when you read this list. For that reason I can only caution you to use your judgment as you proceed.

For your convenience, I’ve organized the list in a similar manner as last time. “Single-Servings” are blogs organized around one or two particular, ultra-specific themes. The rest of the categories should be self-explanatory.

Please feel free to comment and shout out the ones I omitted or did not cover in Part One.

0. Shameless Self-Promotion

1. Single-Servings

2. Requisite “F*** Yeah!” Blogs

3. Foundations, Organizations and Writing Centers

4. Humorous

5. Literary, Cultural and Art Magazines or Blogs

  • Recommended Reading: Home of the marvelous ongoing fiction series run by Electric Literature.
  • Words Without Borders: Spreading the gospel of international and translated literature one Tumblr post at a time.
  • Tin House: You (should) know the magazine. Now you should know their blog.
  • VQR: The brand new companion to the invaluable source for great long-form and narrative journalism.
  • n+1: They recently decided to kill off their Personals blog, so perhaps this one will become more active.
  • New York Review of Books: Need I introduce them? Also, not to be missed, check out the NYRB Classics blog, A Different Stripe.
  • Granta: Follow these guys for updates on the magazine’s new releases and competitions.
  • Guernica: Hey, you’re spilling your art into my politics!
  • Full Stop: Who else would recommend Errol Flynn’s memoir, posit an alternate Olympics Opening Ceremony, and then review the work of Victor Serge?
  • Vol. 1 Brooklyn: As their banner says, “If you’re smart, you’ll like us.”
  • Rusty Toque: An online literary and arts journal backed by Ontario’s Western University.
  • Book Riot: How can you help loving the kind of people who reblog photos of Faulkner’s oeuvre alongside galleries of literary tattoos?
  • Berfrois: Some highbrow curiosities for that eager, eager brain of yours.
  • Literalab: Dispatches from Central and Eastern Europe, which as anybody who knows me knows to be my favorite parts of Europe.
  • Triple Canopy: The online magazine embraces yet another means of communicating.
  • fwriction review: Finally an honest banner: “specializing in work that melts faces and rocks waffles.” (See also: fwriction)
  • Little Brother: The latest project from our own Emily M. Keeler.
  • Asymptote: Dedicated to works in translation and world literature.
  • Glitterwolf Magazine: Devoted to highlighting UK writers and writers from LGBT communities.
  • The Essayist: Aggregated long-form writing from all over the place.

6. Major, General and More Well-Known Magazines

  • Smithsonian Magazine: “Retina” consists of the best visual content from Smithsonian Magazine.
  • The American Scholar: Follow them. You’ll be more fun to talk to at cocktail parties.
  • Boston Globe: News and photos, and we all know they’ve got plenty of both.
  • Salon: Finally! We get to read Salon without actually having to go to!
  • The Morning News: Our friends who host the annual Tournament of Books have a Tumblr presence, too.
  • Mother Jones: Politics and current events, ahoy!
  • Tomorrow Mag: Ann Friedman & Co.’s new venture.
  • Lively Morgue: Typically awesome photos from The New York Times archives.
  • Bonus: This article covers the ways in which twelve news outlets are using Tumblr in innovative, fresh ways.

7. Publishers (Big Six)Note: Many of these blogs are used by the imprint or publisher’s marketing team, but you’ll find that some of the most successful publisher Tumblrs are getting more focused and specific. This is an interesting development, and I encourage more of the same. Also: This list is only a small sampling of the publisher Tumblrs on the site — just naming all the ones from Penguin would amount to its own post!

8. Publishers (University Presses)

  • Duke: Hate the basketball team, love the press. (And their blog.)
  • Chicago: Their posts are excellent. Continually substantial and interesting.
  • McGill-Queens: Fun Fact: some folks up North would have it that Harvard is “America’s McGill.”
  • Cambridge Exhibitions: Alerts and updates on the myriad academic conferences and events attended by the CUP staff.

9. Publishers (Indies and Little Ones)

10. Authors (Direct Involvement) — The Tumblr “Spotlight” list can be found here; it’s not comprehensive, but it lists accounts you’re sure to enjoy. I’ve listed one of each author’s books alongside their names. Additionally: YA Highway, an excellent resource for fans of Young Adult books, maintains a great directory of YA Authors.

11. Authors (Indirect Involvement)

12. Poets — As with the authors list, Tumblr’s poetry “Spotlight” can be found here.

13. Bookstores — I’ll list the location of each one.

14. Libraries

15. BONUS SECTION DEVOTED TO @Horse_ebooks — Everybody’s favorite Dadaist Twitter handle has a devoted following on the blogging platform.

  • Horse_ Fan Fiction: Look no further than your Twitter timeline for the best writing prompts on earth.
  • Annotated Horse_: A valuable resource for the inevitable scholarly study of Horse_’s oeuvre.
  • 33, Pyramid, and Dalton: Max Read’s impressive catalog of recurring Horse_ themes.

16. Wish List

  • Oxford American: Maybe not the best time for the magazine at the moment, but my wish from last time still stands.
  • Garden & Gun
  • Oxford University Press
  • More authors and poets!


[Ed Note: Don’t miss Part One and Part Three!]

works on special projects for The Millions. He lives in Baltimore and he frequents dive bars. His interests can be followed on his Tumblr, Nick Recommends and Twitter, @nemoran3.


  1. I love these (as if I don’t waste enough time), thanks! But I think you missed one:

    Slush Pile Hell: “One grumpy literary agent, a sea of query fails, and other publishing nonsense.” Writers will have more sympathy for what agents/editors have to deal with. And agents/editors will just nod and… cry?

  2. Slaughterhouse 90210! Stills from tv shows paired with literary quotes. I never start my morning without it.

  3. Don’t forget this:

    A site devoted to literary artifacts, both actual and fraudulent.

  4. I can’t believe Dead Presidents isn’t on here, but Historical Nonfiction is. Dead Presidents is all original content from ONE person, while Historical Nonfiction is CUT AND PASTE. It’s not even that person’s original work!

  5. OK, so the Paris Review linked you. I look at this and see:

    second on the list. “Books and Bikinis.” Yes, it really is a site chock-full of pictures of glassy-eyed women in bikinis, and….books.

    Well then! No need to waste my time on this further. Thanks for doing your part to keep the culture nice and sexist.

  6. Pingback: shifting the mood

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