Welcome, book-blood-hungry fans, to the very first Tag Team review, wherein two librarians take on the same book, in this case Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks from the Wild Web, coming out next week from Vintage. (To view other Tag Team photos, click here.)
Contender No. 1: Douglas Lord, of the Connecticut State Library, Hartford, has reviewed audio, psychology, and child-rearing titles for LJ since 2000. He’s so good at what he does we gave him a Special Reviewer’s Citation in 2003 for his stint as the self-help columnist. Hold on to your spine, blog book!
I’m a busy bee: two kids in after-school sports, a two- to three-hour commute every day, a demanding workout schedule in service to my newest hobby/craze (triathlons). Reading time, i.e., bedtime, finds me exhausted, so to get my attention, reading material must 1) be short and 2) knock me down. Since Ulysses is out, I turn to collections (e.g., Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Nonrequired Reading). My vein, then, got a huge spike from former New York Times critic/writer Boxer’s compilation of 27 “masterpieces of blogging.”
Entries contain words, art, and photos in all combinations, running the gamut from ghilarious (the diary of El Guapo in DC) to brainy (the Becker-Posner Blog explores the confluence of economics, law, and policy); unenduring topics (e.g., sports, gossip) are excluded. Whether personal or based in a constituency (e.g., linguists, physicists), all are magnificently “bloggy,” that is, powerfully immediate. Where else can readers find a careful examination of the usage of the word diaper as well as a heartfelt essay titled “Patriarchy defeated by Fellatio; We Can All Go Home Now” palatable to both feministas and populists but blogs? Indispensable; a book for which libraries exist. Order pronto. Interesting authors, different viewpoints, good writing, and you can curl up with it next to the fire.
Contender No. 2: A 2007 addition to the performing arts and Xpress reviews rosters, John Helling of the Bloomfield–Eastern Greene Cty. P.L., IN, poses a threat nonetheless. The guy could write his way out of the dictionary if he had to; he’s built to last.
Public librarians are quite familiar with the concept of finding diamonds in the rough. Indeed, these are the people who endure 20 inquiries into the location of the bathroom just so they can get to that one gem of a reference question about starting a fish farm in Kenya, or who will sift through title after title to find the one book that is just going to fly off the shelf.
Sarah Boxer must have a similar disposition, because I can’t imagine how many oysters she had to open to find the pearls that make up her anthology of blogs. If you’ve ventured into the blogosphere yourself, you know how difficult it can be to find good writing. Letting any nut with an Internet connection (or access to a public library) put up an electronic soapbox on a corner in the Information Marketplace will obviously yield lots and lots of junk not worth its own server space; however, it will also produce one or two fine writers with unique voices. Boxer gathers up these exceptions, ranging from Nobel Prize–winning economist Gary S. Becker to the late 17th-century diarist Samuel Pepys, and the result is well worth reading.