I used to read almost everything online via RSS in Google Reader. I love RSS; all those websites collated neatly in the one place, easily readable on mobile. Not many other people felt the same way (or at least, only an unprofitable number of people), and as a result Google Reader died a very sad death in 2013. I replaced Google Reader with Newsblur, but the end of Reader was probably the trigger for me finding things to read in other places – often via Twitter, but also through email newsletters. Newsletters seem to have become increasingly popular over the last couple of years – partly I suppose because it gives people control over a mailing list, partly because it enables them to send their “content” (I’m using that despised term for want of a better one) directly to readers, and therefore having a better chance of capturing their attention than passively publishing on a website and trying to lure readers via links on social media.
Anyway! I am becoming increasingly fond of receiving beautifully curated and written newsletters in my email on a regular basis. My preference is for newsletters that contain a mixture of essay/personal writing and links to interesting and thought-provoking things. (Newsletters containing poetry or fiction are not my thing, although there’s plenty of those around too).
Here are a few of my favourites, all very delightful in different ways:
- Two Bossy Dames is a very funny and lengthy collection “cultural recommendations and commentary” sent out weekly. I’ve found so many things (music, articles, tv shows) that I’ve enjoyed via this newsletter.
“I think any friend I’ve ever made or romantic partner I’ve ever had liked me because I’m funny. But mostly, when I hear other people compliment me (sometimes when you eavesdrop, you DO hear nice things about yourself), they don’t focus on my effervescent wit. WHY IS THAT? Noted historian & funny lady Rosa Lyster (with an assist by her equally funny Frith) explain that Anne Boleyn is both to thank & blame for this state of affairs, as she was obviously hilarious, but Henry VIII and all his male courtiers simply couldn’t conceptualize female…humor??? So they decided she was a witch. As one does! Sound logic, Tudor bros! “
- So Far, I’ve Had No Complaints by Caroline Crampton includes sections such as Things to Read, Things to Listen To, Things to Watch, and Compulsory Medieval Thingamabob. I love that it includes tempting excerpts of the articles it links to – I’m not into newsletters that are just a plain series of links without description.
“I think I find old-fashioned murder mysteries so comforting because they represent the triumph of order over chaos. The side of right always prevails. Unlike in real life, logic and hard work always win in the end.”
- Grief Bacon by Helena Fitzgerald are irregularly delivered (which makes them a wonderful surprise) and beautifully written essays on life.
“Love allows us to see – and be seen – in not just our raw or ugly selves, but our boring selves, the person who sits on the couch and watches television, the person who wakes up in the morning and makes coffee, the person who doesn’t have much of anything to say. We already know to praise ourselves for our rare special occasion achievements. In love, we elevate the unsightly things, the boring day-to-day, into the spectacular. Love celebrates another person’s existence rather than their achievements.”
- …the fuck is this by Bim Adewunmi is a sporadic mixture of thoughts and links, and always a pleasure to read.
“It’s only August, but I feel the slipping away of summer very keenly, perhaps because I’m British.
We are a people of a somewhat gloomier disposition, used to a somewhat… accelerated summer season. Lazy summer days are a dime a dozen in this new place, not snatched moments in the local park, half-naked and resolutely baking sun-deprived skin.”
- Three Weeks is appropriately delivered every three weeks, and always contains three things to read, watch, and listen to (in addition to a variety of other interesting links).
“Hello to everyone, but warm greetings especially to the heartbroken and those in need of courage. Email can be a pretty decent place for finding what you need. Particularly if what you yearn for is some extra browser tabs and a bracing dose of Motivational Britney.”
- Links I would Gchat you if we were friends by Caitlin Dewey is a weekly collection of links that helpfully rounds-up the major news stories/interesting articles/Stuff Happening Online, with incisive commentary.
“The hardest-working women on the Internet … are these Kate Middleton bloggers. (They’re like three parts insane workaholics and one part insane voyeurs.) There’s apparently a small army of these women, live-tweeting Middleton’s life; it’s a fascinating glimpse into the extremes of fandom and labor online.”