The Impossible Blogroll

June 6, 2011 @ 7:27 pm | Filed under:

Our combox discussion turned to blogrolls, the appeal and difficulty of. I enjoy exploring other people’s blogrolls but long ago gave up any attempt to maintain one here. My worry, of course, was that someone would feel left out.

But I do love to share. So here are a very few of the blogs I read on a regular basis. I am going to include some of my favorites, and leave out some of my favorites, so that you’ll see it really is just a small sampling of the folks who edify and inspire me every day. (I should say every week. I tend to save blog-reading up for a few days and then attack it with zest.)

Mental Multivitamin. One of the first, one of the best. She reads, she thinks, I learn. And she just recently enabled commenting, which made my week.

As Cozy as Spring. Jenn’s lovely photos, piercing observations, and quiet musings bring a sparkle to my mornings.

Fiction, Instead of Lies. Smart, thoughtful commentary on books and the world by author Tanita S. Davis (who is extremely high on my people-I-hope-to-meet-in-person-someday list).

Girl Detective. For all I love to read about books, I’m often gunshy of reviews: I have a crushing case of spoiler-phobia, you know. Girl Detective’s very sharp notes on her reading are the sort of book reviews I read with relish, not fear. But she’s murder on the book budget.

Original Content. Gail Gauthier is a children’s book author who writes with refreshing candor about what she reads and about publishing in general.

Handmade Homeschool. Sarah’s someone I’d love to live near; I think we would get along famously. Plus, I bet she’d knit me some socks.

The Poem Farm. Amy’s daily original poems are a delight.

Knitting the Wind. Here’s how much I love Sarah’s writing: I have learned the time difference between here and New Zealand in order to speculate as to whether she’s likely to be awake and possibly blogging soon.

Baggott Asher Bode. I went to grad school with Julianna Baggott and her husband Dave Scott. I love them, the inimitable pair of them, enormously. Julianna doesn’t so much write about a topic as skewer, slice, and julienne it, using words like a Japanese steakhouse chef uses knives. The result is equally delicious.

Dura Mater. She is one tough mother indeed. Honest, tired, brave. I have been a quietly admiring lurker at her blog for at least five years.

If your blog is not one of these I’ve mentioned, please don’t feel left out. I really did omit some of my favorites on purpose. This was actually quite a fun endeavor, compiling this list; perhaps I’ll do it again upon occasion.

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17 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. sarah says:

    Thank you for including me (I am a wimp about that kind of thing!) and for the nice things you said. Now I shall have to visit the others on your list … some I already know and love … and also go check out that blogroll discussion. Darn you, I’m *supposed* to be working.

  2. MFS says:

    Thank you for including me in your list. What a delight to see Girl Detective on there, too. Her site is a treasure, as is yours.

    Best regards.


  3. Ellie says:

    Blogrolls are something I am sure to look for in the sidebars of any blog I read. That’s the way I find new blogs … I love blogrolls and am usually disappointed when they are absent. I tend to find maintaining a blogroll far less problematic than a post like this, however! Blogrolls are expected to be a bit lengthy, one can include regular reads and favorite reads alongside once in a while check in reads without making any sort of public explanation of one’s reading choices and why, or any hint of which blogs are favored over others etc. The blogs are merely listed; letting one’s own readers know that these are the blogs you find worthy of note. Posts like this and many others I’ve read over the years are rather fraught, I find; it’s the whole school yard pick thing, I think. All of which to say, you are braver than I!!

  4. Tabatha says:

    Julianna Baggott’s blog is a treat. I laughed ridiculously hard at her Author Photo Hysteria post. I know she doesn’t really look like Marty Feldman…

  5. Melissa Wiley says:

    Oh dear, not brave; imprudent perhaps! The schoolyard pick was the horror of my school experience. I was the uncoordinated shrimp always picked last.

    I so appreciate your perspective, Ellie (and must tell you, *you* were one of the favorites I left out on purpose; I wasn’t actually sure you’d want the attention) šŸ˜‰ –it’s so interesting, because I’ve always felt the blogroll had more potential to hurt/offend, because its very length implies a kind of comprehensiveness. I hoped a short post, a “these are but a few of the many,” would not generate those awful last-one-picked feelings. Perhaps it was a bad idea altogether!

  6. Melissa Wiley says:

    Melissa, I think I discovered Girl Detective through you.

    And I got such a smile the other day when I was reading the “people you follow” section of Google Reader and see that my oldest daughter had shared a recent Girl Detective post in *her* reader. šŸ™‚

  7. Ellie says:

    I think it’s just really hard when it comes to delineating favorites or most-read lists … This got me thinking about listing books as opposed to blogs and why is it any different and of course it’s that blogs are personal journals — whether general or subject specific makes no never mind — put out there for general view. I think if one were to list favorite on-line columns (now increasingly called blogs, too), for which the writer is paid, well, that’s different too. Somehow knowing a person was paid seems to add a layer of insulation: when we’re paid to do something, we can’t expect everyone to like us or appreciate us, or care about our work at all.

    Mother-blogging can fall into a weird category, and it’s unfortunate, but the mother blogging world really does replicate the world of mothers’ lives off-line. There are just as many cliques, for example, and it’s just as easy (easier, maybe) to marginalise those whose lifestyle, philosophies, faiths, social status etc etc we disagree with. And this is really diverging wildly from the scope of your post — I apologize! Maybe it’s the pain meds, or the physical shock but I am in an odd head-space this morning.

    What I want to say, is that it can be really hard to make comprehensive lists of blogs we like because maybe we read a bit further outside our (perceived) online circle, and so we take risks, admitting that we read “those” blogs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen bloggers chastised by readers for listing so-and-so’s blog. It’s shocking.

    So, I love seeing an unapologetic, uncatagorized blogroll in a sidebar. Just some long, long list of blogs. It honors those whom we read; it is brave, in this mother-blogging world. And it’s a great source for discovering wonderful new blogs!

    Not wanting to share is perfectly valid too!! Maybe I should stop now before digging myself in deeper!


  8. Melissa Wiley says:

    No no, don’t hide! I really do appreciate your perspective. And I do think (hindsightedly) it was probably not a great idea to share a tiny slice of what is truly a massive reading list. I’ve been wondering, this morning, whether I ought to remove the post, but now that we’re discussing the merits I don’t want to shut down the discussion. Perhaps I should zap the post and leave the comments! šŸ™‚

  9. Ellie says:

    Oh now that would be funny. (really)

    One thing I keep finding myself wanting to do is a link-y post with specific posts that moved me that week. But making link-y posts is something I find tiring, so I never get around to it. Maybe I really will though, one of these days.

    My blogroll, these days, is really my bookmarks folder, that’s how I use it. (I don’t do readers or subscribe and whatnot). The thing is, after the brain tumor, I ‘lost’ a lot of blogs and columns and such because I can’t use the desktop anymore, and it really is such an effort to get there and use it and then email myself the links. Anyhow. I appreciate blogrolls and links to posts because who knows what obscure or new-to-me corner they’ll lead to!

    (hiding is underrated: right now I am more or less hiding under all the soft dollies the children have piled upon me. I may have threatened never to emerge)

  10. MFS says:

    Another perspective:

    Currently, I read Bonny Glen and other blogs I follow (e.g., Language Log, Quiet Life, Girl Detective, Magnificent Octopus, Joanne Jacobs) in Google Reader. When a post is particularly moving, intriguing, inspiring, etc., I visit the site to read and, yes, occasionally to comment.

    In truth, then, I pay blogrolls little to no mind; Mental multivitamin, which enters its ninth year in October, has never had one. Frankly? I skip most sidebar content — although I always liked your “In my feeder/reader” feature. Why? Because I greatly appreciate the recommendations of bloggers I regularly read. When one of my “regulars” recommends posts of note or provides an annotated list of blogs that have currently (re)decorated the rooms of his or her imagination, I pay attention. To me, the recommendation of a “regular” is akin to a colleague or friend introducing me to someone new: There is both context and trust.


  11. Melissa Wiley says:

    Melissa, thank you; I greatly appreciate this perspective also. And it brings me back to the questions that started this round of posts in the first place: I was curious to know if anyone ever looked at the “Made Me Click” list in my sidebar (which is a feed of my Google Reader Shared Items); and I wanted to evaluate the rather unscientific method by which I have tended to decide between sharing a thought-provoking post or item of interest via that Reader Shared Items function (which people may also view in their *own* Google Reader, if they wish) versus items I share by posting the link to Facebook, or by creating a post here on the blog and perhaps sharing *that* on Facebook.

    My pattern has tended to be: if I read a post in Google Reader (which almost certainly means it is a blog I subscribe to) and I want to share it, I click “share” and it appears in the sidebar here. If I come across the item elsewhere, I might Share-to-Facebook, or I might tweet it (which feeds to Facebook and appears in the sidebar here), or—less often—I might link to it in a short post here. Four ways of sharing, which strikes me as a bit messy. šŸ™‚ Thus my questions last week about readers’ preferences.

    But I’ve digressed from the blogroll discussion—Melissa’s comment speaks to the usefulness of sharing links to specific posts that were fascinating or meaningful to the blogger, as opposed to a blogroll which of course points to the blog in general. As I think through this, I know that post-specific links are by far my favorite kind. And like many of the responders in the linksharing discussion, I too enjoy hearing a little about why a particular post (or blog) is of interest to the person sharing the link.

    Ellie wrote: “One thing I keep finding myself wanting to do is a link-y post with specific posts that moved me that week. But making link-y posts is something I find tiring, so I never get around to it. Maybe I really will though, one of these days.”

    Ellie, you might want to see if you like Delicious or Diigo as a way to share those links. Both are social bookmarking sites which have optional autoblogging features that send links directly to a formatted post on your blog. I’m not sure what the iPad interface is like, but on my laptop, I have a Diigo “bookmark” button in my Firefox toolbar. Say I’m reading a post I like & want to share: I can click that bookmark button and the link is saved to Diigo. After I’ve bookmarked 3 such links (or whatever number I choose in the settings), Diigo will generate a post here containing those links and any commentary I made when bookmarking them. I have this function set to save the post to drafts, not publish it, because I do like to look over the formatting before it goes live. Here’s an example of one of those Diigo-generated posts: Thursday Links.

    For a while this was my preferred means of quick linksharing, but I seem to keep forgetting about it and hitting that Share-to-Facebook toolbar button instead.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I’m so honored to be included on this list that I’ve avoided it all day, not knowing how to respond to such kindness!
    I agree with your feelings on blog rolls, but I do like them on other people’s blogs. 1) I would hate to leave someone out and 2) How conceited of me to think that being on my blog roll means that much to anyone! šŸ™‚ I like Google Reader and keep intending to do a week end post of my shared posts for subscribers.

  13. Ellie says:

    Two things, I do like and use the Made me Click in your sidebar. Elizabeth Foss has a similar one and I appreciate hers too. And this speaks to what I said earlier that you wrote to here: the post-specific links — I really do like that, myself, in addition to the general listyness of a blogroll. And the second thing is: thank you for explaining how Diigo works. A quick-click in the toolbar might just be workable for me. Otherwise it’s bookmark each post and write a post of my own at the end of the week copy/pasting as I go … Hmmm. Worth looking into when I have the mental wherewithal (computer tool discernment takes a shocking amount of energy!). Thank you šŸ™‚

  14. MelanieB says:

    oooh. I think I might like the Diigo auto-post feature. I’m always collecting little groups of links and then getting lazy about formatting them for an actual blog post and so they get dropped. I’ll have to look into that. I wonder if it will work with my blog software.

  15. Gail Gauthier says:

    I’m delighted you enjoy my blog. I have a blogroll at my blog, but it’s horribly outdated. My blog reader includes more, though it’s always evolving. I can’t possibly keep up with all the blogs I’d like to keep up with, and I suspect that’s the case for many other bloggers and readers. I joined Facebook last year, and I’ve friended some bloggers and try to follow them there, since many of us post links to our blogs on our Facebook walls. The amount of good reading on the Internet is just overwhelming.

  16. Carrie says:

    Melissa, what an honor to be included in your post – alongside some of my favorites, too. I rarely get to make the rounds as thoroughly as I’d like, but I so enjoy reading here. Thank you, and thanks for your writing – I always leave feeling a little clearer and more centered. You’re a blessing. :o)

  17. Carrie says:

    Crazy smiley. Trying again: šŸ™‚