The first step in blogging is not writing them but reading them. —Jeff Jarvis
As soon as I could read, I was a reader, reading books, cereal boxes, and more books. In childhood, I even dreamed about being sent to jail, because I imagined I could curl up in a small cell with unlimited books, unlimited time, and absolutely no interruptions. Luckily I woke from that childhood delusion, but a small quiet place with many books is still an oasis I think about from time to time. I have written several times about books I have read, books I loved in childhood, books I’m planning to read, books I’ve bought, but I haven’t really written about reading blogs. I read a handful of blogs, and I look forward to new posts from these writers like I used to look forward to handwritten letters in the mail. In this 21st century, we have to wade through a digital deluge, so I keep my blog reading to this handful, but these are voices with something to say, journeys to share, meanings to ponder. Some are friends, some are strangers. They give me ideas, stir my emotions, make me think, help me dream. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong, on the Runner’s World site. I’ve read this blog since the first post in 2006, and for a long time, it was the only blog I read. I love her words, her eloquence, and how she can bring running and life and spirituality all together. For more about how much I love this writer, read this earlier post.
2. Travels with the Blond Coyote by Mary Caperton Morton. I started reading this blog about a year ago, when one of her posts was featured on Freshly Pressed, WordPress’s best of the blogs selections. She’s a freelance writer and vagabond traveler with two dogs, living her life on the road. I admire her writing and her amazing photography. Sometimes I dream of living on the road, but until then I can read Morton’s blog and follow her travels.
3. Waking Green Dragon by Alexander Lee. I met Alex in Missoula, Montana in 1996 when we both took part in a semester of environmental organizing. We became close friends during that semester, but time and miles scattered us. I kept up with him sporadically in the first few years following college, but mostly through his organization, Project Laundry List. He’s now living, working, and traveling in China and it’s been fun to read of his adventures and his insights. Alex’s blog is not merely about travel, but about the “growing consumer culture” of China and the environmental impacts. Alex is one of the smartest people I know, so I love being able to keep up with him, at least through his writing.
4. Writer and Hesitant Blogger by Ken McAlpine. McAlpine is a writer I love and he keeps a wonderful blog, posting once or twice a month. In this age, some of our favorite authors keep blogs, which helps pass the time until the next book is published. I found Ken McAlpine’s first book Off Season in the summer of 2005 when it was hot and my temper was short. The book was about the beach and communities in the winter and off-season and it cooled me off immediately. It knocked my socks off and I discovered the website for his agent and sent a note, the first time I had ever tried to contact an author. Ken (as he signed the e-mail) sent a swift and sweet reply. I’ve never met the guy, but I try to keep up with his writing, because it speaks to me. He’s thoughtful, kind, smart, and a wonderful writer. Check out his blog and then curl up with his books.
5. Nashville Skyline by Chet Flippo. Flippo is the editorial director for CMT (Country Music Television)–I don’t even have cable–and writes a weekly column on country music and the music business. He was a longtime contributor to Rolling Stone Magazine and has written a biography of Hank Williams, Your Cheatin’ Heart. I have no need to keep up with the music business, but I love his perspective and writing about country music. He’s cantankerous (a quality I love) and poetic and he expands my musical horizons.
6. New Wood by David Backes. Backes wrote the biography of Sigurd Olson A Wilderness Within: The Life Of Sigurd F. Olson published in 1997. When I was a student at Northland College, where Sigurd Olson’s name, life, and work are considered holy, Backes spent some time at the campus and I got the chance to meet him and ask him about writing. He’s kind and humble and his Olson biography is one of the best biographies I’ve ever read (and I read a lot of biographies). Years later, I stumbled upon his blog and it’s just what my heart and soul needed. Backes writes about spirituality and ecology and he ploughs into what can be an uncomfortable and controversial topic, but he does it with thoughtfulness and beautiful writing. Not only does he address spirituality and ecology, but he writes from the perspective of a Christian, a Catholic. I’m still scouring the archives to catch up and read all that he’s written. As he writes, “In a century likely to be defined by limits, redirecting our seemingly infinite desires is the major challenge. If we succeed, it will be because during this century we took seriously the spiritual journey, and listened again to ancient wisdom—not out of fear, not out of superstition, but out of understanding, desire, and joy.”
7. Honest Dog by Julie Buckles. Written by a writer and editor who considers her beat the land and water of Northern Wisconsin that I love. I met her years ago, although she wouldn’t know me from Eve, but only recently found her blog. Buckles writes about family, cooking, reading, her dogs, Lake Superior, and as she says of her blog, “Think of it as the lifestyle pages of the Northwoods.” It’s fun to read about a familiar place, even though I’m years and miles away from it.
8. Gravel Road Farm by Brigid Ferkett. This is written by a good friend from college, whom I haven’t seen in 15 years. She and her husband Ross recently moved to Wisconsin to start their life’s dream, an organic farm, which shares the same name as the blog. She writes of the adventures of a new home, family life, and of course the farm. It’s a fairly new blog and I can only look forward to reading more words from one of my dear friends. Read through the blog and if you’re in Central Wisconsin this year, buy their organic produce.
9. Rosy Toe Designs by Lucy Chapman. This blog is also written by a dear friend from college, whom I haven’t seen in 16 years. Lucy was crafty in college and as the years have passed she’s only become craftier, a true artist of fiber, making beautiful scarves, bags, and other creations. She shares her new designs and her adventures in running a small business, while also raising a family and keeping up with many other passions. Check out her site and buy a beautiful piece of functional art.
10. Zoe at Home by Zoe. I only started reading this blog a month or so ago. She has wonderfully useful ideas on organization and systems for making home life easier. She has kids and lives in Australia, and I love reading her ideas and checking out the beautiful pictures. She curates a calm crispness I’d like to attempt in my own life.
Have fun reading these wonderful writers! Share your favorite blogs with friends and see if they’ll share theirs. Get inspired by a new voice!