Happy December! With winter and the holidays upon us, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a good book, hunt for the next bestseller (or something more obscure) or find the perfect literary gift. Lately, one of my favourite distractions has been surfing the Internet for fun and unusual websites for book lovers, word nerds and people who read too much. So forget Amazon, Indigo, Chapters and the other big bookselling sites for a while and check out a few new online spots to expand your digital literary experience.

1) Book Crossing: www.bookcrossing.com

If you love your books set them free. This site lets you to share and send your books “out in the wild” with a special identification label that tracks the book, sometimes around the world, and lets you know who’s reading it. The site has a system to follow a book’s journey and the lives it touches, as well as a way to add journal entries, reviews and searches for books that have been “released.” It’s been described as a “modern day message in a bottle.”

2) Bookslut: www.bookslut.com

Ok, this one made the list just for its name. For those of us who’ll read anything anywhere, Bookslut is a daily blog of insightful features, reviews, and outrageous commentary, including regular columns such as Cookbook Slut, Latin Lit Lover, and UnAmerican. The blog itself is a good read, not just its passionate book recommendations.

3) Bookninja: www.bookninja.com

This one also gets points for its name. Bookninja is a Canadian literary site and according to its homepage one of the top literary sites in the world, and nexus for news, opinion and discussion about fiction and poetry. Also part of the site, Bookninja Magazine contains original articles and reviews.

4) The Book Bench: www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books

If you love The New Yorker magazine (and I do) this blog is “loose leafs from the New Yorker Books Department.” That includes reviews, clever commentary and all the NY buzz about what’s popular, hot and happening on the literary scene.

5) The Believer: www.believermag.com

The monthly online magazine, by its own admission, “covers book reviews that are not necessarily timely and are often very long, and interviews that are also very long.” That said, the current issue has a weirdly entertaining interview with actor/writer James Franco in conversation with an artist called “Carter.” I also like that the magazine states outright: “We will focus on writers and books we like.

6) Narrative Magazine: narrativemagazine.com

As its tagline reads, Narrative Magazine is “a non-profit organization dedicated to storytelling in the digital age,” sometime described as the PBS of literature. All content (which is a lot – stories, poetry, novel excerpts, articles and writing contests) is free to readers. The site acts as a virtual bridge to connect readers and writers around the globe, and celebrates work by established authors as well as emerging ones. There’s a “Story of the Week” and “Poem of the Week” as well as my favourite find, “Six-word stories.”

Of course, this is just a smattering of the many fun and fabulous literary sites online. Let me know about some of your new and wonderful finds in the digital literary world, and leave a comment below.

Author's Bio: 

I’m a girl from the Canadian prairies who likes wide-open spaces, fresh ideas, a great story, and inspiring environments, buildings and art of all kinds. I have written feature stories about architecture, urban, rural and lakeside living, cool neighbourhoods, and everything from business to pleasure (tourism and travel).

I believe that powerful writing, too, can link the artistic with the practical.

My feature writing has appeared in: Ottawa Citizen, Winnipeg Free Press, The Western Producer, The Cottager, Manitoba Business Magazine, Manitoba’s Northern Experience, Home & City, Manitoba Gardener, Ciao and up! (WestJet’s magazine).

Barbara Edie