Help Jeremy find some new blogs/articles/essays to read

I’m in a rut. I need some new sources of digestible reading material. Please offer your suggestions in the comments!

You’re welcome and encouraged to suggest anything you like. But if you want to tailor your suggestions, here are my desiderata:

  • I’m looking for sources of blog posts, short essays, and interviews–a few thousand words at most.
  • I’m looking for nonfiction.
  • Subject areas of interest include but aren’t limited to science, academia, philosophy, history, and culture. Anything that features interesting ideas.
  • I’m good on sports-related reading material. And if it’s science, it’d have to be advanced enough not to bore a scientist, and not gee-whiz wild speculation either.
  • I’m looking for sources of reading material I can subscribe to or visit regularly. But I’ll also accept suggestions for, e.g., books of collected essays.
  • I recently stopped subscribing to The New Yorker and The Atlantic in print. The hit rate of pieces I wanted to read just wasn’t high enough at either venue. I found too many New Yorker pieces too long for my taste. And too many Atlantic pieces focused on US politics and culture war stuff for my taste. I can find pieces about US politics and culture war stuff whenever I want; I don’t need any help on that front.
  • Maybe I should subscribe to LRB, TLS, or NYT Book Review? Book reviews and critical essays are great, because you get a digestible version of the book’s argument, plus a thoughtful reaction to it. It’s a two-for-one deal!

Thank you in advance for your suggestions. 🙂

39 thoughts on “Help Jeremy find some new blogs/articles/essays to read

  1. Here are some blog suggestions:-
    The Ezra Klein Show
    RadioLab
    Quanta Podcast
    Rear Vision (ABC Australia)
    Inside Europe
    Future Tense (ABC Australia)
    Talking Politics
    Late Night Live (ABC Australia)

    • Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve been thinking about having a look at the Ezra Klein show, though I’d need to avoid the episodes about politics. I enjoy reading the transcripts of Tyler Cowen’s Conversations With Tyler, so I think I’d probably like Ezra Klein’s interviews too.

  2. My hands-down favourite blog is “A collection of unmitigated pedantry” (https://acoup.blog/). Its author, Bret Devereaux, is an academic historian who uses the portrayal of history in popular culture (books, movies, games) as a springboard to talk about “serious” history. His primary expertise is ancient military history, but he covers a wide range of subjects, from pre-modern logistics to early states or the production of cloth. He writes with humour and for a lay audience, but still goes into quite a bit of depth and gives references to the academic literature. He’s also good at pointing out how historical knowledge pertains to and is important to modern society. New posts every Friday, on average ~5000 words.

    (For starters: one of his best series was an extended analysis of the Siege of Gondor, see here: https://acoup.blog/2019/05/10/collections-the-siege-of-gondor/.)

    • I started reading this today, it’s great! Thanks again for the suggestion.

      Now I want to know if there are other historians, political scientists, sociologists, etc. taking a similar approach to writing about their own areas of expertise.

      • Glad you enjoy it! I discovered it a year ago, and after reading through the backlog, eagerly look forward to each Friday 🙂

        I also follow Bret on Twitter (@BretDevereaux), he often shares interesting things. A colleague of his, Roel Konijnendijk (@Roelkonijn), is active on r/AskHistorians, where they have some pretty interesting content – but of course what gets covered there is what people ask about, so it’s not particularly structured.

  3. I’ve been a subscriber to High Country News for the past four or so years and I really enjoy reading it every time, it’s a magazine mostly about the western U.S. and conservation and communities in the west. I think the science writing is top notch too. I am not even a western either, but I am a former land management agency employee…

  4. Here’s a few that I always wish I had more time for:

    – Boston Review (http://bostonreview.net/) and LA Review of Books (https://lareviewofbooks.org/) both feel a bit more agile to me than NYRB, and it feels like they engage with science more regularly.
    – Public Books (https://www.publicbooks.org/) is academia-adjacent.
    – The Last Word on Nothing (https://www.lastwordonnothing.com/) is a blog collective by a group of science writers whose work I find useful and enjoyable (e.g. Emma Marris, Jane Hu). I also enjoy Lady Science (https://www.ladyscience.com/) on gender/science/history.

    – Not reading, but I’ve really been enjoying listening to ‘How to Think about Science’ (https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/how-to-think-about-science-part-1-24-1.2953274). David Caley’s interview style seems to do a great job drawing out his interlocutors’ ideas.

    And I second the suggestion for High Country News as they feature some of terrific reporting on land and conservation issues, and engage thoughtfully with ecology (as well as publishing pieces by biologists)!

  5. I’m a big fan of Literary Hub (often abbreviated to Lit Hub). They have different sections/articles/blogs on science, climate change, nature etc. For example, today under nature there is an article by Susanne Simard: https://lithub.com/are-we-going-to-take-it-all-on-the-moral-reckoning-of-clear-cutting-a-forest/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Lit%20Hub%20Daily:%20May%2011%2C%202021&utm_term=lithub_master_list
    You should also check out Amy Brady’s “Burning Worlds” which deals with the literature of climate change

  6. Second the rec on Lit Hub, which I tend to read when someone else says “check out this article” and then get lost in it.

    I’ve mostly moved to podcasts, which I realize don’t work if you’re in a location where reading is more appropriate than listening. But some podcasts also post their full text and often include pictures. 99% Invisible is one which you probably already know, but it’s excellent. https://99percentinvisible.org/

    Other blogs I read are sports, and you said you are set there, though there probably cannot be enough Chicago Cubs blogs in the world. As I think of it, DE is now the longest-lived blog that I read. Seems like interesting blogs had a lifespan of about 3 years until their writers got bored/too busy/hired away/subsumed. My browser’s bookmark folder of blogs is mostly a graveyard of dead links.

    • IIRC, Tyler Cowen once said that bloggers can only blog for 5 years before they run out of interesting things to say.

      We’re far from the first ecology blog. I’m not sure what the first was. The EEB and Flow, maybe? But yes, most that started before us, or after us, have stopped. And we’ve certainly gone downhill, especially since the pandemic started. Meghan and Brian haven’t been able to post much for over a year now. And I’m posting less often than I used to, and doing more boring quickie filler posts. Like, um, this one!

    • Yeah, Am Sci is too basic for me. I do enjoy Tyler Cowen’s conversations with Tyler, and sometimes find links of interest to me at Marginal Revolution. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • Second the Geoff Park blog, he’s very interesting if you’re into birds especially, but his writing does go wider than that. In early 2020 I had the pleasure of spending a morning birding with Geoff – by coincidence an old friend of mine also lives in Newstead and we hooked up when we visited.

  7. You’re doing a great service to the rest of us by calling forth all these enticing suggestions!

    Not a blog, but I’ve enjoyed reading parts of CORE-Econ (https://www.core-econ.org/), which is a communally-developed free online economics textbook. A lot of the material is mainstream except for online exercises and the like, but it’s reframed to begin from innovation and historical change rather than from national income or from classical microeconomics. In total it’s much bigger than you wanted of course, but you can dip in and out.

    (I’ve been interested in it also as a model for what the ecology research community might be able to do, if we could get our act together.)

    • Interesting suggestion! I was vaguely aware of the existence of this book, but somehow it never occurred to me that I could dip into it, or that I might want to.

      If you’d be up for writing a guest post on CORE-Econ as a model ecologists might follow, drop me a line…

  8. Hi Jeremy; no Blogs to suggest, but both Yale and Stanford offer free classes, Like Steve Stearns class on evolution.

  9. How about Web-of-Stories [https://www.webofstories.com/ ]; great autobiographical interviews with distinguished scientists [ gell-mann, maynard smith. etc]. Some short, some long.

  10. I read New Scientist through my public library. It is very digestible and pitched at the right level. It could probably have more details when it comes to biology, but I appreciate that I mostly get it when they do physics. Plus you get a much more UK/EU perspective than from US-based outlets.

    • Ηello!! For similar reasons, I am a subscriber and regularly read SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN and blogs/podcasts in it. I have found it as the best way to catch up with thriling science data outside ecology (i.e. from cultural anthropology to molecular biology and brain science and behavioural psychology) plus I get inspired (and encouraged) to read how uncertainty, experimentation and results are perceived in other scientific disciplines. Also, I am so fond of getting a US-/world perspective additionally to the EU one!

  11. It is unfortunate that many good blogs have shut down over the years (including my own). But a few are still up and running. My favourites:

    Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week
    https://svpow.com/

    Measure of Doubt
    https://jessegalef.com/

    The Last Word On Nothing
    https://www.lastwordonnothing.com/

    And then, of course, there is the ScienceSeeker (which, eons ago, Anton Zuiker and I thought of and developed but is now a separate entity) aggregator of science blogs, (and apparently now also other new sites) each having to be approved first. They range from popular to technical so browse and you will find stuff you like for sure:
    http://www.scienceseeker.org/

  12. The Edge “annual questions” are worth checking out. 2017’s question, for example, was “what scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known?”. A lot of well-known people provide answers in the form of short essays

    • Thanks. I’ve seen those. Found them somewhat of a mixed bag. You have to dig for the good essays. And avoid the many famous senior people either saying the same things they always say, or else saying something so deliberately provocative that it’s just obviously silly.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.