Review 1365

Read Nonfiction is an unassuming, perhaps even slightly obscure site, providing a slower-paced alternative to the cacophony of the warblogging / antiwarblogging side of the political blogosphere.

The site is devoted, simply, to quoting and referencing media items with light commentary, placing it solidly in the media-link-and-commentary subspecies of weblogs. Recent topics have ranged from Oscar Wilde on socialism to an assessment of Zionism, and the site generally focuses less on the news-of-the-day than on more thoughtful analysis pieces found in publications such as The New York Observer and The Atlantic.

I might have tried to characterize the author’s politics, but handily, he’s already done so himself by taking a little online quiz. He reports his results as “leftist and somewhat libertarian.” Judge for yourself, however, from this sample of his commentary from his review of Wilde and socialism:

“It has always been my belief that if one attains more than what one really needs, sharing this surplus becomes a moral imperative. This is not about forcing a reduction in the divide between classes (which is a side-effect, no doubt), but about improving the quality of life for the lower classes. Surely, a better distribution of wealth will result in more members of society existing more comfortably than they are now. The flaw in this, of course, is that no man will voluntarily admit to having a surplus of private property.”

The site layout is a clean, simple Moveable Type template, and is fairly easy on the eyes. My only quibble would be the choice of fonts for the body text — the site appears to be using Garamond or something close to it for both the quoted passages and commentary, which is not the world’s most readable font. And distinguishing more clearly between quoted passages and the author’s commentary wouldn’t hurt either.

Update frequency is fairly low for a straight link-and-commentary site; averaging a post every few days. (May 2002 had entries on 5/1, 5/3, 5/10, and 5/28). While for some weblog forms infrequent updates should not be viewed as a negative, a site so totally devoted to following the media might benefit from a more frequent publishing schedule.

Overall, I’d recommend Read Nonfiction as an occasional stop for those who want to ensure no interesting media stone remains unturned in their reading universe, and as a supplement to a more regular diet of the more frenetic and compulsively updated news sites.

read nonfiction

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