The Night Owl’s Reading List

Night OwlI don’t have a blogroll in my sidebar anymore, mainly because the dang things are just so hard to keep current.

Instead I do this. When the spirit moves me, I write up a quick little rundown of some of the more splendid blogs that I’m reading at the moment, in the hopes that you might enjoy reading them, too.

Well, consider my spirit moved.

This time around, I’m focusing on history and architecture, because that’s where my head is mostly living these days.

Understand that these are just the mere handful that come to mind at the moment, that I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot of great blogs, and that I currently subscribe to exactly 238 blogs in my feed reader. So clearly this is far from an exhaustive list. It’s more a reflection of what I’ve been obsessing about lately, and how late I’ve been staying up at night.

What do my sleeping habits have to do with anything? Well, I am basically the craziest kind of night owl that you ever did see, as I regularly stay up until 5 or 6 in the morning writing my stories and messing about online. So when I’m finally going to bed and giving my Twitter feed one last, longing glance, I tend to spend this all-important time with the folks who are just getting up and starting their day.

It’s still too early for my pals in the US (with one or two notable exceptions), so I tend to end my day with the blogs and links and Twitpics of folks who are either (a) abnormally early American risers, or (b) normal (at least in their circadian rhythms) denizens of Great Britain.

All are more or less historical and offbeat in their subject matter. If this news is in any way surprising to you, then hey! Nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by my blog for the first time ever. I’m sure we’ll be great friends once we get to know each other better.

And so, in no particular order, I give you:

Daytonian in Manhattan (Tom Miller)

Pretty much my favorite blog in the world right now. Plumbs the seemingly never-ending depths of architectural history on the island of Manhattan, tracing architectural, personal, and social history, one building at a time. Follow the family feud that led to the construction of one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, or trace the decay of a once proud home to an increasingly humble storefront, delving into the surprising, sometimes scandalous, often touching stories of the people who lived there along the way. Beautifully researched, engagingly presented, richly detailed. A must-read.

Two Nerdy History Girls (Susan Scott and Loretta Chase)

If you follow me on Twitter then you know that I retweet what these guys tweet, like, a lot. That’s because they follow scores of the best history blogs and websites out there, and because their area of interest almost perfectly overlaps my own. They also happen to be two of my favorite authors as well as downright charming and delightful people in real life, but whatever. If you do nothing else, be sure to read their weekly roundup of interesting links and tweets, published every Saturday. I basically treat this as my Sunday paper at this point. Naturally, you should follow the heck out of those @2nerdyhistgirls on Twitter, too. In fact, I urge you to do so. You won’t be sorry.

Georgian London (Lucy Inglis)

Not nearly as frequently updated as the previous two, but well worth the wait every time. A wonderfully detailed peek into life in London three centuries ago, with a delightful focus on the daily life of regular people. With tags like “Sick London,” “Lewd London,” and “Criminal London,” you can be sure to find plenty to frolic about in and enjoy. Or at least, I certainly can. I don’t know about you. Perhaps you are a good deal more well adjusted than I am. But then again, you’re reading this blog, so I’d have to say that the evidence is not in your favor. Follow @LucyInglis on Twitter, too, if you like. I don’t think she’d mind. And keep an eye out for the forthcoming book of the same name, available later this year.

Victorian London (Lee Jackson)

Focusing on a slightly later time period, but offering still more fascinating insight into the daily, muddy lives of ordinary people, is Victorian London. I’m also thoroughly enjoying working my way through the book, a compendium of excerpts from papers and magazines of the time that make me laugh, gasp, and bookmark just about every entry. If you love leafing through contemporary accounts of the evils of billposters, the increasing problem of urban traffic, and strongly worded letters to the editor on just about every topic you can conceive, then you have come to the right place. Follow @VictorianLondon on Twitter, too, so you don’t miss a single trick.

Papers and Paints (Patrick Baty)

Every post offers a fascinating stroll through history by way of the intriguing and often overlooked lens of paint. Baty takes a careful and highly scientific approach to a certain type of forensic research that can be staggering in what it reveals. Also, he gets to spend his time poking around some of the most breathtaking architectural treasures around. The only drag is that sometimes his clients are just a little bit too illustrious, if you get my drift, and so he can’t share quite as many delicious details about his assignments as you might hope. Never mind — what he does show of his work is plenty enough to make you swoon. Definitely a contender for Coolest Job Ever. Also can be found on Tumblr and Twitter, if you’re so inclined.

Fotofacade (Andy Marshall)

To be honest, I’m more of a follower of this talented architectural photographer on Twitter and Pinterest, as his blog doesn’t always play nicely with my feed reader. But there’s almost always some breathtaking Twitpic to be checked out just as I’m going to bed (and, presumably, as he is just getting his day started in, I believe, Manchester, England). Another serious contender for Best Job In The World. Not that I really know the precise nature of his work. But it seems to involve a lot of running around to architecturally interesting spots and then taking really, really, really good photographs once he’s there. If you’re not a Twitterer, I do heartily recommend his Pinterest. Eye candy for the architecturally inclined.

So there you have it — if you, like me, find yourself up until all hours and casting wildly about for something entertaining and personally fulfilling to read, then I can recommend all of the above with all of the earnestness at my command.

Night owls need brain food, after all.

Almost as much as we need beauty sleep.


1 Thought.

  1. OMG! Daytonian in Manhattan is so lovely! I wonder if there is an equivalent for my beloved Chi-town? I love this entry, Beth, and not *just because it indirectly gives me a shout-out. Now, go to sleep. ;>

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