25 Non-Essential But Totally Worthwhile Literary Twitter Feeds

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A year ago—in a Brooklyn Magazine literary supplement very much like this one!—we published a list of 30 essential literary Twitter feeds. It was a good list! It was full of people and publications that have lots of smart, funny, “relatively sane” things to say about literary and, well, non-literary things. But, looking back, something feels kind of… off about it? Maybe it’s that we deigned to call any Twitter feed “essential.” Twitter’s great and everything, but should any social media platform ever be mandated as necessary to one’s success? In a word, no; in two words, fuck no

And so! In the spirit of the decidedly non-essential and the inconsequential, we present a list of 25 Twitter feeds which will do nothing for you save allowing you to while away your online time in a way that probably won’t benefit your career, but will almost definitely benefit your state of mind. These are the Twitter feeds that we seek out for their uncanny ability to keep us amused, engaged, and aware. Some of them provoke, others inform, and all are worthwhile additions to our daily Internet ramblings. Does that make them essential? Nope. Spoiler: nothing having to do with Twitter is essential. But does it make them a fun diversion, frequently full of intelligent discourse? Yes! Which, most of the time, is all we’re really after anyway.

Lisa Lucas: In June, Lucas was named the first full-time publisher of Guernica—a magazine of “art and politics”—which routinely produces some of the most thought-provoking and worthwhile writing we encounter online. On Twitter, Lucas is not only a great advocate for writers, but is also the kind of person who will just up and post a few lines of a Gwendolyn Brooks poem. We like this. A lot.

 

Michelle Dean: Based on her Twitter avatar and background, Michelle Dean is some holy (or unholy?) cross between Rayanne Graff and Dorothy Parker, which seems to us to be about as perfect a union as could ever be formed. Dean, who’s been writing at Gawker about books and other things for a few months now, is witty and full of solid reading recommendations. Plus, on Gawker Books, she’s recently published* smart essays on Daphne du Maurier and the Mitford sisters, so following Dean means you won’t miss any of her own excellent writing.

*an earlier version said Dean had written both pieces, but she only wrote the one about the Mitfords

 

Elif Batuman: Oh, hey, so if someone’s Twitter handle is “BananaKarenina” you kind of have to follow them no matter what they tweet. But also? Batuman, who’s written for The New Yorker and n+1 among other places, is incredibly funny and frequently takes aim at whatever absurdities “literary Twitter” is obsessed with at the moment. Though currently on a Twitter break, follow her anyway, because she’ll be back and you’ll want to be there when she is.  

Roxane Gay: Upon the release earlier this year of her book of essays Bad Feminist, it seemed like Roxane Gay was everywhere. Whether she was talking about the problem with likable characters or her love for Ina Garten, Gay seemed to be popping up all over the place—doing interviews, signings, and readings galore. But nowhere is Gay more prolific than on Twitter where you can find her at seemingly any hour of the day. This is nice, we think, because it reminds us that writers—even the best writers—are just as in need of social media outlets as we are.    

Isaac Fitzgerald: As the head of BuzzFeed Books, Fitzgerald made waves a while back when he announced that he wouldn’t be running any negative reviews because he would rather focus on being positive. How could that work? How could anyone get ahead on the Internet without being a snarky dickwind? Well! As it turns out, BuzzFeed Books has been amazing due not to some sort of Pollyanna-ish outlook, but because of its strong coverage of the things that are worth covering. Also, look out this fall for his book Pen & Ink, which is about “tattoos and the stories behind them.”  

Ayesha Siddiqi: Siddiqi is the recently named editor-in-chief of The New Inquiry and a powerful writer on subjects ranging from Lana del Rey to whether or not the white girl can twerk. (We won’t spoil it for you, read here.) The main reason to follow her on Twitter, though, is that she is completely unafraid to be contentious and provocative, political and unapologetic, which makes her that rare literary Twitter being: one who is unafraid to speak her mind for fear of some kind of lit-world reprisal.

Rusty Foster: Author of Today in Tabs aka the “cheat sheet for New York media,” Foster is a web developer who lives in Maine and so is a pretty unlikely suspect for belonging on a Brooklyn-ish literary Twitter list. And yet! You should still follow him because Foster fucks around on Twitter just enough to really understand what’s going on, has enough distance to cut through the general bullshit that accompanies most lit Twitter drama, and—because he isn’t a writer himself—can pretty much call it as he sees it on Twitter and in his daily (almost) newsletter.

Saeed Jones: Jones is the LBTQ editor over at BuzzFeed and just released his first book of poetry, Prelude to a Bruise, this fall. He tweets a lot (a lot!) and is consistently funny, offers great recommendations, and has some very smart opinions on that cinematic classic Hocus Pocus.

Anne Helen Petersen: Petersen—whose essays on the scandals of classic Hollywood used to be one of our favorite things on The Hairpin and which are now an actual book—writes about television and literature cultural criticism and old Hollywood and, oh, all sorts of things over at BuzzFeed now and is worth following on Twitter for her opinions on whatever might be happening online today, but also because she’s a recent New York transplant and so there’s lots of funny new-to-New York tweets, like about how a “knish” doesn’t have a silent k.

Patricia Lockwood: There is nobody else on Twitter like poet Patricia Lockwood. Go spend five minutes reading her tweets and you will see why you should follow her. Go read her New York magazine Grub Street Diet and you will realize why it’s important to read pretty much everything she writes. That is all. Go do those things. You won’t regret it.

Rachel Rosenfelt: As the co-founder and publisher of The New Inquiry and newly appointed creative director of Verso Books, Rosenfelt has a keen eye for writers who aren’t really interested in doing, well, the same old kind of crap. In short, she recognizes talent and innovative thinking and has published some of the best, most provocative young writers today. Plus, via Twitter we learned that she never liked U2, so she kind of wins everything forever.

Sarah Nicole Prickett: Prickett is a contributing editor at The New Inquiry, but you’ve probably also read her in n+1Hazlitt, or ArtForum among other places. Oh, you haven’t read her? Stop reading this list and go click on those links. (Click, click, click, click!) Prickett is also the founding editor of Adult Magazine, a not-your-average-porn-mag that also has easily our favorite Tumblr, as well as excellent writing on everything from Gena Rowlands to why 69 is overrated. But also? Prickett uses Twitter in the way we like to think it was meant to be used: intelligently, humorously, sporadically, passionately at times, but always with a touch of disdain.

Alexander Chee: Chee’s writing has appeared just about everywhere, so if you haven’t read his fiction, criticism, or travel writing, please do so now! But also, follow Chee on Twitter because he tweets like a, well, like a real working writer. He writes about deadlines and running errands and returning emails and about the things he reads that he gets really excited about. In short, his feed is full of a spirit and generosity that is maybe a little rare and certainly incredibly welcome in a sea of Twitter cynicism.

Leslie Jamison: The author of The Empathy Exams—easily one of the most talked about books of this summer—Jamison is also a columnist for the New York Times Books section and is thus pretty well-versed on all things literary. Jamison is also free with singing the praises of fellow writers, so her feed is good to follow if you want to be clued in to who might be writing the next book that everyone’s going to be talking about. Plus, she has interesting things to say about My Little Pony (see above).

Rahawa Haile: Haile is a writer who uses Twitter in one of the ways we think it ought to be used: as a procrastination device. Follow her and expect photos of beautiful skies, challah doughnuts she picked up in the middle of the day, and exhortations to have “happy writing” days. It’s a feed full of a certain kind of joy and angst familiar to all writers who know they need to buckle down and write but also have one very important thing to say about Viola Davis first. Plus, Haile’s observations about and links to important things happening in the world today are always worth a look.

Dayna Tortorici: Tortorici is a senior editor at n+1 and is also the editor of the excellent No Regrets pamphlet which came out a year ago (and which we highly recommend you buy and read instead of wasting all your time on Twitter of all things). She’s irreverent, takes great screenshots, and loves novelty sweatshirts. Plus—and more importantly—she’s political and brilliant and will get you thinking and reading about all the things that you really ought to be thinking and reading about.

Kevin Nguyen: Nguyen is the new editorial director at Oyster and also writes book reviews for Grantland. These two facts are reason enough to follow him, but beyond that? He’s one of the most consistently funny voices on Twitter and speaks the truth about everything from literal piles of garbage to the allure of Fleetwood Mac. Plus? He’s got his own—great—bot account.

Catherine Lacey: Lacey’s debut novel, Nobody Is Ever Missing, is one of our favorite books of the year. This, as far as we’re concerned, is enough reason to follow her. She doesn’t tweet often, but that’s ok. You don’t win a contest for most tweets sent. But what you get when you follow Lacey is one of the things we most appreciate about this platform: the occasional beautifully realized and succinct observation about how the world works. What else could we want out of Twitter anyway? Absolutely nothing.

Sheila Heti: Heti is another writer who tweets sparingly, but again, so what? When things are this good, you don’t need that much of them. (And, after all, we only composed this list as a non-essential collection of worthwhile feeds with which to pass your time.) Heti’s only tweeted a little more than 300 times, so you could read her whole feed in just about half an hour. There are worse ways of spending your morning commute, we promise.

Eileen Myles: In contrast to Heti, Myles has tweeted over 3,000 times, so you might not be able to get through her Twitter oeuvre in 30 minutes—or maybe even 30 hours? But that’s ok! You don’t need to. The poetry in Myles’s tweets is easily evident, and while she frequently tweets passionately about political and social injustices, she also tweets beautifully banal bits about, well, sharpening her pencil.

Kiese Laymon: Simply put, Laymon’s book, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, is full of some of the most gorgeous writing we’ve encountered, and his piece “Hey Mama” in Guernica is one of the best things we’ve ever read about living in the American South. We’d recommend following him based on that criteria alone. But he also tweets in an active, politically engaged way that is as compelling as what you’d expect from reading his powerful prose.

Emily Books: So we haven’t really mentioned any, uh, brands on Twitter, and have tried to keep this list more about the personal than the professional. But we’re making an exception for Emily Books because while this is a company, it is also the work of two women—Emily Gould and Ruth Curry—whose taste we trust implicitly when it comes to all things literary. Follow Emily Books if you want to know what you should be reading but aren’t hearing about anywhere else. This is not your basic e-bookstore.

Rebecca Mead: A staff writer for The New Yorker and author of the excellent My Life in Middlemarch, Mead is a reliably enjoyable presence on Twitter, funny and humane and not to be missed when live-tweeting her CSA shift. Mead is also a constant source of wonderful essays and books to read, meaning she has personally contributed to us spending hours and hours reading things at her suggestion rather than doing our own work. But we’ve never regretted a minute of it.

Thessaly LaForce: As culture editor at Vogue.com and an Iowa MFA graduate, LaForce has her bona fides in order. She’s also an elegant writer whose recent essay about fashion and the cost of consumption references both Muriel Spark and Kim Kardashian. Follow LaForce for links to her own writing, definitely, but also for links to writers she likes and, as seen above, the occasional corgi-related metaphor.

Olivia Taters: And finally, if only because any list of must-follow feeds ought really to include one bot, please check out Olivia Taters, who frequently makes more sense than anyone else on Twitter, or anywhere else at all for that matter.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen



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1 COMMENT

  1. the du Maurier article was written by Carrie Frye – I know this is only the internet but it’d be nice if you did even a cursory check of your statements before hitting ‘publish’.

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