cover image Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks from the Wild Web

Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks from the Wild Web

, . . Vintage, $14.95 (343pp) ISBN 978-0-307-27806-7

With this collection of 27 blogs culled from disparate corners of the Internet, Boxer, who writes for the New York Times , attempts to impose some kind of fixed order on a form that generally relies on the satisfaction of timely updates. For many blog-savvy readers, this collection would appear to have all the appeal of a new MP3 converted into 8-track format, but much of the writing contained in the book is well worth browsing for even the most hardened Web aficionado. The highlights in book format, predictably, are the blogs that maintain relatively tight spelling and grammar standards and focus on subjects beyond the writer's petty complaints. Benjamin Zimmer's “Language Log” reads like a wonderfully expansive and more self-aware William Safire column, while Sean Carroll's “Cosmic Variance” manages to be wryly humorous even while discussing theoretical physics at the Ph.D. level. Ringers like Alex Ross of the New Yorker and Matthew Yglesias of the Atlantic Monthly hardly seem like fair choices to demonstrate the democratization of the Web, but their blogs, on music and classical politics, respectively, are must-reads. Other, less conventional highlights include the neocon-spoofing comic “Get Your War On,” the ruminative expat diary “How to Learn Swedish in 1000 Difficult Lessons” and the cheerfully hyperactive idea stockpile “Ironic Sans.” (Feb.)