15 Blogs that Made Even Better Books

It's admittedly tough to make the case to buy some books based on blogs; after all, why shell out $20 for a permanent paper copy of something that you usually visit for free (often during work or class) and that's updated regularly? Those arguments miss the point, though: the book versions of blogs are great precisely because of their permanence, giving you immediate access to the content you love without requiring you to be near a computer. They're also worth reading as time capsules that provide a look at what humor and culture are like in the Internet age, when memes and attention spans change from week to week. So go ahead and pick up a book already. You're already paying for your Internet service anyway.

  1. Indexed: Simple idea, brilliantly done. The Venn diagrams and basic graphs on this site illustrate everything from the emotional tolls of dead-end jobs to the finer points of faun travel. The book makes for hilarious reading, interesting math lessons, and the postcards can even be mailed.
  2. Save Karyn: Karyn Bosnak got into serious trouble when she racked up massive credit card debt moving to New York City and going on a spending frenzy. She posted a plea for help on Craigslist, but when her pitch for donations was removed, she started her own site. The book version of her story draws on blog posts and personal anecdotes to follow her journey from debt to freedom. A funny and inspirational read, and one of the most natural blog-to-book adaptations.
  3. Garfield Minus Garfield: It's a known fact and a basic building block of society that Garfield isn't funny. At all. Dan Walsh highlights the strip's inherent ontological nightmare by erasing Garfield from all the strips, emphasizing that what reads like conversations between a man and his cat are actually just the loony ramblings of a lonely man. (I mean, it's not like he can hear the cat's response.) A book approved by Garfield author Jim Davis collects some of the best re-creations.
  4. Pitchfork: A lot of album reviews can be, well, unreadable, but the staff at Pitchfork are known for their sharply opinionated and smartly argued reviews. Their detailed book collects their favorite songs across all genres, and the solid writing acts as a sampler for the blog's style and tone.
  5. Stuff White People Like: This blog has spawned two books — the eponymous original and the follow-up Whiter Shades of Pale — and it's pretty easy to see why. The content is sharp and honest, gently mocking the tastes and trends of mostly white, mostly twentysomething people with a wry tone and eerie accuracy. (The TED Conference, Asian girls, and black music that black people don't listen to anymore will hit closer to home than some might think.) The books collect some of the site's best work and supplement it with all-new material.
  6. Passive Aggressive Notes: Who hasn't been tempted to leave a snarky note for a noisy neighbor or lunch-stealing coworker? This blog is an outlet for those who've had enough and decided to put their displeasure in a pissy missive when they're tired of talking about the weather or listening to you rehearse. The book rounds up some of the best as well as new notes, making it an invaluable addition to the site and a hilarious read every time.
  7. The Joys of Engrish: This awesome book collects some of the site's most hilarious and infamous mangled translations between Japanese and English. In addition to highlighting the often amazing mistakes that can happen when languages get garbled (like describing a fire extinguisher as a hand grenade), it's also a smart look at how appropriating a foreign culture always leads to blind fetishism. Do you really know what the Japanese characters in your tattoo mean?
  8. Television Without Pity: TWoP used to be a lot better, back before its purchase by Bravo turned snark into a lazy attempt at branding. Released in 2006, before the buyout, the site's book is a hilarious and classic reference guide written in their trademark witty and sarcastic style that runs down everything related to TV. Great as an info resource, better as a look at a blog operating at its peak.
  9. PostSecret: PostSecret is endlessly engaging thanks to its simple hook: people send in anonymous, illustrated postcards on which they confess secrets that range from sexual desires to workplace fears. But the site can feel oppressive after a while, and it's so big that it's hard to scan through archives or favorites. That's what makes the books so wonderful: they helpfully compile some of the most compelling entries and present them in an easy-to-digest format. There have been five books so far, the most recent of which is PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God. They're all engaging, voyeuristic looks into the hopes and dreams of the whole world.
  10. The Julie/Julia Project: Julie Powell's year-long blog experiment in which she worked her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was a perfect marriage of gimmick and execution, but the resulting book — Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously — is much better because it takes the scattered ingredients and turns them into an enjoyable whole. Skip the blog archives and mediocre film adaptation and just pick up the book.
  11. My War: Colby Buzzell, a machine-gunner in the U.S. Army, started blogging about the Iraq War as a way to express his boredom and frustration. The brutally honest posts quickly garnered an online following, and soon enough the content was spun off into My War: Killing Time in Iraq. The nonfiction account of war from a grunt's perspective was made to be a book, which captures the bigger picture of Buzzell's time in the Army with more power and immediacy than blog posts. A great addition to any bookshelf.
  12. Awkward Family Photos: One of the best blogs to mine 1980s-flavored nostalgia for all its uncomfortable glory, Awkward Family Photos revels in group shots that should never have been taken. The resulting book trumps the original site, though, by collecting the greatest hits and giving you everything you need and nothing you don't. Pure win.
  13. Waiter Rant: Steve Dublanica's blog was a haven for anyone who ever worked in a restaurant and suffered the humiliation of serving ungrateful customers for pathetic tips. The blog became an equally winning book that took the open-ended rants and made them into one man's quest for something better. The author recently followed up with Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper's Quest to Become the Guru of Gratuity, in which he takes his extensive knowledge of the server world and digs even deeper into what makes it run.
  14. Mad Men Unbuttoned: Natasha Vargas-Cooper's freewheeling blog about AMC's Mad Men acts as a kind of living concordance for the show's detailed references to life in the 1960s, and the book is even better. Great photos and design accompany smart and pithy explorations of mid-century American culture.
  15. This Is Why You're Fat: "Where dreams become heart attacks" is the tagline of this amazing/depressing blog dedicated to chronicling the multitude of ways in which Americans are determined to eat their way to early graves. The book is both a warning against insane indulgences like donut burgers and an interesting commentary on the fetishistic sites that revel in such oddities. But you don't have to think that hard if you don't want to. The book is just plain fun.

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