Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Word about Magazines....Leading to Books

For some reason I find myself subscribed to more than thirty magazines, and I'm not sure how that happened.  I'm certainly not able to keep up.  But I did want to mention which ones I find especially interesting in terms of discovering new books, in order of importance.

The New Yorker:  this is a great magazine that appears weekly, with in depth articles, short fiction, and reviews of a number of books (not the mass market kind).  I've found selections from various authors such as Sherman Alexie and David Sedaris, which led me to look for their books.  They also feature great poetry excerpts.  A favorite...

Smithsonian:  The science journal isn't nearly as dry and dull as Discover.  The articles are not dumbed down, and they are long enough to get a real feel for what the topic is, from Hadrian's Wall to Forensic Astronomy (fascinating stuff).  The scope of articles is large and again, many great titles can be found in this monthly journal.

Kiwi:  This is for moms, with earth friendly tips and links to realistic parenting (yes, you have permission to build a fort rather than do dishes.  Sometimes.).  A great selection of unusual toys, multicultural crafts, and best of all, reviews of children's books that are not the typical selections.

Oprah:  She's a love/hate person for most people, but I've found some great titles in this magazine in her Reading Room section.  Without this feature, I would have never discovered Cloudstreet, Revolutionary Road (before the movie buzz!), House of Meetings, etc.  Not all her titles are mass market, and although I don't follow her book club titles (too depressing!), I do enjoy hearing comments on many of the other books.

Time:  I read this mostly for Joel Stein's column, but it's a great classic general news source.  The articles are a bit too short to be deep, but it makes for great general variety.  The Economist is even better.

Then there's the "don't bother" category:  New York Review of Books seems like overkill and leaves you slightly dizzy.  The Strand focuses on mystery titles exclusively, and seems formulaic.


  1. I have to laugh. My BF reads People. It's her escape from real life, but she's fascinated by the book reviews. So, whenever she sees a book review in People that she likes, she'll tell me to preview the book for her. She doesn't read that many books, so the ones she does read had better be good. What better way of making sure they're good than having your best friend book blogger read it first?

    Never heard of Kiwi...looking into it now, thanks!

  2. +JMJ+

    Joel Stein's column is just great! =D I look at the editorial cartoons, read the quotes of the week, and then skip all the other articles so I can get to Stein.

  3. Oh, I've had to cut back on mag subscriptions--- too much pressure!! Love them though--low-brow and high-brow. At university, I loved to spend a Sunday afternoon in the library reading all the mags I couldn't afford.

    I really enjoy Nat Geo, Mother Earth, and Discover. Shameful I know, but I've never really read New Yorker or Smithsonian-- I want to give them a go though.

    Great post! I'm sure we will blog about mags at Mrs. BG at somepoint... I will link to your post if we do.

  4. I get the New York review of books email newsletter, but I dont think that I have ever read a recommendatino from there. I also get the Australian Book Review which I enjoy reading but rarely buy anything. I don't buy new books really, they're too expensive, so its hard to read books recommended in magazines.

    I do think that Oprah has good taste, I would usually read and enjoy a book that Oprah recommends

  5. I've found the magazines cut into my book reading time. They were great when I rode the subway but since I don'tlive in New York anymore, they've become a burden. I read People and EW every week, most of Newsweek, part of PW (usually weeks later), and I let my New Yorker subscription lapse (though I agree with your assessment of it). I have nearly a year's worth of backissues to work through. The New Yorker introduced me to Atul Gawande, Malcolm Gladwell, and John McPhee, all of which are fantastic.

  6. Bookmarks and Poets & Writers are book great magazines for we bookish folk - if you need a few more to add to your list. :)

  7. Hi Greg! Yep, I just subscribed to Bookmarks and The London Review of Books last night through Amazon. Just what I need, more ideas! How are you?