11 Magazines This Magazine Likes
If you're only going to subscribe to one magazine, we obviously think it should be ours. But if there's room in your magazine rack for multiple titles, perhaps you'll consider one of these. I asked various members of the mental_floss family to recommend one magazine. Here's what they came up with.
The Believer is an outgrowth of the McSweeney's empire, a lit mag for grownups, but a lit mag nonetheless -- it's about books and writing, with occasional digressions into film and music. Unlike most publications about books, The Believer has a twist: they only publish positive reviews. Want to read someone ripping XYZ Author a new one? Go elsewhere. The reviews are actually a very small part of the magazine (a few pages per issue), with the rest taken up by interviews (typically the "writer talking to another writer" or "musician talking to a visual artist" variety), historical oddities, writers writing about being writers, profiles of obscure people, and the excellent column "Sedaratives" (only rarely penned by its original author Amy Sedaris, this is a postmodern advice column; this month's column is by Judd Apatow).
I continue to mourn the conclusion of "Stuff I've Been Reading," the long-running and fairly self-descriptive column by Nick Hornby, which was collected in the three (highly recommended) books Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, The Polysyllabic Spree, and Shakespeare Wrote for Money.
Representative article description: "'Close Encounters of the Metafictional Kind.' Tough lessons in life and literature learned from Bret Easton Ellis's appearance at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square." If this sounds interesting to you, just subscribe right now and get on with it. If it sounds precious (and/or you hate McSweeney's as a concept), run. Far.
-- Recommended by Chris Higgins, regular contributor to mental_floss magazine and mentalfloss.com
The New York Times Magazine
The New York Times Magazine might be a supplement to the Sunday paper, but for me, it stands alone as one of the better magazines out there. Too bad it's buried between 2 inches of (potentially dying) newsprint and can be lumped into a category that includes Parade. The big upside to all this is that it has the freedom to get creative with its cover stories. One week I'm glued to its Architecture Issue (and I know nothing about architecture) and the next week I'm following the story of tennis great Rafael Nadal (something I would never have read had it been hiding in Sports Illustrated). But no matter what the feature story is about, there's a good chance you'll find me talking about it that week.
-- Recommended by Neely Harris, Editor-in-Chief of mental_floss magazine
Symmetry Magazine, published bimonthly by Fermi National Laboratory, is a magazine about particle physics. It sounds intimidating, but symmetry is not an academic journal. Rather, it examines the intersection of particle physics with science policy, culture, and many other aspects of human existence. Many article topics fall under the general category of popular science and may only be tangentially related to particle physics; for example, an article about a physicist who sketches in the style of Leonardo DaVinci. Symmetry also eschews the typical "blurb" cover layout of a magazine in favor of a distinct artistic design for each issue. Both the electronic and print version are free for all readers.
-- Recommended by Casey Johnston, mental_floss intern
You might think a magazine called Runner's World is for the super hardcore runner -"“ you know, the kind who has abs of steel, trains in high altitudes and has no problems making a #2 while they run. But it's not. I mean, it's for them too, but it's also for people like me: I average 10-minute-miles and have no problem drinking a beer or two the night before a morning run. Runner's World has stuff for the beginning runner who is maybe thinking about sort of completing their half marathon but is OK with walking part of it, reviews the gear that will make running slightly less painful, tells you what food might help you recover faster and gives you cool places to run (Kapaau, Hawaii, anyone?). And they do all of this without making you feel stupid if you don't know who Kara Goucher is or what a Yasso800 is. And at the end of each issue, they interview a celebrity runner. FYI, Jon Cryer does a few triathlons every year. Ducky from Pretty in Pink is more physically fit than I am. If that's not motivation, I don't know what is!
-- Recommended by Stacy Conradt, who writes the back page of mental_floss magazine and is a daily contributor to mentalfloss.com
The tagline for Good's media empire is "for people who give a damn," which should tell you everything you want to know about Good Magazine's tone and content. The magazine offers up simple, personal solutions for the world's biggest problems (the environment, education, social inequality, and animal rights to name a few) and profiles difference-makers. Their marketplace section suggests environmentally - and socially - responsible products to buy and the magazine always ends with a project for readers, like designing a T-shirt or making a mix tape.
Somehow it tackles grand social issues without coming off as preachy or making you feel insignificant. A lot of that has to do with the magazine's hip, casual tone and fresh design. The graphics are cutting-edge and no two pages look alike. My favorite section is Transparency, which communicates big ideas and statistics through graphics (a recent issue used a cartoon of sinking ships to illustrate the world's biggest bankruptcies).
Oh, and they donate 100 percent of subscription funds to charity, so you don't even have to follow anything in the magazine to feel like you're making a difference.
-- Recommended by Jason Plautz, regular contributor to mentalfloss.com
The Week is one of the few magazines my wife and I fight over to read first. It's an easy read that gives you a quick overview of what's going on across the country and throughout the world and a variety of viewpoints in manageable chunks of information. General news, politics (including a great sampler of cartoons), business and the arts all get their just due. It also does a great job of lighter stuff for real estate junkies (photos of great homes), foodies and consumer news addicts. It's a real joy to read.
-- Recommended by Toby Maloney, Senior Vice President, Business Development
While Monocle, which more resembles a paperback book than a magazine, may not seem like the typical light summer read, it's the perfect magazine for vacation. One issue of the international publication can last you all summer "“ or at least one whole month. The magazine, which describes itself as "a briefing on global affairs, business, culture, & design," is somewhat like the mental_floss of serious news, covering a little bit of everything.
Monocle is a great way to stay informed about global affairs during the year, or to catch up on news and stimulate your brain during lazy days at the beach. For the current issue, Monocle dispatched reporters to locales all around the world, including Beirut, Copenhagen, Johannesburg, Kyoto, New York, and Villa de Leyva (Colombia). The June 2009 features address politics, aviation, agriculture, pop music, books, the art market, fashion, bicycles"¦ And that's only a sampling! For the more graphically inclined, there's even an exclusive manga in the back, presented in its correct Japanese format.
At $10 an issue, Monocle costs a bit more than the average magazine, but it's worth every penny. This isn't a magazine you'll read in one day and then toss in the recycle.
-- Recommended by AndrÃ©a Fernandes, regular contributor to mentalfloss.com
Aside from providing me with one of my favorite non-sequitur puns ("You know what they always say"¦writer's cramp, Readers Digest"), I've been a loyal fan of Reader's Digest since junior high school. We were given copies in science class at regular intervals so that we could discuss "I Am Joe's Achilles' Tendon" and "I Am Jane's Breast" (and don't think that article didn't lead to convulsive giggles when the teacher attempted to lecture on it). While most of my classmates simply read the required article, I was entranced by and devoured the rest of the magazine. I loved not only the regular columns ("Life in These United States," "It Pays to Enrich Your Word Power," etc.) but also the occasional "Drama in Real Life" stories, which featured stories about ordinary folks stranded in adverse circumstances and battling against nature, or crime victims fighting for their lives. Such stories often piqued my interest enough to inspire me to go to the library and look up magazine and newspaper articles pertaining to that particular person. (This was long before Google made searching fingertip-easy.)
Years later I drew jury duty, which entailed long hours of sitting in a room with other potential jurors waiting to see if we'd be called for voir dire. Lest any details about a pending case be leaked, TV, radios and current newspapers and magazines were verboten in the jury room. The stacks of old issues of Readers Digest saved the day. The main stories were written in such a "you are there" way that kept most of us absorbed and not bored, and many heated discussions ensued among our group trying to decide which humorous anecdotes we could possibly submit in order to make a quick $300. Its compact size also made it perfect for office bathroom reading "“ it fit neatly into almost any purse, for those who prefer to be discreet about their restroom routine. Not that I ever did that"¦.
-- Recommended by Kara Kovalchik, regular contributor to mentalfloss.com and Research Editor for mental_floss magazine
At Jellio.com, we make home furnishings based on fun, childhood memories, so I like to try to stay on top of the latest trends in design. I'm always interested in what's new in housewares and furniture, as well as retail design, fashion, photography and even new ideas in packaging. And because of these interests, I've been a Surface Magazine reader for many years. Whether it's news on advancements in lighting, or which new architects are making a name for themselves, I find all the latest design information, as well as a great deal of inspiration, in the pages of Surface.
-- Recommended by Mario Marsicano, regular contributor to mentalfloss.com and proprietor of Jellio
My bookshelf contains Thoughtprovoking Books Of Great Importance. My TiVo mostly collects classic movies and shows with some nutritional content to them. So when it comes to magazines, I feel okay delving into trashy rags now and again. That's what a magazine IS, right? It's a little brain-vacation that can be shelved or recycled without guilt. But I've finally found a happy medium for fluffy clothes/cooking/lifestories content that doesn't insult my intelligence -- and naturally it's a) British and b) darn hard to find. So what if I don't know who half the people in the gossip column are or that I continually flunk their recipes. (Thanks, metric system!) The U.K.'s SHE magazine is all the good stuff from women's magazines, minus the cloying aftertaste or outsize personalities (coff coff, Oprah, coff). Yes, I'm slightly embarrassed that I love SHE so much -- but I'll just plead a terrible case of Anglophilia and curl up with my latest hard-to-find issue.
-- Recommended by Terri Dann, Art Director for mental_floss
When an old college friend told me he was starting a magazine about experiential travel, I thought he was talking about Yankees Fantasy Camp and Michael Jordan Flight School. And I was all for that. But in the months leading up to the first issue (coming later this summer), I learned there was a little more to it.
AFAR isn't about finding the most economical hotel or getting away from it all. It's for people who don't just want to see the sights. People hoping to immerse themselves in a new culture. People looking for inspiration. So clearly, it's not for everyone. But if you're in a travel-centric stage of your life, you'll be hard pressed to find a better guide to help you connect with the world -- and, perhaps, other like-minded travelers.
Founders Joe Diaz and Greg Sullivan have assembled a team of all-stars to turn their vision into reality. The premier issue hits newsstands this August. I would imagine you'll start to hear a lot more about AFAR next month, so if you like to get in on stuff on the ground floor, now's your chance. (You can get a free copy of the first issue here.)
-- Recommended by Jason English, Managing Editor of mentalfloss.com, who doesn't think his wife's friends' destination weddings count as experiential travel. Maybe next summer.
What magazines do you endorse?