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
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
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
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
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?