I love a magazine. At one point – just after my first child was born – I think I subscribed to about 10 different titles. As you can imagine, with a newborn in the house, things did start to pile up.
Happily, before we got to hoarder levels, I discovered that I could nurse and/or hold a sleeping baby with one hand, while flipping through a magazine on a well-placed side table with the other. Unlike novels, magazines will nicely lay open for you; they don’t weigh much either, if you do need to pick them up for a closer look. And they have nice, short articles, perfect for picking up and putting down a dozen times a day.
Since then, my love affair with magazines has waxed and waned, but it never goes away. Every now and then – more so, recently – a favourite title has folded (farewell, Mental Floss!). It does seem like the magazine business – and the newspaper business, for that matter – is a bad business to be in these days. Just as self-publishing and blogging and free online sites full of pretty images and informative, searchable titles rise in prominence, so the written word begins to fade.
But a few of my faves are still going – well, I was going to say “going strong,” but that’s probably not accurate. Still, I’d like to gently recommend a few titles, if you’re the kind of person who likes to keep a magazine at your bedside table or in a rack in the bathroom.
My favourite magazine at the moment is Geist. It’s a Canadian publication and is chock full of cool stuff you didn’t know about Canada. It’s a literary magazine, so there’s always poetry and some short stories, but it never, ever takes itself too seriously – creative writing entries are fun and thoughtful and always totally accessible. There’s non-fiction here too, reports of unusual stuff happening in Canada on the literary scene, bits and pieces that will fire up your writer brain. I’ve had many subscriptions to literary magazines thoughout the years, and Geist is the only one I stick with – it’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s delightful.
(Also, if you do happen to be a writer – they have one or two postcard contests per year that just very, very fun.)
I also subscribe to literary magazine Taddle Creek, which is almost as much fun as Geist. Like Geist, it’s full of poetry, stories, and non-fiction reports, all completely accessible. It only publishes twice a year but I always squeal when I find it in my inbox. I take my time poring over it and I think I always read everything. One thing Taddle Creek is good for is ideas – every article gets your mind crackling with fresh, funky, offbeat ideas.
Taddle Creek is the only magazine I’ve ever subscribed to after receiving a cold-call request in letter form. I wish I’d kept it, because it was totally hilarious. Deliberately meandering, chatty, and self-deprecating, it made me want to reach through the mail and give the editors a warm hug and all my money. Turns out the magazine has the same sense of humour and is well worth it.
(Edited to add: That request letter is online! You can read it here.)
Now, we can’t be literary all the time, so I also have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly, because I am a total pop culture junkie. It’s my specialty on my trivia night team and although most of their articles can be found for free on their website, there’s something about the thrill of getting movie, TV, and book news in my mailbox each week. The book reviews are a special treasure – I’m sure they aren’t recommending The Important Books Of Our Age, but this is where I get most of my Wish List books. I’m always surprised at how I can get the gist of a book from just a 200 word, well-written review; 9 times out of 10 I love the books I choose from this magazine, and when I share them around, my friends have never heard of them. So, be the most cutting-edge reader in your circle, and get yourself an EW subscription.
Lastly, as I’ve mentioned before, my kids have lots of subscriptions to various magazines, and I personally have taken a shine to Muse, a science magazine with all sorts of cool science-based stories from around the world. It’s for kids 9-14 but it makes perfect bathroom reading for the tech-minded adult, too. And lately, I’ve become obsessed with Kayak, a Canadian kids’ history magazine, from which I have learned SO MUCH about my own country. I’m not sure what age they are aimed at – perhaps 9-12? – but they are fun, and fascinating. These I keep, and am considering investing in a library of their back issues, unless reason and budget interfere.
A subscription makes an excellent gift, and it keeps on giving all year long, which is really nice. (Also – shameless plug – Ten at the Wedding makes a lovely gift, if it’s not too late for you to get delivery.)
What magazines would you recommend?