What are some good intellectual magazine
December 2, 2008 2:09 PM   Subscribe

What are some good intellectual magazines?

Not just in the U.S. but in the world (political, social, economical, philosophical, scientific, etc). Be them left, right, extreme, moderate or whatever just have good challenging content.
posted by clueless22 to Writing & Language (45 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite

There is something to be said about a magazine when world leaders regularly reply to articles in the "letters to the editor" section. You'll be reading a nasty to critique of an economist article and then realize at the end it was written by the President of Sweden.
posted by chrisalbon at 2:13 PM on December 2, 2008

Foreign Affairs.

Written by actual world leaders.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:16 PM on December 2, 2008

You might look at Foreign Affairs or First Things. Also maybe The Atlantic Monthly and The New Criterion.
posted by jquinby at 2:19 PM on December 2, 2008

Policy (Australia)


And try perusing the "magazines" blogroll at Arts & Letters Daily.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:22 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

The Atlantic Monthly is my favorite. Maybe a little lighter than the Economist, but thought-provoking and (in my opinion) much more fun to read.
posted by slowcat at 2:23 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Sun.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:24 PM on December 2, 2008

The New York Review of Books. Natural History magazine.
posted by subajestad at 2:35 PM on December 2, 2008

Nthing the Atlantic Monthly and the Economist. The Economist's political analysis and tone can be a bit conservative-leaning for my taste, but not so much that I think the information or quality of discussion or research is compromised. It isn't just about politics or finance, by the way - the science and tech and arts & letters articles are terrific reading as well.

I don't know if it fits your own criteria of intellectual magazine, but I can't live without Private Eye subscription.
posted by Grrlscout at 2:40 PM on December 2, 2008

I like Harper's.
posted by Penelope at 2:40 PM on December 2, 2008

Seconding the New York Review of Books. In every issue I find myself completely fascinated by at least one topic that I had never considered before, and greatly enriched in my understanding of several others. It's worth every penny.
posted by shelbaroo at 2:41 PM on December 2, 2008

Harper's. The New Yorker. London Review of Books.
posted by Lycaste at 2:47 PM on December 2, 2008

I'm a little confused by the inclusion of The Economist as an "intellectual" magazine. Am I missing something? It always reads like a conservative version of Time to me. Especially the news nuggets. The feature pieces are OK, generally speaking, but they don't go into any greater depth than more mainstream publications; they're just longer. You'll honestly get greater depth and analysis from Bloomberg than you will from The Economist.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:49 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Nthing Harper's, and it's a total steal: a one-year subscription is worth about two issues bought from the stands. I actually enjoy both Harper's and The Atlantic (aside from Caitlin Flanagan's crap) more than the New Yorker, which can sometimes feel like the Tracy Flick of smart magazines.
posted by zoomorphic at 2:51 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

The American Scholar
posted by mattbucher at 2:52 PM on December 2, 2008

Marisa: I don't think the inclusion of the Economist is because the content itself has you doing intense mental calisthenics or anything, but more because it glosses a wide variety of politics and bizness issues and is released frequently enough to keep you abreast of "the issues" of the day which, presumably, could lead to brainy reflection.
posted by softsantear at 2:56 PM on December 2, 2008

Probably doesn't fit but if not as high culture as these others, it's certainly very clever: The Believer is my favorite magazine of all times.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:57 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Yes, that makes sense, softsantear.

Also seconding The Believer. Excellent stuff. I'd also add Crooked Timber to the list - it's an online publication, but most if not all of the writers are published authors of books and/or contributors to magazines.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:04 PM on December 2, 2008

Seconding the LRB (London Review of Books), I would probably rate it over the NYRB. VQR (The Virgina Quarterly Review) has some good non fiction also. Prospect Magazine describes itself as 'Britain's intelligent conversation'.
posted by tallus at 3:09 PM on December 2, 2008

Also, on reflection, The Economist has a lot of opinion pieces, so I it's not entirely a litany of straight news bits.

I'll throw in my vote for the NYRB.
posted by softsantear at 3:14 PM on December 2, 2008

The Smart Set
nthing LRB and NYRB
posted by lalochezia at 3:19 PM on December 2, 2008

Harper's has been an interesting read for me for at least 8 years. However, I believe the content has degraded slightly since Lewis Lapham stepped down as Editor in 2006.

Lately I've been absorbed by Lapham's latest creation, Lapham's Quarterly. It is only published 4 times a year, but each issue has enough density to last well beyond 3 months.

Another good one, is n+1, but it is only published twice a year (unfortunately!). I make up the difference with the Economist and the NYRB, although I wouldn't classify the Economist as "intellectual." Also, because the Economist comes so frequently (weekly), I rarely have time to read it cover-to-cover and frequently skip to the arts and books sections.
posted by brandnew at 3:32 PM on December 2, 2008

English only?
posted by AnyGuelmann at 3:37 PM on December 2, 2008

I've found Adbusters to be an "intellectual" magazine only in the sense that it seems to be primarily read by hipster college juniors who fancy themselves "intellectual" because last year they decided, like, McDonalds totally sucks.
posted by Ceci n'est pas une marionnette de chaussette at 3:44 PM on December 2, 2008

Although, it's web-only, I wish there was a center-left leaning clone of Arts & Letters Daily.
posted by brandnew at 3:44 PM on December 2, 2008

The Atlantic, however, is quite wonderful as many have pointed out.
posted by Ceci n'est pas une marionnette de chaussette at 3:45 PM on December 2, 2008

One of the pleasures of life is getting the latest Harper's and going to a coffeeshop to read it cover to cover.

London Review of Books is also excellent, very in-depth. Personally I also do Art Papers and Blind Spot.

The quality of writing in the Atlantic is tremendous, but it leans a little right, and sometime the subjects are, to me, a little boring/navel-gazy. The New Yorker sort of bothers me the same way John Updike bothers me, but it is definitely widely read. And the cartoons are funny sometimes.
posted by plexi at 4:02 PM on December 2, 2008

Even the fellow who runs A&L Daily is drifting ever rightwards, he is a really good place to go for that "I want something interesting to read" situation. Stay away from Edge and City Journal, which are populated by insufferable right-wing "brights."
posted by By The Grace of God at 4:04 PM on December 2, 2008

New Internationalist
New Scientist

I also like what I've seen of The Atlantic Monthly.
posted by jonesor at 4:06 PM on December 2, 2008

Definitely The New Yorker.
posted by Cygnet at 4:24 PM on December 2, 2008

The Nation Esp. the Books and Arts Section, though the rag is geared towards politics.
posted by captainsohler at 4:51 PM on December 2, 2008

I second the Economist. It's mostly news-based, but it's written at an intellectual level and it gives a very broad, international approach to many issues. It's a weekly, so you'll always have plenty to read.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 5:15 PM on December 2, 2008

Seconding The Sun and The New Yorker. The Sun's Reader's Write section is amazing.
posted by min at 5:27 PM on December 2, 2008

AUGH, extra apostrophe. That's the Readers Write section.
posted by min at 5:28 PM on December 2, 2008

I'm pretty sure I'll get some eye-rolls for this, but I'd recommend Esquire. The political pieces are good, well-written, and informative. Plus you'll learn how to tie a Windsor knot.
posted by junipero at 5:28 PM on December 2, 2008

From Canada:
The Warlus.
posted by Menomena at 6:02 PM on December 2, 2008

Walrus, rather!
posted by Menomena at 6:02 PM on December 2, 2008

I'd like to nth The Economist as well, and suggest that the magazine's conservatism is usually overstated.

True, they endorse free trade and the abolition of corporate taxes, but they've also called for the legalization of all drugs worldwide, the legalization and regulation of prostitution and even the right to gay marriage.
posted by Bobby Bittman at 6:16 PM on December 2, 2008

People have already mentioned the New Criterion and First Things, so I'll mention Prospect (the British one, not the American One) and the Spectator (also the British one).

Modern Age is another fascinating conservative journal. There's an archive down below, but the link is easy to miss.
posted by Jahaza at 6:57 PM on December 2, 2008

For science, seconding New Scientist. It has some real good stuff in there. I find it to be headier than Scientific America, but not too much that a lay person can't understand what's going on.
posted by jmd82 at 8:01 PM on December 2, 2008

I've had, and cancelled, subscriptions to most of the magazines repeated here. American Scholar was a favorite for many years, but less so these days. I used to really like Wilson Quarterly, too. Every time I try to fall in love with The Atlantic, they get so proud of themselves and do something stupid like publish a long piece by Andrew Sullivan. I read The New Yorker exclusively for the cartoons, because I like New Yorker cartoons and there's no other place to get New Yorker cartoons. But those ain't intellectual.

For my money, I stick with the New York Times magazine. There's always something worth reading in there (even if it's just Randy Cohen, who is always fun), but the features are frequently those articles that Make Things Happen. Actually, for an intellectual periodical, you're probably best served with getting a Sunday-only subscription to the NYT.
posted by terceiro at 8:27 PM on December 2, 2008

Once again there is a voice in my head saying, "Do not post." I don't mean to offend anyone but -- I don't find most of the above magazines to have challenging content or that intellectual.

For content that is challenging, intellectual, or interesting (for me), I prefer the scientific journals: Science, Nature, Journal of Clinical Oncology, New England Journal of Medicine.

If the original poster has some time, I would suggest going to journal articles (for other topics too). Some of the journals do offer free articles online, and many libraries do carry at least one or a few of these journals.
posted by Wolfster at 10:12 PM on December 2, 2008

Thank you for this post.

On the basis of the recommendations here I have just subscribed to the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books and the Week (Australian version).

I regularly buy the Economist, and whilst I tend to lean left compared to their leaning right, I find it very educational, generally balanced and entertaining.

I like New Scientist too, but am not sure if Iwould subscribe. Like the Economist, I find weekly publication just a little too much to get through. I am seriously thinking of subscribing to National Geographic too though.

The New Yorker? Meh... For cartoons I pick up my Gary Larson almanacs.
posted by Mephisto at 6:22 AM on December 3, 2008

I've been getting Atlantic on and off for years. Smithsonian, while the pieces are short, has something in every issue that I want to read. And the Naval War College Quarterly is dense, but provides a very unusual view of the news and current events (for some values of "current"): http://www.nwc.navy.mil/press/review/
posted by wenestvedt at 9:48 AM on December 3, 2008

Seconding n+1.
posted by rottytooth at 2:23 PM on December 3, 2008

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