Browsing the magazine rack at Borders got me no where. What would you read?
April 25, 2010 9:31 PM   Subscribe

What magazine should I subscribe to? I'd like it to make me think but not about politics. I also want it to be fun, so quarterly reviews are probably not the solution. Some more details inside.

My dad got me a subscription to Wired, and it's just about the most boring thing I can imagine reading. The articles are all surface and no depth. Something like (now defunct) Omni would be perfect. I had a subscription to Seed the first year it came out, but the last couple times I've picked it up it felt like Wired retread. (Should I give it another change?) I've had a subscription to Science News in the past, but I'm not sure I can keep up with a bi-weekly magazine.

This all makes it sound like I'm only interested in science magazines - not so! If you have a suggestion for a pop culture rag that never ever runs weight loss or makeup articles, I would love to read it! I have a less strident stance against fashion spreads, but I'd rather they be kept to a minimum if absolutely necessary. I would also be interested in a cooking magazine, if it's mostly vegetarian and actually about cooking. Several years ago, I enjoyed a few issues of Esquire.

I like the outdoors, cooking and reading fiction. My perfect magazine would leave me happier after reading it - not concerned for the state of the world. That's why I have the Internet. Something wacky like Fortean Times might be completely awesome. A men's magazine would be fine. I am definitely not interested in reading political articles, so The Atlantic and The New Yorker are not for me. I'm also not interested in the Rebook/Cosmo/Good Housekeeping type magazines. I am probably not interested in music magazines. I already receive Smithsonian. I live in the US, so international magazines will probably kill me on postage.
posted by stoneweaver to Writing & Language (39 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
I love Wired, so I'm maybe not the best person to answer this question, but it sounds like maybe you would enjoy Mental Floss.
posted by shesbookish at 9:35 PM on April 25, 2010

Mental Floss?

The articles are completely unexpected - the corruption of IKEA, famous prostitutes, you name it - but always interesting. And somewhat sciencey.
posted by R a c h e l at 9:38 PM on April 25, 2010

Ooops, nevermind. I see shesbookish took care of that :)
posted by R a c h e l at 9:39 PM on April 25, 2010

Sorry, I really miss Omni.
posted by ovvl at 9:39 PM on April 25, 2010

Scientific American, while not quite as good as it used to be, is still an interesting read (also Discover).

There's always National Geographic, since you said you like the outdoors.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:44 PM on April 25, 2010

Make, for projects to do, or dream of doing.
posted by Xere at 9:49 PM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

The New Yorker. It's the best non-fiction writing there is, and has few articles about politics.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:52 PM on April 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

Seconding the New Yorker. Usually no more than two features and one or two Talk of the Town pieces are about politics, broadly defined. It's also weekly- meaning there's a constant stream of new stuff. Trust me, even picking and choosing among the articles that aren't about politics, you'll have more than enough to read.
posted by MadamM at 10:07 PM on April 25, 2010

I kind of like Harpers
posted by edgeways at 10:14 PM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might enjoy Lapham's Quarterly, even though it's obviously a quarterly. It might be a bit less overtly fun than something like Make, or Wired, but it's very well done. A combo of Lapham's, New Yorker and Scientific American could be a good mix!

Don't forget - you can get subscriptions on Amazon for dirt cheap. eBay too, but I've had one or two problems - just make sure it's from a well-established vendor there.
posted by barnone at 10:15 PM on April 25, 2010

Seconding Harpers. Eclectic.
posted by applemeat at 10:21 PM on April 25, 2010

Believer Magazine can be okay too. It's the magazine offshoot of the McSweeney's folks.

Outside is terrible.

I also love Cook's Illustrated - it's sciencey, culinary, and gadgetry all in one.
posted by barnone at 10:23 PM on April 25, 2010

Harpers frequently features political articles. While it's a great magazine, it's not what the OP is looking for: it will most certainly not leave you feeling happy and content with the state of the world. If you're still interested, check out their website to get a general feel for what you'd be reading.
posted by halogen at 10:40 PM on April 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing The New Yorker.

How about BUST? They do teeny-tiny makeup pieces, but it's super-easy to just flip past those one or two pages. I find there's usually at least one really thought-provoking article or interview per issue, plus lots of great pop culture stuff - they review books, movies and music that no other national publications do.

Also, not really thought-provoking, but: Entertainment Weekly is pretty smart for an entertainment rag. It sits in a nice space between People (ie, gossip rag with lots of spoonfed-by-PR-flacks "features") and Vanity Fair (gossip rag with delusions of being The New Yorker). Fun, smart, not pretentious, good for a Saturday morning read. It's also dirt-cheap - my subscription for a year was $10.
posted by wholebroad at 10:55 PM on April 25, 2010

Another vote for Scientific American
posted by Mrs_Eep at 10:59 PM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Vegetarian Times

posted by Jaltcoh at 11:10 PM on April 25, 2010

Scientific American used to be great. The last few issues I received caused me to cancel my subscription. It seems like they've turned more of a Popular Science kind of rag than they used to be.
posted by Netzapper at 11:19 PM on April 25, 2010

It's not 100% devoid of all politics, but I'm a really big fan of colors magazine.
posted by mingo_clambake at 11:35 PM on April 25, 2010

How about the Skeptic Magazine? You can try it out at the newstands, in the science section. It's about more than science though.

I'm going to second Discover, and throw in a vote for the New Scientist.
posted by Sallysings at 1:30 AM on April 26, 2010

I just have to toss-in good old National Geographic. Beautiful photography and, actually, good writing.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:29 AM on April 26, 2010

I love Mental Floss as well, but if you are looking for something this isn't "all surface and no depth", this is not the magazine for you.

My favorites:

BUST magazine (if you're a guy, that may not be up your alley)
Men's Journal (one of the best men's magazine's I've read - outdoorsy stuff, sporty stuff, interviews, and a good read)
New York magazine
posted by amicamentis at 4:47 AM on April 26, 2010

Let me second Cabinet. Also, check out Monocle and Virginia Quarterly Review. Yup, VQR is a quarterly review, but it's really quite good and might fit your tastes.
posted by Kattullus at 5:42 AM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

and seconding the New Yorker
posted by rmless at 6:06 AM on April 26, 2010

A third vote forScientific American is in depth but very heavy. Well, heavy enough I'd say where discover it not.

Cooks Illustratedis the product of the American test kitchen.

The Utne Reader definitely has politics but it is more than that.
posted by mearls at 6:06 AM on April 26, 2010

I'd suggest some sort of McSweeney's combo subscription--bundle McSweeney's and The Believer.
posted by rockstar at 6:10 AM on April 26, 2010

It's specific to, well, books, but I really like Bookforum for culture coverage. Bookforum is, for me, a nice mix of taking the subjects seriously enough to write really well about them, but without a tone so heavy I want to kill myself. I've never gotten Artforum, but I'd imagine it's good as well.
posted by lillygog at 6:48 AM on April 26, 2010

Vanity Fair. It's not perfect but I enjoy reading (most of) it.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:57 AM on April 26, 2010

Nthing Cabinet. It's so terrific. Also Bookforum, yes! It's pleasurable. And there's always something in n+1 (warning: quarterly!) that's fun and funny and not overly laden with post-Marxist critique.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:29 AM on April 26, 2010

I turn to The Walrus for this sort of thing. (There are politics in there, too, but much more than that.)
posted by Kurichina at 7:42 AM on April 26, 2010

Smithsonian magazine, possibly.
posted by Sublimity at 7:55 AM on April 26, 2010

Wow! What a lot of wonderful suggestions. I am almost certainly going to try out Cabinet, Bust and Seed (again). It'll take me some time to look through the rest of the links. Thank you all so much! If there are any other suggestions, keep them coming. These are great suggestions.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:09 AM on April 26, 2010

Saveur - It's not about the process of cooking, but about inspiration, cuisine from all over and from history. I find it the most inspiring food magazine and as a home cook myself it's the only food magazine I read. The recipes are classics in my home.

agreed about:
The Believer
New Yorker

Cook's Illustrated's recipes have not been very reproducible and the "best" in my experience. Vanity Fair is all about politics & fashion so I don't think that would work. Too bad National Geographic Adventure is gone, also Gourmet since they have great recipes online.

Interesting about the happy part. I find Harper's too depressing, especially the Indexes. If I want to be happier afterwards I usually listen to RadioLab, This American Life, or Studio 360 podcasts.

Not seeing where you live but there's a bookstore in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that has tons of non-Borders magazines called "Spoonbill & Sugartown."

I have the same interests and wouldn't it be awesome if there was a lifestyle magazine devoted to the outdoors, cooking & good happy writing.
posted by scazza at 8:44 AM on April 26, 2010

Sorry y'all but Seed Magazine is dead. The website still runs but the last issue was published nearly a year ago.
posted by ghostpony at 10:54 AM on April 26, 2010

I like how several people listed the New Yorker when stoneweaver specifically said (s)he didn't want that.
If you skip the politics parts and want something that has depth to it as well as a variety of topics, I would go for the New York Review of Books. Check out the website to see if the articles would interest you. Be warned though - some people might think you are pretentious.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 7:17 PM on April 26, 2010

nthing new yorker
posted by aesacus at 7:31 PM on April 26, 2010

Good magazine hasn't been mentioned yet, but it's pretty awesome imo.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:14 PM on April 27, 2010

Seconding Utne and Cooks Illustrated. I was just reading the latest Utne this evening, and the spread of topics reminded me why I like it so much. Cooks Illustrated is a surprising recommendation, since you haven't mentioned cooking, but they have a wonderfully thoughtful, scientific, explanation-based approach to cooking. They don't just tell you how to do something, but explain why you have to do it like that, and what happened when they tried doing it a bit differently. They embrace the idea of cooking-as-chemistry, and it's a pleasure to read. Also seconding not Mental Floss. I subscribe to Wired and, up until a few months ago, I subscribed to Mental Floss. It's all gloss—no substance. The gloss is lovely, but even their most in-depth articles are maybe 1,500 words. (For comparison, in-depth New Yorker articles might be north of 10,000 words.) Every issue felt like trying to make a meal of after-dinner mints. If you don't like Wired for its shallowness, you'd really dislike Mental Floss.

ObDiscount: Since Kattullus kindly recommended subscribing to VQR (my employer), this is the point where I say that if you enter the coupon code "metafilter" when subscribing online, you'll get 10% off your subscription (or single issue, or whatever).
posted by waldo at 6:34 PM on April 27, 2010

Thanks for the suggestions, I recently didn't renew The Economist after a handful of one-sided blatant agri-business dick-sucking articles so I've been in the market for some magazines that are interesting.

waldo: Too bad I scrolled down AFTER I just purchased a sub to VQR (along with Cabinet, and Harpers)
posted by wcfields at 11:39 AM on May 6, 2010

Lapham's Quarterly seems like good choice.
posted by wcfields at 12:06 AM on December 13, 2010

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