What magazine subscriptions are worthwhile in the digital age?
January 18, 2017 2:08 PM   Subscribe

I spend too much time looking at my phone when I'm home. I would like to pick up a magazine instead. I recently continued a Bon Appetit subscription after a trial period and was surprised by how cheap it was. I'd like to have a few more magazines coming to the door every month. Do you still have any magazine subscriptions that you enjoy? Any special interest, news, hobby, or lifestyle magazine you think is worth receiving in the digital age?
posted by SugarFreeGum to Media & Arts (58 answers total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
The New Yorker.

Unlike most modern magazines, it still runs long, involved feature articles on serious subjects. It's a delight.

It's nominally a weekly, but I think with double issues it works out to 48 issues a year.
posted by uberchet at 2:14 PM on January 18, 2017 [24 favorites]

We get Real Simple and the Atlantic.
posted by saradarlin at 2:14 PM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

And Sunset! Very west coast based.
posted by saradarlin at 2:14 PM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh God, I subscribe to a ton of magazines, because I can.

Miniature Collector--love looking at pretty pictures of dollhouses
Early American Life--porn for those who like looking at pictures of restored old houses with pewter, butter churns, distressed reproduction cabinets, and other awesome old furniture
Sewing mags (my main hobby): Threads, Vogue Patterns.
Biblical Archeological Review--I like knowing the actual truth behind the Bible
National Geographic
National Geographic History
Countryside--for sharing ideas about living rurally and sometimes off the grid; love the tips on butter churning and other home ideas
posted by Melismata at 2:17 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Games Magazine, it's mostly a variety of paper-and-pencil puzzles, but also includes game reviews and light articles.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:17 PM on January 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

National Geographic. For me, there's no comparison between seeing the published photos in print vs online. And the size makes it portable. Long, fascinating articles you'll want to discuss.
posted by kapers at 2:18 PM on January 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

The Sun magazine.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:19 PM on January 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Lapham's Quarterly is a visual and intellectual feast lovingly curated from across the ages -- a real treat to savour over 3 months, as befits a 'Quarterly'. My favourite thing ever.
posted by idlethink at 2:20 PM on January 18, 2017 [6 favorites]

Sports Illustrated
posted by AugustWest at 2:20 PM on January 18, 2017

Cook's Illustrated
The New Yorker
Lucky Peach

If you're an animal person, a $25+ donation to Best Friends Animal Society gets you a year subscription to their magazine.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:22 PM on January 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

The London Review of Books
posted by Beardman at 2:23 PM on January 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Entertainment Weekly. I'll admit it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:23 PM on January 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Consumer Reports. The magazine is more interesting to flip through than the website, and you're supporting a good cause.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:24 PM on January 18, 2017 [9 favorites]

Teen Vogue is absolutely killing it on current events/political reporting right now. Subscriptions are $5/year.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:26 PM on January 18, 2017 [6 favorites]

I subscribe to a digital magazine service (where you can read a whole bunch of magazines) and the only ones I read with regularity are Mother Jones, Dwell, and Wood. It has the New Yorker and I was looking forward to that but after reading a couple it didn't stick. I'm at the point where I feel like cancelling the digital service and just subscribing to paper copies of those 3 even though it would be more expensive because I don't really enjoy reading the magazines on my phone.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:32 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Teen Vogue. Seriously. The digital/website content is easier to filter for political content, but $5 for a year's print+digital subscription makes it negligible to ignore the fluff.

As a general note, for me subscribing from Magazines.com bought through Ebates' periodic 40% cashback rates has saved me some cash over the years. It doesn't work universally; the magazine might not be available through the site, or the mag may offer a lower subscription price for direct subscribers.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:34 PM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

My number one favorite magazine is Laika! It's a great combination of issue articles, food, fashion, and more.

I subscribe to the Economist and am an on-again-off-again New Yorker subscriber. I also enjoy Martha Stewart, the Nation, Mother Jones, Yes! and GQ on occasion.

I recently signed up for Stack, which is a service that will send you a different pretentious, arty magazine each month. I'm enjoying it so far. There's also a literary journal of the month club that provides the same service for literary fiction magazines.

One Story is fun - it's a single story each month. Nice and tiny for reading on the go.

I was a devoted Cabinet subscriber for many years. It eventually got too same-y, but I enjoyed it for a long time. They have great issue themes!
posted by snaw at 2:36 PM on January 18, 2017 [6 favorites]

I subscribe (off and on) to:

Esquire, because it features great journalism and Charlie Pierce's great writing.
The Economist, because it's the best sum up of international news and good US coverage.
The Atlantic, mostly because of Ta-Nehesi Coates
Cook's Illustrated, because it's my favorite cooking magazine.
posted by General Malaise at 2:36 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

We get Cook's Illustrated, Architectural Digest (gift, wouldn't pay for it), Smithsonian (gift, would pay for it), Nat Geo (gift that seldom gets read), and New York magazine (my favorite, although I've read most of it online by the time it gets to our house out-of-state). We also get Esquire because I keep forgetting to cancel it, but it's been disappointing for a while.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 2:38 PM on January 18, 2017

After years, I still look forward to the arrival of my New Yorker in the mail every week.
posted by swheatie at 2:48 PM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

1. Texas Monthly is a regional magazine (for a large region!), and every print issue has at least 50 pages of ads for plastic surgeons in Houston. But the magazine produces some outstanding longform features, especially in true-crime reporting and southern history.

2. If you enjoy short fiction or poetry, there are more indie or academic press literary mags and zines available than ever. You can find enjoyable litmags by listing writers whose recent short works you enjoy and checking out where those works were originally published. I like Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, which with Small Beer Press has produced some amazing fantasy/sci-fi/weird fiction.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:57 PM on January 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Garden & Gun - long articles and great reviews of restaurants around the South. Only drawback for me - they're so tight on their branding that every cover looks the same.
posted by banjonaut at 3:24 PM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Real Simple and a couple of magazines for recipe ideas (a Vegetarian one and a Light Cooking one).
posted by getawaysticks at 3:26 PM on January 18, 2017

Pacific Standard is well done.
posted by eelgrassman at 3:50 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lapham's Quarterly is amazing.

If you're like me, you'll become so far behind on your New Yorkers that they will form a column-sized pile in your bedroom.
posted by delight at 4:04 PM on January 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Smithsonian is totally worth it. It's reliably beautiful and interesting.
posted by irisclara at 4:25 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just want to clarify a recommendation made above. The Sun has nothing to do with the British tabloid.

Like life, you might not always enjoy it.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:33 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I also love Smithsonian. The articles are timeless, so there's no worry if it takes you awhile to read an issue.
I really enjoy New York magazine--not to be confused with the New Yorker. It focuses on NY places and topics, but even though I've lived in the Midwest my whole life I always find many interesting articles in there.
posted by bookmammal at 4:34 PM on January 18, 2017

The New York State Conservationist, published by the Department of Environmental Conservationist.

It's fabulous, whether you are elsewhere in the Northeast or not there at all!
posted by jgirl at 4:37 PM on January 18, 2017

If you do serious DIY, Tauntaun Press magazines are great. I get Fine Homebuilding and find it to be extremely valuable for ideas and learning how to do things really well around the house. Sometimes I don't want to actually do everything- finish your trim professionally in only 14 easy steps- but it gives great advice overall.
posted by rockindata at 4:57 PM on January 18, 2017

Garden and Gun, Texas Monthly, The Oxford American. And this rec coming from a guy born in Brooklyn and lived in NYC almost his whole life.
posted by old_growler at 5:11 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I also got a real cheap subscription to W awhile back, and was surprised at how good some of the features were, when they weren't about fashion.
posted by old_growler at 5:12 PM on January 18, 2017

If you are in to tech related content, I can recommend MIT's Technology Review, which has medium to long length articles on a variety of tech subjects.
posted by chiefthe at 5:45 PM on January 18, 2017

Smithsonian and Sunset. Sunset is a western US garden, travel and lifestyle magazine.
posted by gryphonlover at 5:52 PM on January 18, 2017

It's been a couple of years so I'm happy to be corrected, but Vanity Fair could reliably be counted on for nearly cover-to-cover reading on a broad range of topics. The letters section is good, too, always a plus. Lots of long form political stories in addition to literal "the butler did it" true crime dispatches from the latest international, upper-crust scandals, heists, and murder mysteries.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:00 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I will say that I never feel guilty about New Yorkers that I do not finish reading and every single time one arrives it makes me happy. And I have friends and also reading places where I can leave issues when I'm ready to unload a pile. Also, mother Jones has done tremendous journalism such as the reporter who went undercover at a private prison working as a guard. The magazine desperately needs support so if you don't want to subscribe at least toss it a donation. I gave up my cheap subscriptions to Dwell and Sunset because they just didn't feel very substantial anymore. That said, I love shelter porn and I do enjoy Dwell in general because if its coverage of modern architecture and furnishings
posted by Bella Donna at 6:41 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I like Sunset, Yoga, Wired, and Backpacker magazine plus we sometimes buy Mother Earth News and Mother Jones.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:45 PM on January 18, 2017

I love the Atlantic. I like to read the whole thing. It has a mix of topics and levels of depth. All good writing.
posted by maurreen at 6:46 PM on January 18, 2017

Garden Design Magazine.
It has no ads. It features amazing gardens. It is like getting a beautiful garden book four times a year.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:50 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Monocle is kinda fun and the design is good and I also enjoy making fun of it.
posted by grouse at 6:56 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're a car person, Grassroots Motorsports is unmatched. If you're a BMW enthusiast in particular, Bimmer is great. And the annual dues to the BMW Car Club of America are worth every penny just for the subscription to Roundel that they buy you.
posted by cyclopticgaze at 7:43 PM on January 18, 2017

The Walrus (not sure if you get it in the US)
Cook's Illustrated
Nutrition Action (but not since I can only get the digital version. I'm all about the hard copy.)
posted by Frenchy67 at 8:15 PM on January 18, 2017

Archaeology Magazine is consistently excellent.
I got hooked on Vanity Fair because my doctor had it. I wound up subscribing after I stopped going to his office regularly.
posted by gudrun at 8:21 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Big Sky Journal
Montana Quarterly - both have good pictures, sometimes good fiction. Quarterly is less of a magalog.

+ for The New Yorker
~ for Texas Monthly. Their great longfrom journalism always seemed to show up for free on the web a week before I got my hardcopy.
posted by ITravelMontana at 8:34 PM on January 18, 2017

Harper's - it's a monthly with several long, interesting pieces, as well as the Harper's Index. It is published by a nonprofit, so it is fairly inexpensive. You also get access to their online archive with articles from Mark Twain and David Foster Wallace, among others.

The New York Review of Books - I stopped subscribing to this one and I miss it. Huge, long-form book reviews (sometimes on multiple books) and reviews of art exhibits.
posted by Lycaste at 8:38 PM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Economist, and Wired.
posted by ellerhodes at 8:51 PM on January 18, 2017

I vastly prefer to read longform articles online, but I do like my aspirational/inspirational home-related magazines in print: Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Living, and Martha Stewart Living. BHG and MSL are basically interchangeable and are not anything I would vigorously promote, but I personally find these types of magazines extremely soothing and well worth $5/year.
posted by gatorae at 9:16 PM on January 18, 2017

The Sun
Utne Reader (if it still exists)

Agree that the longform from Texas Monthly is fantastic.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 9:48 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Smithsonian as we became members while at a gift shop in Natural History for very little. We also enjoy Popular Science. And just saw that The Sun was posted, loved that one, too
posted by childofTethys at 4:54 AM on January 19, 2017

Science News — I subscribe to the digital edition but they have a print edition as well. Biweekly magazine that does a good job of providing even-handed coverage of new developments in science, avoiding the over-hyping of discoveries that is so often seen in more general news sources.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:51 AM on January 19, 2017

Real Simple
Cook's Illustrated
Consumer Reports

Do not: Martha Stewart Magazine. SO fluffy, one big bougie advertisement (either real ones or ads disguised as articles).
posted by reksb at 8:45 AM on January 19, 2017

I get London Review of Books and New York Review of Books... not so much because I want to know what books are good, but because they tend to either summarise interesting books, or write around the subject that a newish book covers, or just have interesting articles on interesting topics. If I had to choose one I'd go for the LRB, and not only because I'm in London - it feels more modern and less stuffy.
posted by fabius at 9:20 AM on January 19, 2017

Another vote for the New Yorker - even if you have no interest in the city events and restaurants and such, the long-form journalism and essays are fantastic. Like others, I feel guilty when I don't finish an issue.

I'm also a big fan of Mother Jones, which I came to because of Kevin Drum.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:16 AM on January 19, 2017

Really fascinating to read everyone's recommendations.

I, too, am a New Yorker partisan. It makes me, too, happy every time it comes, and it's my primary non-book reading material.

The Atlantic is often available for $10 or so for a two-year subscription (keep your eyes on Slickdeals and the magazine sale sites). It's worth that for Coates' work, but the front-of-book is pretty dull. The culture coverage is OK and the other stuff is sometimes excellent, though not consistently so as in the New Yorker. I subscribed for a while to Harper's but it just didn't draw me in the way the New Yorker does.

I live in Los Angeles, but my favorite non-mentally-taxing magazine is New York, by far. Excellent culture coverage, really fun and well-run fashion/lifestyle section. Generally a very good dumb magazine for smart people, even if you don't live in New York. Events and food coverage will make you angry you *don't* live in New York.

My wife takes Dwell (another one that's absurdly cheap on sale). The writing is pretty dull, but if you're into modern home porn, it's fine.

Monocle should be the magazine for me (world-traveling menswear writer and culture critic in a big coastal city), but kinda isn't. I buy it at the airport once in a while but the tone is so profoundly douchey that I just can't make it through one. Their editorial perspective, essentially, is that all third world nation's problems would be solved with better airport lounges. I get too angry to read it, though there's some interesting stuff covered, excellent fashion editorial (that typically features their advertisers) and good photography.

I agree that Lapham's Quarterly is superb, and this reminds me to subscribe.

As I mentioned, I work part-time in menswear, tending toward the classic side of things. There's not much useful men's fashion editorial in English - there's an ultra-luxury magazine called The Rake that is pretty nice, though the writing is very inconsistent. But if you don't mind looking at pictures, there are a ton of great Japanese menswear magazines. My favorite, Free & Easy, just went out of business, but there's Men's Club, Popeye, Lightning, Men's File and on and on. A visit to a Japanese bookstore like Kinokuniya will be rewarding if that's an interest. A lot of good interior design stuff, too.
posted by YoungAmerican at 11:22 AM on January 19, 2017

+1 for The Oxford American. (Plus you get a great music compilation CD every year!)
posted by oakroom at 12:06 PM on January 19, 2017

I love The New Yorker and The Economist. The Economist, in particular, is valuable to me because they pass that "Gell-Mann Amnesia effect", where you open a newspaper and read an article about something you know fairly well; the paper misstates, simplifies, or otherwise does a poor job representing that news but then you turn to another section and assume whatever they wrote is unbiased and totally accurate. Their coverage of topics that I am familiar with is lucid and very well done, which gives me confidence about the rest of the magazine.

That being said, I only read about 1/2 of both each week.
posted by cybertaur1 at 12:07 PM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, the Economist! When I'm too busy to read it from cover to cover (that would take about 2-3 hours), I leave it for a week or two or three, to let the new-sy items become old news and then read it from back to front to catch the stuff that's less ephemeral - the science, arts, obit, special surveys, and regional highlights.
posted by storybored at 10:17 PM on January 21, 2017

Not on the cheapest end, but Lucky Peach for food and food culture.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:57 AM on January 25, 2017

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