modern life is rubbish
October 22, 2007 9:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm a lifelong Anglophile, and I have an unhealthy interest in reading about modern British life and society. Basically I'm looking to buy (in America) (imported) British magazines ...

... of the sort that, were they American, I would typically find mundane and/or vapid: society, celebrities, pop culture, cuisine, homemaking/women's, fashion. Generally, I am thinking of unread, fairly current issues, though, I would still be interested in used back issues. I do buy some British music magazines at places like Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Tower Records. I don't believe I have seen any other British magazines there (maybe Glamour), or maybe I just don't know which ones are British. I'm willing to buy them either in a store (I'm in the Philadelphia area) or online. Google hasn't helped much, and eBay has been hit or miss (and from magazine resellers who charge unreasonable prices - $30+) Has anyone spied anything that might be of interest either online or in a national chain (or a store that sells its stock online, as well)? Are there any good (or guilty pleasure-type) magazines in the categories that I listed that you could recommend?
posted by Mael Oui to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Two of the trashiest magazines are Hello and OK magazines - they have the trashy "just married expose" photos, the trailer trash celebrities etc.

Then there's NME, which covers the "indie" end of the music market, mainly to teenagers. Q magazine is its grown up brother.

Radiotimes covers whats on TV and Radio, as well as a large bit of celebrity stuff.

They're the ones I can think of for now - I'm a Brit currently in Oregon on a study abroad program, so can't think of them all at the moment.
posted by philsi at 9:36 PM on October 22, 2007

I see tons of them at larger newsstands in L.A. Check out a real newsstand and you'll find much more British trash than you'd be able to find at Borders.
posted by HotPatatta at 9:58 PM on October 22, 2007

Tragically, Loaded will tell you everything you need to know about contemporary British culture - at least, according to the lowest common denominator.

If you're looking for posh Brit culture as opposed to actual Brit culture, then try Tatler, which, like Loaded, is also a lifestyle mag - for people who's lifestyles include driving a Bentley to their country estate for a spot of grouse hunting.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:09 PM on October 22, 2007

I wouldn't exactly call loaded a lifestyle magazine or in any way anything to do with British 'culture' - mostly it's pictures of semi-naked - naked women, it's pretty much a 'lads mag'.

I can't believe no-one has mentioned Heat Magazine yet. If you want to know who flashed their knickers getting out of a car or who lost/gained weight then this is what you should be reading. Its absolute, lowest common denominator trash. They do international subscriptions

Heat Magazine makes OK and Hello look classy ;)
posted by missmagenta at 12:37 AM on October 23, 2007

Unless you REALLY like seeing every camera angle of any given fat celebrity in a bikini, then you probably only need one out of heat / ok / hello. There isn't much writing in 'em.

If you want help disambiguating british mags from american, try looking inside the cover at the publisher address on the editorial page. Bear in mind that there are UK versions of magazines that you will probably automatically think of as american, that have totally 100% different copy to the american version eg Maxim.

If you really want to push your tolerance for banality, try Take a Break.

If you feel like trying something a bit more highbrow, Private Eye and the New Statesman are both great.
posted by bifter at 12:46 AM on October 23, 2007

Bitchier than Hello and OK is Heat magazine (on-line version here), the success of which has spawned a number of imitators, most notably Closer, which combines celebrity gossip (Heat's mainstay) with true-life stories.

For everyday cuisine, you could look at BBC Good Food magazine, and its slightly more pretentious stablemate Olive.
posted by misteraitch at 12:48 AM on October 23, 2007

The publication that gives the clearest picture of modern British culture is clearly Viz.
posted by influx at 12:50 AM on October 23, 2007

posted by alby at 1:24 AM on October 23, 2007

My mother-in-law loves Woman's Weekly, which is so middle of the road, pedestrian and non-threatening that it borders on the hilarious.
posted by PenDevil at 1:49 AM on October 23, 2007

Heat is certainly vapid, if that's what you're after - and is a good reflection of what seems to amuse the average Brit for most of the time (worthless celebs). Private Eye is my favourite read - political gossip, scurrilous rumours and tales of greed and corruption, plus the dafter, more amusing bits.

Be warned that reading both is likely to rapidly erode your Anglophilia.
posted by ComfySofa at 2:53 AM on October 23, 2007

For science I've found New Scientist to be good. Focus is also quite nice.
posted by gadha at 4:43 AM on October 23, 2007

Why, Viz of course.

Related: An American friend of mine spent her childhood reading this (utterly bizarre) magazine called Realm. When she moved over to the UK in her twenties and took a job as a secretary for a building firm in one of North West London's less-charming areas, she was, to say the least, taken aback.
posted by Jofus at 4:50 AM on October 23, 2007

Mojo and NME for music.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 6:25 AM on October 23, 2007

Hello and OK are not really trashy; just supine, boring, tastless shit. Heat is the daddy and Closer and Now are its two nearest rivals (although they both waste time on "real life" stories.) In conclusion: Heat!

For my money Uncut is the best of the UK music monthly.
posted by ninebelow at 7:26 AM on October 23, 2007

Two people have mentioned Viz. Apart from reading the BBC online Viz is my only link to British popular culture, which probably says more about me than it does about Viz. Anyway, I have a subscription but I know that you can occasionally pick it up at places in NYC as an Anglophile friend of mine does, so maybe you might pick it up in Philly.
posted by ob at 8:18 AM on October 23, 2007

this (utterly bizarre) magazine called Realm

for whom the north of England does not exist, it seems. Wowzas! Still, IPC publish all kinds of crap, including a magazine which goes by the hilarious title of 25 beautiful kitchens.
posted by robself at 9:51 AM on October 23, 2007

Best answer: You are talking to the queen of all magazines here - trashy or otherwise.

If you're looking for something more celebrity centered, Heat, Closer and Now are all fabulous. I prefer them to Hello and OK, which IMO are too obesessed with weddings (yawn).

Also give Grazia a try (they do international subscriptions) or Red is a good one as well.

I think you are going to have a difficult time finding these magazines at bookstores. Every time I go home, the only women's magazine (with the possible exception of British versions of US magazines e.g. InStyle, Glamour) I see at places like Border's is She magazine (one of the better women's mags). You will have better luck finding the more political mags like Private Eye and The Spectator (another good one). I think international subscriptions may be the answer for you. Most of these mags will ship to the US.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:58 AM on October 23, 2007

Best answer: There is a brilliant international magazine/newspaper shop whose name completely escapes me at the moment over in University City in Philadelphia, on the 3400 block of Sansom (near the White Dog).
posted by catesbie at 1:20 PM on October 23, 2007

Response by poster: First of all, thank you, catesbie, for the tip on the magazine/newspaper shop! That's going to come in handy!

And thank you everyone for all the magazine suggestions! I've managed to track down all the music ones, and they are pretty much superior to any American music mag (or, I suppose, complement my tastes better). A lot of your other suggestions sound exactly like what I'm looking for, so I hope to track down some of them! Thanks again!
posted by Mael Oui at 3:37 AM on October 24, 2007

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