November 27, 2009

"I dare you to comb through an entire issue and find a single word between those covers..."

"... that doesn't leave you reeling with delight or nodding vigorously at the gobsmacking truth sparking like a Texas thunder storm just behind it."

The 20 best magazines of the last decade. The quote refers to the magazine in second place.


BJM said...

Pshaw...Esquire can't print a decent ragu recipe, let alone make a cogent point.

Bissage said...

This Althouse post comes as most welcome as I have been giving serious consideration recently to the prospect of purchasing a subscription to Popular Mechanics.

ricpic said...

American Spectator and Commentary put them all to shame, especially The New Yorker, that nihilist rag.

Diamondhead said...

Overstatement is worse than breast cancer

cryptical said...

The nice thing about Esquire is you can get it delivered for about $1/month if you look around. Well worth the price.

Big Mike said...

You mean that absolutely over-the-top was about Esquire!!!. This guy is really sick.

Wired is good, and The Economist belongs on any list of best magazines, but the other 8 are a sad waste of tree pulp that wouldn't even make good liners for the bottom of a bird cage.

miller said...

You've got to be kidding about The Atlantic. Swill-mongers.

Scott said...

#8 The Economist: They have a way about sounding authoritative about everything. Then they write about something you know about, and you suddenly realize that their reporters sometimes make things up as they go along. Jayson Blair would be right at home writing for them.

One acquaintance who used to teach kids in Nicaragua said that he would write an article for The Economist once in awhile so he could get a free subscription to the magazine. Hmmm. If that's how they pay their stringers, then no wonder the quality is a bit spotty.

Bill said...

I spend a lot of time in airports, and read a lot of magazines, although there are a couple on the list that I've never seen. Here's the bottom line: The New Yorker is consistently the best magazine in existence, and The Economist is a close second. Esquire isn't what it was even twenty years ago, but it is a rare issue when there aren't at least three things worth reading. The same is true for The Atlantic. What is interesting about The New Yorker is not that it is so good; it's that it has been that good for this long. Although I haven't been around as long as it has, I've done my share of reading back issues and can tell you that it has been the best thing on the racks since some time in the early 30's. How many other things have been that good for that long?

Anonymous said...

Cryptical, I found Esquire for 33 cents an issue at the cheap magazine place.

Where is Cooks Illustrated? It's interesting and has great recipes. It's about the only magazine we get that I don't take to the library once I am done reading it.

JAL said...

I'm with Popular Mechanics.

Good stuff (though they bought into the AGW thing a bit too much).

Useful. Very wide ranging. Some of their research is top notch. (The serious -- 9/11, UFOs, how cold can your cell phone get and still work, how to prepare for the Apocolypse, and the somewhat less serious video examples of things one should not try at home.)

Used to get The Atlantic many many moons ago. Many.

Shall we take the reviewer up on his dare? A tad over the top is my impression. DSM-IV diagnosis, experts?

wv consuet
Has something to do with Bissage feeding the birds.

Steve M. Galbraith said...

The New Republic - when Michael Kinsley edited it - was outstanding.

Yes, it was center-left but there was a wide range of views - right, left, center, libertarian.

Journalists like Kinsley, Fred Barnes, Kondracke, Hertzberg, Sullivan, Krauthammer.

Steve M. Galbraith said...

The New Republic - when Michael Kinsley edited it - was outstanding.

Late 80s and 90s; so it doesn't count here.

Steve M. Galbraith said...

The editor of the New Yorker is Dave Remnick who started out at the Washington Post covering high school football.

His next assignment (well, almost next) was to the paper's Moscow Bureau where he reported on the fall of the Soviet Empire for which he won a Pulitzer.

Quite a promotion.

He's terrific but needs a tighter leash on the Hersh "stuff".

Michael Haz said...

Ditto Popular Mechanics.

When the socket in my floor lamp needs to be re-wired, so that I may resume reading New Yorker in my favorite leather chair, Popular Mechanics will show me exactly how to do it.

And they won't take the editorial position of blaming George Bush for the failure of lamp sockets across our fair nation.

PM's debunking of the 9/11 truthers was both good science and excellent writing.

And Jay Leno's column alone is usually worth the monthly price.

Last months feature on re-winding the coils in the tiny electric motors in vibrators has saved bundle in the H household.

save_the_rustbelt said...

I agree with several.

Vanity Fair has beefed up its staff and is doing a great deal of good work on the financial crisis, Madoff and etc. Can't speak for the whole decade though.

(I hate magazines with those damned stinky smell-em ads - please stop!)

lucid said...

uh, there's something wrong here--what does a "20 best" list from an essentially uninteresting and mediocre source really mean?

Chase said...

Popular Mechanics.

Every single issue of PM ever published has at least something of practical interest to every human being. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but honestly now, is there really a better overall magazine anywhere?

I have collected every copy of the Reader's Digest since the beginning. Few things are more fun at gatherings - we did this yesterday - than pulling out a random issue from, say, the 40's and reading the short jokes and stories at the end of the articles.
I oversee 3 company newsletters with a readership of around 38,000, and the old Reader's Digests provide an unending source of pithy humor, inspiration and sometimes hilariously wrong predictions by some serious famous people of the past 70 years.

The wife enjoys my magazine collections - sometimes a weekend evening home alone is spent flipping through old ones, enjoying the advertisements and conceits of the eras. I have almost completed my collection of every "Sunset" and am a little more than halfway through collecting every issue of "Gourmet", "Highlights" (those ones in the Dentist offices), "Boy's Life", and pre 1990's "The New Yorker"(cancelled my subscription in 1996 - it's political slant ruined it pretty much since then).

Sears Christmas Wish Books (catalogs) from my high school years through college in the 70's - I kept them all. They are the most commented on items at our Christmas parties.

Gahrie said...

Surprise conservative magazines.

rcocean said...

The Atlantic underwent a major redesign this decade... Surely the magazine's latest batch of writers have been doing their legendary forebears—Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes—proud.

LoL! Can imagine Holmes or Emerson reading Andy Sullivan or Jeff Goldberg and being "proud"!

OTOH, I'm sure Arthur M. Schlesinger and Martha Gellhorn would approve.

Chase said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chase said...

LoL! Can imagine Holmes or Emerson reading Andy Sullivan or Jeff Goldberg and being "proud"!

Emerson approving of Sullivan? Yes. Holmes? Possibly.

Longfellow - no f****ing way.

Sullivan would have been decimated and forever out of work by one review of his "writings" by Hemingway. Ernest would have immediately recognized Sully's oncoming dementia descent into madness long before it was so obvious to everyone else.

rcocean said...

Emerson approving of Sullivan? Yes.


Emerson was an Anglophile, but I can't imagine him being proud of OB-GYN Sully. And Sully really isn't much of a thinker or writer, nor is he a "John Bull" Englishman - unless you mean "Bull" in the other sense of the word.

David said...

New Yorker has some stuff, mostly the fluff stuff and the short political commentary, that is crap, but it also is the place to go for the most interesting journalism being published. All the rest on the list should be competing for second place, and a goodly number are a complete waste of recycled trees.

JohnAnnArbor said...

"Invention and Technology, a spinoff of American Heritage.

OK, it's for a specialized audience: people interested in how technology came to be. And it's only quarterly. But it does what it does really well. (And all of its articles are on-line fee-free, I believe.)

Henry said...

If the decade is 2000-2009, who is talking about magazines? I like Peter Schjedahl's art reviews, but that doesn't mean I read the New Yorker. I read Peter Schjedahl.

Is the idea that one actually has a magazine mailed to one's home? I don't have that many fires to start.

miller said...

Any magazine that publishes Sullivan has lost all reason.

Wince said...

When I go to the doctor/dentist office, I become so engrossed in the magazines in the waiting room that often find myself hoping the appointment is delayed.

"The doctor will see you now."

"Oh, shit, just let me finish this article in NatGeo on the bot fly."

Then, if I subscribe, the magazines just pile up unread on my coffee table.

What up with that?

Paul Kirchner said...

Yikes: "I dare you to comb through an entire issue and find a single word between those covers that doesn't leave you reeling with delight or nodding vigorously at the gobsmacking truth sparking like a Texas thunder storm just behind it."

When writers employ any form of the word "Gobsmack" I lose all respect for them.

former law student said...

Make magazine has to be one of the ten best of the last decade, because it puts man in intimate contact with technology through learning by doing (or armchair doing anyways).

As good as any mentioned are Washington Monthly which shows insight into how people think inside the beltway, and Mother Jones which has returned to muckraking.

former law student said...

When writers employ any form of the word "Gobsmack" I lose all respect for them.

Coming from Limeys, "gobsmack" is tolerable. Coming from 'merkins, "gobsmack" is trying too hard.

reader_iam said...

Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack. Gobsmack.

wv (1st one): baser

wv (2nd one): oushee

reader_iam said...

Popular Mechanics is still OK, and Wired appears currently to perking itself up after a bit of a tired period, but personally I think MAKE magazine's more fascinating.

wv: myeacti


reader_iam said...

There's more to the New Yorker than the parts people just love to hate.

There's a whole lot less to love about National Geographic than there use to be, but still it's fabulous to have around the house if you've got a 9-year-old and, while you're not in the least techno-phobic and sure as hell aren't raising him to be, would like not to get him entirely computer-addicted (and would like him to develop certain other skills, as well).

reader_iam said...

There's more to the New Yorker than the bits everyone loves to hate ... or hates to love ... or whatever.

reader_iam said...

The Atlantic's still on my shit list and will continue to be so long as ... .

reader_iam said...

If you want a decent ragout recipe, you can Google one, but it would help to use the word "ragout" as opposed to "r[R]agu."

wv: healan

reader_iam said...

The Economist is what it is, and what it does best it does better than most which try to imitate it (or even used to better it). But, as with everything, you can't due diligence and vigilance is required.

wv: gamsjoks

Tee hee! Probably a sign to knock it off, whether or not I've finished commenting on all the magazines mentioned (which, to be clear, I wasn't) ... .

reader_iam said...

So knock it off I will, except to say this one more thing:

Overstatement is *way* **better** than breast cancer.

Titus said...

This list is Bull Shit fellow republicans.

Where is The Weekly Standard or The National Review.

Katey Jo Lopez is worth the price of gold. Every word from Katey Jo is worth a million dollars. I absolutely love Katey Jo.

I do read Dwell though. Very fab and very pre-fab.

And Cleveland and Albany totally unfab. Any city that is dead on the weekends and has no foot traffic is totally unfab. OKKKKKK. I hate to see a northern US City with bordered up store fronts. Although Cleveland does have the largest bathhouse in the country. But big deal the guys are gross.

reader_iam said...


12:05 But, as with everything, you can't DO due diligence ENOUGH and vigilance is required.

Titus said...

And any article from Punjabi Dhaba from the National Review makes me think, contemplate and exercise my democracy. Love him. Love his little squeaky queeny voice and special glasses to death. Totally republican and totally whatever.

LoafingOaf said...

I just cancelled by subscription to The Atlantic. It's a good magazine, but I realized the main thing I looked forward to is Christopher Hitchens' extended book review in each issue. I can just read that for free at the local Borders.

But I'm keeping my subscription to The Economist. It's the magazine I like to flip through while on the toilet. And it makes me feel I have a vague idea of what's going on in other parts of the world.

The best of the major, mainstream magazines, though, is Vanity Fair! I even like looking at the high fashion adverstisements in there. But, yeah, I like the nice variety of articles in most issues.

LoafingOaf said...

Titus, we're pretty embarrassed about the state of things here in Cleveland. This is a very sad, dark, and depressed city. Not sure why I stay here. Well, it still kinda feels like home, I guess. And the suburbs are nice!

It's not dead on the weekends, though, Titus. You just have to know where to go, as the Flats are long dead.

Are you coming to Cleveland for the 2014 Gay Games? We were smart to go for those, while Chicago was busy going for the Olympics. The Gay Games actually benefit the host city, unlike the Olympics....

Titus said...

LoafingOaf i don't do any gay organized activities. I despise fellow gays.


Titus said...

And I have been in Cleveland for a weekend and i was totally depressed.

A city past it's prime. Bordered up businesses and nothing going on.

How sad.

Cleveland come back please, if you can.

Titus said...

But Cincinnati is much much worse than Cleveland.

Cincin is a God Awful city.

yeah, proctor and gamble but still horrible. Didn't you ban Mapplethorpe? For shame Cincinnati.

Ohio in general is pathetic. But not as pathetic as Michigan, so you have something going for ya.

Mr. Forward said...

Best magazines of the next decade.

1. Gobsmacked Quarterly
2. Hide the Decline
3. National Debt Journal
4. Popular Meadhouse
5. Medicare Monthly
6. Nano!

JAL said...

Is there something significant these days about reading The Economist in the bathroom?

wv prosesd
What Gollum likes. In word and fleur.

JAL said...

That's "proses"

Freeman Hunt said...

I find any magazine that treats me, the reader, like I'm in a hip, sophisticated clique with the writers to be totally unreadable.

John Stodder said...

I find any magazine that treats me, the reader, like I'm in a hip, sophisticated clique with the writers to be totally unreadable.

Brava! You've succinctly summed up my problem not only with many magazines focused on culture and entertainment, but with those pages in most major newspapers. They're written in a sneering tone of "we like this, we'd never bother with that."

Freeman Hunt, YOU should start a magazine.

As to that list, I cherish the New Yorker and Wired. I am shocked at the praise heaped on Esquire. I used to love that magazine, 30+ years ago when it was edited by geniuses but it's just a huge sack of awful now, in large part due to the Freeman Hunt effect. If there are good articles in Esquire now, I'd never find them. The Economist is like broccoli, which doesn't mean it's bad, it's just not very compelling. I've been reading the Atlantic as long any magazine on that list, and its fortunes rise and fall. Right now I think they're in a deep funk of unreadableness. But just a few years ago, Atlantic was great. The redesign they extoll was the point at which things went south.

I also agree that Vanity Fair is underrated. And finally, this list excludes all women's fashion magazines and cooking magazines. I don't read them so I don't know which ones are good, but people I'm close to are fanatical fans of Vogue and the recently-offed Gourmet and it doesn't appear as if magazines like that merited consideration.

One magazine that won't be on such a list anytime soon: Paste.

tim maguire said...

These guys read too many magazines, and yet not enough. The New Yorker and The Atlantic are very good at what they do. But if what they do isn't your cup of tea, they ain't all that to you.

Which is fine so far as it goes, but a "Best of" should aspire to be more than merely entertaining to its fans.

Wired is well past its prime and, as others have noted, some greats that deserve to be one the list, well, are not...