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January 12, 2011

9

Confessions of a magazine junkie

by quaesitor

Someone made the mistake of asking me the other day what magazines I read. And it came as a bit of a shock to me when I tried to work out my list. I’ve always been a magazine junkie, I suppose – because at their best, they’re far more significant than mere advertising vehicles or glorified gossip columns.

So here’s my main list, in no particular order. I remember Tim Keller saying in a talk once (but can’t remember for the life of me which talk it was, so you’ll have to take my word for it) that he reads a careful selection of magazines simply because they are often the best indicators of the shifts and prevailing winds of popular opinion or insight. Well, that did it for me! I became a professional magazine consumer as a direct result. So you can blame him…


To get a taste of each magazine, click on its image.

Well, some would say it’s a ridiculous indulgence. And it probably is. But here are my justifications (!)

  • Wired UK (monthly) – it’s not just a geek’s bible. It often has fascinating and well read, insightful articles about all kinds of technological and scientific advances. It is an education – but a highly enjoyable one (especially for geeks). The heights of human ingenuity are on display.
  • The New Yorker (weekly) – ok, yes I know it’s high-brow and its articles are probably the longest on the planet. Each edition will have at least 3 or 4 10 page articles. But this is my biggest treat. It is perfect for long journeys – and it’s range of interests is incredible. One week you can be reading about an American art philanthropist, gun-running in the Sudan, the history of late night chat shows on US TV etc etc. The cartoons are fab too. What’s not to like?
  • BBC History Magazine (monthly) – it partly reflects the centres of gravity of modern history teaching (eg there’s always something about the Tudors and the Nazis) which is a bit annoying. But the range of articles is usually good; there is always a fascinating section looking at the historical background of a big news item; and the book reviews are great. Oh and I always enter the crossword competition in the vain hope of winning a book. No such luck so far.
  • Private Eye (fortnightly) – during his 5-minute interview on BBC Online, editor Ian Hislop explained that the purpose of satire was “to expose vice, folly and humbug“. Private Eye does that in spades – most of the time, it is not too scurrilous. Much of the time it is doing a great public service and I’m grateful for it. As well as hugely amused.
  • Empire (monthly) – probably my longest subscription. I adore movies – and love to know how they were made etc. But I hardly get time to see them or even to watch DVDs these days. So at least I can read the reviews. Though my frustration with Empire is that it is becoming a bit too celeb-dazzled (or has it always been? can’t work it out).
  • Christianity Today (monthly) – it’s always interesting to see Christianity from another cultural perspective – and this American mag (if you can get past the interminable adverts for Christian colleges and seminaries in the US) often provides that.
  • Tate Etc (quarterly) – this comes automatically with being Tate Friends – and it is lavishly produced and a real treat. Very interesting for keeping up with developments in the art world. Often provocative but always informative and beautiful to look at.

I also, from time to time, dip into The Briefing, Church Times, and EN – and for finding books I want to read, my most productive source has been the Culture section of Saturday’s Daily Telegraph.

Ok, so I know what some of you are thinking. How on earth does he have time? Doesn’t he have a day job? Should his employers not be informed?

Well, here are my explanations/further justifications:

  • Reading stuff is part and parcel of my job – and being in touch with what’s going on is essential to it. So this is work.
  • Although it is fair to say that this definitely combines business with pleasure.
  • I have strange reading habits – I’m fortunate enough to be able to pick something up and read it for 5 minutes and then come back to it later. So if I’ve got a spare moment waiting for someone to turn up, I’ll read something. In fact, I’m sure I need to see someone about this – but I have a pathological need to be reading something all the time (even if it is about the calcium content of Corn Flakes).
  • Most magazine articles are bite-sized anyway (apart from the New Yorker obviously) – and so designed to be read in short bursts. Perfect for loo-reading, then.

So there we have it.

Would be very interested to know if you have particular favourites. Or even if there are magazines you think I should add to the list!!🙂

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nick Grindle
    Jan 12 2011

    I don’t have any recommendations but I would love to see your work appear in Tate etc.!

    Reply
    • Jan 12 2011

      Now Nick, i think you are FAR more qualified to write for Tate Etc. Now that would be something to read…!

      Reply
  2. Jan 12 2011

    I hate to give away my secrets, but absolutely essential for keeping up with what’s going on is The Week. I tell all those in my homiletics class they must subscribe.

    Reply
    • Jan 12 2011

      Yes you’re absolutely right about The Week – i forgot to mention that though Rachel tends to read it more than I do.

      It was a lifeline when we were in Uganda though – and we’d have conversation with other ex-pat friends where we’d chat about things back in the UK. We’d ask ‘Did you hear about…’ only to find that they already knew – because we’d all received our copy The Week at the same time – ie about a week late!

      Reply
  3. Adam
    Jan 12 2011

    You’re not one of the anti-Economist lot are you? If so, we may have to revisit our friendship.

    Reply
    • Jan 12 2011

      well, i have no problem with the Economist or with Economist-readers per se – in fact, some of my best friends are Economist readers. Seriously.

      And i do like to dip into the Economist if one is lying around. But they don’t tend to lie around in our flat. So it doesn’t happen very much.

      Is our friendship at risk?

      Reply
  4. Jan 12 2011

    Another The Week reader here, a superb digest. I’d also read The Economist (sometimes), Christianity, Runner’s Fitness, and then infrequent trips to either Empire, Bike (motor variety), National Geographic. Would love to read more magazines but books would probably miss out

    Reply
  5. Ed Rogers
    Jan 12 2011

    I’ve really enjoyed reading Books and Culture this last year, which is produced by the same guys who edit CT, but with a specific emphasis on Christian engagement with culture from a broadly evangelical perspective. They review both Christian and non-Christian content – films, books, individuals etc. It’s very good!

    God bless.

    Reply
  6. Jan 14 2011

    I also suffer from the need to read cornflake ingredients, Mark. I call the condition ‘narrative hunger’.

    Reply

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