7 Cool Magazines We Should All Be Reading

Looking for some cool magazine recommendations? Something other than Real Simple and Oprah magazine? Click through for 7 magazine recs you've never considered!
One of my absolute favorite pastimes is hanging out with my mom, on a deck overlooking the lake where I grew up, drinking terrible made-from-powder instant ice tea, reading magazines.

Clearly, I’m a woman of extreeeeeemely expensive tastes.

While I lovelovelove reading blogs it’s so lovely to pull something glossy and gorgeous out of your mailbox and flip through it on the sofa or in the park.  I love dog earring pages and ripping things out for future use and bulletin board-pinning.

Also?  A yearly magazine subscription frequently costs less than $20.  That’s the same price as an entree and a drink and those won’t bring you joy once a month for a year!

In addition to all the obvious magazines (O, Real Simple, etc) here are a few of the magazines that I love.

7 cool magazines we should all be reading

Remember Sassy magazine?  The best magazine that’s ever happened?  That’s what Frankie is like. The current issue includes an interview with funny writer and feminist icon Caitlin Moran, a recipe for mulled wine, a little look at how to raise chicken in the city, a quick trip to Seoul and a refugee’s tale that includes pirates?
Oh, and an in-depth look at the history of big hair, a load of snuggly new winter fashion, and a hard-hitting report on the life of a crazy cat lady. What? Yes. The subscription is expensive but totally, totally worth it. It’s also stocked at select retailers.

Lucky Peach

What’s the deal with Lucky Peach?  It bills itself as “a quarterly journal of food and writing. Each issue focuses on a single theme, and explores that theme through essays, art, photography, and recipes.”
Fancy, interesting, important people contribute to it – Rick Bayless talks about the ins and outs of street food, Anthony Bourdain talks about the movie Deliverance, and Jason Polan visits the most beautiful Taco Bell in the world.  Into it.

Mental Floss

I think that smart is sexy, so I obviously think that Mental_Floss is the sexiest magazine out there. Here’s what they say about themselves:

“Mental_Floss is an intelligent read, but not too intelligent. We’re the sort of intelligent that you hang out with for a while, enjoy our company, laugh a little, smile a lot and then we part ways. Great times.

And you only realize how much you learned from us after a little while.Like a couple days later when you’re impressing your friends with all these intriguing facts and things you picked up from us, and they ask you how you know so much, and you think back on that great afternoon you spent with us and you smile. And then you lie and say you read a lot.”

The Intelligent Optimist

Isn’t that an amazing name for a magazine? They focus on “people, passion and possibilities changing our world for the better. We celebrate people making a positive difference in their communities, their countries, their businesses.

Our philosophy is to embrace the passion behind new ideas that inspire innovative solutions to some of our greatest challenges. The Intelligent Optimist explores the possibilities generated by fresh perspectives on everything from technology to health and the human spirit. We present intelligent optimism as a path to happier, healthier lives in a better world.” Lovely, right?

National Geographic Traveler

Honestly, when I ‘read’ National Geographic I’m usually just looking at the pictures and wishing I was there. This magazine covers travel gear, unknown destinations, cool personal essays, and heaps of helpful travel tips.  Annnnnnd the awesome photos that make you wish you were there.

Garden & Gun

Isn’t this name hilarious? When my BFF and I were in Nashville last month we discovered this little gem and picked it up, thinking it was a joke.  It’s not.  It’s gorgeous and interesting. I

t’s bursting with South-specific recipes (a sweet tea granita or local cheeses), interview with Southern musicians, artists, and writers, tours of breathtaking historical homes, and tips for travel destination in the South.  I’m a third-generation Minnesotan and even I’m into it!

Cat Fancy 

JUST KIDDING!  (or am I?)

Do you subscribe to magazines?  Which ones do you love?

P.S. Why you should read, watch, and listen outside of your comfort zone

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

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  1. highfivetothat

    Magazine subscriptions are always great when you are stuck for bday or xmas gifts. I've been given Frankie as a bday gift before!! Also a Real Living (Australian home/lifestyle mag) subscription and a home grown roller derby magazine (Hit and Miss) subscription as well! So good getting those little surprises in the mail each month!

  2. Whitney

    Frankie is the greatest! They also have a pretty great men's edition called the Smith Journal, which is equally as cool/charming.

  3. Kerry

    Okay, CLEARLY I need to subscribe to Frankie. It looks amazing! My personal fave magazine is Bust, although I also subscribe to O because who doesn't love Oprah?

  4. katy

    I used to get more magazines, when I could get them free for my online-survery taking points – my favorite of the popular mag lot was unashamedly Martha Stewart Living (and I'm 27!).
    My only subscription treat now is Uppercase – a quarterly magazine out of Canada for the "creative & curious", full of great articles, amazing imagery, vintage goodies, good design and current artists. Oh, and it smells nice.

  5. mbrannaganfrederiksen

    For years I subscribed to Bitch (http://bitchmagazine.org/), but I was so disappointed in the last year of my subscription that I didn't renew. I also subscribe to The Walrus, which is sort of the Canadian version of Harpers. (Smart IS sexy, and so are good stories.)

  6. Kate

    This makes me want to subscribe to more magazines. Frankie looks AMAZING! Outdoor magazine reading is THE BEST.

    I tweeted you this, but Intelligent Life is my favourite. It's the Economist's life and style magazine and it's satisfyingly large and made of heavy paper. If you go by advertising alone, it's totally aimed at rich people (take your pick of bazillion pound watches), BUT the writing is never pretentious (I think I've cringed only twice in my years of reading it) and there's such an interesting variety of stories. Love it. It's UK only still (maybe Europe too?) but you can get an international subscription or free ipad/iphone versions (just not the same as paper though).

  7. Allysh223

    Totally going to check out Frankie and The Intelligent Optimist!

    Currently only subscribe to New York Magazine (though I'm in Boston- I adore it, especially the crossword puzzle!).

  8. Sarah

    I love magazines and I've just recently been asking for subscriptions at Birthdays/Holidays!

    I love that Mental_Floss is an actual magazine (something I didn't know!) and I've never heard of Frankie, but it looks amazing!

  9. Anonymous

    I lovelovelove magazines! Check out my fave: http://maisonneuve.org/
    Maybe a bit Canada-centric, but excellent nonetheless.

  10. Rachel

    Haha, I had a subscription to Cat Fancy in elementary school! I desperately wanted a cat, but my dad said no (he eventually relented), so it was as close as I could get.

    Isn't it great when magazines surprise you? I had some frequent flier miles that were going to expire, so I used them on Vogue and Elle. Vogue was awful and uninteresting, but I really love Elle. Yes, it's a "women's magazine," but I wish that didn't carry such bad connotations. It's got really interesting articles, and lots of recommendations for books that sound good. Another one that surprised me was O, which my grandma had a bunch of back issues of. It has a lot of great stuff!

    I used to have a subscription to Bust, which I will renew when I have more money, and maybe I'll try out Frankie at that point. I've heard really good things about Lula, too.

  11. Amy T Schubert

    Vanity Fair and Sunset magazine and Uppercase are the only ones I subscribe to 🙂

  12. Allie

    I love Mental Floss and NatGeo Traveler….those are both so great and I love getting them in the mail. xx

    Allie @ callmesassafras.wordpress.com

  13. Anonymous

    I subscribe to The Gentlewoman. It's Danish (but in English) and is absolutely fantastic. Beautifully designed, well written, just gorgeous. It only comes out twice a year but I re-read it over and over and it's so pretty it's worth it just to look at the cover!

  14. Corin

    I love Mental Floss, NatGeo Traveler, Lucky Peach … they are all my "flip through while waiting in line at the grocery store" picks.

    My all-time favorite magazine was one I found in Germany: Neon. It was well-designed, trendy, had really interesting in-depth articles about Real Stuff but also fashion layouts, a travel section, movie/book reviews. The international subscription rate is bonkers expensive, but it might just be a future birthday/Christmas present to myself!

  15. Sarah

    I really love 'Good' magazine – http://www.good.net.nz, it's a lifestyle magazine from New Zealand that puts a sustainable slant on everything – sustainable fashion spreads and upcycling tips. Plus really informative articles on things like pollution and chemicals rah rah rah. I think it comes out every two months?

  16. Sarah M

    I am a long-time subscriber to Mental_Floss, too! LOVE it. I always have about 5 people clamoring for my leftover issues after I read them (cover to cover!). I am totally looking into the Intelligent Optimist. That magazine sounds really interesting.
    Sarah M

    • Sarah M

      Oh, also, I had Traveler, too, and had to get rid of it because it became so depressing that I had these huge travel itches, but wasn't able to go anywhere for a time.

  17. Hope Johnson

    This is one of my favourite posts of yes and yes of all time! Bit of a surprise, considering the diverse array of articles, but that's how it is. I love, love, LOVE the intelligent optimist magazine summary. Cannot wait to check it out, and I agree, it is an awesome name for a magazine. Frankie is one of my ALL TIME favourite magazines ever. It treads that light between funny, interesting and serious so skilfully it takes my breath away.

  18. Lulu

    It's funny, I was just thinking about getting more magazines subscriptions. I've only subscribed to Entertainment Weekly for years because it doesn't play so heavy on celebrity gossip. Plus 52 issues for twenty-five bucks. It's nice to have mail that's not ads for plumbers. I used to be a sucker for Advertising Age when I was in college. Since the magazines were alphbetical it was a good read when waited for a computer to free up. 🙂

    That Mental Floss description reminds me of CBS Sunday Morning. I watched it a few years ago, because there was an author interview I really wanted to see and I got hooked. It's full of human interest stories and I have learned so much from it.

    For instance, there was a scene in James Bond Skyfall with the deserted island. I learned it used to be a coal digging community off the coast of Japan. Everyone moved out as fast as they could when the mine shut down, leaving most of their belongings because they were rich enough to do so. Also, sliced bread celebrated it's 85th birthday last Sunday.

  19. Clarity Star

    lol I have Dog Fancy and it's pretty good – the dog version of cat fancy 🙂

  20. ss

    The Week and Funny Times. The Week is basically a summary of everything major that's happened in the world in the past week. Funny Times is a monthly newspaper type thing that has cartoons and funny columns from various sources – it's quite entertaining and there is no way that you can make it through an issue without laughing at least once.

  21. Simone

    Love this! Frankie sounds right up my alley – especially since I adored Sassy magazine as a teen.

    I'm a huge fan of Bust magazine…partly because it also reminds me of Sassy! I love their interviews with awesome women & the interesting features.

    Thanks for all the recommendations!

  22. Tracy

    I've been a Lucky Peach subscriber since the beginning of the mag and it's so worth it. Reading it makes me feel like I'm hanging out with David Chang and Anthony Bourdain. It's just so much damn fun.

    Also gotta suggest The Economist and New York Mag. I like the voice and POV of both of those. Very cheeky

  23. abbyeblockcnp

    Thanks for the recommendations Sarah. Your list has inspired me to renew my Mental_Floss subscription and I'm excited to try the Intelligent Optimist. I currently subscribe to National Geographic Traveler, the Smithsonian Magazine (bonus: it comes with a Smithsonian membership and is only 12 dollars a year for both) and the Sun (a great ad-free, independent magazine I definitely recommend checking out… they'll send a free issue to peruse or you can get a taste online: http://www.thesunmagazine.org)

  24. L.

    garden & gun is one of the south's best kept secrets. the articles are great, particularly their travel insights. you should check out the best cocktails issue from the fall and their entire issue dedicated to my hometown of Nashville, Tn. 🙂

  25. Zoe

    Buying Frankie at the airport is my long-haul travel ritual (and Australia to anywhere is long-haul…) Nice to see it here 🙂

  26. Mia Wallace

    No no no!!! When I first came upon Frankie, I was really excited; it was so different from other magazines, and funny, and crafty. However, as time went on, I discovered a few things that really disappointed me, the most serious of which was how rooted in white privilege the magazine is, so that even articles about/by people of different cultures are presented as "the other". I wrote to them twice expressing concern (and urging them to do something about it; one article was about an aboriginal classmate of the white writer and his regret at not having included her more… he then went on to use an unqualified "we" that excluded her all over again) but there hasn't been any change. I realise many magazines are inherently racist (Vogue, anyone?), but it seems more insidious in a publication like Frankie, where the general tone makes you think you're in thoughtful, politically aware company.

    You guys can do better!!! I highly recommend the beautiful Anthology magazine, and I think Mental Floss looks really good. Sorry about the rant, Sarah! Love your work! 🙂

  27. Lolakola

    I love to read Oh Comely 🙂


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