Saturday, June 21, 2008

Good writers are good readers

Patrick and I subscribed to two magazines on Tuesday. We did this for a number of reasons.

Our main motivation was the realization that reading excellent writing gives well to writing well. There is also something to be said for intentionally exploring magazines to find a favorite writer in hopes of developing a favorite style.

The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) recently published its annual compilation recognizing the best magazines in current publication. We chose two of these:

The New Yorker publishes a selection of reporiting, commentary, fiction, essays, poetry, satire and criticism. It is well known for its profiles and cartoons, which have garnered wide acclaim in the past. Malcolm Gladwell writes for the New Yorker.

The New Yorker consistently wins the general excellence award for the 1 million to 2 million circulation category. This year, it was a finalist in numerous categories including Reporting, Feature Writing and Profile Writing.


Vanity Fair publishes articles pertaining to politics, fashion and culture. In the 1920s, it featured such writers as Aldous Huxley and T.S. Eliot.

Vanity Fair won the awards for Profile Writing and Photo Portfolio. It was a finalist for Reporting, Feature Writing, Photography, Design and General Excellence in the 1 million to 2 million circulation category.

The other exciting element about magazines is that you can hold them in your hands. Call me old-fashioned, but I love hard copies. The texture and feel of the pages, the design and look of of the layout. Hard copies have a distinct beginning and end. The Internet, on the other hand, can be overwhelming at times. Once you finish one article, there are always more pages to look at and more being created as you read. Not to mention the strain of looking at a backlit screen for hours.

You can put it in your bag for when you're on the go. You can rip out a page and tack it on your wall or decoupage it to the cover of your Moleskine journal (something white people probably like). You can mark it up.

The hard copy is less removed from the made-by-hand ideal. It's brought to you; you don't have to go out and search for it. Long live the romance of the hard copy.

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