I am buried in books. Strangled by sentences. Overwhelmed by words. Tomes from the library regarding research, impulse buys from the local second-hand store, and freebies given to me because Melbourne University Publishing is moving offices. So. Much. Reading.
However, I’m not going to talk about these books. Out of interest, I am reading the two in the top left, as well as The Case For Books by Robert Darnton, but for my first of many, many (many) Reading Reviews, I want to talk about journals.
You can call them magazines, but they are much more than the cheap gossip and surface-level articles that come with that descriptor. Journals contain real ideas, deep and meaningful discussions. They often harbour an agenda, but more often than not are willing to discuss terms. I’m going beyond the idea of an academic journal (and certainly that of a teenagers diary); I believe that popular journals take the idea of magazines one step further.
My favourite journal is The Economist. I have a subscription that delivers it every week to my iPad—or phone if I’m so inclined (I actually think the layout is better on a phone). The Economist covers news from the previous week, and actually refers to itself as a newspaper. I don’t think this does it justice. It offers balanced if at times biased viewpoints on the things that mattered to the world for the last seven days. While I may not dive into the Business and Finance sections, The Economist offers so much more—world politics, breakthroughs in science, and literature reviews to name a few. It’s a great place to get ideas for writing, and the best way to keep up with global events. See also: New Scientist and Cosmos.
But I don’t just like the facts. I naturally want to hear opinions and rants, stories too. That’s where Australian literary journals come into it. I recently subscribed to both Kill Your Darlings and Overland, two outstanding examples of Aussie writing prowess and literary innovation. With KYD I have an online only subscription, which means I gain access to the articles through the website. The only problem with this is that it feels that a lot of the articles seem to be available free (comparatively), and that I don’t get a nice little PDF version or something similar. Still, it encourages new writing, and I love its slant. Overland has been going for a lot longer, and is pretty much the pinnacle, up there with Meanjin. As yet I have not received a copy (you too can subscribe during the Overland Subscriberthon!), but I hear good things. I’m always willing to support good Australian writing—after all, I will need publishing avenues. Oh, and this article was absolutely perfect. Editors from both rags gave a talk at the recent Independent Publishers Conference (hosted by SPN) and the most interesting thing I took away from it was their striving to maintain an online presence, with very regular blog updates (essentially free, short articles). A few notes by the speaks: Make sure you are always in people’s minds; all content must be aesthetically aligned; sustainability in terms of being shaped by and shaping technology; sell to your neighbours—writers read other writers. It seems as if todays journals have a lot more work to do, but often with the same amount of resources as they always had.
There is so much dross out there that it’s good to have bastions to hold onto in the swirling maelstrom of the Internet. And as a young, often angry man, I like ideas that think outside the box, ideas that push my mind in fresh directions. Enter The New Inquiry. I don’t know how I found these guys, but I think someone I follow on Twitter re-tweeted an article, and somehow I ended up subbing to them too. For $2 bucks. And given the nature of the content, that’s an absolute bargain. As a subscriber you get access to a PDF of the magazine on a monthly (I think) basis, each of which follows a very specific theme—from Drones to Cops to Animals. The latest is on Gossip, including a hilarious but oddly insightful piece on Lindsay Lohan. I urge you ALL to follow The New Inquiry. Sub up, and get your mind blown. It’s like Vice Magazine, but written by, you know, mature people.
And that’s what I’ve been reading this week (and every week). For destroying your typical thought patterns, morphing neurons into brand new designs, you could do a lot worse than signing up to these journals, and many others.
What websites/newspapers/magazines/journals/stone tablets do you read on a weekly basis?