I’ve always loved print magazines: The satisfaction of physically flipping from page to page, the strategy behind creating a cohesive publication, the artful presentation, and, of course, the stories collaboratively told by writers, photographers, and designers to then enjoyed by me. Now that I work full-time as an editor for print and digital magazine TravelAge West—a business-to-business publication exclusively for travel professionals—the appreciation has only grown deeper, and I’m always on the hunt for more inspiration in the journalism industry.
Luckily for me—and for you—there are numerous well-produced magazines with focuses ranging from food and drink to up-and-coming musicians to current events to where to plan your next getaway. The following are four standout indie/smaller magazines that have captured my attention and might be worthy of your subscription as well.
If You Like The New Yorker, Read: The California Sunday Magazine
Topics covered: Business, science, technology, food, social issues, art, entertainment, and more
The breakdown: Delivered monthly with select Sunday editions of the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle, The California Sunday Magazine launched not long ago in October 2014. Don’t let the inclusion of “California” in its title dissuade you from becoming a reader, however. The independent magazine, intended to be a leisurely weekend ritual-type of publication, is still an excellent read for those living outside the Golden State. It shares both long-form and shorter articles that are always well-researched and well-written. Past subjects have included everything from a day in the life of a hand model; a cohesive, fascinating profile of Tinder founder Sean Rad; wine production in China; and a sensationalized murder case in Mumbai.
And if you’re a fan of everything mentioned above, the people behind The California Sunday Magazine also produce Pop-Up Magazine, a “live magazine” that’s performed for a live audience. Talented writers, radio producers, photographers, filmmakers, and other creatives take the stage and share their stories—it’s kind of like witnessing wonderful podcast episodes magically come to life. I was an audience member during the Los Angeles leg of their recent spring tour. Keep an eye on Pop-Up Magazine’s website in case the event series comes to a city near you.
How to read it: An annual print subscription of The California Sunday Magazine (six issues) is available for $39.99 per year. Reading the digital version via the magazine’s website is free, and new stories are regularly published online, too.
If You Like Vogue, Read: The Gentlewoman
Topics covered: Fashion, culture, business, travel, literature, and more
The breakdown: Targeting the “modern woman,” Britain-based biannual publication The Gentlewoman is the just-as-sophisticated sister publication of Fantastic Man. Though a fashion magazine at its core, The Gentlewoman strives to probe past the frivolity and superficiality that may be associated with most glossy style mags—and does so successfully. Expect thoughtful and witty essays as well as profiles of notable female figures (Kirstin Dunst graced the last issue’s cover and cover story, and robotics engineer Cynthia Breazeal also made an appearance) alongside stunning sartorial works. The Gentlewoman is meant to be read at leisure—savored even—and its twice-per-year distribution makes that intent easy to accomplish.
How to read it: U.S. readers must order via Express Mag and the subscription costs $33 for the two issues per year.
If You Like Bon Appetit, Read: Lucky Peach
Topics covered: Food, culture, travel, and more
The breakdown: Most serious foodies perk up when they hear the name David Chang, and for good reason: He’s the chef and owner of the Momofuku restaurant group, which includes Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Milk Bar (also helmed by pastry chef and “MasterChef” judge Christina Tosi), and several other culinary hot spots. What’s more, Chang, along with writer and editor Peter Meehan, founded Lucky Peach magazine in 2011, shaking up the cross-section of food and publishing. The quarterly magazine has since basked in hefty praise from critics, earning awards for its uncompromising identity. Readers enjoy straightforward and clever writing, a refreshing shortage of ads, lots of creativity in design, and interesting content that includes recipes, essays, interviews, and even short fiction. Each issue follows a theme; its inaugural issue chronicled all things ramen, while a newer issue zoomed in on all things breakfast-related.
How to read it: If you can’t find copies of Lucky Peach at your local grocery store or on the newsstand around the corner, you can subscribe online; four issues will set you back $28. Be sure to add the magazine’s website, which graduated from Tumblr just last year, to your daily Internet browsing list, too.
If You Like Conde Nast Traveler and AFAR, Read: Boat Magazine
Topics covered: Travel, culture, art, music, food, and more
The breakdown: Similar to Lucky Peach, travel and culture publication Boat Magazine is devoted to just one topic per issue. These topics encompass cities all over the world, from those closer—such as Los Angeles and Detroit—to those as far away as Kyoto, Japan, and Reykjavik, Iceland. But what truly sets Boat Magazine apart from other travel publications is the concept behind it: Twice a year, the magazine’s team picks up and physically relocates to a city that will be highlighted in an upcoming issue. They live there for a few weeks, fully immersing themselves in the local life and culture and forging meaningful connections with members of the local community. Then, they pass on the stories they’ve learned via long and short stories, interviews, fiction, photography, illustrations, and more. Disinterested by trendy hotels and the like, the characteristic Boat Magazine reader is someone who considers herself or himself a global citizen and who yearns to travel deeper.
How to read it: Since its launch in 2010, Boat Magazine has released 11 issues. You can purchase past issues on their website (some are sold out, unfortunately), or you can purchase an international subscription for the year’s two issues for about $37. Issue 11 is Havana, which shipped May 2016, and Issue 12 is Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, which will ship September 2016.