Our 50 favorite magazines
It's becoming a rite of summer: Every year we ask each other what periodicals we've been reading, and then we ask you. Every year we argue about what makes a good magazine and why we rush to pick up certain titles or swipe them from a neighbor's desk. We urge each other to try something new, and we smack our foreheads when a title bubbles up that we'd completely missed.

This year we've been paying special attention to media on the Internet. Most magazines have a Web presence, but we've picked out five sites that offer something special, something more than the same content we read in print. Take a look and see what you think -- and please tell us what's on your personal magazine rack these warm summer days.



The Believer. A monthly magazine in which length is no object, it vows to focus "on writers and books we like. We will give people and books the benefit of the doubt." The design is remarkable; the paper stock is thick and satisfying, and so is the writing.

Granta. Combine fiction, fine photography and collections of essays, and what do you get? Brilliance, if it's Granta. Four times a year the British publication puts out an approximately 300-page periodical, featuring everyone from Gabriel Garcia Márquez to Bill Bryson.

The New York Review of Books. This ancient, much-revered and now iconic magazine is still the gold standard for serious cultural criticism. Larry McMurtry and Joyce Carol Oates are among the working artists who pause to contribute luminous essays to the NYRB. Plus, you can't beat the personal ads in the back.

The New Yorker. Katherine Boo's story on the closing of one of the worst high schools in Colorado wasn't just challenging and moving, it was absolutely riveting - and a reminder that, if other magazines have more bells and whistles, the New Yorker has, pound for pound, more quality writing and reporting than anyone around.


Blueprint. From the Martha Stewart empire, her latest guide to personal style puts an emphasis on easy step-by-steps. In the Real Simple mold but with a hipper mood, Blueprint combines home, fashion and food coverage, and spares us the impossible dreams disguised as "good things."

Cottage Living. OK, so the term 'cottage' means different things to different people, but the underlying philosophy - "comfort, simplicity, style" - helps clarify. Regular gardening, decorating, shopping and travel articles complete the mix. Our favorite: a back-page feature giving "cottage" curb appeal to a plain-Jane exterior.

Fine Gardening. You're a smart gardener but you don't know everything. You'd like good ideas, design inspiration for real people's yards, plant suggestions and clear, well-illustrated advice from experts that respect your intelligence. This is the magazine for you.

Garden Gate. Newer gardeners can feel safe in the arms of this bimonthly, which is all about being cozy and accessible. There are lots of explanations, diagrams and plans, and a big spread of reader tips.

This Old House. Despite the name, there's pretty good landscaping stuff in these pages too. You won't find articles on pruning clematis or choosing hydrangeas, but you will find excellent, well-presented advice on planning, installing and maintaining lawns, trees, shrubs and other basic plants, as well as patios and paths. It's also the best magazine source for learning how to use tools.

Organic Gardening. The ancient eminence of the organic world has become bright and lively. It's packed with good information on growing all kinds of plants - right up to roses - in a safe, environmentally friendly way. We like the concise reports on scientific research into what works and what doesn't.

ReadyMade. For the hip and crafty, ReadyMade provides DIY project ideas and instructions plus household tips and useful craft information. Projects vary and range from instructions on converting a vintage radio to play an iPod to creating a faux mosaic with paint chips. An inspiring magazine that makes us want to get off the couch and do something crafty.


Cooks Illustrated. It's still the best and most trustable (no ads) consumer food mag going. Just reading through the steps that go into finding one of their perfect recipes always teaches you something useful about culinary chemistry. Everyday Food. Maybe it's because it fits in your purse, but this graphically pleasing monthly from the Martha Stewart camp makes pulling together quick, delicious and attractive meals seem manageable.

Gourmet. Still the queen of foodie mags. Great vintage and modern recipes blend with terrific travel features - Kashgar anyone? - practical pointers and poignant writerly essays such as Scott Simon's moving, Beard Award-winning "Conflict Cuisine" last year.