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Reading the New Yorker

So I have a trial subscription - post+digital - to The New Yorker, which started the week of Trump's Inauguration, and runs until mid-April. If I don't cancel it will auto-renew.

I love getting the paper magazine through my door - much nicer than the weekly ping to my phone. I love the physical magazine, the typography and layout, the mix of prose, poetry and art, the ability to riffle through the pages and use five decades worth of skimming skills to decide what to read and what to skip. I like its light weight, and I've carried it to read on the train a couple of times. The delivery day has been a bit variable though, probably unsurprisingly since it's coming across the Atlantic. I couldn't count on having a new paper issue to read on a given day.

I read the first issue - January 23rd - pretty much cover to cover. That had both novely and articles about the Inauguration to help it along. Since then I've mostly read some of each issue, although there's one copy still in its shrink wrap. I've enjoyed the coverage of the arts, events and restaurants in Manhattan, albeit with the nagging feeling that I would be using my time better if I was reading about similar matters in London. I've looked carefully at cartoons, and found some really funny while others are based squarely in aspects of US culture incomprehensible to this foreigner. I've read most of the short articles, which have been variously funny (Why Mummies?) and inaccessible. I've read most of the poems. I like the poems.

I have mixed feelings about the long articles. Some have been brilliantly informative and more than justified their reading time, and those have been very varied: racial politics in the southern states of the US, child refugees in Europe, the roots of climate science in the Cold War. Others have been interesting and educational about US politics and culture - My Father's Cellar about growing up alcoholic; General Chaos about Michael Flynn - but left me wondering whether what I gained was the worth the use of my time: again, the US-centricity leaves me feeling I'd be better off reading material of similar weight about my own culture and politics. Others have completely failed to engage the level of interest needed to sustain the reading time.

The short stories that I've read have been brilliant.

I've been reading in short bursts, some by daylight, some in the evening. In daylight the paper magazine is fine. But artificial light on the magazine does not work well for my eyes, and I have found it easier to finish a long article on my phone. I'd rather not read on my phone by default, so this might be a good use for a good tablet. But I don't have a good tablet.

My reading time is limited. I've lost books I could have read by reading the magazine instead. But the same is true of Facebook and I read Facebook most days. And I've read Kim Stanley Robinson's Antarctica in between issues of The New Yorker, so I haven't lost all books.

This is about learning the world again, after a fifteen-year gap while I did other things. I made a deal with my friend Alison that I will trade my New Yorker for her subscription to The Economist. At this point this still feels like a good deal, and I already know how I read and don't read The Economist. So will I let the subscription renew? Probably. Maybe. Something depends on exactly how I feel the day the email comes through, and exactly what the cost turns out to be (which a search has just failed to turn up). It is certain that many of the words will remain unread week by week, but that's just the fate of all magazines always, and not necessarily a reason to cancel. It might be a reason to have just the electronic subscription, but then I can't share the subscription with anyone else.

I wonder what the UK equivalent publication is, if there is one. I think I will try and find out.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
26th Feb, 2017 20:04 (UTC)
If you do find an equivalent UK publication let me know, I haven't yet though I admit my search has been less than fully diligent...
5th Mar, 2017 02:16 (UTC)
This makes me want to subscribe to the New Yorker. My mother had a subscription in my teenage years, and I would mostly read the cartoons. The New Yorker was as strange to me, living in Idaho, as it is strange to you. Still, like finding a new world in an sf novel, it gave me some insight into aliens. Plus the stories are brilliant.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Caroline M

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