For years I’ve been fascinated by the literary magazine. It combines two of my favorite things, literature and print magazines, but somehow I haven’t been able to find The One yet. There are so many magazines out there, that it’s hard to make the right decision without trying them all. If you’re having the same problem, this list is for you. I ‘researched’ a bunch of literary magazines and will tell you which one you need to read. I did only look at magazines written in English and published in print for this one, but anyone interested in online magazines can leave a request in the comments.

If you’re into the literary elite: The New Yorker is considered the best of the best. All the big names authors have had stories in The New Yorker and the opinions of the reviewers over there are almost fact. However, I’ve tried this one and I do have to say that reading The New Yorker while not living in the U.S. is way too expensive for the tiny amount of pages you get every week.

If you’re into straight up fiction: The Wrong Quarterly publishes cross-genre fiction without any adornments. So if you don’t like your literary magazine littered with photographs, illustrations and the likes, then you’ve found your literary home. The Wrong Quarterly has published four editions now and you can expect a new one every three months.

If you’re into proudly displaying your huge collection of literary magazines: Granta makes for a great display. Their magazine looks like a paperback novel and their covers are always good looking. They’ve also been publishing Granta since the 1880’s, so there will be enough for you to collect! Besides that, Granta also won a bunch of awards for the inside of the pretty covers, so if that matters to you…

If you’re into confessional writing: Guts is a magazine based in Ireland that publishes only personal writing. If you can’t resist reading people’s personal blogs and pry open the diaries of all your friends, then Guts knows how you’re feeling and is making life a little easier on you.

If you’re into movies but secretly also like literature: Zoetrope was started by film director Francis Ford Coppola to stimulate indie movies by giving writers a platform for fiction and one act plays. Now it’s a literary phenomenon where the design is just as important as the inside and where people like David Bowie and Tom Waits have taken over for an issue or two.

If you’re into wanting to have your cake and eat it too: Tinhouse makes sure that they always publish work by known writers as well as undiscovered ones, so you be sure you’re reading quality while also experiencing the lesser known. I always feel like Tinhouse is less snobby than The New Yorker, while remaining the quality of writing.

If you’re into experimental publishing: McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern is definitely innovative in the packaging on the magazine. They’ve published an issue that looked like a pack of mail, a cube that looked like a sweaty human head, all kinds of boxes and other cool stuff.

If you’re into knowing all the cool new writers: Glimmer Train only publishes stories by emerging writers, so if you’re the type that loves to say that you knew such and such before they were famous, Glimmer Train will help you do so.

Of course we’re just scratching the surface with these magazines. Share your own favorite in the comments and let us know what people would like them!


Esmée de Heer is head honcho over at the Bored to Death book club website, writing the daily content and making sure the site stays up and running. She's one of the founding sisters of the book club and enjoys reading and giving unsolicited love advice.

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