I polled my Facebook friends, asking them:
Best magazines to read for the rest of your life? For general knowledge and interest, eclectic, substantive. One suggestion per comment, vote by liking. Other sources fine, as long as it’s a renewable information source (i.e. not books).
Based on about 30 comments and suggestions, here are the results. The numbers here are too small and my methods too imprecise for any serious ranking, but these are presented roughly in order of popularity. Publications that got more than one mention or vote:
- The Economist
- Scientific American
- New Scientist (with one assertion that “New Scientist > Scientific American”
- New Yorker (despite the “depressing short stories”)
- National Geographic Magazine
- New York Review of Books (which was not on my radar for this at all)
Publications that received only a single mention:
- Arts & Letters
- Utne (haven’t thought about Utne since the early 1990s!)
- Reason (never heard of it, but I like the title)
- Science Daily
- The Week
- The Onion
Interestingly, no votes for The Atlantic, and one against it.
I excluded a handful of suggestions simply for being too nichey to be a good answer to the poll.
Dale Favier made a fine point that few magazines have ever sustained editorial quality for long: the “moving target” problem of trying to choose long term commitments to periodicals.