Happy 85th: The Top Five Reasons I Love The New Yorker


Since I first picked up The New Yorker back in the early 1990s I have been a huge admirer of the weekly magazine. And I don’t even remember the glory days before Tina Brown “ruined” it. Since the magazine just published its 85th Anniversary issue I thought I would give you my top fice reasons why I love The New Yorker (in no particular order):

1. The covers. Every week for the past 85 years The New Yorker has commissioned fantastic cover art. Sometimes profound, sometimes satirical, many times witty, they never fail to catch my attention.

2. The cartoons. The magazine is full of some of the best cartoons going. And over the past several years they have been having a caption contest on the last page where readers can send in their suggestions for the perfect caption.

3. The articles. I pretty much never read non-fiction books. The non-fiction in The New Yorker tends to be just the right length, using as many or as few words as necessary to tell the story. Very accessible but always intelligent. I have read and enjoyed articles on every conceivable topic: books, art, music, math, science, economics, politics, biography, communities, architecture, pop culture, you name it.

4. The articles are continuous. You know how most magazines get you started on an article and then make you flip to the back of the magazine to finish it off? Not The New Yorker. Once you start an article you just have to turn the page for the continuation, no flipping around. This sounds a little silly, but I find it hugely annoying to have to flip back and forth.

5. It was my link to the real world for two years. From 1995 through 1997 I lived in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Our 50th state yet one of the remotest chain of islands in the world geographically, Hawai’i has a way of feeling both very familiar and rather foreign and remote at the same time. I moved to Hawai’i for graduate school without ever having even visited it before. Needless to say I was more than a little discombobulated by the 10,000 mile move. In those early days of the World Wide Web, The New Yorker was my link to the East Coast of the U.S. Not only did I love the long stories and the smaller current events bits in the “Talk of the Town”, but I also enjoyed living vicariously through the arts listings, imagining myself spending the afternoon at a gallery before heading to a concert at Carnegie Hall or a performance at the Met.

And the continuous articles mentioned in number four above made it perfect beach reading. Since I was doing so much reading for school and working 30 hours a week on top of it, The New Yorker was my weekly treat. It would show up on Tusdays. I would page through it and read all of the cartoons and get a sense of what was in each issue, but I wouldn’t really read it until I got to the beach on Saturday. Although there is much to do in Hawai’i, when the weekend rolled around, without fail, I would head off to the beach and invariably read my New Yorker. It was the best of both worlds, I would immerse myself mentally in the changing seasons of New York (natural and cultural) while basking in the everpresent Hawai’i sun on a beautiful beach.

So it was with some sadness that I gave up reading The New Yorker a few years ago. Unwilling to give up TV (or blogging), I found that I didn’t have enough time to read books when I had The New Yorker showing up on my doorstep every week. I still enjoy the magazine immensely, but alas, I made my own Sophie’s Choice (does she actually choose?) and forsake one of my literary interests for another.

Here is me in the glory days of my love affair with The New Yorker. O’ahu 1997.

20 thoughts on “Happy 85th: The Top Five Reasons I Love The New Yorker

  1. Ti February 16, 2010 / 12:48 am

    I don't subscribe to any magazines now. As you said, blogging and reading leaves little room for anything else.

    I love the pic you included!!


  2. ~Tessa~Scoffs February 16, 2010 / 1:17 am

    Lovely post. My doctor's office always has a stack of back issues of the New Yorker and I'm never so happy as when she's running behind schedule. I can never possibly get through the whole pile before my turn comes up. I used to buy the New Yorker at the corner news stand along with Vogue. The clerk never could figure me out.

    And no, she doesn't really choose, does she?


  3. Mrs. B. February 16, 2010 / 2:13 am

    Great post! I like the New Yorker too but I haven't read very many of them. Everytime I read one, I always wish I was living in New York and able to go to the art exhibits and films they mention. Great picture! You look like one of the stars from those 50s surfing films!


  4. verity February 16, 2010 / 4:57 am

    I would love to see the New Yorker having read Mollie Panter-Downes short stories which were originally published there. I guess the publication has changed quite a bit since the war years though!


  5. bookssnob February 16, 2010 / 5:28 am

    We get the New Yorker at work and I am starting to steal it for my own pleasure…it's a brilliant magazine and makes me feel connected to American culture!

    What a great photo – I wish I could go to graduate school in Hawaii and spend my Saturdays on the beach!


  6. Nadia February 16, 2010 / 10:12 am

    What a fab photo! You look like a movie star!

    I've only read The New Yorker online, so I didn't know that the articles and stories were continuous and that you don't have to flip around to the back of the mag to keep reading. That is fantastic, because that is one of my pet peeves with regards to magazines. Wish O and Elle would do that.

    Anyhow, I think its great you had the New Yorker to keep you connected with NY while you were away in Hawaii studying – wow, Hawaii!! I went to England for my MA studies and I would watch Little House or Walker, Texas Ranger to keep me connected to the USA. Plus, I would watch Friends (even though I never watched it in the States). Its funny the things you do to stay connected. Anyhow, great post – thanks for sharing!


  7. SmitoniusAndSonata February 16, 2010 / 1:29 pm

    New Yorker covers are fabulous !
    Another good magazine is The London Review Of Books ….. maybe a little more political than The New Yorker , but its in depth book reviews are always worth reading . Great small ads too !


  8. Margaret Evans Porter February 16, 2010 / 2:00 pm

    I agree with your points and could probably add a few of my own without too much thought! I've subscribed for I know not how long, and have a file folder with saved articles. And it's my go-to source for what to do, see, eat when we head down to NYC!

    Love the photo. It's nice to think of Hawaii while snowflakes are falling!


  9. Thomas at My Porch February 16, 2010 / 11:14 pm

    Ti: Gotta prioritize.

    Tessa: I haven't read Sophie's Choice. Maybe now I don't have to. :)

    Mrs B: I like their film listings but it is amazing how often I disagree with their actual film reviews.

    Verity: The odd thing is I never read the fiction in The New Yorker. But they are still publishing great short stories.

    Book Snob: If only all American culture were like The New Yorker. Actually that might be a bit too much.

    Nadia: Hawai'i was a great experience but I would have given anything to go to school in England.


  10. Thomas at My Porch February 16, 2010 / 11:17 pm

    Smitonius: I love the small ads in back. One could write a story based on one of those.

    Margaret: I have a file with New Yorker articles as well.


  11. JoAnn February 17, 2010 / 9:31 am

    I love this post!! My subscription to The New Yorker began with a gift from my mother-in-law sometime in the early 90's. Like you, I had a 'system' for reading them. Now with blogging and the internet, I find they pile up for months and then I only have time to skim. Still, I'm not ready to let my subscription go just yet…


  12. Thomas at My Porch February 18, 2010 / 8:23 am

    JoAnn: And the subscriptions are, or at least used to be, so inexpensive.


  13. betsy February 18, 2010 / 11:31 am

    I remember the old collections of New Yorker cartoons my parents had 50 years ago. What a delight!


  14. Kathleen February 18, 2010 / 4:22 pm

    Oh I do love The New Yorker. I can't remember when I first picked it up but it has to be more than 20 years ago now! And your picture of Hawaii makes me long to go there. I was supposed to go in May but that has now been delayed to November. As much as Hawaii is an isolated place, I still plan to live there one day (for a few years).


  15. Lorin February 19, 2010 / 5:55 pm

    Good post – and great picture! Just look at the color of that water. Can I be in HI right now, please?

    Anyway, the New Yorker. I have such a love/hate relationship with it. I think I am the only person in my family who doesn't subscribe so these days I only read it when nephew-sitting or my dentists office. But I read it a lot starting at a young age. I remember one short story that scared the crud out of me – it was about this midget kid who played baseball and his life was awful. (Years later, I realized it was Owen Meany.) I still fear short fiction.


  16. Thomas at My Porch February 19, 2010 / 6:37 pm

    Betsy: There is a fantastic book out that has New Yorker cartoons that were too bawdy to put in the magazine. It is hilarious and quite naughty.

    Kathleen: Have you been to Hawaii before? Many people think skipping O'ahu is the thing to do. And i can understand some of the reasoning (more hectic, more developed). But there are still beautiful places to be found on O'ahu as evidenced by this picture.

    Lorin: Interestingly enough one of the first articles I remember reading (and really enjoying) in the New Yorker was about the Citicorp Tower in NYC that needed a structural fix soon after the building was completed. It was determined that the contractor used a different kind of weld than what was originally called for and a big storm could have spelt disaster. So they went in at night and had to open up the walls throughout the entire building to fix the welds, and were successful just as a hurricane was headed up the Eastern seaboard. It was a fascinating story.


  17. Kathleen February 19, 2010 / 8:16 pm

    I have been to Oahu and Maui many, many times. My sweetie was actually raised on Maui although he is not a local. We love the islands and go there at least once a year. I love the weather and the slow paced lifestyle. I love Oahu even though it is busier. You are right there are many beautiful places left there too!


  18. Daniel-Halifax February 21, 2010 / 11:35 am

    This was a lovely post.

    I too canceled my subscriptions to all magazines to focus on my reading more. What a world of difference!

    I still DO like taking out old tattered and used copies of the New Yorker from the library though on occasion.


  19. Thomas at My Porch February 21, 2010 / 9:57 pm

    Kathleen: So which island do you want to move to? And if you haven't been to Kaua'i, you need to put it at the top of your places to go in Hawai'i list.

    Daniel: I am half tempted to subscribe to The New Yorker again, just to help them survive the contraction in the magazine world.


  20. Kathleen February 23, 2010 / 3:24 pm

    Hi Thomas, I have not been to Kaui and I know I need to add it to my future list of travels. I want to move to Maui. I'd love to live 1/2 year in the up country area and 1/2 the year near the beach. I don't ask for much, do I?


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