suddenly all I read is (good) email

by Jackie Ferrari in #AmReading

and romance and sci fi don’t worry there are books too

I’ve been spending more time than usual on my phone lately and… I’m not sorry. I’m not scrolling or obsessing over the news—I’m reading.

Not books (usually, although I always keep a book going in the Books or Kindle app—right now I’m working my way through a series of Amazon Original romance short stories and I’m on “Worst Wingman Ever” from Abby Jiminez, they’ve been fun and very low stress; would recommend).

No, mostly I’ve been reading emails. I used to be a really passionate magazine reader, I’d go to the third floor of the Union Square Barnes and Noble and just buy a ton, in part because I wanted to write for them (and I did, for a while). But then they mostly disappeared, and also I was always on my phone during what must have once been my magazine time because I found myself rarely picking up a print magazine anymore, and I found the online formats unsatisfying.

But lately I’ve been getting that magazine-y feeling again from, maybe surprisingly, emails. I’ve realized that what the magazines I loved did with their particular kind of what was called service journalism was to offer a combination of personal story and information (mostly of the shopping, eating or cooking variety).

The emails I’m suddenly obsessed with scratch that itch. They’re mostly paid subscriptions, and I’ve been a little unsure how I feel about that, because it adds up and sometimes I’m like really because the New Yorker is only $70 a year but you know, that’s just a different model. And I’m okay with this, I’m thoughtful about it, I usually read a month of free content before I make the call about subscribing and I do unsubscribe. I pay attention.

SO! In case you want some magazine-y content in your life, and in case you, like me, are a person who once made your partner walk 8 miles through Madrid in the summer in search of a) a hat you saw in a magazine and b) a horchata stand you read about on a website, below are the things I read religiously (as a human, not a writer, which is a different basket) and why BUT FIRST…

In case you’re here for the books and nothing but the books—I just came out of a revising-my-own-work related reading slow down to savor, first, Fangirl Down, by Tessa Bailey —a super fun golf romance (is that a thing now) with woman succeeds in man’s world and man recognizes his systemic and personal problems vibes which, yes please and also so much steam. One of you asked me to flag anything NSFW and no, don’t put this in your headphones or god forbid on speaker. One Tessa B note—I liked her recent things (see also Wreck the Halls) so much I went back and grabbed an early book, and found that she’s really evolved in how she approaches sex and alpha males. I love that, but I also wasn’t into the virgin/man-whore trope of at least one earlier book. So if that is also not your thing (and it can be done well—see Sarah Adams’ Practice Makes Perfect)—keep your eyes open on the back catalog there!

Next up and a complete joy was Check & Mate, Ali Hazelwood. It’s YA and that’s a rare romance read for me because: if you’re 18 and it’s an HEA, no it’s not sorry; I can only take so much teens-who-don’t-understand-the-perspective-of-the-adults-in-their-lives (I LIVE WITH THAT EVERY DAY) and I don’t necessarily want to sink back into some of the anxieties of that part of life BUT—honestly this isn’t YA. It is only bc the protagonists are 18 and 20, and in their world (chess) and with this plot they kind of had to be that young and because it’s way less steamy than the usual Ali H. (see also and savor Bride). Hey! This one is SFW! and also so fun and so relatable and this protagonist does not read like an angsty teen except when she goes there and I was good with it.

And now for something completely different: I read some sci fi, not a ton (my teenaged self having read all of it) and I LOVE Jon Scalzi. If you have not read Starter Villain just drop everything and go get it whether you think you like sci fi or not, trust me you will like this. I don’t say that about many books. JUST GO GET IT. But if you’re on board with funny-weird-sci fi (and you might be without even realizing it), or grew up watching Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica in any iteration, Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas is for you. What’s a Redshirt? It’s the crew member who goes down to the planet, or wherever, with the series stars and inevitably bites it before the first commercial break. This is a book about what happens when a bunch of them realize that and set out to fix it. It’s funny and also—deep and thoughtful and philosophical and even romantic in unexpected ways.


Adventures in Luxury Travel This one’s free and it’s both a source of many a travel dream and—no matter how luxurious or not your travel budget—a great place to find ideas and tips for family travel.

Things I pay to read

5 Things You Should Buy This is like the useful fashion section of a magazine dedicated to clothes you can actually wear and the idea that if you’re gonna buy a white t-shirt, you should get a GOOD white t-shirt. Which isn’t always true but which I enjoy in theory.

Ask a Swole Woman Once a writer for women’s magazines who subsisted on salad and tortured herself with exercise-to-be-skinny, now a strength training/weightlifting guru who writes a fabulous email about being strong—metaphorically and physically—and debunking lot of the other crap out there while she’s at it.

Burnt Toast by Virginia Sole-Smith Debunking diet culture, yes, but also single parenting, feeding oneself and kids, putting clothing on a body that doesn’t look like the bodies in magazines, supporting oneself and family in the gig economy.

Crone Sandwich Did you read We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman back when I told you to? IF NOT GO BUY IT. But not if you or a loved one has cancer right now because it will maybe be too much but otherwise just go into it. It is, as I said in the blurb, the funniest book about dying and living that I have ever read. Ok, the email—it’s ramblings. From a really good writer who wrote all those essays in the women’s magazines, and the etiquette column in Real Simple for a while, the one who you read and kinda think, I could have written that but you could not because there is just a kind of readable relatable magic and also, a lot of recipes involving chick peas.

Dinner: A Love Story I need regular meal ideas. I like her voice and cookbooks. Done.

Every Body Gets Dressed This is a new one for me—but I’m liking the practicality of the advice and the way it’s often exactly what I’m worrying about as I stand in my closet—work from home, wedding guest dresses, adding personality, dressing for spring.

Men Yell at Me This is Lyz Lenz, author of This American Ex-Wife, creator of the weekly Dingus, writer of the only email I’m willing to read that consistently leaves me outraged about politics and systemic issues and the degredation of women to second class citizens. I can only take so much and this is it.

No F*cks Given® with Sarah Knight Ooh, a perfect accompaniment to the above. This is the advice column I miss from all those magazines, and it’s entirely focused on boundaries and choices and excellent swear-y recommendations for deciding what you do and don’t want to do and why and then making it happen.

The Review of Beauty by Jessica DeFino Magazines have make-up and skin care! And she used to be the one who wrote it! And now she wants you to know that most of it was and is, sadly, BS.

The VajendaThe magazines had health advice! (I really AM just replacing everything that used to be good about Elle and New Woman and O, aren’t I?) and here it is—but now it’s rigorously fact-checked (yeah, they tried, but…) and really nitty gritty in a way that few newstand pubs would have dared.

Vanderhacks Daily notes to make your life better from one of my favorite live-life-better productivity writers. Every day I’m either like, yeah I should double down there or ooh, that’s a good idea!

The Wardrobe Edit More clothes! It’s spring and I’m all about clothes at the moment (this happens every year) and again, this is practical wearable stuff being worn by a human fashion writer, not a model, to go about her daily life, not walk on a runway. I’m here for it. But also—GOOD ADVICE FROM ME: make a wishlist in your internest bookmarks and put the things you click on from these super fun pubs there for at least a day. Don’t click buy at 12:15 am and then be surprised and annoyed with youself five days later. A) ask me how I know and B) I have this pair of expensive second-hand sandals from The Real Real now…anyone wear a size 8.5?

That’s it from me this week! LMK if you have emails YOU like and think I might like to try, too.

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