Nora didn’t know she was opening the floodgates when she defined me with the following attributes in the Man Repeller newsletter: “Edith’s always there to share the best newsletters (she subscribes to 17!!!), tell me a story about urban raccoons, and secretly put the Ratatouille soundtrack on in the office.” My coworkers started asking me for recommendations. Then I did an Al Gore-inspired recount and discovered I had undersold my inbox by at least 10.
Under the digital weight of these emails, you’d think subscribing to so many newsletters would make me an automatic inbox-zero failure, but I’ve got my system down to a science: Whenever I receive a newsletter, I immediately move it to a folder entitled “Leisure Reading” so that it doesn’t gum up the works of my action items and can be devoured as a treat later rather than as an obligation now. It works wonders. Below, for your subscribing pleasure, I’ve catalogued the evidence of my intrigue with the art form that is the newsletter. Gird your loins, your web browser, and your inbox.
For the Inbox That Needs Its Own Library Ladder
1. The one that will make you want to write a newsletter, even if you never hit send: the collected ahp
Anne Helen Petersen is a senior culture writer for Buzzfeed and academic with a PhD in Media Studies with a focus on the history of celebrity gossip and she’s currently on book leave, tapping into the deep well of millennial burnout. Her newsletter serves as an outlet for her to essentially free-write, uninhibited by an editor or an outlet’s verticals. The experience of reading these pieces is like seeing a comedian riffing with their friends at a house party after watching their Netflix standup special on your couch.
2. The one I look forward to each month: Read Like the Wind
Consider this The Molly Young Review of Books, an e-periodical that seems to have been wished into existence. More often than not, her recommendations predate the advent of Mailchimp, and sometimes Molly Young herself. The monthly cadence is woefully underrated and underused—its infrequency feels most akin to an analog newsletter delivered by the postal service.
3. The one for anyone who’s ever questioned their worth in a bookbinding class: Notes From a Small Press
Anne Trubek writes illuminating bulletins on processes within the publishing industry: one recent dispatch elucidated advances and royalties, and how they’re approached by publishers big and small. Written from her experience founding and running a small press, the emails will eventually morph into her forthcoming book, So You Want to Publish a Book? I recommend the newsletter to anyone who’s ever dreamed of writing a book or whose favorite part of “Bojack Horseman” is the riff on Penguin.
4. The one seasoned with fresh herb: Gossamer
Gossamer, a print magazine “for people who also smoke weed,” repackages its “Conversations” as a newsletter. Gossamer doesn’t cast the same six people everyone else seems to be profiling—I meet someone new every time. Through Gossamer, I’ve been virtually acquainted with luminaries like Hector Guadalupe, who runs a foundation teaching and placing formerly incarcerated personal trainers in jobs, fashion designer Recho Omondi, and Barry’s Sarah Goldberg through this pipeline. Gossamer doesn’t skimp on the juicy photos, either—they’re as close to “full bleed” as you can get in a Gmail browser.
5. The one of those instances of nepotism where it’s a little murky because the newsletter’s quality still merits a spot on this list and just so happens to be an extension of this platform: MR Picks
Once Nora and I split a lotto ticket at a bodega by Katz’s Deli (you really shouldn’t split lotto tickets, btw) and she told me that if we won, she’d quit her job in favor of living as a lighthouse keeper, but she’d still keep doing the MR Picks newsletter on the side. That’s how much Nora loves writing it. Like and subscribe, folks.
For the Inbox of a Capital “A” Aesthete
6. The one for the ligature-ati: Typewolf
This one pains me most to identify because I liked keeping it my little secret. The Typewolf Tuesday Issues are my go-to for putting a face to a name, typographically speaking, and for learning about new design-conscious brands.
7. The one for if you, like me, are in the midst of an apartment decor project: Editor’s Notes
I admire any intellectual who can talk and write about art and design in an unpretentious, accessible way—Kelsey Keith, Curbed’s Editor-in-Chief, is one of them. In the first newsletter installment, she wrote about the 10 apartments she rented in her 14-year New York tenure, complete with shopping recommendations that Keith herself has been on the hunt for, too, like cork-colored coffee tables and unscented candles you can burn during dinner.
8. The one for those with champagne taste on a beer budget: Things I Would Buy if I Didn’t Have to Pay Rent
Anna Gray is a market whiz and writes the kind of quippy copy that will make you spit out your Moon Juice. She also has a knack for finding the most lavish investments to splurge on in an aspirational alternate universe: seashell spoons with leather handles, a Tribeca spa where they filmed a scene in Billions, real estate listings that look like the backdrop of Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, etc.
9. The one with news about chairs and stuff!: Surface Design Dispatch
I consider Surface my primary news source in the design world: They cover all sorts of media, from fashion and painting to architecture and furniture, and it’s refreshing to read about all the fields in relation to each other, rather than in their own silos. Their shopping roundups are a bit like if The Strategist could only review items that would look period-appropriate in a Mies van der Rohe interior.
For the Inbox that Eats News for Breakfast
10. The one that tries not to spend it all in one place: FORTUNE’s Term Sheet
I am hyper-impressed by Polina Marinova who helms the Term Sheet from Fortune Magazine. The daily Term Sheet includes a brief exploration of a timely topic in finance or venture capital, and Marinova often crowdsources reactions from her readership on certain events (like impending IPOs), and for finance-adjacent suggestions (like nominations for the best “business documentaries”). I like tuning in for the sake of my long-term savings and investment strategies. Most appreciated, it’s digestible without being too watered down or too jargoned up.
11. The one with a helping of coconut macaroons and a tablespoon of Mitch McConnell: Disaster Baking
Brought to you by the same Mattie Kahn who once wrote a delicious essay entitled “Slouching Towards Bolognese” for Cherry Bombe and all those Girls recaps you once cherished, this newsletter staves off the apocalypse by way of baking. Kahn attempts to take a break from political reporting by tweaking published recipes for delicacies like potato focaccia and black and white cookies. Just reading about her take on Ottolenghi’s chocolate babka, which she prefers “to taste like a pain au chocolat has entered into a committed relationship with a challah; no distractions,” hit the spot.
12. The one that knows you can’t have an email pioneer without pie: Ann Friedman Weekly
The Ann Friedman Weekly is practically an institution in the scheme of wildly popular newsletters (she wrote Tinyletters when they were, in fact, tiny). Chances are you already know it, but it’s a natural extension of her journalism and podcasts (Call Your Girlfriend with co-host Aminatou Sow, and Going Through It), with pie chartist-ry. Friedman deems it “pay-to-pie”: you’ll get an iconic AFW pie chart each week with a paid membership, at the price of one oat milk latte ($5) per year.
13. The one that un-glues you from MSNBC: NextDraft
Full disclosure, this newsletter is by my significant other’s uncle, though I would still subscribe even if it weren’t. Dave Pell reads all of the news of the day (resulting in a masochistic number of Mozilla Firefox tabs), then winnows it down to the 10 line items that demand the most attention. To me, NextDraft stands out from the other current roundups in the way it doesn’t condescend to the reader. And, keeping the #13 spot in the family here, I am also a subscriber of The What, co-written by Gina Pell, which is served like a “cocktail for your inbox.” It’s an honor to be in the midst of a newsletter dynasty.
14. The one where patience is a virtue: Wait—
Straight from the Styles desk at the NYTimes to yours: Wait— was originally billed as a Caity Weaver joint, but let me tell you, it’s a delight and not at all downgrade to have Choire Sicha pop up like a whack-a-mole in your inbox every week, usually reminding you that you’re going to die in one way or another.
For the Inbox That’s a Real Mixed Bag
15. The one that loves a theme: Quartzy
The Quartzy editors bat around ideas that take you out of your own head and examine the way you organize your day from a cool distance. The theme is always unpredictable (e.g., making the case for listening to heavy metal at work) and the newsletter itself feels a bit like a self-improvement guru, working pro bono, who only requires 10 minutes of your week.
16. The one that smells like chamomile: fermentation & formation by Jenna Wortham
Jenna Wortham, of “Still Processing” fame, sends out periodic newsletters that read like brief horoscopes with ingredient lists. They wash over me in the same way that my favorite internet franchise of all time, The (late, great) Awl’s Weather Reviews, once did.
17. The one that’s command central for lifehackery: Recomendo
“Brief reviews of cool stuff” is what we’re working with here. Since subscribing, I’ve adopted their recomendo-ed practice of making iced matchas and cappuccinos with the Nespresso Aeroccino, along with the travel hack of loading leftover foreign currency onto a Starbucks gift card for future use. Recomendo’s archive has culminated in a book—should I buy it?
18. The one that makes the case for the internet not (always) being a terrible place: Laura Olin & Cup of Ambition
Laura Olin compiles “some lovely and/or meaningful things” each week that get your fingers clicking and clacking like crustacean claws, along with a separate newsletter called “Cup of Ambition,” where she culls “meaningful jobs and opportunities in advocacy, media, and tech.”
19. The one that’s a mass transit palette cleanser for moms and non-moms alike: Of A Kind’s 10 Things
This listicle cuts the monotony of a subway ride like a splash of seltzer. I usually click on two or three of the suggestions (like swimsuits made from repurposed fishing nets or a program for recycling contact lenses), but I am always won over by their Spinal Tap reference when they have an extra pick and “turn it up to 11!”
20. The one that’s fresh out of the oven at Zabar’s: West Side Rag
I don’t even live on the Upper West Side. I never have, and who’s to say if I ever will. Still worth it.
Graphic by Madeline Montoya.