Friday, 30 November 2012

Literary Subscriptions

I'm the sort of person that likes to know what is going on in the world. By 'world' I don't mean the big wide world but more the literary world. To do this I spent a considerable amount of time on the guardian books website and reading various bookish magazines. On my kindle I have a subscription to the London Review of Books. I would much prefer to read it in actual magazine format but it is not the easiest to get hold of in deepest darkest Somerset. Plus, the kindle subscription is very handy. There is quite a range of articles, letters and poetry in this magazine and though some of the articles don't interest me at all, there is usually something that tickles my fancy (I particularly like their reviews of art exhibitions and opinion pieces). Whenever I pick up my kindle to read the London Review of Books I know I will always put it down having learnt something new.

My favorite literary magazine is the Literary Review, a monthly magazine that does exactly what it says on the tin. I love that it has a good selection of fiction and non-fiction reviews. Although, for someone like me who will buy anything anyone says is good, this magazine can be dangerous. I have book lists on my phone, in my diary and in various notebooks which invariably grow whenever I sit down to read the Review. I also wish it was longer or published more frequently because I get through it far too quickly. The reviews themselves are well written, insightful and engaging, unsuprisingly when you read the credentials of the contributors. Most reviews feel like a double whamy review and lesson (in a good way) as they are not basic 'buy this book/don't buy this book' pieces. Instead the writers talk around the subject whilst they subtly give their opinion.

I know for a fact that my parents have bought me a subscription to the Literary Review for Christmas as it arrived on my doorstep at the beginning of November. Such well organised parents.

Another kindle subscription I have that is dedicated to fiction instead of reviews is The First Line magazine. I love the concept of this: each issue is made up of stories which all use the same first line. Genius. It is wonderful to see the different directions each author takes, though I'm sure comparing their narrative choices would be an exercise in psychoanalysis. There is also usually a very entertaining essay from a contributor discussing their favourite first lines. None of this 'it was the best of times, it was the worst of times' cop-out rubbish, these contributors have really thought about what makes a brilliant and engaging first line. The First Line is released quarterly and costs 99p per month from amazon.

Moving away from the magazine subscriptions, I would adore a Persephone subscription (are you sensing a trend?) - a book a month for 6 or 12 months. Pure heaven.


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