Remember the good old days when we thought social media was going to inundate us all with all the weird and wonderful things happening all over the internet? And instead we got politicians, marketers, journalists, dopamine manipulators, weathervane journalists, Russian hackers, fake news, doxxing, gaslighting and such delights? That was a bit disappointing. Which is possibly why podcasts and then email newsletters have acquired second lives of late.
Podcasts and email newsletters are, in some sense, quite social-media-unfriendly. They can’t be reduced to headlines, don’t make for great selective quoting, are somewhat inconvenient to share. And even when you do all of those things, they are hard to consume piecemeal. All of which means that podcasts and newsletters are somewhat relaxing forms of media to consume
Podcasts are booming. But what a great age it is for newsletters. The rise of tech platforms such as Tinyletter, and funding tools such as Patreon, have given rise to several small and large publishers who produce a variety of excellent newsletters. These email editions cover topics big and small, contemporary and historical, serious and amusing. But which ones to subscribe to?
To get you started, here is Mint on Sunday’s list of the best email newsletters for curious people.
Cool stories bro
Fascinating, sometimes strange, always surprising stories about people, places, brands and… stuff.
• Now I Know: Dan Lewis’s delightful newsletter is a daily instalment of trivia, with links to other interesting stuff. Lewis insists you’ll learn something new every day. He is right.
Where to subscribe: http://nowiknow.com/
• Atlas Obscura Daily: Atlas Obscura are the guys who run the endlessly fascinating website and recently published the book jam-packed with fascinating places from all over the world and their stories. Their newsletter is all that but in inbox-friendly form. A welcome interlude of the fantastic amid the deadlines and assignments.
Where to subscribe: https://www.atlasobscura.com/newsletters
Round them up
Contrary to what your timelines might lead you to believe, the internet isn’t totally full of thoughtlessly produced, disingenuously reported, shamelessly manipulated crap. There are good stories out there, and these newsletters sift the wheat from the chaff for you.
• The Browser: Writing worth reading, is The Browser’s oeuvre. And while the website is resplendent with great writing plucked from all over the web, the email newsletter makes discovery that much more easier. Well worth the subscription.
Where to subscribe: https://thebrowser.com/support-the-browser
• AL Daily: Arts and Letters Daily has been curating intelligent writing on the web years before curating became a thing. Their weekly email sent out on Friday features the best of the best. Right to your inbox.
Where to subscribe: https://www.aldaily.com/subscribe/
• NextDraft and Axios: There are a lot of newsletters out there that curate news headlines, and encapsulate narratives. NextDraft and Axios are two of the better ones. There is a strong US bias here. But then when the US catches a cold, etc.
Newsletters by niche publications that we are particularly fond of. But not so niche that you won’t enjoy it.
• Slow Post: Delayed Gratification is a slow journalism title, a print magazine that covers issues long after it has faded from mainstream memory. Thereby enabling them to cover it with arguably better insight, and less heat and fury. Their weekly newsletter, The Slow Post, picks out a highlight story from the archives plus added content.
Where to subscribe: https://www.slow-journalism.com/newsletter-sign-up
• The American Scholar: This might sound a bit niche at first glance: the official magazine of the American Phi Beta Kappa Society. But in fact The American Scholar is an excellent magazine and their newsletter is a great addition to every inbox. (And their podcast is great too.)
Where to subscribe: https://theamericanscholar.org/subscribe/
Other cool newsletters from all over the place that we love pinging into our lives.
• Delancey Place: Delightful newsletter that excerpts long bits from really good books. Prepare to see that annual books budget explode out of control…
Where to subscribe: https://delanceyplace.com/
• Brain Food: Farnham Street Blog has been a hit on the web for ages. Their newsletter, read by some 150,000, is all about the website’s mission: “How can we better understand and align with reality in order to live a better life?”
Where to subscribe: https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/
• Quartzy: Quartz is a great news website that has a certain edge to it. Quartzy is their “weekly dispatch about living well in the global economy, delivered to your inbox.” Oh yes, I will have some of that.
Where to subscribe: https://qz.com/newsletters/quartzy/