Please COMMENT at the bottom of this page to 

  • Recommend a favorite lit journal.  
  • Let us know what glossy mags to read for short fiction and/or personal essays.
  • Give a thumbs up to a published story, essay, poem, review, or interview–with a few words on why you found that piece of writing enjoyable, provocative, valuable, worth savoring.  Don’t forget to tell us where you read it.
  • If you edit a lit zine–or a print journal–tell us about it.

WHEN I WAS FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE SHORT STORY FORM, short fiction was ubiquitous.You need not have looked further than the news stand.  Glossy, mass-circulation magazines with a literary bent, like Esquire, Atlantic Monthly, Playboy, Vanity Fair–even Redbook and occasionally Mother Jones–rewarded readers with a hardy diet of fiction. And while The New Yorker still fills a plate, with 99% of its hip fiction coming from famously established writers, those readers who are still left hungry may benefit by perusing the smaller-circulation literary journals.    

This may sound like an advertisement but it’s not–though it is a testimonial.  A couple of years ago, I subscribed to the Journal of the Month Club.  Each month I receive in the mail a different literary journal.  This works for me!  I get a steady diet of short stories and personal essays as well as poetry, reviews, and interviews; I help keep the literary marketplace alive through my readership; and I become familiar with journals I’ve never read before as well as with what their editors are looking for in ways that the Duotrope and Poets&Writers databases can’t allow.

Ultimately, this tiny personal luxury, while entertaining me, allows me to know which journals are worth my time and money to subscribe to–and where to aim my sights as a writer.

Journal of the Month Club subscriptions are for as few as 4 months or as many as 24.  To learn  more, CLICK   



  • Recommend  ONE or two of your favorite lit journals.  
  • Let us know what glossy mags to read for short fiction and/or personal essays.
  • Give a thumbs up to a published story, essay, poem, review, or interview–with a few words on why you found that piece of writing enjoyable, provocative, valuable, worth savoring.  Don’t forget to tell us where you read it.
  • If you edit a lit zine–or a print journal–tell us about it!





10 thoughts on “READING MATTERS: Lit Journals

  1. I offer two of my favorite literary journals: American Short Fiction for its quirky stories (i.e., original and thought-twisting) and Salamander for its beautiful voices and quiet surprises. …As for a favorite short story, “Emperor of the Air” by Ethan Canin (we’ve talked about this one in workshop) offers an example of a classic, fully developed narrative arc, with Canin using every word of exposition (physical description, backstory, reflection) to build meaning into his characters, their conflict and its outcome. “Emperor of the Air” is the title story in Canin’s first published book (1988).  …A spring 2016 story that’s captured my interest is “I, Spy” by E.J. Levy, published in The Missouri Review.  What I like most about this story is the psychological development of the first person character (an artist who’s cyber-stalking her ex) and the story’s design that breaks back and forth from the narrative to analogous expository content (history/reflection on spirit photographers).  Levy’s work, by the way, has also appeared in Best American Essays and she’s received a Pushcart Prize. -m


  2. I have to confess that I don’t read any literary journals that focus on short stories or essays, but for years, I loved reading the Women’s Review of Books and want to subscribe again. One periodical I read regularly is the Chronicle of Higher Education, which always has excellent personal essays on the back page of the main section and also on the back page of the section called the Chronicle Review. Magazines I’ve subscribed to in the past, which include mostly journalism/news but also some reviews of fiction, are E Magazine, Yes!, and Resurgence & Ecologist (a new combination of two previously separate periodicals). I also read the New York Times Book Review and sometimes Library Journal.


  3. I subscribe to the New Yorker, the Kenyon Review, and Passager. As noted by Margaret, the New Yorker doesn’t really count in the sense that only established authors will be published. The Kenyon Review [] has a long and illustrious history and considers short fiction and essays, poetry, plays, excerpts from larger works, and
    translations of poetry and short prose. They offer several contests each year, including one for previously unpublished writers. Passager is local (to Baltimore) [] offers a journal and press dedicated to writers over 50. Passager Books has published anthologies, poetry collections, short fiction, and memoirs. The journal publishes poetry, short fiction, essays, and other forms. I also subscribe to the New York Times Sunday edition and read the personal essays and the Book Review.


  4. I found Joan Didion in The Best American Essays of the Century, Joyce Carrol Oates Editor, Robert Atwan, Co=Editor. Her piece The White Album strummed a chord in harmony with my writers voice. I was affected by her themes and inspired by her introspection and the way her personal narrative is woven into the events and people she tells about.


  5. I love the idea of Journal of the Month Club and have just subscribed. I have subscribed in the past to Agni, The Baltimore Review, The Sun Magazine, Passager. More often I pick up random issues at a book store: the Kenyon Review, the Paris Review, Tin House, Shenandoah, the Gettysburg Review, The Atlantic and, of course, The Best Short Stories (essays and mysteries). I do subscribe to the New Yorker, but dislike most of their short stories. Most of them leave me scratching my head. What was that about? However, occasionally, once or twice a year I find a jewel. However, one of my favorite short stories of all time is Assez by Roxana Robinson. I have no idea where I found it, but it is to me the perfect short story. Its opening sentence is “That summer we rented a house in France, with friends.” The descriptions, the details, are right on and delightful. We think we know where the story is going and the end is a surprise, not in a shocking way, but in a real life kind of way.


  6. …THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY’s MICHAEL CURTIS’ FIVE FAVORITE LIT JOURNALS: You might be interested to know that in an interview online, the illustrious, long-time fiction editor (25+ years) of The Atlanta Monthly, Michael Curtis named these 5 lit journals as his personal favorites: Georgia Review, Paris Review, Southern Review, AGNI, and Epoch.


  7. I am a fan of Granta, a journal published in London four times a year. Each issue, which runs just under 300 pages, has either a subject theme (e.g., “Legacies of Love,” Summer 2016)), showcases the writing of a country (e.g., “New Irish Writing,” Spring 2016), or focuses on a country as a subject (e.g., “Japan,” Spring 2014). Short fiction, memoir, prose essays, photo essays, poetry, and memoir are included in each issue. All of the writing is published in English; hence, the writers who work in languages other than English are translated. I enjoy the exposure to the lives, cultures, and geographies that I would not encounter otherwise.

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  8. I commend the Bellvue Literary Review, a journal of fiction and nonfiction on the subjects of health, illness, and healing. Don’t be put off by its focus; “Literary” in the journal’s name is key. One of my favorite short stories is “White Space” by Amanda McCormick, BLR (spring 2009). It’s not about the white space used in manuscripts to denote shifts in time or place, but about the psychological trauma of surviving 9/11. The author avoids words like 9/11, terrorism, Al-Qaeda, or explosions, never uses them. Rather, she describes the faces and postures of New Yorkers after-the-fact and the workers along the streets piling rubble into dump trucks. The story is packed with emotions, including the narrator’s guilt for having been spared by a coincidence, when many of her co-workers were not. “WhIte Space” is also a good learning tool for its structure–how the narrator came to be out of the building when the planes hit is covered in about four sentences of the opening paragraph and one sentence at the end. Genius.


  9. Fool is my favorite culinary magazine. Published twice a year in Sweden, it contains stunning photography, engaging illustrations and fine writing about people you want to know. The next issue is overdue, so hopefully the next issue is on its way.

    Cherry Bombe, another biannual publication, is also a treat. Kerry Diamond, a co-founder, started the magazine because she felt that interesting women were left out of the food conversation. The pages devoted to food and fashion sound formulaic but is anything but.

    Lastly, Lucky Peach is much easier to acquire and – while it doesn’t look as highbrow – it is packed with original writing and drawings that manage to be silly and scholarly simultaneously while including off-beat recipes.


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