The Best Literary Magazines to Read to Improve Your Own Writing

Paulette Perhach

The good people at Every Writer’s Resource rank the best literary magazines in the country using twenty data points, including how long the publication has been around and how often the work they publish is anthologized.

They gave the top ten spots to these magazines, which you should definitely check out:

  • The New Yorker. No introduction necessary. It’s technically a commercial rather than a literary magazine, but its greatness is known globally. It was started in the 1920s, has more than a million people reading it, and may make you feel like a speck of dirt on the back of a literary giant. It’s a weekly, so if you subscribe, you’ll be able to build a fort out of your unread copies within a year.
  • Ploughshares. Since its founding in 1971, it’s been honored with more national anthologies for work it’s published than any other magazine except the above, making it the highest-ranked university noncommercial literary magazine.
  • The Paris Review. This extremely fancy publication started in 1953 and holds clout worldwide. One of the best resources for new writers is its amazing stock of writers’ interviews dating back to the 1950s, including advice from Lydia Davis, T. S. Eliot, and Ernest Hemingway.
  • Tin House. This newish addition to the literary landscape, started in 1998, fast rose to being one of the best in new- school literary publishing. It’s been honored more in the last few decades than many magazines that have been out for a century. All the cool kids are reading it. They sadly stopped printing in 2019, but older copies are available, and they will continue to publish online.
  • New England Review. This magazines staff say they give serious writing serious attention. They publish nonfiction and poetry, as well as traditional and experimental fiction.
  • Granta. You get pretty good at these things when you start in 1889, as Granta did. The Observer wrote of the quarterly, “In its blend of memoirs and photojournalism, and in its championing of contemporary realist fiction, Granta has its face pressed firmly against the window, determined to witness the world.”
  • Harper’s Magazine. Home of the hilarious and frightening Harper’s Index and Findings, Harper’s is a commercial magazine founded in 1850 with more than two hundred thousand readers.
  • Kenyon Review. This review, started in 1939, not only publishes a magazine but also produces a monthly podcast.
  • The Georgia Review. Founded at the University of Georgia in 1947, this publication has won a long list of awards. While it started as a regional publication, it now focuses on the best writing from anywhere.
  • The Southern Review. Started in 1935 with the help of Robert Penn Warren, this quarterly is published by Louisiana State University.

I know it can be hard to choose, but I recommend reading at least one top ten literary magazine at a time.

Paulette Perhach

Written by

Paulette Perhach has been published at The New York Times, ELLE, Marie Claire, and Cosmo.

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