It is really easy to make me subscribe to a newsletter. Current affairs, profiles, exclusive interviews; you name it, I’ve got my name on the subscriber list. This is a big problem too. Few months ago, I realized I subscribed to more newsletters than I could read. I neither had the time and sometimes my interest in a topic would’ve dimmed few weeks after I subscribed. As I examined my interests, I realized I do not open many of the popular (this list features some big newsletters too, btw) newsletters. I also began to notice patterns in the kind of newsletters that I gravitate towards—mostly the ones that tell/feature a good story or give me a dozen cool links to check. This is what led to this compilation of the best internet newsletters to subscribe to. Or perhaps I should have titled it as the best culture newsletters to subscribe?
As all lists usually are, this is a personal list from the many wonderful newsletters out there in the big internet world. It feels silly to give a disclaimer that this list is too short to feature every single awesome newsletter out there. I began listing 5 favourites and now the list has grown to 16. The newsletters mentioned below mostly tiptoe on culture and related topics. They are very very good and I think you might love them too.
I have a special affinity towards literary newsletters and they top the charts of my most opened newsletters, but I also found myself frequently hooked to these culture newsletters (some are literary-ish too. Forget labels here, they are great reads!). Newsletters always have a more special charm than say blog posts or an opinion piece. They feel fiercely personal when they land in your inbox with words from someone, a friend or a stranger, telling you marvelous things. In Nilanjana Roy’s words, “My inbox chimes with the arrival of newsletters from a few favourite authors, and this grey and shivery day is instantly brightened.” From email bulk-send to Tinyletter to the rise of the phenomenal Substack, newsletters are here to stay.
Best Culture newsletters to subscribe
Here are some of the best internet newsletters that I find myself opening very frequently, and actually reading and not bin-ing. You will find letters that inspire you to understand visuals and imagery, or go on a virtual shopping spree or even disrupt dinner plans.
1. Show and Tell
Nithya Subramanian’s Show and Tell is an infinite pleasure read. Her interest in semiotics led her to a gap that we aren’t taught to ‘read’ images and thus understand their power. Each edition of the newsletter “takes a particular visual or type of visual and breaks down its construction and associations, so as to better understand why it has the effect on us that it does.” Whenever Show and Tell lands in my inbox, I immediately click on it and keep it open over the day to read over and over again.
2. Nisha’s Internet Tote bag
Nisha Chittal is the managing editor at Vox and this Internet Tote Bag is best described as a sum total of everything interesting on the internet in a bottomless tote; just that you cannot get enough of it. It includes some of the best longform on the world wide web (RIP all the open tabs in your browser) and also gets personal with Chittals’s recommendations ranging from books to skin care. I’ve looked for recommendations from sunscreen to planner to simply something easy to cook; I think you would love it too.
3. The Internet Personified
Author Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan literally leaps from my inbox and pauses my day the moment her email arrives. Perhaps this is because of how the letter always seems like a conversation—wonderfully genuine and unique. Almost as if an old friend is here to tell you about her day even though you’ve never met except as a social media profile pic and now you both are too deep in the drama that you cannot really ask ‘Do we know each other?’. If you miss the good old days of personal blogs, if you feel like you could do with an internet friend who tells very long and interesting stories, if you would like a letter that leaves you completely invested in everything from Madhavan’s childhood crushes, kendriya vidyalayas, moving to Berlin, Delhi weather, visa woes, language learning, pandemics and airports, cats, thrifting, books (She has great taste that is not a repetition of ‘popular internet list 101’. For example this list), you need to subscribe to The Internet Personified immediately. I am obsessed with it.
Also Read : 10 best literary newsletters to subscribe for free
If you subscribe to a lot newsletters, you might always find a few awesome links doing the rounds in a couple of newsletters over the month. But in Recomendo, I always find something new, something very interesting, and I remain fascinated even if the topic in itself is not something I am super keen on. Recomendo recommends six cool stuff on the internet based on personal recommendations every week ranging from life hacks, internet hacks, products that are worth the money. Do I need to say more? I’ve taken their tip to always check reddit over google for product reviews very seriously.
5. Climate Matters
Freelance journalist and writer Neelima Vallangi’s Climate Matters grew from climate anxiety and her realization that “public is not sufficiently informed or worried about this pertinent issue today because of a huge gap in climate change communication.” She decided to take action to help spread awareness, and the result is this wonderful, well researched science & social commentary on climate change and climate justice, with a focus on India.
If you enjoy food and culture writing, Vittles is a magic lamp that keeps on giving. Every newsletter boasts of high-quality writing, beautiful illustrations, and a brief introduction on the topic. The only problem is that while vicariously living through these food experiences, you might crave to taste them too. Vittles is free but you can become a paying subscriber to support the work.
From the archives : The story of Indian biscuits , Searching for a truer version of Dubai through chai
7. Sweater Weather
Sweater Weather by author Brandon Taylor makes you wish it was a book of essays so that you can underline, dogear a page or two. Perhaps what draws me towards Taylor’s words are his unhinged thoughts. I’ve found myself agreeing, or with a puzzled expression trying to process the ideas. Sometimes these essays go right over my head but every time I find it impossible to look away. His writing challenges the homogenized internet think pieces, in ways that make you uncomfortable, questioning yourself, disagreeing or simply mouthing ‘somebody gets it (and writes it)’. Such writing that challenges, and teases your intellect is truly the foundation to think, question and move forward. I spent hours ruminating on one of my favourite essays about how we try to optimize wordle (PS: I am a devoted Wordle enthusiast) where Taylor also states that questions on reading/books on social media as—“they have spent so much time on the platform that they are acting out the algorithm’s optimization behavior without even realizing it.”
From the archives: anna karenina is a negro spiritual
Also Read : The most beautiful book blogs to follow
8. The Pudding
The Pudding has one of the coolest newsletters (and website) on the internet. They publish very interesting and unique stories presented with data study and visuals in addictive outlines. Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour reading about a study of pockets in clothes for men and women or examining the bias in the beauty industry based on the names of complexion products.
9. Maybe Baby
I love Maybe Baby, a weekly culture newsletter about many things including personal essays, culture critiques, interviews and an irresistible list of 15 things consumed each week by founder Haley Nahman, a culture writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Nahman does not keep rules on the topics explored in the Sunday newsletter but describes herself as “interested in self-delusion, cognitive bias, mass media, and how our lives are shaped by all three”. Maybe Baby has both free and paid versions.
From the archives : Why do we aspire to live alone, Sample platter: Most popular newsletters from Maybe Baby
10. Not Controversial
Previously titled Perceptive Madness, the recently rebranded weekly newsletter Not Controversial by Nia attempts to destigmatize discussions that are often hushed up. She talks about money, the glorification (and the other side) of hustle economy, productivity and pop culture criticism. This is a newsletter that leaves you with something to chew on until the next edition drops.
11. The Ann Friedman Weekly
One of the best internet newsletters that combs the internet for gems of writing. I leave each edition of the newsletter feeling slightly more intelligent and also more aware how little I know about stuff. Did I mention it is always served with pie (chart)? The weekly newsletter is free but you can also be a paying subscriber.
12. A Home for Homeless Thoughts
For those who love beauty and #slowliving, Priyanka Sacheti’s A Home for Homeless Thoughts is a wonderful companion. Sacheti’s letters burst with nature, trees in bloom, dried flowers, dear diary moments, art in the everyday, poetry, sojourns, and hope. Often a perfect marriage of words and images, this newsletter is an ode to solitude, and long walks; for those who love to take the time to stand still and savour this world.
13. Culture Study
Culture Study by Anne Helen Peterson, true to the name, is a study on culture (Quoting from the intro on the website “Culture can expand to include pretty much anything. Politics can be culture, celebrity can be culture, tourism and feminism and consumerism and work practices”) through essays, reported writing and interviews. Peterson also extends her platform to other writers with different perspectives to express their views. Founded in 2016 under the name The Collected AHP when Peterson “missed the casual, digression-heavy style of early blogging,” Culture Study might be what you are missing if you feel disillusioned by limited attention spans and fleeting tweets. Culture Study has free and paid versions.
From the archives : A case of Zoom dysmorphia, Culture Takeover : Houseplants as a Means of Black Joy and Queer Resistance
Best internet newsletters with cool links
I love a newsletter that delivers cool, interesting links that I might otherwise miss out on. The newsletters mentioned in the previous section are great, no doubt. But if you simply do not have the time to read a whole ‘letter’, and you want to take the short cut of a quick glimpse, and still leaves you with a couple of interesting tabs on your browser, I’ve got you covered. Here are some internet newsletters that promise quick reads on your coffee break.
14. Lunch Hour links
Lunch Hour Links by Miranda, Helen and Vic is a favourite of mine. It is a list of links, carefully curated, “to keep you away from the Facebook news feed when you are eating lunch”. It is always a quick read, which means perfect if you are short of time, and always promises good links that you might’ve missed, always presented with the catchiest subject lines.
15. A thing or Two
A thing or Two by Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur delivers ten finds (book, a new face cream, rugs, a thought-provoking interview, a recipe? anything) to your inbox every Monday.
From the archives : A thing or two we are doing besides cleaning up, A thing or two we are doing besides emulating Diana fashion
16. Laura Olin
Laura Olin’s newsletter is about “some lovely and/or meaningful things on the internet” and it is one of those emails that I immediately click on. With ten links including a short poem, this newsletter will surely give you at least one thing to smile about over the day.
From the archives : Get off the internet, Defining cuts, glowing orbs, and a fox called Alice
The Book Satchel Newsletter
I send out a monthly newsletter which is an assorted mixed bag. Usually I recommend you something to read and watch. The letter also features 4-5 very cool stories from the internet blackhole that you might’ve missed—photo essays, graphic essays, interviews, essays on creativity and think pieces. It is great from what I hear x
The coolest newsletters that are 100% worth your time. Curate your inbox with awesomeness! Click To Tweet
I hope you enjoyed this list of best internet newsletters. If I have left out your favourite, do share them in the comments.
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