On a daily basis, I dream of walking the streets of New York City. I think about wandering through Central Park on lazy Sundays and sketching in the Museum Of Modern Art. It was because of this love for American city life that I originally began reading the New Yorker because a big chunk of it is mini reviews and information on the latest goings on about town.
But since I started reading it, the New Yorker has come to mean a lot more to me than that as a resource. It brings me a great deal of joy to be able to pause my busy week, purchase the latest issue and sit down somewhere quiet to peruse it. There’s a lot the New Yorker has to offer in its regular series of eclectic pieces and from those I have read so far, I have learned 10 very important things which I wanted to share with you.
1. The arts have more power than you realise
This is a century of fast-paced offices and snack bite social media, with ever increasing emphasis on not the humanities but instead business and the sciences. Whilst these things matter, the arts have never been more important to our little planet. The arts are how we shape and question our world and learn how to better develop it.
The New Yorker is always rife with examples of how literature especially, along with everything from jazz to linguistics, can begin to mould change. Opposed to always doing as I’m told, these pieces remind me that I have language so that I can speak and write for myself. When we make art we are making a bold statement of self government in that creativity, one that says we can dream up new systems should we want to.
2. There isn’t just one kind of ‘good writing’
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the only kind of writing to be successful is that which is remembered for hundreds of thousands of years. If you aren’t a Woolf or a Bronte, it might seem inevitable that you are always going to be nothing more than an adequate writer.
The reality is that there is far more than one way of writing. That’s why alongside the novel we have the short story, works of journalism and so many more. The New Yorker promotes all of these many forms, showcasing not just one type of good writing but all of its guises.
3. A picture is worth a thousand words
Every cover of the New Yorker is completely unique and designed by a different artist. It’s perhaps the best part of the whole reading experience to see what will be on the front each time. These iconic illustrations show that whilst we shouldn’t always judge a book (or magazine) by its cover, great art can also mean great pictures.
I love that illustration is taken as seriously as the heavier written pieces by authors with fairly big names. Nothing is ever considered too small or not good enough but instead, everything is on an equal footing which these covers always capture so completely.
4. Knowing about other places is important
Being spatially aware and knowing about other places and their cultures is the easiest way to combat confusion. Whilst I enjoy travelling to do this, when it isn’t possible to go on a trip the next best option is to read about those places and to find out more.
When our minds are opened to the lives of others around us and the places they inhabit every day, we are provided the mindset necessary to achieve incredible things. The New Yorker often features profiles of different cities and countries, as well as fiction exploring these spaces which is how I came to realise the particular importance of knowing about other places.
5. Reading for pleasure is often the best form of education
Another one on this list that might seem obvious but nevertheless, still an equally notable lesson. It is the reading we do in our leisure time that usually makes the biggest impact on us and so we remember these things most prominently.
Reading the New Yorker is always pleasurable for me because of its versatility and range, especially as it usually provides me with things to think about that I might never have before. In other words, it offers me a stepping stone from which I can progress to the next stage of my own further research. It becomes a never ending source of lessons to learn.
6. Poetry can be useful
Poems are scattered throughout the New Yorker, sometimes even being placed in the middle of a two page spread to act as a moment of relief from somewhat heavier topics. Always a fan of anything that rhymes or possesses a certain musical quality, the reminder that poetry can be meaningful and convey such a great deal has been very important to me.
Just as it is easy to think there is only one way of writing, so too does it become easy sometimes to dismiss poetry as a lesser art form. But reassuringly, journals like the New Yorker just emphasise the fact that poems capture so briefly what resonates with us most heavily.
7. What might seem like just one voice matters
No matter the topic discussed in New Yorker articles, and no matter who might be speaking, here one voice is regarded with complete respect. That respect creates an atmosphere in which ideas and inspiration can be nurtured to grow into something even more positive: Change and progress.
To quote the remarkable Malala Yousafzai, ‘one pen can change the world’. Every voice matters and that’s always a piece of information to be aware of if you want to fully embrace humanity for all of its best qualities.
8. Masterpieces don’t have to be 1000 pages long…
In length, the New Yorker is usually less than 100 pages and made up by the contributions of many people. It just goes to show that you don’t need to coin a million word anthology to be a writer, nor are masterpieces defined by how long the manuscript is.
9. Book recommendations are the best way to get out of a reading rut
Reading is my favourite thing in the world (in case you hadn’t already guessed that!) but sometimes I get stuck in a rut and don’t know where to start. Less a lesson but more something I like about this magazine is that there is always a book recommendation or 5 to set you on your way. It’s a gold mine for finding your new favourites and modern classics.
10. It’s more than ok to have things to say
Finally, and most importantly, the New Yorker has taught me that having a lot to say about a lot is a gift not a fault. Where people may tell you to hold your tongue or to wait your turn to speak, the New Yorker encourages cacophony and well thought out chaos so long as it is part of a conversation.
For so long I have often felt guilty for saying so much about so much but reading these pages, I feel at home and like I belong. It makes me eager to pursue my goals as a writer and provides me with the self value to keep working hard in the hopes that one day, I will be able to help someone reading my piece in a similar way.