Culture in your inbox: Newsletters for the busy millennial
Here’s the paradox of life in 2018: there’s so much to do, so little time to do it in and so few ways to pick out exciting online and offline activities from the barrage of events.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by it all and yet wonder how other people manage to stay on top of cool music, books, events and ideas.
Here’s help. These newsletters offer a pick of the mix, curating whatever you’re passionate about but don’t have enough time for, and sending it right into your inbox. Take a look:
Be a bookworm
There will always be more to read than you can handle in your lifetime. But perhaps Deepanjana Pal’s newsletter, Palinoia, can help you pick what you really shouldn’t miss.
The Mumbai-based author, book reviewer and journalist’s weekly newsletter is only seven editions old with 300 subscribers but geared to get time-strapped readers to find the best books. “It’s hard for people to find out about new releases unless you go to a bookstore and see the new displays,” Pal says.
Her newsletter includes not only new offerings from major publishers but also books that have interested her. “I’m a bit of a bookworm so giving recommendations comes naturally to me,” Pal says. Her most recent newsletter included her review of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, and recommended Jed Rubenfeld’s, The Interpretation of Murder. Pal has an engaging style; she doesn’t hold back her opinions, giving her newsletter a personal voice.
“I want to convince my subscribers to pick a book,” Pal says. Subscribe here.
Songs with stories
Bhavika Bhatia, a 23-year old graphic designer from Mumbai, started Jukebox Mash in October, “to make people listen to songs in forms of stories”.
The weekly newsletter helps discover new music through themes such as Songs for a Monday After a Sunday, Some Funks To Give, or Dancing Around the Kitchen with a Frying Pan as a Partner. “I associate songs with memories and places and since I was cooking on a Sunday, I made a playlist,” Bhatia says.
The curation seems easy, but isn’t. “I’ll never add a song I haven’t heard before,” she claims. “I also follow a sequence – to ensure the playlists gets people grooving.” The list includes one Indian artist or band every week for listeners to appreciate Indian music beyond Bollywood hits. She has 600 subscribers as of now.
Bhatia once got a request to curate a personal playlist for someone’s birthday. In the coming months, expect festive playlists, or even mid-week specials. Subscribe here.
Discover new music
Do you have that one friend who you’re always looking to for music recommendations? Yooti Bhansali, a 33-year-old freelance writer from Mumbai was that person to her friends. “They depended on me for getting new music,” she says.
Bhansali often stumbled upon new sounds and artists on The61.com, a now-defunct website. Then, in 2016, she started a music blog, to impress a crush, but ended up far more impressed with her work than the crush.
Last April, Bhansali launched Song Story Short, a music newsletter. It features 12 songs every month, with descriptions, her comments and a link to the YouTube playlist. It now has about 1,000 subscribers and Bhansali hopes it will eventually help her organise listening sessions in the city. Subscribe here.
Poetry in motion
The Alipore Post is a daily newsletter for poetry, art and music. Rohini Kejriwal, editor at Design Fabric, has been sending it out for three years.
She says her romance with poetry began in her boarding school in Andhra Pradesh. Growing up with no access to the internet, she ended up spending hours reading poetry in the library. The Alipore Post isn’t restricted to poetry. A poem may often be accompanied by a beautiful illustration, along with links to music, art and articles. The newsletter has 1,800 subscribers.
In September last year, The Alipore Post organised its first offline event in Bangalore, where Kejriwal moved from Kolkata. “There were workshops, books to browse through, poetry session, music and food, and it was exciting to see people smile. It brought together a community with shared interests,” she added. “I’m looking to experiment with more themes and maybe organise it in different categories,” she says.
Shortcut to longform
Kat’s Kable, arrives weekly and rounds up ten long-form pieces from the internet. Vishal Katariya, 22, launched it in July 2016 during his undergraduate studies in India. He is now pursuing his PhD in Physics in the USA.
“It started off as interesting things people I know will like to read,” Katariya said. He used to email articles to friends until some of them suggested he turn it into a newsletter. “I enjoy reading long articles so it’s never been a task for me to curate,” Kataria says.
The pieces cover science, technology, polities, literature and culture and come from sites are varied as The New Yorker, Wired, National Geographic, Nautilus, and even journals. Subscribers who offer feedback often become friends. “A lot of them read it while commuting. If you’re spending time on the internet, you may as well spend it reading things,” he says.
The newsletter sent out its 100th edition on January 1, 2018, and has a little over 400 subscribers. Subscribe here.