I treat my inbox like I treat my home. I try to keep it free from clutter and full of things that bring me joy. I curate its contents, adding newsletters and Substacks that give me a laugh or a moment of pause or something to think about in the middle of the day. I use it like a to-do list. Anything that’s there is something I mean to read or respond to or do. Everything else gets deleted or filed into an appropriate folder. It might seem a little neurotic to have an elaborate filing system for e-mail, but this is a space, albeit a virtual one, where we spend hours of lives. We carry it in our pockets. It is so much less stressful to look at handful of emails than it is to scroll through thousands.
As such, I take unsubscribing seriously. I remove myself from mailing lists that send too many reminders and promotions. I avoid contests that I know will result in an influx of advertisements from adaptogenic juice companies and cleanses. There is never a mention of diet culture or a hint of anything to do with weight loss.
There are so many writers and thinkers creating great content to fill your inbox with instead. Here are some of my favorites. Many of the newsletters listed have paid membership options that include additional content, but everything I am discussing here is available for free.
Girls’ Night In – Alisha Ramos and her team put out a highly curated weekly newsletter with recommendations, tips, tricks, and deep dives centered around downtown, self care, and wellness. It never feels too gimmicky or like it’s pushing sponsored content.
Gloria – Gloria is Girls’ Night In’s older sister, or maybe it’s a cool bohemian aunt. A smart, weekly newsletter for grown women who are thinking about children, aging, and perimenopause. It’s Leslie Price and Michelle Curb’s take on getting older with humor and style.
Feminist/ Current Events
The Audacity – Roxanne Gay’s newsletter is as good as you’d think it would be, featuring weekly thoughts and well chosen roundups of timely information and articles from across the web, biweekly quality essays from emerging writers chosen by Gay, and a monthly book club.
Ann Friedman – Ann Friedman, who I found via her now-discontinued podcast with Aminatou Sow, Call Your Girlfriend, is one of the most established and experienced newsletter producers out there. She been highlighting great content every week with wit and whimsy since 2013.
Feminist Giant – Mona Eltahawy’s bitingly smart essays, cultural commentary and criticism, and global roundups of important events and happenings make FG indispensable.
Beyond the Box – Is it gauche to mention the Feminist Book Club newsletter? Caution to the wind! Get a round up of our blog posts, catch up on our podcasts, and you can even see what we’re reading.
Emma Straub – Author of many novels and owner of Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, NY, Emma Straub sends fantastic book recommendations and thoughtful musings.
Craft Talk – Jami Attenberg is a beautiful writer. This newsletter talks about her process in a way that’s interesting to people who aren’t knee deep in their creative projects, but it often serves as a pep talk for someone who is. It also serves as the home to her 1000wordsofsummer, where, she challenges participants to write 1000 words a day together for two weeks–and cheers them on in the process.
Memoir Monday – Every week, editors from Catapult, Granta, Guernica, Narratively, The Rumpus, Literary Hub, and Oldster Magazine highlight the best first-person writing online.
Pome – Currently on hiatus, but worth signing up for to receive when it is back, Pome is one well-chosen poem in your inbox daily. It is a moment of calm and reflection that I miss when its creator, Matthew Ogle, takes a break.
Non-diet Culture Fitness
She’s a Beast – Casey Johnston aka Ask A Swole Woman, who has worked for several mainstream publications before moving to her own newsletter, is a delightful departure from most fitness content creators. She very accurately describes her writing as “science-based yet chill.” She talks about lifting weights and getting strong, not getting small; calls out hypocrisy in the health and fitness space; and is inspiring and fun to read.
There are so many more options out there. I like Intrepid, about women adventurers. There are so many smart lady cooks sharing recipes. Dorie Greenspan, Alison Roman and Ruth Reichl are some of my favorites. For whatever niche interest, there is likely someone out there writing about it weekly.
I’m not saying that there’s a life changing magic in signing up, but there is a way to make your e-mail inbox a more pleasant place to rest your eyes.