Let ‘The Sun’ In

By Ed O'Reilly on 25 August 2007 (Updated 18 August 2011) 4 comments

I used to subscribe to a bunch of magazines, almost all being about a specific topic. When I moved, I cancelled each subscription… except one.

The Sun’ is a unique publication about a variety of ideas, issues and personal stories. Alive with sublime essays, poignant readers’ letters and enlightening interviews, it remains the one magazine I’ve looked forward to reading each month for over 17 years.

I first stumbled upon an issue that belonged to my dad – a voracious reader of spiritual, psychological and philosophical tomes – who was on a mission to find deeper meaning in his life. Rarely will I read a magazine cover-to-cover, but the material was so diverse and riveting, I was hungry for more by the end of the issue. Luckily, being the pack-rat that he was, he had many back issues I could peruse.

Eventually, I stopped being a such a cheapskate and got my own subscription, adding it to a small (but growing) list of publications arriving monthly at my apartment. For years the magazines would accumulate in piles of varying sizes (depending on my motivation to sift thru them) but after a while, of course, most needed to go out for recycling. By the time I was ready to move, I had whittled it all down to a small collection – but had every issue of The Sun since 1991.

Why does this one publication stand out, to me? I think the answer lies in its simplicity of how it serves up slices of life: its ad-free, subscriber-supported format is text and photographs from artists, writers and readers – a chronicle of each contributor’s experience of being human. It’s always thought-provoking, sometimes disturbing and often very moving.

By contrast, I find that most other magazines exist not so much to inform but more to create a need in you for something, then offer a solution (usually in the form of some kind of purchase on your part). Most “health” or “beauty” magazines (and, tangentially, others that address some niche like computers, dogs, bicycles, “celebrities”, etc.) contain articles that allude to a product you don’t have, but should. If the content seems to be driven by advertising, what does this say about the message in the articles?

To say that my life has gone thru a few changes in the past couple of years is an understatement. The stories in ‘The Sun’ help me keep things in perspective by reminding me that we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

It’s hard to find ‘The Sun’ in newsstands or bookstores, but you can get a sample issue for $5 (extra shipping cost if you live outside the US).

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Jessica Okon's picture

I'm going to go check them out Ed.

Definitely support the independent & small press people! Not to mention the rare, sadly, independent bookseller!

My favorites are
The Believer
and
Oxford American

Guest's picture
Guest

"The Sun is to publishing what Ben and Jerry's is to ice cream and A Prairie Home Companion is to radio: quietly revolutionary, selectively anachronistic, unfashionably idealistic."

Can't go wrong with Home Prairie.

Guest's picture
Ted K.

We, too, have been Sun subscribers for several years, although originally I used to make a monthly ritual of purchasing it at a local bookstore and reading much of it right there in the adjacent coffee shop.

The Sun's content - stories, interviews, articles, photos, and poems - touches many shared experiences and concerns, and also, with its "Readers Write" section, it is wonderfully interactive.

Some readers have accused the Sun of leaning to the dark side, as does my wife, who nevertheless reads it as thoroughly as I do.

We both look forward to each new issue.

Ed O'Reilly's picture

Nice to see some fans.

I think it's a special magazine that tells it like it is; and if that means that sometimes there is a dark side to a story, then I think it's relevant and important. For me, that's part of gaining perspective.

If part (or all) of the reason we're here is to learn more about ourselves, to find meaning in our lives and maybe help others along the way, then I'd say that pretty much sums up the overall theme of 'The Sun'.