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Volunteer Karolina blogs about two of her favorite literary journals: One Story and Barrelhouse.

Before I say what I’m about to say, I’d like to preface it with the point that I am not against reading novels, collections, plays or essays. I very much like to read all of those—I like to read anything, in fact—I’m one of those people who reads even the cereal box or shampoo bottle. But sometimes life gets a little hectic, and you don’t have as much time or patience to do some longer or more intricate reading, and maybe you go a while without reading anything, and you justify this by telling yourself that at least you’ve been walking the dog, or you had to take the cat to the vet—at least, that’s what I do.

An easy solution, I’ve found, is to pick up a literary magazine, or, better yet, subscribe (because then you get it regularly without the hassle of having to go out and purchase it). Lately, I’ve been really enjoying them because, besides some quality literature, it’s a no-pressure read. You can sit down for fifteen minutes and enjoy a story or essay or poem, and then, there’s a natural pause because, though sometimes connected by themes, each piece is an individual piece by a different author and meant to be read by itself. Here’s a summary of two of my favorite journals to read (what they are and why I enjoy them):

One Story: One Story was introduced to me as a gift subscription from a fellow story-lover. It’s a tri-weekly journal that prints, you guessed it, one story. This magazine is 5-by-7 inches, and usually around 20 pages—perfect for toting around with you to read on office breaks, during horrible rush-hour commutes or while waiting in long lines for Chipotle. Not only that, but each story is high quality (many stories published in One Story have received awards) and works as a stand-alone piece. And, if you happen to really love the story as I often do, you can read a Q&A with the author on One Story’s website plus other archived stories and interviews. The magazine also happens to help promote previously-published authors by providing regular updates about upcoming book publications and their One Story’s Literary Debutante Ball. You can keep up with One Story’s goings-on and discuss stories with contributors and other One Story lovers on their blog. So what do I think about a magazine that publishes a great single story every few weeks (that I definitely have time to read), and promotes literature and literary discussion? Though I was lucky enough to receive this journal as a gift, I’ll definitely be subscribing myself when my gift runs out.

Barrelhouse: “Fiction. Poetry. Pop Flotsam. Cultural Jetsam.” That’s the Barrelhouse promise, and they certainly deliver. Bi-annually, Barrelhouse publishes quirky yet poignant poetry and prose on a different theme each issue. Their self-professed message is to “bridge the gap between serious art and pop culture.” Everything in the magazine and website is edgy, funny or both. What’s not to love? And if you want to get more involved, you can take an 8-week fiction or poetry workshop with Barrelhouse. Or you can go to their annual Conversations and Connections writer’s conference. They also recently launched a reading series called Stories on Stage, one event of which I attended and blogged about here. If quirky, cool, edgy literature is your thing, Barrelhouse is worth a read—and a few good laughs!

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