Books & Magazines

Finally, Verily

While I was in New York this summer, I spent time with many wonderful women, including Ashley Crouch, Relationship Editor at Verily magazine, and some of the ladies who run the Murray Hill Institute. Murray Hill’s slogan, Women transforming culture, could just as well be Verily’s. I’m glad to bring them both together in this review of the magazine that I wrote for the Murray Hill newsletter (watch for it at the end of October).

     There are dozens of women’s interest magazines in circulation in North America, but current stats show that women’s magazines are leading an overall decline of newsstand sales. Are we just too busy to read anything these days? Maybe we’re overwhelmed by the plethora of publications out there, and so choose to read nothing at all? Or are we just plain sick and tired of the content in most women’s magazines? As one blogger declares, “I don’t read magazines anymore. They aren’t real.”
     All in all, it doesn’t seem like a great time to be in the magazine business. Or it could be the perfect time, if you are stout-hearted, super-savvy, passionately committed, and firmly convinced that women want more and deserve more than the offerings of Cosmo and Glamour.
     Welcome Verily, a women’s magazine that launched its teaser issue in the spring of 2012. Its mission, Kara Eschbach states in her Letter from the Editor, is “to help women lead integrated, fulfilling lives” by “exploring authentic femininity in the 21st century.”

 Cover of Verily’s teaser issue

     In a recent interview with The Christophers’ Tony Rossi, Eschbach pointed out that in today’s culture, women are often made to feel they must make a choice “between two polar opposites: either exploiting their bodies or suppressing their femininity.”
     “Verily,” Rossi writes, “offers a third way. It provides a well-rounded look at modern women who are three-dimensional human beings with a wide variety of interests, experiences, and life situations.”
     A scan of Verily‘s teaser issue reveals the gamut of topics that affect women today. The Style section features spring trends and “style crushes”; the Relationships section offers dating tips that include the male perspective (“From the Gents: First-date Turn-offs”), and personal essays about arranged marriage (“Between Two Worlds”) and the death of a beloved father (“Love Is Stronger than Death”). Under Culture, there are short reviews of current music, books and films, as well as a lengthier article about a popular British television series (“The Women of Downton Abbey”). The Lifestyle section contains career, financial, travel, and culinary advice. The issue’s two main features are intriguing, interesting, and colourful—both literally and figuratively: an in-depth article on “green” sex; and a 12-page fashion spread featuring the season’s prettiest pastels.
     Whimsical, breezy, and thoughtful by turns, all the articles read like the sort of counsel you would get from a group of smart, hip women who just happen to be your best friends. As contributor and blogger Sophie Caldecott observes, “All the stuff you might expect, but somehow… different. You finish reading it feeling good about yourself – not in a shallow way, but as if you’ve just had your womanhood reaffirmed.”
     Not only does it provide “food for the heart and mind” as one Twitter follower says; there’s also lots of candy for the eyes.Verily packs all of its great content into one beautiful package. The issue is brilliantly designed, cleverly combining white space with bold, fresh colour and utilizing a clean, crisp typeface that makes for easy, pleasurable reading.
     While staff are hard at work on the next issue, they are also keeping the Verily blog buzzing with daily posts on relationships, lifestyle, and fashion. Readers are regaled with updates from Fashion Week events, inspired to try something new like volunteer or exercise, and invited to weigh in on topics like “Is it gossiping or just venting?” and the war between the sexes.
     The word magazine is derived from the Arabic machsan, meaning “treasure.” By exploring all the richness of womanhood, Verily is one magazine that lives up to its etymological roots.
     Ladies, we’ve waited a long time for this.

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