Utne receives some 1,200 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, and zines. Add in hundreds of books, CDs, and DVDs, and it's a flood of media that lines the walls of our library and piles high on our desks. All the ideas, people, and stories inspire lively daily chatter, but they can't all fit into our bimonthly magazine. So we share the gems here in our weekly editions of 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of the independent and alternative media.
In an attempt to confront, and seemingly disestablish, the 'very limited monoculturalist view of sex' that's brewing in the United States, the July/August edition of HopeDance throws the doors of sexuality wide open. No subject is too risqu? for these pages: sacred prostitutes, a farmer's land buzzing with reproductive frenzy, a woman who's had enough with public masturbators. Also included are editorials on pornography, later-in-life intimacy, and much more. By and large, pieces avoid mining for shock value, focusing instead on presenting information and stories frankly, showcasing examples of how they'd like to see sexual discussion evolve. -- Rachel Anderson
'Letting go' is the motto of many a spiritual journeyer, and it's also one of the dominant themes of the Fall issue of Tricycle, the quarterly Buddhist review. Judy Lief maps out the path to leaving the past behind in pursuit of the present in her feature, 'Letting Go,' and Lama Tsony boils things down to that mantra when it comes to being 'too scared to get on the cushion' to meditate ('Facing Fear'). Even existing harmoniously with fundamentalist Christian neighbors, writes Sallie Jiko Tisdale in 'Beloved Community,' requires one to let go of the desire to find common ground and instead embrace what makes groups different. -- Rachel Anderson
The Winter/Spring 2006 issue of Rail somehow went off its track and landed in our pile of new magazines. Published by the Community Transportation Association of America, this quarterly comes to us replete with a pictorial history of 19th century railcars and an update on the restoration of rail service in New Orleans -- from its historic streetcars to Amtrak's City of New Orleans. Elsewhere, the cover story shows a revamped Alaska Railroad, with new dome cars offering passengers a staggeringly beautiful panoramic view of the mountains from 20 feet above the ground. -- Miriam Skurnick
The yogi's companion, ascent, sets itself apart from your average glossy with a slightly wider breadth and more substantial paper stock. One may even be too distracted by the elegant layout and sophisticated graphics to notice that the pages within ascent's covers are a simple black and white. The winner of last year's Utne Independent Press Award for spiritual coverage, ascent features engaging writing that can range from playful to thoughtful without seeming flip or didactic. In 'the art of intuitive reading' in the Fall issue, author sparrow (a perennial Utne favorite ($$)) relays his process-oriented method of study, which allows one to explore the annals of literature without becoming frustrated for lack of understanding or excessive time investments. The striking illustrations for the article were done by Lint Museum. -- Suzanne Lindgren
The cover of Backwoods Home Magazine, with its bubbly orange lettering, lends itself to comparison with the childhood book series favorite, My Big Backyard. And the parallels don't stop there: While Backwoods is certainly for an adult audience, it is about making one's way with very little help in nature's oft-overwhelming back yard. Unpretentious and irreverent to stereotypes, the September/October issue conveys recipes for both chanterelle mushroom dishes and biodiesel, elsewhere touting the health benefits of ginger and allowing Masaad Ayoob his usual space to weigh in on firearms. -- Suzanne Lindgren