Why Modern Serial

Email newsletters have exploded in popularity, but let's face it: there is much better writing out there.

Shakespeare, Lao Tzu, Nietzsche, Thoreau. The right book at the right moment can change your life or expose you to an idea you would never have discovered otherwise. And there are more books with that potential than any of us can ever get through.

Most of us wish to read more books, but our lives are so busy that we rarely find the time. Meanwhile, our inboxes fill up with newsletters—with names like "Steve's Saturday Highlights" and "Three-Things Thursday"—and we tear through them, week after week.

Yes, some newsletters are fantastic, but the truth is that many are low-value and thrown together carelessly. In many cases, authors start newsletters not to enrich the lives of their readers but to build a fanbase to sell to down the line.

Even so, newsletters grow and grow because, despite their downsides, they have a few significant benefits over other forms of writing:

  • They appear in the email inbox—a place most of us regularly check.
  • New messages are marked "unread," making them hard to ignore until opened.
  • They're short enough to read in a single sitting.

These are great psychological motivators. But what if we could leverage them to read something actually worth reading?

Enter Modern Serial. Now you can read classics like Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Pride and Prejudice, or The Federalist Papers in under thirty minutes a week, as email newsletters.

That amount of reading may seem tiny, but with consistency, it adds up! If you read our newsletters three days a week, you'll finish between three and five classic books by the end of the year. (The exact number depends on the length of the books you choose, of course.)

Interested? The first step is to explore our collection:


Who built this?

Modern Serial is made and run by me, Andrew Edstrom.

The template for the book covers was designed by Mohnish Soundararajan.

We source our ebooks and the paintings used in the book covers from Standard Ebooks, a volunteer-driven project that produces excellent digital versions of public domain works.