200+ newsletters: a crowdsourced list of must-read emails

200+ newsletters: a crowdsourced list of must-read emails

Editor’s note: We originally published this list of must-read newsletters in 2019 — and it’s been one of our most popular articles ever since. We’ve updated the list for 2021, with crowdsourced newsletter recommendations across 21 categories and fresh insights into what readers want to see in their inboxes.

June 27, 2019

Social media’s algorithmic feeds and paid promotions haven’t delivered on a promise to help users find the most relevant content, and messaging platforms have introduced even more clutter. But email is open, flexible, and reliable — “one of the most boringly powerful publishing platforms” — and thought leaders who used to spend all their time blogging or tweeting are increasingly likely to curate top links and share their best insights in newsletter form. Meanwhile, new email platforms like Substack and Buttondown are making it easier for writers to launch simple newsletters and make money from subscriptions. And a growing wariness of large platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Slack may inspire more people to use their email inboxes as customized news feeds and social networks.

Smart email newsletters deliver insights that can help you spot trends and opportunities; the right mix of high-value subscriptions can help you stay ahead of the curve. We’ve discovered some of our favorite publications from word-of-mouth recommendations. That’s why we asked Lab Report readers and our extended network to tell us what’s in their inboxes: the emails they look forward to receiving, the ones they pay for, their favorite lesser-known newsletters, and the publications they would love to read — if only they existed.

Inboxes are a personal space, and the types of newsletters you read can reveal a lot about who you are and what you value. We noticed a few themes about the newsletters you like most.

Connecting dots between analogous spaces. We were overwhelmed with responses — we stopped counting after we reached 200 — across a wide range of industries and topic areas. Finding the right categories for this diverse list of newsletters was an enormous challenge; some of the most interesting newsletters connect dots across topics and don’t fit neatly into a single genre. But that’s not a bad thing; when it comes to newsletters, defying categorization can be a strong advantage. When we asked about “dream newsletters,” many survey respondents suggested ideas for combining disparate topics or mashing up existing publications — like “TLDR for global health” or “Quartz Obsessions for geopolitics.”

Going deep with trusted experts and reliable sources. Newsletters are often the most efficient and effective way to get up to speed quickly and keep tabs on a specific topic. Many respondents recommended a mix of general news and niche newsletters. As industries evolve and news coverage changes, newsletters also shift. A year ago, we probably wouldn’t have placed space newsletters in their own separate category; most have launched within the past 12-14 months.

Navigating the onslaught of news to avoid FOMO. No one wants to miss an essential story, but no one wants to spend hours sifting through the news every day. The most-mentioned newsletters (*marked with an asterisk in the list below) include daily headlines and topical newsletters from major media outlets like the New York Times and MIT Technology Review, as well as newer players like Quartz and Axios. But readers don’t only rely on large media outlets to deliver news and insights. We received so many recommendations for “personal musings and link-letters” that we made an entire category for emails written by a single person with a strong point of view; many of those writers curate a selection of links that reflect their personal perspective.

We’ve designed our own Lab Report newsletter to provide thoughtful insights, deep expertise, and smart curation. Browse the archives and sign up to receive it in your inbox.

The complete crowdsourced list of newsletters is below. Is your favorite newsletter missing from this list? Email editor@luminary-labs.com to let us know what you’re reading.

News and politics

Leadership, management, and self-improvement

Business, finance, and economics

Startups and VCs

Industry and consumer trends

Marketing and media


Healthcare and health tech

Science and Math


Data science and data journalism

Futurism and emerging technology

Cities and transportation

Civic tech

Social impact

Making and manufacturing


Culture, creativity, and curiosity

Lifestyle and wellness

Personal musings and link-letters

Unapologetically NYC

* Newsletters marked with an asterisk received the most mentions in our survey.


Jessica Hibbard
Head of Content & Community
Sara Holoubek
Founding Partner and CEO