Here's a look at the periodicals I read every month (or when published) and why:
Modified. Car magazine leaning towards the import tuner segment. I go for this one because I myself tend towards Japanese or European street car tuning as opposed to American muscle cars or exotics, it isn't so yo-boy with excessive hip-hop and girl coverage, and it covers more real racing and tuning for racing than the other magazines do. There IS a whole culture associated with import tuning and I'm not suggesting it be ignored, I just find most magazines to focus way too much on that stuff. I used to buy Racer magazine (not available where I live now) and I tune into the Speed Channel quite a bit for non-NASCAR races, this is one of the few periodicals that aims at THAT sort of thing with more than just a cursory glance. There are better magazines at what they do than Modified (like the UK's EVO magazine) but they are too focused on specific cars or nationalities. I really only want to spend on one car rag a month.
Masters Magazine. Martial arts magazine heavy on interviews and skewing towards traditional arts as opposed to more recent stuff like MMA. The other newstand offerings are full on non-traditonal stuff and loads of ads for charlatans and bullshit. Black Belt and its ilk are so scattered and whorish that a reader has no idea what to believe. Masters magazine is incredibly repetitive issue to issue. The practitioners they interview espouse almost the exact same philosophies so you aren't learning a lot of new practical ideas. Instead you get a lot of insight into personalities and history. And the repeated themes that come up rather tend to reinforce that much of what is taught in traditional martial arts are universal, core values. There are even more informative periodicals available on the internet, but I don't have time to really hunt that stuff down every time there is a new issue. Masters only comes out quarterly, so interviews don't get so repetitive I can't stand it. And the DVD that comes with each one really helps you see what these guys are all about. Nothing shows you a 'master' like watching him do his stuff.
Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. Heavy metal and hard rock magazine. Okay. As important as music is to me, I've been through A LOT of music magazines. Occasionally I'll buy another title if it looks like it has something to offer, even if it isn't metal-focused. I actually miss Industrial Nation A LOT. But BWBK has an unbelievable amount of info in each issue, even to having to use full-length sidebars on many of the pages. I prefer it because it doesn't focus on the more flamboyant aspects of the metal scene. I mean that shit is fun in its way, but bad boy behavior, trash talk, and controversy can still all be dealt with in a way that at least resembles journalism rather than out-and-out reveling in it. There are actually decent articles on the subject in a lot of metal mags, but since I buy only one, this one gets the nod for being somewhat above the grue despite the book's title. I actually find it worth chasing down and subscribing too, since no local bookstore carries it here, though we do have a Barnes & Noble and I know that shop carries it in some locales. This one comes with a music disc too.
Play. Video game magazine. The whys and wherefores of buying this one probably need their own entry. The short answer is that there are a lot of video game rags but most of them are absolute crap... driven like no other reporting media by their advertisers. Many of the biggest best-produced magazines (I'm looking at you, Edge and other UK periodicals) get totally bogged down in developer bullshit and a lot of high-minded programmer-speak. It is almost impossible to tell if anything is actually any fun. Play, at least comes closest to my personal mindset on games and while thin on its amount of coverage, at least tends to emphasize the kind of stuff I like.
Gentlemen's Quarterly. That's right, fucking GQ. Ugh. This is my sin that I must hide from those who actually know me. Although I have a rather specific personal style, I find a lot of the ideas about style and fashion to be pretty useful especially for situations where being a rocker-type needs to be toned down. There's articles covering a lot of other lifestyle and news issues, which I usually find entertaining (largely because of the sarcastic slightly upper-class view) even if I don't always agree with the writers. Living where I do, it is amazing anyone here even buys this thing-- my town knows nothing about 'style' whatever you'd apply that to. This mag is pretty much another tool I use to carve out a bit of civilization in my backwater burg.
Since I don't like to just stand around in the magazine aisles at Barnes & Noble browsing, I do occasionally buy other periodicals just to see if any are good, or if any old attempts have improved. But the above list is my regular set for now.