The Rec Center

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Name: The Rec Center
Date(s): 2016 - present
Founder: Elizabeth Minkel & Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
Type: newsletter
Fandom: multifandom
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The Rec Center is a weekly newsletter of fandom recs, including fanfiction, meta, and fandom journalism. It is curated by Elizabeth Minkel and Gavia Baker-Whitelaw and distributed first through TinyLetter then through Substack. It is a finalist for the Best Fanzine 2020 Hugo Award.[1]


In a 2016 interview with Fangirl the Magazine, Baker-Whitelaw and Minkel describe the origins of their collaboration:[2]

Baker-Whitelaw: Our mutual twitter friend @kfan was asking around for fanfic rec newsletters around the New Year, and no one seemed to know of any. Elizabeth and I both replied like, “OMG I want to start one!” So instead of launching competing newsletters, we decided to team up—which was definitely a way better idea, because collaborating is fun and half the work!

Minkel: I was actually pretty relieved when Gav showed up—I responded to @kfan a few hours earlier and I was already fretting about doing a fanfic newsletter alone, like how to avoid “speaking for fandom” or only presenting my own opinions about fanworks. (Which I do in my journalism— all fandom journalists do, to some degree—but this is different.) I co-host a podcast about fandom as well, and it’s great in both situations, working with a person who speaks a common language but has a different perspective.

Relationship to Rec Lists

In the same interview with Fangirl the Magazine, Minkel and Baker-Whitelaw discuss the role of rec lists in fandom:

Baker-Whitelaw: Rec lists are great for the obvious reason that there’s A LOT of fic out there, and sometimes you need someone else to pick out the good stuff—especially in big fandoms, or for specific tropes or pairings. I think Elizabeth and I, and a lot of our readers, miss how easy it was to find recs on Livejournal etc. Tumblr fandom is harder to navigate in that regard, so a newsletter makes more sense these days.

Minkel: For sure. I actually just rejoined the fandom/pairing I was in from like 2002-2010, and I’m gleefully finding all these old pre-LJ rec lists and thinking about how *different* it was compared to how I find fic on AO3. You wind up reading stories with a lot of hits and kudos, and they get more hits and kudos, etc etc. Sometimes I’ll look at peoples’ bookmarks, but I miss the days when rec lists were the main way I found new stuff.

See also: Searching for Fanworks on the Internet.


Each installment of The Rec Center includes recommendations for recent and older articles on fandom, as well as a curated rec list of fanfiction. The fic rec lists are often thematic - centering on a particular fandom, or a type of fic - and are typically provided by a guest reccer. Additionally, links to fanart, meta, and other discussions on social media are often included in a section titled "Tumblr & beyond."

A quick guide for new subscribers: we generally stick to the same sections every week. We have “new stuff” for fandom-adjacent news and commentary, “older stuff” for vintage pieces, “tumblr & beyond” for our fave new memes, flamewars, fanart, etc, and “fanfiction” for our weekly recommendation lists. These are either written by us or by a guest reccer, or put together from reader submissions. Occasionally we run an explainer for a fandom or ship, so people can shout from the rooftops about their latest obsession!

- The Rec Center #86

Fic Rec Lists

Each newsletter concludes with a list of fic recs. Guest contributors are invited to submit full lists, or one-off recommendations.

Sample subjects include:


  1. ^ 2020 Hugo Awards, access 9 April 2020.
  2. ^ Rec Center: a weekly newsletter of fanfic recommendations, Emma Lawson, Fangirl the Magazine. Published on February 17, 2016. Retrieved on May 29, 2018.