The 31 Best Advice Columns & Podcasts of 2017

A big part of the reason Hannah and Matt "Know It All" is because there are a handful of phenomenally keen personalities in the world of advice-giving who have inspired the podcast that we do; each Monday, we host a weekly homage and re-answering of our favorite advice questions from the below columns and podcasts that are still active in 2017. If you love the advice world as much as we do and want a weekly dose of all the hits with two fresh takes, check out Hannah and Matt Know It All on iTunes or sample the latest episode below.

Are we missing any of your favorites or is there something you'd love to hear us discuss? Email us! We'd love to give your favorites a try and they may end up on our list (and if you're seeking advice from Hannah and Matt, you can email us directly or send us your questions anonymously if you prefer).

(Click here if you'd prefer to browse this in an index view with a simplified list of columns presented alongside the descriptions.)

#AskCam

Why We Read #AskCam

Matt: As one of the only BIPOC on this list, Cameron Glover brings a unique and essential perspective to the advice column world with a particular emphasis on noting imbalances in relationships where emotional labor and privilege are looming factors. I also can't point to a better advice columnist on this list writing about polyamory and nonmonogamy, kink and fetish, and boundaries and consent—all through an intersectional lens that is ever shining a light on how white supremacy pervades even the bedroom. As advice junkies, we are inclined to reflexively delve back into the entire archive of a columnist, but, with Cameron's writings more than most, I'd advocate reading her entire body of work on Wear Your Voice Magazine for the insightful education that she provides about unconscious anti-blackness in dating and in our society at large.

Anna Faris is Unqualified

Why We Listen To Anna Faris is Unqaulified

Matt: Faris's dulcet tones and propensity for interviewing will have you thinking she missed her true calling as an NPR radio host (though I suppose if Alec Baldwin can have it all, why can't she?). But in that alternate reality, we might not have an advice show that plays host to mega-star celebrity guests who join in on the advice giving fun during the back half of the episode. Faris and her guests may not have Psychology degrees, but I'd argue that there are few better groups of professionals than actors—whose job it is to put many unique experiences on display and evoke empathy in their audience—to offer valuable advice.

Ask a Manager

Why We Read Ask A Manager

Hannah: Ask A Manager is the perfect mix of entertainment and spot-on career advice. Alison Green's expertise as a hiring manager is a great resource—reading her advice has been an invaluable career tool for me, and I have no qualms counting the time I spend reading this site as "professional development." Come for the no-nonsense career advice, stay for the insanity, however: nothing can make you feel better about the dysfunctions of your own workplace like reading a roundup of the year's worst bosses from AAM! Alison's balance of pragmatism and willingness to express shock and horror when something is far outside of the realm of acceptable makes her required reading for anyone who has a job, full stop.

Ask a Queer Chick

Why We Read Ask a Queer Chick

Matt: Like Ask Bear, Ask a Queer Chick has returned to us in late 2017 to become (thankfully!) eligible for this list. In our present dystopian hellscape, Lindsay King-Miller is more valuable than ever and reminds us that the fight for human rights and social justice still needs all hands on deck. A common theme in Lindsay's questions speaks to feelings of not belonging to the queer community—fears of being regarded as fraudulent for taking on queer labels if you've not passed a non-existent litmus test—and she handles this subject matter with such compassion and a resolute principle of inclusivity, her words reaching out to pull the reader into an embrace that says "I see you and I accept you." Lindsay also has a rare distinction among others on this list of having an audience that tends to skew younger, but there's nevertheless an "all ages" application for many of her answers particularly as older generations are only now finally finding the words to describe the feelings (of their sexuality, of their gender) that they've been repressing for decades. Bless Lindsay.

Ask Amy

Why We Read Ask Amy

Matt: We've been long-time fans of Amy Dickinson, having first discovered her many years ago from listening to NPR's Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me. In particular, her many scandalized interjections which channeled all of us listeners made her a valuable touchstone and voice of sanity for my early appreciation of the show. That incisive wit, expert brevity, and proficiency at getting straight to the disturbing heart of the matters at hand really shines in her advice column in which she shows us each and every day why she's one of the greatest at the advice-giving game.

Ask APW

Why We Read Ask APW

Hannah: I started reading A Practical Wedding when I was planning my own wedding back in 2012, but the relationship advice from Ask APW spans the whole range of life, from pre-engagement to post-marriage. Team Practical takes on all the things that we're taught we aren't supposed to talk about: the costs of weddings (and attending them), difficult family dynamics, handling queer identities in a heteronormative social contract, navigating the hard questions that come with a marriage (finances, children, emotional labor), and beyond. They also have a fabulous interactive commenting community who are always willing to share their stories and experiences, their support and advice, and their righteous anger when needed.

Ask Bear

Why We Read Ask Bear

MattAsk Bear is back! After a hiatus that began at the end of 2016, I was bummed that I couldn't include Ask Bear on this list, but Bergman has returned just in the nick of time (on the HuffPost!) to make the 2017 list. A self-described fellow 'busybody know-it-all,' Bergman puts his awesome power to use not only with thoughtful essays tackling complex questions around gender identity and sexuality, but he also has been known to volunteer his time on Yik Yak to answer questions for teens and young twenty somethings who may otherwise be in dangerous LGBTQIA-phobic environments. Ask Bear is doing tremendously important work destigmatizing and supporting the queer community and their experiences—and advice-giving is just one slice of that activist pie. Check out S. Bear Bergman's homepage to learn about their multiple efforts in support of the community.

Ask Dr. NerdLove

Why We Read Ask Dr. NerdLove

Matt: As a longtime nerd / man / reader of Kotaku, Ask Dr. NerdLove has long been on my radar, years and years before my obsession with the medium really took flight. That may in fact be part of what makes O'Malley such a rare gem and an irreplaceable fixture in the advice genre; he's been serving a market of readers and listeners who—demographically speaking—are often the source of letter writers' woes rather than the ones asking the questions and typically seek out advice columns in much smaller numbers than their AFAB counterparts. In spite of (or perhaps because of) that, O'Malley navigates questions From the Other Side with a determined empathy to often express, in effect, "As a man, I used to believe this very shitty thing, too, so I get it—but cut it out." That's the flip side of O'Malley's advice: some question askers require very tough love, and Ask Dr. NerdLove is a masterful dispenser of tough-but-vital pills to swallow. The cherry on top of this pill cocktail is that O'Malley goes the extra mile with occasional deep dive "post mortems" featuring a kind of real-time reaction approach to some of the more over-the-top scenarios. See the recent insta-classic: "Post Mortem: Why Do Women Have All The Advantages In Dating?"

Ask E. Jean

Why We Read Ask E. Jean

Matt: To call E. Jean Carroll "no nonsense" is not quite right; Carroll takes nonsense into her giant hand, grinds its bones to make her bread, and force feeds nonsense bread back to the fools who dared enter her domain. But she's not all Tough Love; Carroll is frequently Jane Austen-ian and poetic in style, and those exclamations tend to read like two drunken English majors lovingly scrawling lines back and forth to each other in a bar's bathroom stall in unapologetically bold sharpie, but I enjoy her all the more for it. For example: "He won't do, Miss Day. One looks askance! Rid yourself of the man!" However, I do regard E. Jean more as an entertainer and less as an advice giver, given that she prioritizes absurdism over any kind of pragmatic or progressive advice otherwise seen on this list (fair warning on that front: she sometimes has some very problematic, regressive things to say).

Ask Gigi & Dirty Sexy Monogamy

Why We Read Ask Gigi & Dirty Sexy Monogamy

Matt: While some advice columnists labor to exclude personal details and anecdotes to instead be the pointedly objective every(wo)man, Gigi Engle does not shy away from taking on the role of the concerned auntie who knows a thing or two that you are absolutely going to be hearing about—sexy and unflattering details and all. Her candor plays especially well in audio form, and the unfettered intimacy and sex-positivity that has come to define Engle's brand is a framework that Hannah and I both strongly appreciate and aspire to. Update: Although 'Dirty Sexy Monogamy' is no longer with us (it's not my story to tell!), I still hold a fondness for it and will keep it on this 2017 list for posterity. Engle nevertheless can be found all over the internet wherever sex education is needed (it's needed everywhere).

Asking for a Friend

Why We Read Asking for a Friend

Matt: Growing up, you were probably taught that it was impolite to talk to others about certain topics: salaries, sex, religion—politics. 'Politeness' be damned, Liza Featherstone consistently has some of my favorite questions each week, and much of that is owed to her taking on some of the more extremely-complicated-but-very-relatable troubles that arise from having stark political differences with those in your life whom you may have no means of escape. Her outstanding grasp of intersectionality is on full display, making her one of my favorite writers on the internet period.

Ask Polly

Why We Read Ask Polly

Matt: Heather Havrilesky is expertly sincere in a way that invites you into an intimate embrace with her every sentence, which reveal so much personal anguish and triumph. She possesses a few other notable distinctions, including 1) having the longest written answers of anyone else on this list on average, a testament to her passionate drive to leave no dark corner unexplored in tackling very emotionally complex interpersonal issues, and 2) being a loyal envoy of the word "fuck." Indeed, Havrilesky has many fucks to give, and we should all count ourselves very luck for this bountiful fuck harvest.

Auntie SparkNotes

Why We Read Auntie SparkNotes

Matt: There are a few unique and wonderful aspects of Auntie SparkNotes that you should know right away. First, Cheez-Its-obsessed Kat Rosenfeld is engaged with a community that consists primarily of teens and students in their early 20s, a readership not otherwise often (if ever) addressed in advice columns. Second, Kat draws a comical visual aid related to each question rendered lovingly in Microsoft Paint. But not unlike others among our favorites, Kat has a knack for recognizing the larger occasion in specific moments—even when those moments are ostensibly just a tiny pinprick of light obscured by the dirty details that she dutifully scrubs away to let the truth shine—and she often counters with very clever, deeply probing questions of her own. Regardless of your age, we all need a little help with our friends (and family, and romantic entanglements, and mortality, and...), and thankfully we have Auntie SparkNotes to help us get by.

Bad Advice

Why We Read Bad Advice

Matt: Each week, Andrea Grimes (seriously, you need to follow her on Twitter) takes her love of advice columns in a decidedly different, more hilarious direction than ours: Bad Advice is a cutting satire that re-answers advice column questions from around the internet with a mocking tone that gives a particular-type-of-letter-writer exactly the terrible, enabling advice that they're seeking. Yes, go forth and fuck that Nazi into being a better person! By all means, ask your girlfriend to euthanize her dog because you think she loves the dog more than you! Please, commission a custom g-string swimsuit for your 7-year-old daughter for... reasons! Andrea Grimes is a treasure who we don't deserve. CHERISH HER.

Captain Awkward

Why We Read Captain Awkward

Hannah: Oh, Captain Awkward. You are the sweet, understanding slightly older cousin with better social skills and endless patience that every weird kid could have used growing up. Jennifer takes on the questions of folks who are questioning themselves, their worlds, and their relationships with tact and love. While she will occasionally let someone know that they're being a complete idiot, she will still rein in the comments sections when they bandwagon on someone too heavily. This site will lead you to some of the weirder questions on the internet—and some of the most nonjudgmental answers that the askers could have hoped for. Funny, compassionate, and endlessly knowledgable, Captain Awkward is always a good read.

Carolyn Hax

Why We Read Carolyn Hax

Matt: There is at least one very good reason why Hax's innumerable columns produce hundreds upon hundreds of comments and why her weekly chat sessions are brimming with dedicated fans: Hax has been in the advice game for over 20 years, so she's lapped other Malcolm Gladwell acolytes and could in fact be the greatest advice columnist of them all. The sheer volume of questions she covers and has covered—and the consistently unique yet somehow widely relatable nature of those questions—is staggering, and her answers are so concise and enviably astute. As an added bonus, her columns are paired with ex-husband and “relationship cartoonist” Nick Galifianakis's delightfully perceptive comics. There's so much to be in love with here.

Dear Abby

Why We Read Dear Abby

Matt: The Dear Abby pen name has been in use since 1956 and is the closest thing we have to an advice column empire when you look at the wider family narrative. But legacy alone doesn't explain her rise to the throne: Phillips' snappy one-liners and overall determinedly terse answers attract readers looking for a quick advice hit while also courting rabid commenting behavior by virtue of leaving the door very wide open for others to elaborate with their personal anecdotes and, oftentimes, argue. In that way, her community is a bit like Thanksgiving dinners with the family. That she is willing to own her mistakes and cede her platform to those who have called her out is an admirable trait and makes her an "agony aunt" who warmly welcomes a dialog rather than one who just craves the sound of her own voice and detests when you speak up. Abby is as accessible as she is venerable, a rare mix indeed.

Dear Businesslady

Why We Read Dear Businesslady

Hannah: We're such Ask A Manager devotees that it's hard to believe there would be space in our hearts for more than one job-themed advice columnist. Dear Businesslady, however, is career advice of a different flavor. Courtney Guerra, who wrote for the sadly shuttered The Toast before her monthly(ish) column at The Billfold, composes thoughtful personal essays around some of the timeless questions of working people everywhere - from how to change careers to how to start one in the first place—as well as dipping in to more cutting edge topics such as how to handle transitioning gender identities in a hostile workplace. We love her deep dives and her empathy, and highly recommend adding her to your reading rotation!

Dear Comrade Femme

Why We Read Dear Comrade Femme

Matt: At the intersectional feminist heart of Dear Comrade Femme is the one-of-a-kind Raechel Anne Jolie, creating something akin to poetry. After I've read Raechel's words, I feel uplifted. Inspired. Loved. Seen. I feel immense gratitude for the beautiful essays that Raechel pens in response to challenging questions from an audience I'm very much a part of who needs the care and nuance of a professor, a feminist, a yogi, a cat mom—a wonderful human whose every word and deed is in the service of making the world a better place. Despite the complexities inherent in the subject matter, Raechel includes citations and links to define many of the ideas that are otherwise commonplace in feminist discourse, making her column as much of a comfort read for like-minded readers as it is a spectacular resource for newcomers. Therefore, I'd recommend Dear Comrade Femme to... anyone and everyone.

Dear Kiki

Why We Read Dear Kiki

Matt: Dear Kiki can accurately be described as a hidden gem; this advice column (found only in Iowa City's local magazine Little Village Mag) was completely unknown to me until a listener requested that we discuss the hilarious and disturbing 'I Can't Get My Mind Off of the Speaker of the House,' and I've been hooked ever since. Updates are regrettably sparse, however, and limited to monthly magazine releases, which simply is not enough Kiki. A big part of her appeal to me is that she suffers no fools as she deftly deconstructs fascinating relationship and sex quandaries and delivers some memorable, geeky one-liners like the following: "The thing is, you can do whatever your kinky minds dream of, but with great sex comes great responsibility." Every "little village" deserves a village agony aunt as willing to delve into the tangled mess of modern relationship troubles as Kiki.

Dear Mariella

Why We Read Dear Mariella

Matt: Though once voted the sexiest female voice on TV, Mariella Frostrup's written voice is every bit as sexy to word nerds like me; her unique flavor of advice-giving has the thoroughness and curiosity of an essayist as she guides us from the personal into the universal with her deft hand. Blink and you'll miss a valuable mantra to add to your repertoire (for instance: "Read, learn, explore and try to solve the mystery to who you really are"). Even when the questions covered by Frostrup rank relatively low on the scale of eccentricity, her proclivity for profundity makes her column a consistently enlightening read.

Dear Prudence

Why We Read Dear Prudence

Hannah: Dear Prudence has been a weekly read for me for years and years, long before Mallory Ortberg took over. However, Mallory's ascension to the throne has been an endless delight. The questions you will encounter here tend to be fairly run of the mill in general, but Mallory's charm, quirk, wordplay, and open-mindedness are delightful and refreshing. Though I don't always agree with the advice, I always agree with the manner in which it is related, with that distinctly "Mallory" voice that so many of us came to love at The Toast, her previous web project. While I deeply miss the ladies who brunch and the sardonically put-upon women in art historical paintings, I am glad that I still have somewhere to absorb phrases like "Schrödinger's Lesbian."

Dear Sugar Radio

Why We Listen To Dear Sugar Radio

Matt: Acclaimed Wild author Cheryl Strayed has famously struggled mightily: she's faced cheating, divorce, the sudden loss of her mother, drug addiction, angst about her sexual identity, and more. Strayed and co-host Steve Almond allow themselves to be very vulnerable and intimately honest in a way that's refreshingly therapeutic. Dear Sugar's "radical empathy" approach is a warmly welcomed addition to my weekly advice workout.

Let Us Sex-Plain

Why We Read Let Us Sex-Plain

Matt: Dating advice by and for New Yorkers is obviously relevant to my interests, and it's all the more welcome coming from expert straight-shooter Jillian Anthony. Our stalwart wingwoman deals in emphatic affirmations and indignant rebuttals with a constant sharp wit expressed in tantalizing wordplay and absurd-yet-fitting pop culture metaphors. But even if Anthony weren't a kindred New Yorker and punner, I'd still very much be in love with her work for heralding sex positivity, consent, reciprocation, communication, and every other essential foundational element of a good romantic relationship. The bottom line is that Let Us Sex-Plain and the surrounding Time Out New York Sex & Dating articles are extraordinarily useful resources, and I highly recommend adding Anthony and co. to your routine reading list.

Miss Conduct

Why We Read Miss Conduct

Matt: Robin Abrahams has a PhD in Psychology and she's not afraid to use it.  Where she shines brightest among the advice giver stars is with her patient considerations of the multiple conflicting points of views of the question askers and the subjects of those askers. But no one could be a celebrated veteran in the advice column world with thoughtful psych evaluations alone, and it's those moments when Abrahams lowers her proverbial glasses and drops a deadpan zinger (and a series of very politely-worded insults) that make her entertaining as well as helpful and live up to her column's namesake.

My Brother, My Brother and Me

Why We Listen To My Brother, My Brother and Me

Matt: "The McElroy brothers are not experts, and their advice should never be followed." This is the paradoxical warning preceding every episode of the MBMBaM podcast. So what makes someone an advice-giving expert, anyway, if not producing hundreds of advice-giving episodes (however goofy) and landing a TV show? The brothers may not have crafted their resumes to tell the story of "Professional Advice Givers," but they've absolutely labored to be better, more understanding, more loving, more hilarious, more inclusive, more "yes"-to-everything human beings in a way that they lead their enormous fan base by laudable example. I love these sweet sweet boys and everything that they touch.

r/relationships

Why We Read r/relationships

Matt: Reddit's Relationships forum has two very distinct advantages to your traditional advice column: 1) Anyone can play the role of advice giver, and those answers are voted on and the best advice can rise to the top, and 2) the question asker can interact with the question answerers, providing additional details and even updates on developments in the story, so there's typically less ambiguity or misinterpretations. Another distinction is that the demographic range covers so many unique groups of people and a wider range of relationship topics than what you'd likely see one advice columnist cover.  This is one of my personal favorite sources.

Savage Love & Savage LoveCast

Why We Follow Savage Love Savage LoveCast

Matt: Savage is no Stranger to Love. He knows the game, you can't deny. If commitment's what you're fearful of, Savage will encourage you to sleep with all the guys. He cuts through the nonsense of your feelings. He's crass and takes a forceful stand. He's always trying to help you fuck; he cites those with great renown. Savage really gets around to fight for you. Whether you have an STI, or you've discovered you're bi, Savage Love won't vilify or mock you. But in seriousness, there are many answers Savage gives that I don't agree with, but he brings to light some important topics by way of his very forthright audience.

Social Q's

Why We Read Social Q'S

Matt: In my experience, the most common flavor of advice question boils down to this: "I already know what I'm supposed to do, but is there a way I can do this less awkwardly, maybe?" To that end, Philip Galanes's niche of 'lighthearted advice about awkward social situations' in fact gets to the heart of nearly all advice questions in an attempt to diffuse the awkward; the many situations he tackles are ones that I may not have precisely found myself in yet but am likely to, and reading Social Q's makes me feel like I have hundreds of special-occasion aces hidden up my sleeve for whatever may arise.

Urban Diplomat

Why We Read Urban Diplomat

Matt: As its name would imply, Urban Diplomat specializes in matters that are instantly recognizable to anyone with obnoxious(ly close) neighbors, commuter headaches, multi-cultural clashes, workplaces whose proudest feature is their kegerator, and all of the inevitable drama that comes from depending upon roommates because your Rent Is Too Damn High™. If not for the occasional moments of Canadian parlance, I'd be convinced that Urban Diplomat is a neighbor riding the same subway train with me every morning for all of the column's NYC parallels. But I recommend Urban Diplomat not only to big city dwellers to nod along to but to anyone looking for concise, consistently astute answers to many modern day quandaries and nuggets like this: "Friends don’t let friends get fed by the trolls."

Y'all Need Help

Why We Read Y'all Need Help

Matt: Most online advice columns fit comfortably into a standard blog format. Y'all Need Help, on the other hand, does not like to be put into a box (thank you very much). On occasion, you may get your responses entirely in Instagram Stories chock full of stickers and emoji. On other occasions, personal photographs with silly contextual text overlaid on top of them are interspersed among the advice given. The more playful tone of Y'all Need Help perfectly suits Auto Straddle, and you should definitely be reading the other posts tagged "advice" to be both spectacularly informed and entertained (starting with the essential guide to life: Everybody Publicly and Shamelessly Flirt With Each Other Right Now).

But don't just take our word for it; others have done a great job of shining a well-deserved spotlight on the above advice columnists and beyond, including those from yesteryear. Here are a few we'd like to shout out:

In closing, here's Heather Havrilesky auguring what would become the inevitable advice column about advice columns just to keep them all straight:

Advice columns are the new TV recaps. Soon, everyone will be writing them! ... And as with recaps, some will be amazing and smart and funny and others will be bland and dull and worthless.
— Heather Havrilesky (AKA Ask Polly)