Confessions of a magazine & catalog addict

I’m a third generation magazine and catalog addict.  My grandmother loved them.  My mother loved them.  And a fourth generation is now well represented by my daughter.

When I was a child, even before I could read, Mother saved all her magazines and catalogs for me.  I was fascinated by how she treated them like treasures.  Not one was thrown away until it had been read and read and re-read.

I thumbed through her McCall’s, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Time, Newsweek, Life and Look.  She had a separate shelf for the big fat catalogs of the time, including Sears and Montgomery Ward and J.C. Penney and Alden wishbooks.  Those we kept forever, even after new ones arrived.  The magazines were eventually passed along to other families.

In later years she added subscriptions to Consumer Reports and lots of trade publications. As I grew away from her home and no longer shared all of her tastes in printed matter, still my reverence for those publications never diminished. Today I buy some magazines at the newsstand, subscribe to others, and am the recipient of still more from friends who pass theirs along. I enjoy them all. 

Some people complain about catalogs but I’ve never considered a mailbox full of catalogs an annoyance.  I welcome the ones that arrive unsolicited and then sign up for others, and pass them along too.  Next to my big blue reading chair right now there’s an eclectic stack.  One by one they’ll go into a box in the trunk of my car to make the trip to my daughter’s house.  She shares them with people she works with and they go round and round from there and end up who knows where.

I like the thought of this widening circle of readers.  When these publications fray and fall apart, as they eventually must, then all of us will have participated in a form of social interaction that some say is primitive, but I find satisfying. 

Sure I can order online without ever seeing a catalog in print, but the items seem different and somehow more appealing when I hold the pictures of the products in my hand and turn the pages back and forth.

As for ideas in newspapers and magazines, maybe it’s an illusion but it seems to me that I even think about things differently when I’m holding onto them in print. 

All this talk about newspapers dying  and magazines getting thinner and catalogs available only online has me worried.  I hope there’s a way to keep them coming.  They’re lifelong friends and I’d miss them awfully if they went away.

Ó Anita Garner 2009

Magazine-Go-Round

I’m a third-generation magazine addict. My grandmother was one. My mother was one.  The fourth generation is well represented now by my daughter.   

From the time I was a child, even before I could read, Mother saved all her magazines for me.  She treated every one like a treasure and none was to be thrown away.  I’m not sure what she did with them after I looked at the pictures and gave them back, but when they were stacked up by my bed, they represented the promise of quiet time alone.  Since we were on the road a lot, a bed with a stack of magazines beside it was a great escape. Magazines brought the outside world into a sequestered life, and when we loaded up the car to travel again, somehow we found room in the car for Mother’s periodicals.    

I shared her interest in McCall’s, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Time, Newsweek, Life, and Look.  In later years, she added copies of Consumer Reports, trade newsletters concerned with religion (the family business) and music (another family business) and though I no longer shared her taste in all that she read, my reverence for printed matter never diminished. 

Today I buy lots of magazines at the store, subscribe to others, and receive still more as gifts. Friends also pass along the ones they receive. Often when I hear about a new magazine, I get excited and feel compelled to buy at least a few issues. Some of them fold too soon. Does anyone remember “Lear,” Frances Lear’s (God rest her soul) foray into publishing?  Rumor was that she spent millions of an enormous divorce settlement from Norman Lear to launch her dream publication.  It was big and glossy and beautiful while it lasted. I also miss Talk Magazine, with Tina Brown as Editor In Chief.  Nothing has quite replaced either of them. 

Next to my big blue reading chair right now there’s an eclectic stack.  One by one they’ll go in the trunk of the car to make the trip to my daughter’s house.  She tells me she passes them along to the people she works with, and who knows where they go from there?

I like the thought of a big reading circle made up of people who don’t even know each other.  When all our magazines come to their final resting place, as surely they must, then all of us – the endlessly curious magazine addicts – will have played a role in a friendly sort of recycling.  

 Ó By Anita Garner 2008