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