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