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The New Yorker wants me. They want me so badly that they are willing to let me have their weekly magazine for 85% off the newsstand price. If I act within 30 days, I will get a free “weekender” duffel bag with my paid subscription, AND five additional issues free if I access a special web link. It’s nice to be wanted.

My reading habits border on addictive – absent a book, newspaper or magazine, I’ve been known to read junk mail, the sale ads from the Sunday newspaper inserts and even cereal boxes. There are worse addictions, but to someone like me, dangling a deeply discounted subscription to a venerable magazine that produces weekly literature is like offering a first hit for free. You know I’m going to like it and come back for more.

It all began with Highlights. I went from Hidden Pictures and Goofus and Gallant to thumbing my father’s Reader’s Digest and TV Guide. I come from a household of subscribers; we had a glass-topped coffee table with a lower shelf that groaned under the weight of so many glossies (that coffee table met an unusual end involving an unauthorized house party and a hatchet. I’ll have to tell you that story sometime.) We also had People and Life, solidifying my grasp of pop culture in the former, and of Americana storytelling in the latter.

My mother subscribed to Discover, “The Magazine of Science, Technology and the Future.” I pored over every issue, and it probably led to my interest in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction, a monthly mag of sci-fi short stories.

I even read my father’s Sports Illustrated. That means I am awfully good at the Sports & Leisure category in the 1980’s Trivial Pursuit, and yet I couldn’t have been less interested in professional sports.

In a nod to more mainstream teenage reading, I subscribed to the too-short-lived Sassy. It was the “alternative” girls’ teen magazine for those of ironic snark and flannel. It began to fade about the time when the dismissed grunge/slacker was labeled, and when Kurt Cobain flamed out.

I’ve subscribed to nearly two dozen periodicals in my life — always the local newspapers, and one semester of the New York Times as required reading for a college class.

In the early 1990s before the iconic white Bronco chase, twenty-four hour channels and the internet hadn’t yet groomed us to gulp news down so greedily: One good friend would dutifully pick up her Times at the bookstore, take it back to the dorm and deposit it under her bed, unread. It was a dusty graveyard of headlines about no-fly zones, the NATO bombing of Kosovo, and massacres synonymous with Bosnian, Chechnyan and Serbian locales.

National Geographic Magazine
If digital editions win, then the historical record in attics across America will vanish.

I have five years’ worth of National Geographic in my attic, from before you could get it on the newsstands (for society explorers only!) The weekly pressure of Newsweek and Time was too much, or so I thought, until I discovered the Christian Science Monitor shortly after 9/11 and saw what non-sensationalized news reporting could be like — “To injure no man, but to bless all mankind.”

The Atlantic Monthly, American Heritage, Cooking Light, The Sun, Cook’s Illustrated, Adirondack Life, Harper’s Magazine, Rochester Business Journal, plus time for classic literature and best sellers…I read a lot.

I’ve subscribed to Writer’s Digest for a few years, but it left me feeling vaguely inadequate, so I am letting it go to try out Poets and Writers. Harper’s makes me think about timely hard stuff even if I am always a month behind, and The Sun, full of sad yearning, I once tried to quit.

I like the magazine medium – to keep selling, it has to be consistently good storytelling to inform, entertain and enlighten. I suppose I like it because I aspire to seeing my byline there, someday.

Oh, New Yorker. I guess I do want-in on your clever dog and cat cartoons.

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  1. I love getting magazines in the mail. I was not a commited reader, but I did appreciate the art and set up. I has a similar NY Times subscription, back in the day, and I always struggled to keep up. I always felt guilty about it. Now I have two subscriptions. My longest is not literature, but a quality magazine Popular Woodworking. I have learned a lot from that publication. It is less expansensive than classes, and I can take it to places bad for my laptop. The second is a startup. Local: A Quarterly of People and Places, started by friends and very cool.

    • Magazines are a treasure of information – I love going to the big library and looking at magazines I’ve never seen before! And, I LOVE that someone has started a new PRINT magazine!

  2. Oh, Terra, I believe your byline will be there soon! My favorite magazine is Smithsonian.

  3. You have marvelous taste in magazines. Watch out for “The New Yorker”; it’s better than you think. Yes, the cartoons are wonderful. It probably is the top magazine in the United States for consistently publishing original short stories. But one New Yorker magazine kept me enthralled on a trip from New York city to Valencia, Spain three years ago, and I remember things about the different articles to this day. This issue was not particularly different from the rest–I just really paid attention. Don’t let the impossible come-on price fool you; “The New Yorker” is the kind of magazine you would take on to a desert island if you were only allowed a 1/4 inch of reading material to take you through eternity.

  4. We had 28 years of National Geographic before moving to NY. Unfortunately it was one too many moves and over 2 big bookshelves needed for other things. We throw them away after 3 or 4 months now. It pains me every time.
    I await the coffee table story.

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