An Ode to Magazines

It’s really all my godmother’s fault. For my seventh birthday, she presented me with a subscription to American Girl magazine. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever read AG magazine, but it is a glorious declaration of love to arts and crafts, story contests, sleepovers with extravagant but believable themes and glitter. AG loves it some glitter. After that first issue arrived, I was hooked. I read it cover to cover multiple times, and I did the same with every ensuing issue. I had a subscription to that magazine until I was thirteen, and I still have some of the issues. And yes, occasionally I still buy a copy, if only to relive the joys of childhood for one more hour.

And that’s how it started. One innocent magazine and I was hooked on all magazines, forever. Well, not all magazines. I’ve never read Better Homes and Garden and I pretty much avoid the Men’s Interest section of the racks, but yes, magazines are my crutch, my drug, my obsession. (Obsession is a little strong, but not by much.) Currently lying around my room or in a storage bin in my closet I have 11 issues of Vanity Fair, 4 issues of People, 3 issues of Glamour, 2 issues of Entertainment Weekly and Sports Illustrated each and the most recent issue of InStyle. Not to mention the 7 or so issues of American Girl that survived purging during my teenage years, and various copies of National Geographic. I know, I know. Hoarding is bad. But I like re-reading the articles as much as I enjoy re-reading books. And I only keep issues that I enjoyed in their entirety. Everything else gets recycled, and when I move again in the next two months, about half of these will be gone.

But come on—can you blame me? Magazines are simultaneously purely escapist, inspirational, voyeuristic, organizational and informational. I learn something every time I read one, whether it’s the hottest nail art or what’s really going on in the Middle East. With Real Simple and O Magazine, I feel like I can whip up a four-course vegan dinner, organize a closet, start a charity and find a new title to read for my (non-existent) book club. InStyle and Glamour keep me abreast of the latest way to wear white pants, give myself a five-minute makeover and find out how to properly wear eyeliner. I read People while standing in line at Target, I read Time and Newsweek online, National Geographic finds its way into my hands through a variety of ways and Vanity Fair assures me, despite its breathtaking photo spreads, that I’m not the type to actually live in New York—or at least on Park Avenue.

“But Hannah!” You may be thinking, “You can read all these magazines online! And there’s BONUS content! Save a tree, buy a kindle!” And to you, I politely say, thank you, but no. I like the smell of magazines—all glossy and perfumey. I like being able to pull out an article and mail it to a friend, or post it on my wall. I even like juggling them along with my coffee cup and giant purse as I board a plane. In fact, I prefer magazines to books when it comes to reading on a plane, because magazines are perfect for the inevitable interruptions of air travel. I read any and all magazines that are around me while waiting in a doctor’s office or while my car gets an oil change.

The magazines that I buy—usually three or four a month—are definitely an extravagance, one that I’ll probably start curbing once graduate school starts again But for now, I find equal pleasure in a magazine and a warm bath or bed or sunny front porch as I do with a fire, a cup of tea, a blanket, and a book. A magazine suits my various interests, my ADHD when it comes to something shiny and my desire to become a Jill of All Knowledge—dabbling in a little bit of every subject. So, to my godmother—thank you for that American Girl subscription 15 years ago. I bet you never guessed I’d become so attached. Excuse me while I go buy stock in Conde Nast.

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