Every week when I go to our local library to pick up books I’d requested online, on the way out I stop by the library bookstore and check out the carts placed outside. Some carts have books for sale, but the cart I’m usually interested in is the one marked “FREE.” On the top shelf are magazines and on the bottom shelves are books.
Often the contents on the cart are many years old – sometimes decades old. While not that unusual for books, perhaps, I’ve found magazines from as far back as the ’70s. That’s quite a lifespan for a magazine. When I flip through these dusty and faded relics, I wonder what caused the person who donated them to finally part with them now, here on this cart. But old or new, I still take a look at everything because good writing has no expiration date.
With books I typically choose genres I already know I like, but with magazines I find it’s easier to be open to new ones. Because unlike books, magazines are short and easy to page through and I don’t have to feel as committed. This way I can discard them with little hesitation if I realize I’m not that into it.
So because magazines are more accessible, on most days I gravitate towards those on the cart. Since I usually have full bags of books already, I’m looking for lighter reading that can fill the smaller gaps of my day. I’ll shuffle through the cardboard boxes, selecting titles and topics I might not have considered in book form – things like Popular Mechanics, Time, The Economist, Real Simple and Esquire. I found all to be rather good reads except Real Simple which, ironically, just seemed to want to sell me a bunch of shit I don’t need.
This habit of picking up new stuff has been great. After reading more than a few free Economists this way, I even decided to get a subscription of my own, and it’s something I look forward to getting in the mail every week.
If, while reading this on your digital doodad, you’ve been thinking, “People still read magazines?” I wholeheartedly say, “YES!”
And if you’ve also been thinking, “But what if that was someone’s toilet-reading material?” I say, “I choose not to think about that.”
Poo stained or not, I think printed magazines are still great and here are a few reasons why:
- Finite length. You won’t find yourself going down any rabbit holes here.
- Curated. You get the best stuff, not just filler content meant to generate page views and ad dollars.
- Low risk. They’re not pricey like iPads are, so you can take them with you anywhere and not worry about them getting lost or stolen.
- No device required. If you’re like me and already stare at stupid screens too much in a day, you can enjoy the tactile experience of reading stuff on actual paper.
I know I’m probably one of the few who still reads print magazines, but that’s okay with me. As long as they keep printing them, I’ll keep reading them. (But I’ll be sure to wash my hands when I’m through.)