Living in Magazine World

I’ve recently rediscovered the joy of magazines. I was a weird kid who, even as a very small child, loved reading my mother’s homemaking-type magazines, things like Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal, etc. I could sit for hours, looking at the spreads of food, gardens, and interior decor. I imagined my dream home, planned imaginary parties, thought of how I’d decorate for Christmas when I had my own home.

When I became an adult, I used to have several magazine subscriptions, mostly from those deals where you can use your frequent flier miles to get magazines. I had miles from an airline I seldom used, so I used them for magazines. I ended up letting all the subscriptions lapse because I realized I wasn’t reading them and they just turned into clutter.

But a month or so ago, I got in the mood to read a magazine. I wanted something semi-mindless that wouldn’t get me sucked into a narrative. I discovered that I can get to a bunch of online editions of magazines through my library. Now I can flip through them to my heart’s content without having any clutter in my home. If there’s something I want to save, I can take a screenshot. I find that it’s soothing to look at pretty meals, nice houses, and lovely gardens, like it’s a window into an orderly, peaceful world. I’m trying to figure out what I want to do if I ever get a new house or decide to remodel this house, so I try the magazine spreads on for size to see what I like and don’t like. It’s also fun to imagine how my various characters might live.

For bedtime reading, I’m finding that a magazine is just what I need for those last minutes before I turn out the light. There’s no worry of getting caught up in a book and reading just one more chapter, and then another, and then another, and then having a restless night while my brain tries to finish it. I can drift off to sleep with visions of gardens and curtains. But since I don’t like to read from a screen just before I go to sleep, I’ve been buying old issues from the Friends of the Library rack at the library, where they sell them for 25 cents an issue, or 5 for a dollar. That’s my bedtime reading. I figure it amounts to a contribution to the library. Then if I find something I really like, I can clip it to add to my idea file, or I can cut out the recipes.

I will admit to a certain amount of mockery because there are some things that get a bit silly, like the article on how to do a tailgate picnic at the pumpkin patch, which requires a vintage station wagon and vintage plaid Thermoses to do it properly. Still, when the world seems to be descending into chaos, reading about how to host the perfect backyard tea party is rather reassuring.

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