The closest stack of unread magazines has been taunting me for days. Yes, taunting. It’s a delectable stash that I’ve been hoarding, and it includes Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE, along with House Beautiful and Raw Vision.
Like many of us, I start my day on a smartphone – checking multiple email and social media accounts, and taking a quick run-through of my favorite “paper” before the work day.
But reading for pleasure?
I want a book or magazine, yet I don’t seem to make time for the books and magazines that I purchase.
The Quick Scan
The past few days I’ve been in search of an answer to a nutritional question that came up in conversation. Naturally, I went online to gather data. I suddenly found myself wandering from a fitness site to a health site and then to a fashion and style site. While I was engrossed in what I discovered, I was well aware that I was engaging in something closer to a scan than an actual read: I was gleaning, I was noting, I was working harder to actually retain.
This process is certainly not without pleasure, but it doesn’t carry the same pleasure, much less “stick” in quite the same way.
Are there exceptions? Absolutely, though I’ve yet to pinpoint their origins.
Our Devices Should Enhance and Not Replace
I used to read magazines in waiting rooms. (Now I work on my smartphone.) I used to read magazines when I went for a hair cut. (Now I work on my smartphone.) I used to read magazines at night before bed. (Now I’m checking my smartphone.)
On those occasions when I managed a little time to myself in the peak mothering years, I was sure to carve out an hour to sit with a magazine. Even better? A magazine by a pool or at a beach.
Two years ago I was thrilled when I nabbed a few days in Florida, ARTnews at the ready. But best I recall, I skimmed, I looked at the pictures, and… I worked on my Blackberry.
Shame. On. Me.
Note to self: Our devices are intended to enhance opportunities and pleasures, not replace them.
Magazines – the hefty, glossy, brilliantly colored, ad-filled, opinion-filled, aspiration-filled real thing – have played a critical role in my socialization and education. I remember reading Seventeen Magazine (long before I was 17 of course), and dreaming of the “self” I would become someday. I also remember reading Ms. Magazine, and determining that I would always own myself, never dumb down for a guy, and make my mark in some positive way.
That’s a different sort of dreaming of course, and for me, it was the most important.
As I hit my twenties, I lingered over French Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. In my thirties, I was hungry for business magazines to feed my mind, and decorating magazines to feed my creative spirit. At the time, I was juggling a corporate career and making a home. It wasn’t long after that a love of art expanded my periodical consumption to include another three gorgeous and impeccably written publications.
Making Time for What We Love
I was certainly working hard during those years, but I had no cell phone, no laptop, and no smartphone or tablet. I was able to cordon off an hour or two each week for the relaxation of my magazines.
So what happened that I disallowed myself that satisfaction? Why is this so hard – accepting a small measure of pleasurable downtime?
While reading online earlier, I enjoyed my jaunt through an assortment of articles – on fashion, on body image, and eventually on nutrition. The process felt recreational. And so I made myself a promise: Attack the stacks!
While my reading habits reflect an eclectic and somewhat contradictory mix, they have fed my passions, expanded my knowledge, and shaped my path. They continue to promise sweet pleasure indeed – when I allow myself to silence the smartphone, close the laptop, and savor.
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