I’m a Junkie

Hello. My name is Peter, and I have a problem: I read 18 magazines per week. I knew it was becoming a problem when my mailman claimed me as a dependent on his taxes last year.

It started innocently enough. My father is a CPA, and my mother has been involved in education for 40 years. We used to get a pile of journals, trade magazines with scintillating titles such as Connecticut CPA, and at least five newspapers per day. Because we lived in West Hartford, CT, we were smack-dab in the middle of two media meccas: New York and Boston. We received the New York Times, New York Post, Daily News, Boston Globe, and Boston Herald. Of course, we had the Hartford Courant on our doorstep every morning as well.

As I got older, the sickness traveled with me. When my wife and I first met, she thought I had won some twisted contest; she marveled at the pile of magazines cluttering my apartment. Over the years, I’ve tried to pare down the number of periodicals, but I just end up substituting one for another. Here is my current subscription list:

  • Sports Illustrated (SI) — SI was my first subscription as a teenager, and I haven’t missed one yet.

  • ESPN The Magazine — I get this in case I miss a big story in SI.
  • eCompany Now — This is one of my favorite business magazines, and it has a sense of humor.
  • The Industry Standard — It’s getting thinner by the month. I’m worried…
  • Business 2.0 — This is possibly my favorite of all. I don’t know why, but I always find a lot to read in every issue.
  • M-Business — I’m a director of wireless marketing, and this is a good one for keeping up with all the trends in the industry.
  • EContent — Content management can be fun. Who knew?
  • UPSIDE — It’s been around for years, and I really look forward to reading every issue.
  • Darwin — It’s a new magazine about business in the information age. Of course I get it.
  • Maxim — I subscribe just to see what the kids are up to. I swear.
  • DM News — Once a direct-mail copywriter…
  • DIRECT — Refer to DM News.
  • Parents — I subscribe for the after-work issues — the important ones.
  • Entertainment Magazine — I like to read about all the movies I’ll never bother seeing.
  • The New Yorker — The New Yorker has great writing… but I’m not sure about the new format.
  • CIO — I have a freelance business, so I get on some funky mailing lists. But I still read it.
  • Fast Company — I’m hip.
  • Oxford American — Oxford American is John Grisham’s magazine of great writing. Don’t miss the summer music issue; the CD included is always fantastic.

Of course, reading all of these magazines doesn’t preclude me from visiting dozens of Web sites every day in case I miss anything.

Now, the sane members of our reading audience are probably asking one of two questions: When the hell do you find the time to read all of these magazines? or How many hours a day do you spend on this habit? I’ll answer both.

I get up every morning between 4:30 and 5:00. That gives me two or three quality hours with my stack. I don’t read every single page, because I don’t have to. After work is my time for my wife and kids, and I rarely read at night. I have a four-year-old daughter who feels cheated if she doesn’t at least see Letterman’s monologue, so I don’t have a whole lot of time at night.

A few things that I love about my magazines:

  • I learn something in every issue. It might not be something I thought I cared about, but sometimes I visibly shudder after reading an article, thinking, If I didn’t read this magazine, I’d never have known that.

  • People are doing some incredible things that should be known. I’ve discovered small towns with witches, Harley-Davidson rallies in South Dakota, and people who have overcome real challenges.
  • I’m a better writer when I’m reading. Like a muscle that atrophies from disuse, I have a harder time writing if I go several days without reading. My car, house, and desk are littered with photocopies of articles, Post-it Notes with story ideas on them, and cryptic intro paragraphs for yet-to-be-written books. Most never see the light of day, but it keeps things interesting.
  • I’m always sending articles to people. When you meet people with particular passions or hobbies, it’s great to be able to send them related articles or, nowadays, the links to the articles. People appreciate it, and I appreciate it when people do it for me.
  • The Web will never replace magazines. No matter how slick the Web is, there is something visceral about holding a magazine in your hands. No computer can ever replace it.

Now you know about my addiction. I’m not proud of it. If I haven’t included your favorite magazine on my list, please enlighten me. I’d hate to think that I’m missing a magazine I should add to my mailman’s burden. My wife and I thank you. Well, really, just I do.

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