Monday, April 27, 2009


I'm beginning to believe I have a serious problem with magazines. Subtle hints are being dropped.

WIFE: Hey knucklehead, you have a serious problem with magazines!
ME: Huh?
WIFE: Your side of the bedroom is a fire hazard.
ME: Wha??

Upon further inspection, I realized my wife was right. The pile of magazines on my nightstand was threatening to topple over and crush me as I slept. magazinestack

At last count, there were exactly 176 magazines stacked precariously, towering over my lamp and clock/radio (I didn't bother to count the magazines stuffed into ten or fifteen magazine holders on the floor). That's dangerous enough, but here's the really debilitating part--I have a burning need to read every page of every one of them. Maybe not every word, but I have to at least scan the headlines and get the gist of what's going on (yes, this includes the ads).

The magazines run the gamut: Newsweek, Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Links, Travel + Leisure Golf**, GolfStyles, Golf World (hey, I've spotted a pattern!), Wired, Alumni magazines, Consumer Reports, Washington Checkbook, Business Week, Technology Review, MIT/Sloan Management Review, Washington Post Magazine, Bethesda, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food (I like to look at pictures of food!), Architectural Digest (I like to look at pictures of houses!), Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, and Sporting News (hey, another pattern!). Plus others.

Don't get the wrong idea. I'm not well-read.

I'm simply well-subscribed.

You see, I haven't actually read most of those magazines (but I will...).

The reason for my compulsion is obvious to me. I'm afraid of missing out on some vital, world-changing bit of information. You never know when you're going to find the key to self-actualization in Psychology Today or discover the perfect powerhouse anti-oxidant-laden miracle food in the pages of the Nutrition Action Healthletter. And I know (to a near certainty) that if I read enough golf tiger_woodsmagazines, I'll get my handicap down into the single digits*** (yo, watch out Tiger).  

Even more compelling is the belief that, hiding somewhere in that teetering stack of glossy, beckoning pages, is the kernel of an idea for my next book (and boy, it's gonna be a bestseller). I am utterly convinced of this.

My affliction extends to newspapers, too (maybe more so--the information within can be very time-sensitive). When we go out of town, I don't stop delivery. Instead, I ask a neighbor to collect all my papers, so I can read them when I get home****. And when I return, I'm antsy until I plow through all of them. I mean, what if the secret to beating the bear market was in last Tuesday's Business section, and I missed it? How would I feel about that?

My family thinks I'm a little kooky about this. They've been encouraging me to make a trip to the recycling center to, uh, solve my problem*****. What do you think? Any suggestions to help me out?

And please, don't even ask about my skyscraper of books to-be-read. That makes my pile-o'-magazines look like an anthill!



*When my wife starts talking in ALL-CAPS, I start paying attention!

**I don't travel much, nor do I have any leisure time. Just wishful thinking.

***Yes, I probably have more than a hundred golf magazines waiting to be read, despite the fact I've only played a total of seven rounds in the past three years. Like I said, I have a problem.

****You don't even want to know about the days after we returned from a two-month, cross-country vacation a few years ago. It wasn't pretty. 

*****I recycle all paper. You should too.



A BIG THANKS to Laura Lippman and G.M. Malliet for their terrific three-part interview in last week’s blog.

See it here: Part I, Part II, Part III.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I'd be talking in ALL CAPS to you, too.

But it would make for a great mystery - the corpse is found in the middle of a pile of toppled magazines and newspapers, and he'd been there a long, long time.

Terri Thayer said...

Just think how much golf you could play if you stopped reading magazines.

I was in the Herndon area yesterday. Went to the wine festival in Reston. Maybe. My son was driving and we were all over the map, so I'm not clear where we were at any given time. I did find Ocean Waves at the B&N there. Beautiful this time of year, but the weather is too darn hot.

Cricket McRae said...

Alan, I sympathize. I, too, had a problem, especially with having to read everything cover to cover, including the ads. Finally,I stopped ALL magazine and newspaper subscriptions (yep -- even the golf ones). Painful at first, but now I don't miss them. Much.

Not too hot here -- it's snowing!

Alan Orloff said...

Sue Ann: Mummy in the Magazines? Death by READER's DIGEST? TIME for Dying?

Terri: The wine festival was indeed in Reston. Adjacent to Reston Town Center. At least you had some beverages to quench your heat-induced thirst.

Cricket: I've given up reading the backs of cereal boxes. I figure that will free up some time (baby steps!)

Feeding the Grey Cells said...

I envision the skyscraper of magazines tumbline down upon you with only legs sticky out (like the witches legs in the Wizard of Oz.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, before it is too late! -- lol.

Jess Lourey said...

Alan, I recommend getting 30 cats and frequently stepping outside in a half-open robe and slippers to shake your fist at kids, real or imagined. Alone, the magazine collecting is odd, but as part of a package, it's solid.

G.M. Malliet said...

I'm with Jess. Don't forget: The robe should be yellow chenille to really cement your reputation.

I still have a New Yorker addiction but I've cut way back on other subscriptions. Had to.

Alan Orloff said...

Gray Cells: Please, no flying monkeys! They terrify me to this day.

Jess: I don't need to step outside to scold children :) And I'm afraid my slippers no longer fit, since I've been growing my toenails really, really long.

GM: I traded my New Yorker sub for MAD Magazine. Draw whatever conclusions you wish.

Julia Buckley said...

Alan, in addition to loving magazines (although I don't have quite as many as you do), I have a reputation in my family for loving to collect cookbooks, even poring over pretty-looking recipes, but hating to actually cook. Go figure.

As Stephen King once wrote, we're all crazy--it's just a matter of degree. I think my degree has risen of late.

Alan Orloff said...


I collect cookbooks, too. Seriously.

I like to cook, but I don't really use recipes. I use the books more as "inspiration."

Paul Lamb said...

Over the years I had accumulated a shelf of issues from a certain magazine. I told myself that there was plenty of reference material in them and that some day I would be glad I had them. Years passed and I never once looked into them. Now I am slowly taking them to the hospital where I volunteer to give to the people who stock the waiting rooms and go to the patients with reading material. It's not quite the same as throwing them away, so I don't feel as much anguish about parting with them.

G.M. Malliet said...

Paul's suggestion is great. Alan, are you listening?

I have never understood the lure of golf magazines, and the fact that there seem to be dozens of different ones published each month. What can there possibly be to say? Swing club, hit ball, go retrieve ball from forest.

Julia - I've known people who not only pore over the pics in cookbooks, but read the recipes the way others might read a novel. These people do not necessarily cook, either. This has never made the least bit of sense to me.