My earliest memories of Reader's Digest date back to the time I was in kindergarten. Contrary to what you may have concluded, I was not a child prodigy, able to read the magazine from cover to cover at the ripe old age of 3. Rather, I used to find in the magazine's pages, a pretty convenient place to write "check" marks with a red pen, finally giving "scores" at the end of each article with flourish, just like Sandhya miss in my LKG class did in my notebooks. Of course, as soon my parents discovered this new hobby, it died a premature death.
Reader's Digest(RD) has been a part of my household for as long as I remember. Dad started subscribing to it from the time he started working, much to my mom's delight. It meant that she would not have to give up reading RD (which my grandfather used to subscribe to) after marriage. Little wonder then, when sis and me came into existence, this family interest got passed on to us too.
Starting around age 7, I was able to read the simpler page fillers and the simpler jokes in the various features like "Life is like that", "Laughter the best medicine" and so on. As I grew older, I started reading pretty much the entire magazine. I also had fun reading interesting old RD article collections (which mom had patiently clipped out and bound) as well as the collections published by RD itself (I still have fond memories of a book of short stories which had stories like "Lamb to the slaughter", "The selfish giant" and "The wedding gift").
Irrespective of the number of transfers my dad went through, RD subscriptions always followed. When a new issue of RD arrived, there would be a tussle as to who would read it first. Mom was soon relegated to late mornings and noon as the only time when she could get her hands on it (when the rest of us were at work/school). Sis and me would fight over it when we got back from school - soon, a reading schedule was brought into existence to restore peace in the household. Dad of course, could choose anytime he wanted (ah, the perks of being head of household :-)).
During exam time, while cable TV connection got disconnected at friends' and cousins' houses, it stayed untouched in my house. Instead, mom would hide new issues of RD! Of course, we subscribed to other magazines too but somehow RD had a special pride of place.
To my dismay, around the time I was finishing my undergraduate education, I started noticing a deterioration in the quality of the RD articles. But hey, it was by no means poor quality and besides, it was still The Reader's Digest!
Once I got to the US, RD was sporadically subscribed to by roomies. But it was no longer a constant, unchanging part of my life. Then, a couple of years ago, my manager gifted me a with subscription to RD. Yippee!
I started receiving RD regularly and continued subscribing to it. Good or bad, RD was a source of comfort, a sign of being at "home" - home being defined by as a place always having the latest issue of RD. Of course, I enjoyed reading it too. And so it has been since then.
Last week, I got into a fever of house-cleaning. I found that, true to my hoarding tendencies, I had stored *every* issue of RD I had ever got from the time I started subscription. In a way, I guess this was a legacy from my childhood days when RD magazines alone were not thrown away easily (you really did not think that I would miss an opportunity to squarely place the hoarding blame elsewhere, did you).
Anyway, hardening my heart, I gathered them all into a big plastic bag, to be taken to the dumpster. Then, I felt bad. Nice magazines - why throw them away? Maybe I could donate them to someone who wanted them. The local library seemed like a bad option. Google to the rescue! I discovered that apparently there were places to give away stuff. Then it struck me, Craigslist!
Late on Friday night, I placed an ad on Craigslist - "Free old issues of Reader's Digest magazine", it proclaimed - with little hope of response. My main aim was to assuage my guilty conscience by proving to myself that I had tried *not* throwing those magazines away.
To my pleasant surprise, within the next 10 minutes, I had a response from a lady saying that she wanted to pick them up the very next day. Before morning came, I had two more positive responses. The next day noon, the lady stopped by my house and picked up the RDs. Resolutely shaking off my last bit of possessiveness I handed over the bag of old RDs to her, just managing to not add in a choked voice, "Please take good care of them".
Vive la Reader's Digest!