Thursday, April 17, 2008

Reader's Digest

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!


Altoid said...

Same here...RD has been around in our household forever. And I've been subscribing to it since I've moved here. But unlike you, I am no pack rat :D. Impressed- that you managed to stash them away for so long, and news to me that you could post and give it away through Craigslist. *shaking head* some things never cease to amaze me...

Amen to vive la RD!

சிங்கம்லே ACE !! said...

Same here too.. Dont remember when i started reading it.. my granpa and my mom used to have all teh old RD's neatly stacked for me to make a mess in the name of reading :)

Archana said...

Altoid - trust me, I had no idea myself that someone will actually willingly take away old magazines! But see, now you know :-D. But of course, not being a pack-rat, I guess you won't have much useless stuff to give away (my apt, on the other hand, is always garage-sale-ready :-P).

Ace - lol :-D! That sounds familiar!

Shilpa said...

You gave them sweet of you !!

I read a lot of RD back in India; loved the jokes at the end of articles :-)

T said...

what do they use it for? Did you ask them?

I have a whole stack of Time magazines( my bookshelf is so bent because of their weight). I was trying to figure out if any school needs it for a art class or something.

Joy said...

Et Tu? Yup, grew up on RD amongst others. I subscribed to it few years back but the quality has definitely deteriorated. Now I just pick it up from local library and read the lighter content online on

SK said...

erm..looks like I am friends with erudite scholars who started reading RD at the age of 3, you, Shilpa, Altoid, ;--), while I only came to know of it, at the ripe old age I think.

It was Campak and Gokulam for me. No one fought with me for the issues :--D Bro was too young, and parents too old.

Survivor said...

Interesting to read your blog 'coz I was cleaning around the house couple of weeks back and found that I have been stashing my RDs (as you said, a family legacy for me too :-)) .Couldn't part with them, instead bundled them all up and moved it to the garage..I know it sounds silly but time..

Archana Bahuguna said...

I guess we all are RD fans. You really did a good job by not throwing them away. If I were in your place I would keep stuff until "someone else" would throw it away and I could fool my mind into not feeling guilty :-).

Joy said...

You are tagged. Please don't let me down. :)

Archana said...

Shilpa - thank you :-)!

T - no idea, did not feel like asking them! If you find out sth to do with the Time magazines, let me know, I have a whole stack of them here too :-(! BTW, did you try advertising on craig's list?

Joy - that's always a good option :-)!

SK - lol :-)! Erudite scholars I believe - lol :-))! At least in my case, for a long time, all that the erudite scholar did was to gape at the colorful pictures!

Survivor - nah, not at all silly. That sound's exactly like something I would do - only I do not have a garage to shove all my keepsakes into :-(!

Archana - hehehe :-)! For all I know, the lady who took them away might be doing the throwing for me...

Joy - done, lady! Though the other AB beat me to it :-)!

Entropy said...

I totally love RD too. And my grandfather was a loyal RD subscriber too. And I cannot throw away old issues either.
ok, now that I have established an RD-bond between the two of us, may I please run your post on my blog too ?

Archana said...

Entropy - Of course! I am honored :-D!

Entropy said...


Laksh said...

Stumbled on your blog by chance and am having a lovely time reading through the recent posts. Guess I will have to earmark time to skim through the archives. Am glad I found your blog. I can relate to a lot of what you write and considering most of what I write is on similar lines, I feel a kinship. Specially the RD post.

Anonymous said...

I came here through laksh's blog.When i read this blog i was happy to find a person who shares my same interest with RD.I also started having relationship with RD from my young days.I also treated Rd the same way as you did by making check marks on it when playing teacher games.After coming to US i have been subscribing to RD regularly and i have lined all the issues in order in my book shelf.I don't think i will be able to give them away yet.


Meira said...

Yeah, RD has been a childhood companion and yeah again...have hoarded almost all issues . But give them away...geez!that'l be hard.
you write well.

Archana said...

Laksh - welcome aboard :-D! Am so happy that you are enjoying reading through my blog :-)!

Anila - Welcome aboard :-D! Ya, it takes time to get to the point where you can give them away with only minor pangs!

Meira - Welcome aboard :-D! Thank you :-)!

Anonymous said...

There is something about Readers Digest and fan loyalty.
My grand-uncle has the collection from 1950 and apart from the articles, I am so fond of seeing ads and how they have changed over 50 years. So many brands like Point washing powder, Khatau sarees are not heard of anymore. The fashion styles.then and was like watching Om Shanthi Om without the dialogs.

Archana said...

Nikhila - welcome aboard :-)! True - the ads are very interesting to see!it was like watching Om Shanthi Om without the dialogs. is such a neat way of expressing it!