Put your feet up

I live in a small house. And I’m not just saying that to garner sympathy. It’s just a fact. My daughter recently referred to it as “dainty.” It is one room wide, tall and deep, built shotgun style. Just for fun, I measured it: 13-feet-3 inches wide at the front narrowing to 8-feet-5 inches at the back which is about the width of a sofa. With tiny closets, a crawl space basement, an under the eaves attic and no garage, there is basically no useful storage space.

Unfortunately, we are packrats. I decided this past summer that I truly must get on top of the mess. No more distractions, no more excuses. I drew my line in the sand and decided to part with as much loose paper as possible. Lots of the decisions were easy. I cleaned out the filing cabinets and banker’s boxes of old financial records, so bills, receipts, and tax returns were shredded, school papers from long ago tossed, junk mail and catalogs discarded. My recycling bucket runneth over.

I was on a roll, making great progress, until I found my boxes of magazine clippings: garden plans that never came to fruition, craft ideas for a rainy day, travel info for places I will never go, and recipes. Piles and piles of recipes, carefully saved, mainly from Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and Southern Living. And my good intentions came to a grinding halt. Once again, I had saved too much!

I have loved magazines all my life. My mother was a huge reader of magazines, particularly of the home and garden variety. Our house was awash each month in subscriptions from the standard National Geographic, Time, Better Homes & Gardens, and Southern Living, to Gramophone (for my dad), Rolling Stone (for my brother) and Tiger Beat (for me). We supplemented this by buying even more on regular trips to the market or drugstore. When I got my own home, I kept this particular family tradition and soon a dozen or so titles were filling my mailbox. A few years ago, I did manage to put a stop to this when I decided I needed my shelf space for other things. I envy the person who can just toss at this point, but that is not me.  Sad to say, before I could bear to part with my collection, I carefully culled through my favorites, clipping articles, recipes, and pictures. I was overgenerous with my selections, hence the numerous boxes before me, plucked from their hidey holes all over the house.

I spent a couple of relaxing afternoons plowing through these clippings, marveling at what had seemed so appealing to my younger self. Mind you, most were saved from before the advent of the Internet, so once gone, these articles would not have been easy to find again. Thank goodness that’s not true anymore. With the exception of a few recipes, everything went out the door.

Now that the magazines and clippings are gone, I am absolutely determined not to bring any more home, but…beautiful magazines are everywhere, from the grocery store to the bookstore. Whenever I go into Barnes and Noble, I can hear the siren call of the newstand with its rows and rows of shiny new issues, organized by subject in overflowing tiers, flaunting their glossy cover photos of luscious gardens, mouth-watering food, celebrity gossip, gorgeous homes, all beautifully photographed and so enticing. I leaf through them, wavering, until luckily, reality hits as I look at the cover price (YIKES!) and realize that, yes, sadly I can and will have to leave them behind. I have college tuition payments to make.

Then it dawns on me. I can have my cake and eat it too, for free! I know the perfect place to get as many magazines as I could possibly ever have time to read and won’t have to worry about what to do with them afterwards.  No clip, recycle, donate dilemma whatsoever.

Did you know that the Princeton Public Library subscribes to over 300 print magazines? Just about everything but the current issue is available for a two-week check out. The library keeps the current year and the previous year of most monthly titles and the current year plus the latter half of the previous year for weeklies. The collection has something for everyone.

There are cooking magazines (Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, The Food Network Magazine), art and architecture (ArtForum, Architectural Digest, Dwell, Architectural Record), sports (Tennis, Track and Field, Sports Illustrated), music (Rolling Stone, Guitar Player, Gramophone), travel (Conde Nast Travel, National Geographic Traveler), fashion (InStyle, Essence, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar), business (The Economist, Bloomberg Businessweek, midJersey Business, Entrepreneur), science and technology (Astronomy, Science, MIT Technology Review, Popular Science) plus Consumer Reports and The New Yorker, just to name a few. The library also has a collection of health magazines including many of the Harvard Health Letters. The World Language collection, though small, has titles in Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and Italian.

And that’s just the adult collection. On the Youth Services floor, you will find popular children’s titles such as Ranger Rick, American Girl, BabyBug, Cricket, Cobblestone, and Odyssey. The teens have their own collection which includes Entertainment Weekly, Filmmaker, Animation, and Seventeen.

So next time you are out in the world and are tempted by those lovely glossies, run as fast as you can to the library, grab a stack to check out, go home, put your feet up, and wile away a quiet fall afternoon with the old fashioned pleasure of leafing through a magazine. It’s especially satisfying if you are lucky enough to own a hammock!

Blog post by Gayle Stratton.

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