I recognize the masthead of a magazine in a tousled pile on the table next to my seat in the waiting room. It’s a publication I subscribed to for the better part of my adult life. I pick it up, surprised at the thinness of it. Once, every month I looked forward to settling in and diving into the articles it presented, but I gave up my subscription when it seemed to be more advertisement than anything else.

That, and it was around the time that surfing and scrolling came into being. Now, we read in smaller bytes—memes and short status updates—because we’re busy and there’s a whole world of information we have to stay on top of.

My wait time is short and I don’t get far in the magazine. I see that it is still mostly advertising, and that makes me a little bit sad, but there’s something comforting about turning the paper pages. I scan features that cater to our attention deficit twenty-first-century minds and see things I didn’t know existed before. Simple things, but things that pique my interest.

I remember evenings when Mom and I drove to the drugstore to pick up a couple of magazines, then whiled away the evening reading them. I think about that one magazine left over from my teenage years that my daughter still has tucked away somewhere, and how my granddaughter will get a kick out of it one day. And the stacks of quilting magazines I just pulled out of a cabinet so it would be light enough for Gerry to move. One day again, I’ll spend a Saturday morning paging through them.

I decide that I’ll leave my phone in my purse from now on when I’m waiting, and pick up a magazine instead. I’ll do it while I can because one day magazines are likely to become obsolete in waiting rooms.

When we get home, I log in to the app on my iPad that allows me to check out digital copies of magazines from my library. I poke around at the offerings, of which there are many. It’s been a long time since I read any here, and when I did I was prone to scroll and swipe my way through them. The the experience was not quite the same as turning the pages in a physical magazine.

And I ponder what we’ve allowed happen to us.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. You remind me of my tousled pile. I’ve subscribed to The New Yorker for decades, but I just can’t keep on top of the issues that keep rolling into my mailbox weekly. The Smithsonian mails me envelopes pleading for my subscription, but I resist because I know I can’t keep up.

    My dad drove up to Dorsheimer’s in E-town on Saturday nights and buy magazines, including LIFE. I remember him coming home and tearing out pages he didn’t approve of, like half-naked women, though they were wearing rather modest swimsuits. Ha!

    I like turning paper pages too, Linda.

  2. Turning pages is a good thing! I enjoy it so much I’ve been checking out physical books from the library. I love the feel of the paper and the little extra movement in turning a paper page rather than tapping my Kindle screen for the next page. My dad was a printer/publisher and my love of paper and ink hasn’t died, but it appears to be on the downhill run like so many things I grew up cherishing. For now, I’ll continue to do some magazine and book reading just for the joy of turning the pages.

  3. I used to subscribe to a few magazines but it has been many years since I renewed any of them.

    1. Same here, Dee.

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