Monday, April 27, 2009

Your advice please: how to manage a love affair

I really loved this piece by Jonathan Kay on his love affair with newspapers (the paper kind): how he came to love them and why he loves them still.  His point on the responsibility they provoke on their readers is bang on and he put into words a sentiment I, as an active subscriber to dead trees, have never been able to do.  

Newspapers (and other forms of the printed word), by sitting there, remind us that "the world is sending you homework."  And doing homework is an important part of everyone's responsibility to themselves and the world around them.

I share Jon's love and his belief in the importance of the daily reminder not to be intellectually lazy, even if it means waking up with newsprint on your cheek.  It's something that the web, in all its fabulousness, just doesn't do.  Newspapers and their brethren remind me why it's important to remain curious about lots of things.  Furthermore, like my mother did when I was young, they remind me that I have to do my daily bit of homework.

Perhaps my mother was too successful, though, as I have dug myself into a paper habit that threatens to overtake me.  I share Jon's newspaper (albeit more limited... this one comes Monday-Saturday and this one on Sunday), and an even worse magazine habit.  Like with a good bar of chocolate or bottle of red wine, once I start I can't stop.  

I'm overwhelmed.  My house is stacked with dusty reading material that I can't part with until it's at least skimmed.  I'm killing trees.  I think it's important to stay in touch, challenged and engaged, but I'm feeling guiltier by the day.  And there's only so much guilt one can healthily handle.

Dear readers, I need your help.  Here's where I'm at:

I've tried to cull, to some success (e.g., I cancelled this one, this one and this one, as they were the last ones I'd read, but my decision on the latter made me feel guilty for not supporting the Canadian magazine industry so I resubscribed one year later).  

I've tried resisting, to greater success (e.g., sometimes Rogers sends me Canadian Business and Chatelaine for free for a couple of months and I so want to subscribe, even though the copies are still sitting unread beside the toilet, but I don't; when Conde Nast launched Portfolio I confined myself to the newsstand copies only, thank goodness).  

I've also tried aggregating, largely through an ever-growing list of web tools (including this one, great for headlines and for following the future of news discussion, and this one) plus the wisdom of friends.  However, I'm finding all these feeds and recommendations are only furthering and not alleviating my guilt (e.g., I have so many unread blog posts and browser windows with half-read Twitter links that I'm drowning).

And this doesn't include my book habit, which is another matter all together, or my favourite podcasts or my attempts to get a more global perspective.

So here's where I'm at now.  I get Maclean's for a general overview and out of loyalty to the publication (I'm a third generation subscriber), to friends that work there and to a belief in the importance of strong current affairs magazines to any country's democracy (i.e., it's not going anywhere).  I get Spacing and the Walrus and read Corporate Knights for the same reason.  

Toronto Life is fun, so it comes monthly, as does House & Home, a great gift for an otherwise design-impaired new homeowner (thanks SCR!).  

I get the New Yorker to make me smarter and remind me what I loved about living in the US when I did.  And the NYT magazine comes on Sundays.  Oh, and I also get this and this at work, and recently this, due to another generous gift, also turned up.

What's a girl to do?  Advice?  What do you read?  What would you recommend?


andrew potter said...

I read six daily papers but that's because it's my job. I canceled all magazines except Maclean's. I also get the LRC, CityJournal, and Policy Options.

The rest is from the web.

Martin McKay said...

Keep them all. You'll regret cancelling subscriptions.

Reva said...

We have the exact same problem - maybe a kindle is the solution?

Although not sure that magazines are available on them yet...If you come up with a solution - post it! We have the exact same situation overwhelming us at our house...