What’s Inside?

People come in to the library all the time and tell us that they’ve just tried a new author.  Sometimes, it’s successful, other times, it isn’t. So, it got me thinking about magazines.  There are those I read religiously, and others I’ll scan through on occasion.  But what about those magazines I never, ever under any circumstances, read?  Do they not have good articles?  Or is the content just not something I’m interested in?

I stood in front of our rack of magazines in the library and thought about those questions carefully.  Then, I chose four–two of which did not seem appealing to me and two that I knew I could probably get through. I’ll admit, I didn’t read them all cover to cover, but I was surprised at what I found.  They were all interesting! (Or at least, I found something interesting in each of them.)

So, what did I read? And what kind of content did I find? Read on…..

The first one was the August 18th issue of The Economist.  It was a surprisingly interesting mix of articles, broken down by geographical region! If I wanted to read about what’s happening in China, it was easy to flip to the section. And under each region, there was a nice selection of political news, economic information, sports and business etc.  the magazine also included a section divided up into topics like arts, politics, money etc.  I found this format to be very different than most magazines, and yet very easy to work with.

There were also some fascinating executive job postings that you wouldn’t normally see in other mags. For example, there was one for a Director of Research for the Africa Economic Research Consortium.  Where else would you come across something like this if you were job hunting, or even thinking about it?

And finally, the article that grabbed my attention most was one on France’s difficulties with Romanian Gypsies setting up camps throughout their country. Apparently, the government is having trouble controlling the unsanitary and dangerous conditions they live under. Who knew?

The second magazine I chose was the April 2012 issue of Canadian Geographic.  I expected to like this one a little bit. What could be bad about photos of interesting places and people? I was a little surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) that it was very much in the same vein as National Geographic Magazine, with lots of long, long, long articles (think 13 pages for one article on the Niagara Tunnel Hydro Project) and a few accompanying photos.  There were, however, wonderful photos  and a whole section on travel-themed book reviews.

I think I would pick this magazine up again and maybe flip through, but it won’t become one of my regular reads. Just too much commitment for an article. I might read something that is five pages, maybe a little more, but it would have to REALLY capture my attention.

The next magazine was a shot in the dark, one of the mags in which I would never normally even read the cover headings! Men’s Health, the June 2012 issue, was a surprisingly GREAT magazine…and one which barely strayed from the format and articles I read in women’s magazines, only aimed at the opposite sex. Okay, that’s probably why I thought it was great. I was comfortable with the read, and didn’t find the content all that biased towards men (except for a couple of very specific articles.)  This was the Foodie Issue, so there were plenty of great articles about great food, along with some fantastic looking recipes. I considered trying one of them out, even.

There were the usual pages about health, geared towards men, of course, but anyone could get something out of these articles on Biking for Fitness or the Boot Camp Workout. I was particularly impressed with the article which was several pages long, regarding over the counter medications. Sure, they were the ones men might be looking for most, but there were some great pointers in buying pain relievers etc.

My favourite (and most serious) article, was a short tips page on how to prevent armpit stains on your shirts!  It seemed comical at first, but as I read it, I realized the tips were good and it explained why some shirts get soiled more easily than others, even when there isn’t a lot of sweating involved.

Last, but not least on my desk, was the September 24, 2012 issue of Sportsnet Magazine.  Yes, I read it. No, I’ve never read a sports magazine in my life and have to admit, I don’t have one sport that I eagerly follow. The pages were full of a variety of sports, and not just Canadian teams, which surprised me a little. There was a preview of the upcoming football season, which is probably as eagerly awaited for football lovers as the TV guide new fall show preview is for TV lovers. I’m going to pass this magazine along to one of my co-workers, who has a dream of doing an entire baseball stadium tour one day.  Well, someone did it here and it’s documented well in a very engaging article.

So as not to lose any fashion-forward sports lovers, I guess, there was a Men’s Fall Fashion Update included (maybe so men could show their wives they’re reading about something other than golf?). I learned how to fold a Pocket Square correctly, which was NOT what I thought I’d say when I first opened this magazine. Interesting mix!

I won’t be taking out a subscription on any of these magazines, but I won’t make any snap judgements on similar spreads in the future. Maybe I’ll even pick one up while waiting in the dentist’s office sometime, instead of reaching for the usual Chatelaine or Hello! magazine. It opened my eyes, and I hope it might influence you to also try something new on the shelf once in a while.  You never know what you might learn!


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