Monday, November 25, 2013

Saying Au Revoir to Magazines

The last of my magazines waiting to be read and donated

In my quest to simplify, I have come to realise that magazines do not currently have a place in the vision I have for my life. They have always been a bit of a love/hate thing for me. On the one hand I get excited to see the new glossy covers for the month and the possibilities that lie inside.

But on the other hand, all that gloss falls away literally as soon as I get home and I see that I have many others that look very similar, and I haven’t read them completely yet and it almost seems a chore to do so. When I do, it’s to get rid of them and I flick through searching for the odd good article but finding mostly ads and vacuous sound-bites that do nothing to improve the quality of my life.

I think I’ll find that one sentence or point of view that will change my life, make everything click into place but I never do, and I’ve realised I don’t need to. Everything I need to know is already inside me and will come out at the right time.

And I haven’t even mentioned the envy yet. The feeling of ‘not good enough’ and inadequacy I get from seeing a perfectly staged home in exactly the style I think I want, well, I am paying someone to make me feel this way?

What I need most is not stacks of magazines staring at me and taking up space, but the calm and serenity of an empty space, where those magazines once sat.

Even ordering the latest magazines from the library has lost its appeal, and that seemed like a perfect system when I found out about it. I can order in specific copies, and yes I might have to wait a couple of weeks, but I can still read them for free, and then return them after a fortnight.

Even this, the free, no-clutter magazine solution is not for me. Two weeks would almost be up and I hadn’t even opened them. So I’d spend the night before they were due back scanning them so I had ‘read’ them.

By their very nature, magazines are not the place to find information on living a simple and stress-free life, how to dress in a classic way and not buy new clothes all the time, how to not spend much and live frugally. Why? Because they are a vehicle to sell you things. Things that you didn’t even know you needed or wanted.

Having worked for a huge French cosmetic company before I became a self-employed shopgirl, I know that the editorial pages, where items are written about in an ‘impartial’ manner, are filled with the products of advertisers. If you don’t advertise then you will be unlikely to get promoted in the editorial pages.

So really, I have been paying for shopping catalogues all these years. Yes, I admit, I have torn a lot of good and interesting pages from magazines (just my own mind, removing library magazine pages should be a criminal offence) and these are in files that I periodically read. But I could have lived without them. And I am now on a quest to go through those files and bin a lot of the info, because it isn’t anything special. The rare diamond will go into the ‘keep’ pile. How is it that something you previously thought was fun has turned into work?

I have been working on thinning down my style files this week, and I would estimate at least 4/5 of what I had has gone into the recycling. It has been quite an illuminating exercise though. Much of the written information that was helpful at the time, I now do as a matter of course, and some magazine articles I look at and think ‘I could have written better myself’.

In the home-style file, it was fun to flick through all the images and easily see the ones that weren’t quite me, or might have been me a few years ago. Now I can see I just need to tweak the odd thing here and there in our home to achieve the style I am drawn to (I want to add a bit of shine to my decor to pretty up the rustic).

So my library magazine request list is down from a dozen titles to just one for now. I vow not to buy any magazines, not that that will be hard as I’m already not buying magazines. And the magazines I have designated as being keepers (the handful of Victoria magazines I have, as I find those very relaxing to read) I will be reading through one at a time, and donating.

Sure I’ll read through the odd one here or there if I’m passed them on, or if I’m in a waiting room. I’m not totally anti-magazine. However I know that doing this one thing of eliminating magazines for the most part will encourage peace and serenity in my daily life. I’d far rather read a book.

I feel like I am being quite ruthless and a little bit dramatic about it but you have to be. You have to decide how you want to spend your time because it is precious, and life is short. I want what I choose to be in my life, not any old twaddle that finds its way to my door.

I spent at least an hour on my last day off reading through house and garden and Vogue-type magazines so that I could donate them. I also spent a similar amount of time weeding in our garden. Crazy as it sounds, the weeding gave me much more satisfaction, and it was exercise at the same time. Not that I was doing cartwheels on the lawn, but getting up and down and moving around is better for you than sitting on your bum on the carpet wishing you didn’t have so many magazines to get rid of (yes, another first world problem as they say).

I’m doing really well with my decluttering (for those of us that naturally accumulate ‘stuff’ it may be a lifelong endeavour) but there are just those last few areas, like this one of magazines, that need to be dealt with. They are almost like a weedy patch that keeps sprouting up!

Just as there are ‘hotspots’ in your home that seem to become cluttered automatically and need constant vigilance, I think there can be genres or categories for each of us that require strictness to stop them getting out of control and adding stress to our life.

I hasten to add, please don’t think I am bagging magazines. Over the years they have been a great friend and have provided me with company and inspiration. But now, well, I think it’s time for my old friend and I to amicably part company.


  1. I got rid of magazines last September due to many of the same reasons. It was difficult at first, but now I don't miss them at all! It is freeing not to have a deluge of opinions filling my mind and instead choosing what's right for me instinctively.

  2. Hi Fiona,
    Another post that I can relate to. I stopped buying glossy magazines several years ago for the same reasons that you mentioned. The only exclusion are sewing and knitting magazines. Gradually I (almost) stopped buying them too because I have enough to choose a pattern that I like and need when I am going to make something. My goal is to make better use of what I own already. It is so common to knit one pattern from a knitting book (which could cost up to £20) and then being tempted to buy the next one.
    Thank you for a lovely post.

  3. Anonymous, you're so right. It's nice not to have all those other opinions in my head.

    Maria, you have reminded me that I bought a couple of issues of Burda that I will be keeping, and that was thanks to you! They are very inspiring and who knows, I might even make a garment out of them.

  4. Great post! It's refreshing to know I'm not alone in my magazine guilt. I feel guilty when I don't read them, but yet, sometimes I just don't want to read them and scan them quickly before throwing them away. What's the point? I've always been suspicious of those "beauty editorials". Now I know.

  5. Stephanie, haha, 'magazine guilt'. I love it!

  6. I also have a conflicted relationship with mags tho I now enjoy taking the mick out of them. I did a short stint in fashion or so I take them with a pinch of salt but it is amusing and I feel it is always interesting to see editorials to analyze decades after if anything. That's why I enjoy blogs because there is less chaff and real reviews.

  7. CSW, yes I agree that blogs have replaced magazines for many, including myself.

  8. Dear Fiona, I haven't owned a magazine in years but I do on occasion quickly look through one or two if I am at the store. Usually they are not fashion related though, I go for the finance ones (Kiplinger's, Money, etc…). I love reading about people that have gotten out of debt and are now learning about investing and so on. I wholeheartedly agree with you that you could personally write something more interesting than many of the articles out there!

  9. Hi Fiona, great article.i felt the same too. I gave my monthly subscription of magazaine for something more. I invested on books. Well some of them are ebooks but it is worth it. I dont have to worry about decluttering anymore :)

  10. I have one stack of Jeanne D'Arc magazines left and I discontinued my subsciption earlier in the year as I felt the same way that you have mentioned here.
    I kept one magazine subscription because of the articles and quality writing, it is Town and Country.

    I am using the public library a lot more now as I decided that I can live more frugally if I borrow them and I do not need to store them after I have read them!

    Another delightful post Fiona.
    Your table looks like it is in the arts and crafts style...beautiful lines and lovely to look at.

  11. Anonymous, I love those personal finance articles too. They are very inspiring.

    Nikki, thank you! When you have paid for a magazine, whether it's a single issue or a subscription, it's really hard to let go of it. Well at least that's what I've found.

    Leslie, my Dad built the table, and his house is in the Arts and Crafts style, so he's obviously influenced by that. There are only a handful of brass screws holding the top on, and the rest is all pegged/slotted in by his own design. Libraries are win/win aren't they? Thrifty and no clutter.

  12. Fiona, I have loved magazines all my life and currently have 3 subscriptions. However, I've been feeling a bit like you recently. I'm a hoarder where magazines are concerned and it used to be a pleasure to go through my old copies - but now I don't really have the time for that. I recycled a huge batch a while ago and still have a pile left to work on. Good for you for being so resolute!

  13. Hi Fiona,
    I just discovered that your blog is back online and I can't tell you how thrilled I am! I've just finished reading all the posts I'd missed since you came back. I'm now ready to re-do some of my jeans and make them skinnier. (I thought that would be too hard.) I'm also thinking about whether I need (probably not)the magazines that are cluttering my house. Looking forward to reading your blog again!!!

  14. I used to be a magazine addict but don't find them nearly as inspiring now. Most are full of the same adds and have little useful substance. I might buy a few at the beginning of the season and that's all now.

  15. Thank you! I needed to hear this. I feel exactly the same way!

  16. Maybe you could just keep the Victoria ones to decorate with. They are so pretty.

  17. Love your table and your style! I find I don't think I'm buying many magazines but then when I'm decluttering I''m always surprised and dismayed at the stack that has built up, especially when I realize the fleeting joy they provided vs other longer term pleasure I might have had I put that combined expense towards a special decor item or experience instead... I also think we risk passively reading about a life we aspire to in magazines, rather than actively doing what it takes to build that life in reality. Which is why I love and am inspired by what you're achieving each week in your home and life. Thank you

  18. I could have written this - because I agree with so much of it - except that I don't have trouble reading my magazines. I love reading the good ones. But so many are disappointing. I have several friends I see regularly and we tend to exchange our magazines until everyone has had a chance at them. Then they go to the lady who works in an ENT unit at an NHS hospital. Sadly, the people there seem to walk off with the reading material and the children take away the colouring supplies. There is no budget for these items and because Lucy thinks they are important, our magazines go to replace the ones that were taken. I don't feel at all bad about ripping out pages before they go, but like you I find those pages don't hold their magic for all that long. I'm sad that magazines have somehow dumbed down, but happy that there are fabulous blogs to replace them - I'm sure the two are not unrelated.

  19. I can relate to this post sooo much! I am disappointed with most magazines these days. I have decided that I'll let all my subscriptions expire (I have too many) except for Victoria and Prevention--I still really do enjoy and learn from those. Thank you for expressing how I realize I've been feeling about magazines, and the further inspiration to just let them go! ~~MJ~~

  20. Fiona, you have articulated my thoughts exactly. I gave up buying magazines 2 years ago and have slowly got rid of my existing stash (with a few exceptions). Buying them only stirred up negative feelings: time consuming, clutter, feelings of inadequacy, anger at the pages being mostly adverts, cost. I tallied up what I was spending for a year (SHOCK) which made my decision simple. I feel much lighter now and don't miss them at all.

  21. I have always been a magazine junkie since i was a teen and must have wasted a huge amount of money over the years, despite the entetrtainment factor.
    A few years ago I really reduced my consumption of mags quite drastically, keeping only one subscription. Then a whole slew of new countrystyle mags started to come out and suddenly there I was with a pile... I knew I had to put on the brakes, no matter how nice they are! Now there is only one that is not monthly that I occasionally buy and after 15 years I have decided to give up my last subscription and cull the backlog - I used to keep so many tear-outs as inspiration till I realised I was now keeping images of places that look like what I already have LOL!!
    Now that e-mags are easily available and take up little space except in bytes, that is my little luxury for a country mag and a craft/knitting mag plus the occasional treat.
    And I no longer tear out pages or articles - I photograph or digitise them and again, save space and can browse the pics I like most if I get the urge ;). That way , they are complete if someone else wants the pretty glossies!


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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