I've always enjoyed reading magazines and catalog. My mom used to worry about me because my favorite section of the annual "Sears Christmas Wishbook" wasn't the toys or the sporting goods; but rather it was the section between them. That's right, the gift boxes of cheeses, sausages and candy! I can vividly remember the red and while candy ribbons and the cool little chocolate Santa in the middle of it all.
I think that's where it started. Years later in High School (1980) I took a speed reading class, where I eventually clocked 1000 words a minute with 98% comprehension. Not bad, but even with that "gift" I wasn't all that interested in literature. No, I checked-out every book from our school library that related to tools, handyman interests, true crime stories and history, but most of all I discovered magazines. And did they have magazines! They had 50+ years of Popular Mechanics, Popular Science and Mechanics Illustrated! I read every one from cover to cover. In fact, I still have the smell of those old yellowed pages permanently etched into my memory.
I moved on to Time Magazine, National Geographic and even Better Home and Garden. My true favorites were Hands-On Magazine from Shopsmith, and later Fine Woodworking.
Fast forward over 30 years and even I can admit that I have a problem. I subscribe to Wood Magazine, Fine Woodworking, Cooks Illustrated, Cigar Aficionado, Variety (that one's a mystery to me, but I read it), Woodshop News, Fine Home Building, SalesXP, Cabinetmaker+FDM, American Woodworker, Incentive Magazine, and Closets. Add to that the magazines that I buy at the news stand and you can imagine how they add up.
Oh, then there's the catalogs: I get three versions of the Lee Valley catalog: Hardware, Woodworking and Gardening, Woodcraft, Rockler, King Size (fat dude duds), Woodworkers Supply, Micro-Mark, L.L. Bean, MSC Direct, Reid Supply, Grabger, McMaster/Carr, Penn State Industries, Craft Supply, Hartville Tools, Highland Woodworking, Jamestown Distributors, West Systems.... Most of these are woodworking and tool related, but that's not a hard and fast rule.
So what's wrong with any of this? Can't a guy read a few magazines and catalogs without annoying his wife?
Well, I guess I need to confess the rest of the story, and this isn't an exaggeration... I have almost every catalog and magazine that I've ever read. They're next to my recliner; they're in the book case in the living room. They're in bankers boxes in the garage, my closet, the bonus room, under the sink in the bath room, and in my wood shop. They're in my work book case, on my desk, under my desk, in my training room, and so on and so on.
I've actually purged some of them, but what's really weird is that I still read them! I think this is somehow indicative of my interest in EVERYTHING, and has fueled my ability to retain tons of useful and trivial information; and the DIY magazines certainly have helped my mechanical knowledge. That said, as of this post my bride has put up with me and my magazines for almost 30 years and I really do understand her frustration and appreciate her patience.
One final thought. I know that some folks will understand the magazine thing but still be asking themselves why I would possibly want to keep old catalogs??? One of these days I promise to tell you the story of the Woodworkers Supply covers, but that wound is still too fresh. Am I a hoarder? I don't want to be, but if I apply a purely clinical definition, I would have to admit that yeah, to some extent I am. But hey, just think of all the interesting stuff that my bride will be able to sell on eBay when I die. My goal is that they'll all be well over a hundred years old by then... and well read.