I’m going to start with the commercial today. Here’s Danny Thomas for the Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes. You could win $100,000!
Reader’s Digest. Seems like I’ve seen issues of Reader’s Digest my entire life. Regardless of how old you are, you’ve probably read Reader’s Digest at some point.
Time was you could find it in waiting rooms all over. The articles and features are short enough that you can usually finish one or two of them while sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s or the dentist’s, although I haven’t seen them there too often lately. It’s also perfect for reading while you’re in the bathroom. It’s small enough to fit on the toilet tank, though I doubt that was the reason they chose that particular size.
The magazine carries short articles, either condensed from longer articles from other magazines or written specifically for it. The mix of articles is such that virtually anyone can find an article that interests them between the covers. It’s famous for its “I am Joe’s (insert name of body part or internal organ)” articles, where (for example) Joe’s gall bladder might tell you why it’s there and why it might need to be taken out. There are regular features, such as “Laughter: The Best Medicine,” where readers send in (clean) jokes, and the similar “Humor In Uniform,” where members of the armed forces and their families would send in funny stories from their time in the service. Then there are features like “Points To Ponder,” which are long quotes from a speech, article, or broadcast that give you something to think about, and “It Pays To Increase Your Word Power,” a great way to enlarge your vocabulary. It stays as apolitical as it can, not wanting to offend anyone.
My grandmother used to get Reader’s Digest, and I’d read it while I was there. I’d find one or two articles that interested me, and read the joke columns for a laugh. Then I’d start reading the other articles, for no other reason than they were there. I learned a lot from them, things that might have been over my head at first, but from which I learned things that I wouldn’t have even been curious about had the articles not been there. They were as much a part of my education as anything I learned in school.
The magazine also had a product called Condensed Books, which would take a book and reduce it down to the most critical information or parts of the story, usually getting the book down to 150-200 pages. They would publish a couple of them in a leather-bound volume every month. Grandma had a bunch of those, too, and I read a couple of them. They were like a sample, where if you liked the short version, you could get the long one from the library or the bookstore. I see a lot of them at second-hand bookstores.
Join us next week when Linda throws another word at us!