America In Your Pocket #socs

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!

29 thoughts on “America In Your Pocket #socs

  1. We got Reader’s Digest when I was a kid. I remember many of those features you mention. My aunt got the condensed books and I read lots of books from her collection. I hadn’t thought of those volumes in years. They were THE thing back in the day.


  2. Looks like we’re all dipping in the same stream today. I have memories of relatives tied up with that magazine. Grandmother, aunt, uncle – I’d find it, read it and you’re right, I learned a lot.


    1. They were great reading fare for doctor’s and dentist’s offices, I remember. I had a doctor who would schedule me for an early afternoon appointment, and I’d end up spending the afternoon reading Reader’s Digest, waiting for him to finish with all the patients…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think they still print guidelines in the magazine for people who might want to write articles for them. And I think they pay for those anecdotes, not much, but still a little something.

      I think they print the source from an article that they’ve excerpted, so that, if you want to read the whole thing, you can find it. That comes in handy at times.


  3. Strange to think it’s entirely possible my kids will make it to thirty without ever seeing a copy of Reader’s Digest. It’s just one of those always-around things…but they get all their stuff online these days…


  4. What a refreshing post, taking my memories to the heydays of Reader’s Digest.
    Yes, all those humorous columns, and particularly the condensed version of books, besides scientific and educational articles. …
    Really miss them.
    Here in India Reader’s Digest is being brought out by a big publishing house.
    When I last read RD, it wasn’t as interesting as it used to be.
    Your post reminds me to buy a copy and see how it’s now.
    (Came to your post via the A to Z Blogging Challenge.)
    – Pradeep |


  5. Looks like Reader’s Digest and indigestion are the two lucky winners today. I forgot all about those Reader’s Digest sweepstakes and filled them out religiously each time 🙂


  6. I’m having flashbacks with all of these conversations about readers digest. The one with the vocabulary, did it have the answers on another page, or did you turn the page upside down to find the answers? I feel like it was maybe sort of a quiz, but I might be confusing it with something else. Either way, the subject is nicely nostalgic


  7. We still get Readers Digest and my husband loves it. He has also started with the Publisher’s Clearing House contests which are just as bad/worse than Reader’s Digest ones. Hope your Thanksgiving was a good one with no indigestion 🙂


    1. No more indigestion than usual, anyway…

      They’re moving along with the times and now there’s an electronic version of Reader’s Digest that you can read on your favorite device. The contests are all (or at least mostly) Internet based now, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. We had Reader’s Digest at home and also their condensed books. Not a whole bunch, but enough to enjoy 🙂 I’m not sure my parents ever did the contest stuff.


    1. I think the contest stuff came in a separate mailing, so there was a good chance they just threw it out. They used to send the mailing out to people who didn’t subscribe, too, kind of like Publisher’s Clearing House, though I think most of those contests have moved to the Internet because, you know, free…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My hubby and I have many, many of the leather bound Reader’s Digest books. Don’t ask me why we moved them from California and Florida to Atlanta. (he had several of the books and so did I – go figure!). I guess because they add to our decor. 🙂


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