Review: Reader’s Digest

A magazine for all

Emma D., journalist

“I just don’t have enough time.” Many of us love to cuddle up with a good book for an hour or two, but at the same time, we have busy lives that prevent us from finding the time to read. This was a dilemma that I faced, as well. As a high schooler, my days are filled with schoolwork, studying, and extracurriculars. I have always loved books since I was a child, and it saddens me that nowadays, I do not have the time to dive deep into long stories like I used to. Last fall, I was browsing Barnes and Noble with my mom, when I noticed a little magazine called Reader’s Digest. I picked it up and asked my mom if she had ever heard of this publication. In fact, she had! She used to read it quite a lot when she first came to America, and she highly recommended it to me. That day, I bought the November issue of Reader’s Digest magazine, and I became hooked. I quickly subscribed, and today, Reader’s Digest has become one of my favorite sources of personal reading. 

Every issue of Reader’s Digest begins with a section entitled “Everyday Heroes”, which highlights ordinary Americans engaging in extraordinary acts. From a woman who founded a wheelchair dance group to a firefighter that saved a woman’s life, these stories inspire everyone to be kind and generous. “The Food on Your Plate” introduces readers to the history of a food item, along with ways to prepare and enjoy particular dishes. In “How To”, readers can learn how to perform a range of activities. This section covers typical activities, such as how to procrastinate less, but also covers those activities that may not be the most obvious. For instance, in “How to Help a Friend Grieve”, I learned that anticipating the needs of those who are suffering is the best way I can demonstrate compassion. Some stories in Reader’s Digest are unique to each issue. For instance, the November 2019 issue included a story that taught me extra steps I could take to live a healthier and longer life. Each issue is also chock full of fun facts. One example? The word left is a “contronym”; in other words, it is its own antonym, since it can mean “departed” or “remaining”.

Reader’s Digest is full of humor, as well. “Life in These United States” perfectly captures the humor in everyday American life. Jokes shared by readers and Twitter users offer witty interpretations of life, and the ever-funny reader caption contest is sure to delight. In the Genius Section, readers can play brain games and test their knowledge of words. Looking for ways to strengthen your brain? Reader’s Digest has you covered! For instance, you should sit tall or walk backwards, if you want to develop a better memory, according to another issue. Additional sections in Reader’s Digest include quotes from historical figures and celebrities, health and wellness news, interviews with people who won competitions (the interview with the winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest comes to mind), and interesting court cases. 

Perhaps the best part about Reader’s Digest is the inspirational true stories that flood its pages. These stories come from many sources, such as the New York Times, state and local publications, and magazine readers themselves. If you find it challenging to keep up with all the best online news stories of the day, Reader’s Digest is your one-stop-shop. The dramatic retelling of Northern California’s Carr Fire prevented me from putting my magazine down. The beautiful story of a grandma’s love for her grandchildren warmed my heart. I could go on and on. 

There is one particular Reader’s Digest story that has truly stuck with me. Originally published in Texas Monthly, it is called “Faithful Friends”. It tells the story of the unlikely friendship of Jaelyn, a Christian, and Sabika, a Muslim exchange student. The story, which is too long to be fully told here, highlights how two young girls bonded over their faiths and then later were forced to never be together again. Despite this, a message of love prevailed from tragedy. I think perhaps the best part about reading Reader’s Digest is that I have come to learn that we are much more alike than we are different. We all laugh and cry. We all encounter success and failure. In essence, we all want to live our best lives. So, if you don’t have a lot of time to read for long periods of time, find small periods of time to pick up a copy of Reader’s Digest. I think you’ll be glad you did. 

Interested in subscribing to Reader’s Digest? Find more information at

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