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0050 Reading Magazines

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 50 – Reading Magazines.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 50. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

In this episode we're going to discuss reading a magazine. Let’s get started.

[start of story]

I'm the first to admit that I'm hooked on reading magazines. I've been this way as long as I can remember. I love picking up magazines about different topics. Currently, I subscribe to about six or seven magazines, although when I was getting professional journals during my days at the university, I probably had 15 or 20 coming to my box every month.

Now I read mostly for pleasure. I like to read The New Yorker because it is so well written. I also get a copy of Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s every month because they have good coverage of cultural, political, and social issues. My latest is to read book reviews. There are a couple of really good book reviews published in the U.S., including The New York Review of Books.

But the best reviews for my money are The Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books, both of which come out of England. I have to thank my friend Gustavo for turning me on to those two. I prefer to read the nonfiction reviews over the fiction ones, but that's me. Ah, the joys of reading!

[end of story]

This is a story about reading magazines. I begin by saying that “I’m the first to admit that I'm hooked on reading magazines.” The expression “the first to admit” means I'm the first person who is willing to say. We use this expression when we are talking about something, perhaps, that isn’t very desirable – some bad habit that we have. We might also use this expression when we are saying something that perhaps is embarrassing or that we don't normally want to talk about. It's not for something serious. It's usually for something that isn't very important.

Here, I'm saying I'm the first to admit that I'm “hooked on reading magazines.” “To be hooked (hooked) on” something means to be addicted to something or to be obsessed with something. We can talk about someone being “hooked on heroin” or “hooked on cocaine.” That means they have an addiction to those drugs. So, now you can see that “to be hooked on” something is a somewhat negative idea, and that goes well with the expression “I'm the first to admit.” Of course, being hooked on reading magazines isn't the same as being hooked on drugs.

“I've been this way,” I continue, “as long as I can remember.” The expression “as long as I can remember” means as far back as I can remember. It's a phrase we use to show that we can't remember a time when this wasn't true. I say, “I love picking up magazines about different topics.” “To pick up” means often to buy, although it could just mean to pick it up with your hand, to grab it with your hand. I say, “I love picking up magazines about different topics” – different areas.

“Currently, I subscribe to about six or seven magazines.” “To subscribe” (subscribe) means to sign up to receive something – to say, “Yes, I would like to get this on a regular basis.” You subscribe to this podcast; you get each new issue or each new episode. You subscribe to a newspaper or to a magazine, and when you do, you get each issue of that newspaper or magazine.

I continue by saying, “Although when I was getting professional journals during my days at the university, I probably had 15 or 20 coming to my box each month.” A “professional journal” (journal) is a magazine written by experts on a certain topic, usually designed for or written for people who are researchers or professors in that particular area of study. I say I used to get many of these “during my days at the university,” meaning during the time that I was working at the university. I say, “I probably had 15 or 20 coming to my box,” meaning my mailbox, “every month.”

“Now I read mostly for pleasure,” I say. “To read for pleasure” means to read for enjoyment – not to read in order to get information, necessarily, or at least not to read something for your work or for school, but simply because you want to read it. I say, “I like to read The New Yorker because it is so well written.” When we say something is “well written,” we mean it is written in such a way that is interesting. It is written in such a way that we know this person has a lot of talent and skill. It's enjoyable to read.

“I also get a copy of Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s every month,” I say, “because they have good coverage of cultural, political, and social issues.” The word “coverage” (coverage) means with reports or information about a certain topic. We could talk about the movie coverage or the entertainment industry coverage in the Los Angeles Times newspaper. When we say “coverage,” we’re referring to the stories that are written about that topic. If you say a newspaper has good coverage of a certain area, you mean they have good writers and reporters who explain and talk about and write stories about that particular area.

I then say, “My latest is to read book reviews.” When someone says “my latest,” they mean “the most recent or newest thing that I have started doing.” It could be a good thing. It could be a bad thing. “My latest is to read book reviews” – articles written about books that have recently been published, usually. We use the term “book review” for this particular kind of magazine that is about books that have been written recently. A “review” is someone's opinion about something.

You could have “movie reviews.” You can have “book reviews.” You could have reviews, I guess, of apps for your mobile phone or for your computer. Here, we’re talking about reviews or opinions about books. The magazine is called a “book review.” “Book reviews” are also popular in newspapers, especially on Sunday. In the United States, the newspapers on Sunday are always bigger, always “thicker,” we would say. They have more sections in them, and one section that's very common in many newspapers is a book review.

I say that there are a couple of really good book reviews published in the U.S. “But,” I say, “the best reviews for my money are The Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books.” The expression “for my money” means that if I'm going to spend money on something, this is the best option for me. This is where you will get the most for your money, in other words. “For my money, the best hot dogs in Los Angeles can be purchased at Pink’s,” which is a little restaurant in the middle part of Los Angeles – very famous for people who live here in Los Angeles.

When I say “for my money,” I mean if I'm going to spend money, I'm going to spend it there because I'm going to get the best deal there. I’m going to get the most for my money. For my money, the best book reviews are published not here in the United States, but in England. I say they “come out of England.” “To come out of” means to come from, to be created in a certain location.

I continue by saying, “I have to thank my friend Gustavo for turning me on to those two” – those two book reviews. “To turn someone on to” something means to get someone interested in something. Don't confuse this with another, more dangerous, phrasal verb expression, “to turn someone on.” “To turn someone on” means to get someone sexually interested or excited. We're not talking about that. We’re talking about getting someone simply interested in a new topic or a new thing.

I end the story by saying, “I prefer to read the nonfiction reviews over the fiction ones, but that's me.” “Nonfiction” refers to books about things that are true, that contain true information or facts. “Fiction” refers to books about imaginary stories, things that someone made up. I also use the expression here, “that's me,” meaning that's the way I look at things. Grammatically, it should be “that’s I,” but we never say that. We say, “That's me.”

Finally, I say, “The joys of reading!” I’m talking about how wonderful it is to read. The word “joys” here refers to the pleasures, the good things you get from reading.

Now let's listen to the story, this time at a normal speed.

[start of story]

I'm the first to admit that I'm hooked on reading magazines. I've been this way as long as I can remember. I love picking up magazines about different topics. Currently, I subscribe to about six or seven magazines, although when I was getting professional journals during my days at the university, I probably had 15 or 20 coming to my box every month.

Now I read mostly for pleasure. I like to read The New Yorker because it is so well written. I also get a copy of Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s every month because they have good coverage of cultural, political, and social issues. My latest is to read book reviews. There are a couple of really good book reviews published in the U.S., including The New York Review of Books.

But the best reviews for my money are The Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books, both of which come out of England. I have to thank my friend Gustavo for turning me on to those two. I prefer to read the nonfiction reviews over the fiction ones, but that's me. Ah, the joys of reading!

[end of story]

Thanks to our great scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse, for her hard work. And thanks to you for listening.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2006 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
the first to admit – willing to say; unable to deny

* Rhea was the first to admit that she was bad with children, which is why she did not want to have any kids of her own.


hooked – addicted to; obsessed with

* Julio was hooked on the new video game he bought and would not stop playing it.


as long as I can remember – as far back as I can remember; a phrase used to mean that one is unable to remember a time when a certain condition was different from what it is now

* When Aza’s boyfriend asked if she had always liked tea so much, Aza answered, “It’s been that way for as long as I can remember.”


to subscribe – to sign up on a list to receive something; to pay money to receive a specific number of something, like a magazine, over a set period of time

* Haru subscribed to a mailing list that would send him a free advice on investing money every month for the next year.


professional journal – a magazine with articles and stories written by experts on a certain topic

* Dr. Coggins was an expert on microphysics and wrote articles about the subject for professional journals.


pleasure – enjoyment; the feeling of being happy because of an activity

* Fran found pleasure in taking long hikes through the woods because she loved to be surrounded by nature.


well-written – written with talent or skill; written in a way that is interesting and easy to understand

* The instructions were well-written and easy to follow.


coverage – with reports or information about a certain topic

* The news station had good coverage of the hurricane, and the station’s viewers got the most recent information available.


latest – most recent; newest

* Silver-colored shoes is the latest fashion trend among teenagers.


book review – a written opinion about how good or bad a book is

* This book received some very good book reviews praising it for its originality.


for (one's) money – for the price it costs to buy; a phrase that means that one is spending money on the best option available

* Lief bought a different brand of detergent this week because he realized it was the best choice for his money when he started comparing prices.


to come out of – to come from; to be created in a certain location

* The new band came out of England, but they were popular in other countries, too.


to turn (one) on to – to introduce one to; to tell someone about something and cause him or her to become interested in it

* Olivia’s sister turned her on to a new book, and once Olivia started reading it, she did not want to stop.


non-fiction – true stories; books containing facts or true information

* Irving wanted to read a non-fiction book about the American Revolutionary War.


fiction – imaginary stories; stories that one created and that did not actually happen in real life

* The book was very interesting but it was only fiction, so none of the events that were described in the book were real.

Culture Note
The Nature of Patriotism

In his 2011 book, Loyalty, journalist Eric Felten discusses the reasons why people have “loyalty to” (commitment to, usually with a willingness to help and defend) their country, their family, and their friends. Most of us would probably agree that we should be loyal to our family and our close friends, even though we may not be able to explain exactly why we should be loyal. But “when it comes to” (when we begin to discuss) loyalty to one’s country, there is often disagreement about what that should “consist of” (include).

The word often “associated with” (connected to) loyalty to one’s country is “patriotism.” Some people think that patriotism is the belief that one’s own country is superior to or better than any other country. But, as Felten points out, this isn’t the only way to define “patriotism,” and certainly not the best one. According to Felten, patriotism “correctly understood” (defined in the right way) is similar to the loyalty you have to a member of your family. As British writer G.K. Chesterton once wrote, the idea behind someone saying, “my country, right or wrong” (that is, I will be loyal to my country regardless of what it does) is the same as saying, “my mother, drunk or sober.” (To be drunk means to have drunk too much alcohol; to be sober is when your body has no alcohol or drugs in it.)

Being loyal, in other words, doesn’t mean you agree with everything your family (or country) does. It means simply that you will continue to support them and be willing to take action to change them if they make mistakes. You will not just “abandon” (leave) them when “times get tough” (the situation becomes difficult).

A “mistaken” (wrong) sense of patriotism has been used in many cases for “bad ends” (purposes), and for that reason it has sometimes been associated with an “excessive” (too much), even dangerous loyalty and “attachment” (sense of closeness) to one’s country. But it doesn’t have to be that way, argues Felten. We can celebrate what makes our countries different without saying that those differences make us better than everyone else. We can love our country, in other words, simply because it is ours.