Cosmo’s No-No

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In my world, being a magazine major is a legitimate excuse for sitting in the faculty authors section of the UGA bookstore and poring through magazines several times a week. I consider it research, which really isn’t that crazy since I’m trying to see what kind of stories people are interested in and what kind of pieces I’ll be competing with one day. I also like to look for unethical ads and mistakes that magazines make because finding faults in well-established publications is fun and there’s no getting around that.

Cover, why won’t you give me answers?

Last week, the November issue of Cosmopolitan hit the stands. I’m not going to lie. I’m a girl, and since Cosmo is one of the most widely read women’s magazines out there, I research it. I do like the magazine. Don’t judge me for it. But something about the November issue left me really confused. Cosmo-induced confusion isn’t new or anything, and I think lots of girls my age can agree.┬áCosmopolitan can be baffling at times because the magazine dedicates an entire department to men, treating random facts like groundbreaking discoveries. Sorry Cosmo, but we all know that a man’s testosterone levels are highest in the morning, and the sex appeal of the word “bacon” isn’t that surprising considering how much people love to eat it.
But let me get to my point.

I didn’t recognize the woman on the cover, so I scanned it for some kind of clue. There was no name on the cover. Who the hell was this bitch? Did Cosmopolitan just make a huge mistake? I flipped to the table of contents to see if I could find out who this girl was and why she was on the cover. Nothing.
I didn’t figure out that this woman was Kate Upton, who might be a famous model or something, but how the hell would I know that, until I got to the page that teaches people how to steal the cover look. I didn’t care about what this girl was wearing or how somebody applied her makeup. Why was she significant enough to put on the cover? What makes her relevant? I may hate Taylor Swift more than anything, but Glamour didn’t make any mistakes putting her on the November cover because she is extremely relevant right now and every teenage girl on the planet is going to pick that issue up. Or why not Selena Gomez again? Didn’t she just get busted for a sex tape? That would have been perfect!

Wow! I learned so much!

I was hoping Cosmo would provide some explanation as to why Kate Upton was significant and worthy of a magazine cover that wasn’t something like Sports Illustrated. I flipped the pages frantically in search of the profile on Kate Upton. There was no time to read some fact about men I already knew since I am blessed with common sense. The trend report and Sexy vs. Skanky could wait. I had to get to the bottom of this.
I finally found it – I actually hadn’t realized that I found it until I flipped past it. So I went back. There wasn’t a story here. It was just a busty blonde girl modeling some lingerie and sweaters. Well what was the point of that? There’s something like that in every issue of Cosmo. No, every issue of every women’s magazine. And for some reason, somebody thought this was more important than a profile. Or is there just nothing special about Kate Upton? Is that why Cosmo didn’t even bother to interview her? And no, a few quotes about style don’t count as an interview.

I really hope this discrepancy isn’t here to stay, because I really like reading profiles and interviews. I may think a celebrity is stupid, but then I’ll read a cover story on her and not hate her as much. And I really like Cosmo’s interviews because there’ll be a page showing a survey the cover girl filled out. The November issue didn’t even have that.

Come on, Cosmopolitan. Helen Gurley Brown used to be your editor-in-chief. You’re supposed to help women establish a sense of self-empowerment. Nixing a profile on your cover girl isn’t the best way of doing that.

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I Bought Another Book

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Do you ever walk into a bookstore or library and become overwhelmed with excitement from being surrounded by so many books? I do.
It’s a serious problem. I find it incredibly hard to walk into a bookstore without leaving empty-handed. I’ve accumulated a huge amount of books this way, and it’s a little dangerous because as an English major (and a double major at that), I don’t really have time to read them. If I don’t buy anything, it’s because I sat on a couch or on the floor for around an hour reading magazines. Basically I can’t go in a bookstore without at least touching some form of reading material. I’m just as bad in the library, where I might leave with a slightly heavier backpack because I got distracted by a book while I was supposed to be printing something for free or buying a snack.
Most of my literary purchases or rentals have come from distractions. Maybe serendipity is a better word here. I cut through the UGA bookstore all the time because it’s the best way to avoid crazy preachers or slips of paper from clubs or fraternities I’m not interested in joining. During my evasive trip through the bookstore, I’ll come across a table dedicated to women writers or National Poetry Month, an author I can’t ignore, a Hunger Games parody, or a book with a bright, appealing cover that screams, “notice me!”
Enter The Flame Alphabet.

Come on, look at the picture of the book’s cover I’ve provided. What strong graphics this cover has! (Don’t look down on me for judging books by their covers, guys. Covers have introduced me to great stories – you just have to make sure you look at the synopsis after you’re completely mesmerized by the cover, you know? There’s a reason books even have designs on their covers, so don’t bash my practice.)
The Flame Alphabet burned for my attention (I know, terrible pun, it’s another one of my specialties) for weeks. Because the book has such a vibrant and visually striking cover (I think the design is cool, okay?), it caught my attention several times. However, I was usually in a rush or set on catching up with all the magazines I enjoy reading, so I didn’t actually pick up the copy of The Flame Alphabet that distracted me every time I walked into the bookstore until a few weeks after I first spied it. The cover had done its job. I turned the book around, read the synopsis, and thought, “damn that sounds good.” A day later, I impulsively charged into the store and bought the book. We hit it off instantly.

I’m only about 30 pages in, so my review could be horribly wrong, but I really like the book so far. (The reviews I’ve glanced over online – I don’t really want my experience reading this to be spoiled by reading a review that reveals the whole story, you know? – are mixed.) As of where I am, I like Marcus’ prose, and I find the conflict really interesting. In fact, the other day when I walked into the bookstore to grab a snack (the bookstore is a source of meals as well as entertainment for me), I saw a copy of The Flame Alphabet sitting on a plastic ledge with a sign that read, “best original plot.”
I don’t necessarily have time to finish The Flame Alphabet at the moment, or at least make finishing it my top priority because I’ve got finals coming up and I have some huge projects due this week. I’m also trying to read it in moderation because I don’t want to leave the book right after I start it and leave the story behind (yeah… does anybody else do that? I’m a nerd, I know.)

Hopefully my excuses for not finishing this book yet are at least slightly working. Come May 7th, I’ll have plenty of time to work on The Flame Alphabet and the pile of impulsive bookstore purchases that’s accumulated on my bookshelf.