Reader’s Digest ‘Genius Issue’ Includes Education Pieces

By Mark Walsh — August 28, 2014 1 min read
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Reader’s Digest is a magazine many of us used to find stacked up at our grandparents’ house. It has never sought to be hip or trendy, but that was just fine. For decades, it was the top-circulation magazine in the country.

It lost that spot a few years ago, and now ranks 9th in the country, with a paid circulation of 3.4 million, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

For September, Reader’s Digest has published “The Genius Issue,” which includes several education articles. Some have been adapted from elsewhere, such as Hanna Rosin’s April cover story in The Atlantic on “The Over-Protected Kid.” A piece by author and historian David McCullough Jr., “Judging Jack,” is adapted from a book and is about McCullough’s experience with a student of his he thought was ordinary but really “was just too busy being brilliant.”

The original cover story is “The Beautiful Life of Your Brain,” by Kimberly Hiss, a look at “how to harness your mental muscle for a more fulfilling life.” Another original piece is “13 Things Homeschoolers Won’t Tell You.” (No. 8: “We’re having more fun than you. On a school day, we’ll make cookies to practice fractions and visit a museum to learn about history.”)

In a note to readers, Reader’s Digest editor Liz Vaccariello says the “Genius” edition is the magazine’s “first-ever completely themed issue.”

“Genius blossoms differently—and beautifully—in each of us,” she writes.

Some regular features seem to be a bit shoehorned into the theme. A story about “Why America Loves a Con Man” is part of delving “into the dark side of genius,” Vaccariello says.

There’s a genius quiz from Mensa and an “Are you smarter than a 12th grader?” word power quiz from Princeton Review. And it wouldn’t be an issue of Reader’s Digest without jokes. This month, the feature is “25 Jokes (That Make You Sound Like a Genius).”

Example: “Q: How do mathematicians scold their children?

A: ‘If I’ve told you n times, I’ve told you n+1 times ...”

You don’t have to be a member of Mensa to groan at some of the jokes. And you don’t have to be a genius to locate the September issue of Reader’s Digest. If you can’t find it at your local newsstand, just ask your grandparents.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.