Sunday, February 3, 2013

Magazine Review - Backwoods Home

I was first exposed to Backwoods Home Magazine a few years ago when we ran across some back issues from 1999. We weren't big fans of the magazine, but we assumed maybe it was because of the focus on Y2K preparedness. Several years passed before we had another experience with the magazine. The September/October 2011 issue contained a 3-page article on Earthineer, which I was already an active member of. BHM had a booth at the 2011 Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, and was offering some freebies for new subscriptions, so we decided to give the magazine another shot.

I very strongly considered not doing a review of the magazine, because I know that a lot of people will disagree with my opinion of it. Ultimately, though, I decided that writing the review was worth the risk, especially since there are surely others out there who share my view.

While trying to think of how to best express my opinion of the magazine, I kept coming back to Andrea's comments from a couple of days ago. Not only does she not want to subscribe again, but she expressed a desire to get rid of the magazines completely. Her reasoning was that she doesn't like having their negative energy in the house. As new-agey as it may seem, I have to say that I completely agree with her.

When we had the back issues from '99, the focus was on the coming catastrophe of Y2K. In the current issues the focus seems to be much the same, only for different reasons. Instead of a technological breakdown, the present coming catastrophe is an economic collapse. The negativity isn't only focused on economic collapse or other catastrophes, however. There are several other articles in the issues that we own that have an energy that I'd rather avoid. My initial plan was to just skip such articles, but I found that approximately half of the magazines feature such as article on the cover, which makes avoiding them completely that much more difficult.

At this point I should stop and say that I realize that to most readers of Backwoods Home Magazine these articles aren't negative. I suspect that to many of you, the same may be true. My intent isn't to convince you that the magazine is focused on negativity, but to simply express the fact that to some people, including myself and Andrea, many of the topics covered in the magazine do carry negativity that we'd rather not voluntarily expose ourselves to.

In addition to the negativity, there are a few other recurring themes that I do not care for. One is the focus on firearms, with many issues including a regular column on the topic. While I have nothing against guns, and own one myself, I'd prefer a magazine that does not put so much focus on the subject. Also, the magazine seems to have a clear political stance, which could put some readers off, whether they share the same political views or not. While political discussion certainly has its place, I'm not convinced that a magazine focused on self-reliance is that place.

Having said all of that, I have found that there are a lot of articles in the magazine that are very useful. On average it seems that most issues have two to three articles that are especially interesting to me. Some of the articles I most enjoyed include Preparing to Battle the Winter Blahs, Medicinal Uses of Garlic, Frugal Beekeeping with Top-Bar Hives, and Build a Holz Hausen to Dry Firewood. In fact, as I looked through the issues recently I was tempted to suggest that we resubscribe. The average issue of Backwoods Home contains as many if not more useful articles that most other magazines. If not for the sense of negativity I get from the magazine, it would definitely be on the subscribe list.

As you might have guessed, Andrea and I will not be subscribing to the magazine again, and will be getting rid of those issues that we do have. However, this is not my recommendation for most people. For anyone who agrees with the focus and tone of the magazine, or who doesn't mind some of the, what I perceive as negative-oriented, articles, it is worth at least checking the magazine out. I think that the quantity of good, informative, articles makes the magazine well worth the cost of a subscription, provided that the other "issues" I mentioned are not a concern to you.

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