NPR Correspondent Rick Kleffel on Books, Insomnia, and The Agony Column

Kleffel Kleffel's famous rolling shelves, 7/1

Rick Kleffel may be the hardest-working man in the book review/author interview business. Not only does he post daily updates to The Agony Column, his first love, including his famous Rolling Shelves (which inspired me to post photos of books received on my own blog), he also interviews hundreds of authors, both for his local NPR affiliate and for national NPR, usually for Sunday features. Kleffel's particular area of emphasis is science fiction, fantasy, and horror, but he also enjoys non-genre fiction and his definition of genre is wide and deep. Having been interviewed by Kleffel in the past, I thought it was time to turn the tables and see what makes this at times insanely dedicated individual tick. I interviewed Kleffel via email and asked him about his hellacious schedule, his interviews, and, of course, books. How do you keep plugging away doing book reviews, doing features, at The Agony Column day after day? Do you ever feel like you need a break?
Rick Kleffel: A compulsive routine and insomnia are the key ingredients. The insomnia I inherited from my mother's side of the family.  We're on the low end of the bell curve for sleep required, so I generally sleep about four hours a night, which gives me four hours a day more to work. I wake up--usually before the alarm goes off--at 3:30 AM every day and have a very set routine I work through. That basis gives me the time and energy to deal with the avalanche of worthwhile reading out there. There are so many great books worthy of our time and attention coming out that I feel it my duty to bring them to the attention of like-minded readers. My hope is that so long as the books are selling, they'll keep making more worthy of my time. I'm simply ensuring that I'll have something to read tomorrow by talking today about the books I read yesterday.

Lists + Reviews

Best Books Literature + Fiction Nonfiction Kids + Young Adult Mystery, Thriller + Suspense Science Fiction + Fantasy Comics + Graphic Novels Romance Eating + Drinking


Interviews Guest Essays

News + Features

News Features


Omnivoracious, The Amazon Book Review

Feeds Facebook Twitter YouTube