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.

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Comments (3)

What do you make of Robert Heinlein's STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND? Does it appear dated for you or is it something you admire?

Posted by: Larry Hayes | Wednesday November 20, 2013 at 2:38 PM

It is always a pleasure and interesting to read correspondents about topics like insomnia from people who overcome them. I for one enjoyed reading the correspondence.

Posted by: sleep | Thursday November 10, 2011 at 9:45 PM

Rick's Agony column is wonderful. I love that it has an SF/F focus - but also that he will interview children's book authors, scientists, cookbook authors, booksellers.... It's one of only two podcasts that I listen to every single episode of. Brilliant stuff.

Posted by: Lou Anders | Thursday July 31, 2008 at 7:29 AM

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