By November 17, 2006 2 Comments Read More →

The Wheel of Life

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about what I’m reading, and with the weekend holding out its hand, it’s probably going to be a bit longer still.

(“The weekend holding out its hand”? How do I think of these gems? How about, “With the weekend waiting to take me in its tender embrace”?)

The truth is that I’ve been struggling a little bit to keep up with my reading lately. My wife and I are potty-training our two-year-old, which has led to a certain level of sleepless chaos at home, and I’ve also been buried in data and development projects, which has led to a certain level of sleepy singlemindedness at work. I’ve been too out of it to write about what little I’ve read.

I did finally polish off Michael Gruber’s The Book of Air and Shadows. It’s a great book, but it’s a big book, the galley so stout that I felt my wrists getting tired as I blinked my dry, scratchy eyes and listened nervously to the baby monitor. But it’s a sign that something’s right with the prose when you keep reading into the night even though your body is telling you that the sensible thing would be to get under the covers immediately.

Right after that I read Marc Lecard’s Vinnie’s Head, a breezy, speedier read that was helped along by my looming review deadline. That book made me think of Quentin Tarantino directing an episode of The Sopranos from a Carl Hiaasen screenplay. Very goofy and violent and funny, although not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny.

Next up I’ve got a few crime novels, including one by John Shannon, one of my favorite writers. When last I heard from him, he was questioning whether he’d continue his superb Jack Liffey series, given his frustrations with his publisher. Fortunately, he’s got a new publisher and the series is continuing.

We usually have two weeks between issues, although now we’re preparing for the big January double-issue, which allows an extra week of reading and writing time. What a relief! Now all I have to do is read all the nominees for this year’s Top of the List. With the awards season in full swing, though, it’s fun to think about which books we’ll be honoring with Top of the List and Editors’ Choice designations. And I’d like to tell you more about the process we use to choose those, but you know what they say: I could tell you, but then I’d have to apologize for boring you to death.

Book reviewing is sort of a hamster-wheel lifestyle. I mean, I’ve read some fantastic books lately, and I’m always grateful for that, but I also always harbor this illusion that at some point I’ll “get ahead.” But there is no getting ahead. I finish some books, I get some more books. The wheel keeps on turning. Fortunately, there are compensations, like fresh water, sturdy food pellets, and all the cardboard I can eat.

Have a good weekend, everybody.



About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

2 Comments on "The Wheel of Life"

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  1.' John Green says:

    Not that it’s worth much, but your New York corresondent would very much like to see Richard Powers win Top of the List in adult fiction and Markus Zusak for youth fiction. Also, your New York correspondent would like to see peace in all nations and social justice for all peoples.


  2. Keir says:

    I’m feeling very, very torn about Top of the List, because I nominated two titles: The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers, and The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. Both are worthy, but they can’t both win. And besides, there are all those other great books nominated by the other editors. Sigh. Things are much easier when you’re dealing with books that aren’t masterpieces.

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