Why I Can’t Get to Your Book


Since there’s been an upsurge in author email requests in the past few weeks and since I’m being pilloried by a few of them for having the temerity to respond, pointing out that I’m so sorry and that quite honestly I can’t devote my limited time to their vanity press whatsit or the strange package with the T-shirt or what not, let the above image stand as visual evidence.

All of the books in my hall have come in during the past three months. And that’s after purging.

I’ve read 42 books in 2007 so far. I’m sorry. I’m doing the best I can.


  1. How can you possibly read 42 books in 14 weeks? And at the same time write, run this blog, raise kids and whatever else you do?

  2. you’ve probably heard of this, but bookmooch is a great site for sharing unwanted books. as a user, my mouth started watering a little thinking about all the points you could get for those books. you can trade the points in to get books you actually want, or donate the points to a variety of charities.

    i don’t work for bookmooch, and i’m sure there are plenty of other ways to unload unwanted books, but i thought i’d throw it out there.

    check it out if you’re interested (http://bookmooch.com/) and keep up the good work!

    oh, and one more thing: have you seen the great website for this new book: http://noonebelongsheremorethanyou.com/ ?

  3. Tres simple, there are really four Mr. Champions running around – one to read, one to podcast, one to earn some cash on the side, and one to raise those darn… whoops, there are really three Mr. Champions!

  4. Send them to me, I’m a great charitable cause. Although, if you don’t mind, I’ll pass on the How to make love like a porn star tome.

  5. I can come over and prescreen them for you into categories of Excellent, Decent, Eh, and Not Worth Your Time.

  6. I really want to know how someone reads this many books–40 in one month, 40 in 3 months. I teach two colleges, have a spouse and two year old, and get swallowed up in two newspapers a day and some periodicals every week. Means: I read 3 books a month. How do others manage it? Cut out the periodicals and papers? But being online all the time in a blog is the same thing, right?

  7. Okay, edw. First off, 42 books in 3 months. It’s perfectly doable. And I don’t wish to boast here. Just explain myself because you asked for an explanation.

    Let’s do the math. That’s 107 days. Or one book, averaging around 300-400 pages, every 2.5 days. I read, depending upon the typeset and difficulty, anywhere from 30-50 pages an hour. 30 — generally when I’m taking notes for a book I have to review or it’s a denser book. (AGAINST THE DAY, I was and am reading intermittently at about 25 pages/hour, because I look up a lot of stuff and because I’m taking a hell of a lot of notes. Alas, deadlines.) 50 — if I’m reading enjoyable fluff (such as the new Christopher Buckley book, BOOMSDAY, which I am almost finished with). I read on my commute. I read whenever I’m walking. I read at every spare moment. That way, I have a life — that is, if I’m not on deadline. I also sleep about 4-6 hours a night. But it all works out to at least two or three hours of reading a day. And if I had more time, I’d read a lot more.

    Now when I travel, I do nothing BUT read. The only way to make the time go by. The only way to endure being compressed into a flying sardine. Cross-country flights? I can polish off two or three books easy.

    I still go out and see friends and do things, and spend time with my girlfriend. Etcetera. I don’t have kids. So that last existential attribute is probably a factor.

    As for writing, well, I’m a damn fast writer. A 500 word blog post takes about 20-30 minutes. The Lethem review, I wrote in three hours. That’s drafting, revision, revision, revision, etc. Although I’m sorry I got the gender wrong on the kangaroo in GUN WITH OCCASIONAL MUSIC. The Vollmann took longer at maybe around five. But that was a hard book to review. Every Sunday, when I work on the novel, it takes me anywhere from 2-6 hours to bang out about 1,200 words of fiction. Sometimes, it’s hard as hell. Sometimes, it comes easy. But I still sit there and do it.

    I should note that one of the reasons I read is because of deadlines or because I’m going to interview an author or because I have to finish a book before a specific time. I need discipline to turn out all this. I still manage to read for pleasure. And I have to read for pleasure in order to maintain my passion for literature. Really enjoyed reading the first part of Burgess’s bio, LITTLE WILSON AND BIG GOD, last week, for example.

    As for why I’m so prolific on this blog, well, you’re actually going to get an explanation on all that in about four weeks or so. I’ll also explain many other things.

    But for now, I hope this answers your questions.

    What i can tell you is that most of what’s written is in response to something: text or conversation. My brain just naturally works that way, I guess. I need the text in order to keep my pleasure, my being, and my very self alive. Or else I’ll become some dessicated husk. Of course, some would argue that I’m like that already. 🙂

  8. I can totally buy reading 42 books in 4 months. when Ed came into my place of business some weeks ago to buy a book, because he was despairing at the thought of a bookless bus ride home, (and then blogged about it and mentioned me! whee!) I totally understood the feeling. I am never without a book. Anytime I’m sitting still, or walking, I’m reading something. Case in point: last night I left work at 10pm, and grabbed a copy of the new A.M. Homes memoir to read on the train. 10am this morning, I finished it while walking up the street back to work.

    I’ve read 5 other books in the last week and a half. Not everybody reads this fast, and it seems not to have any correlation to intelligence–I know plenty of people WAY smarter than me who can’t finish a 300 page book in under 2 weeks. deadline pressure, commutes by public transport, an endless knee-deep supply of advance galleys, and childlessness (conditions which all apply to me, as well) have a lot to do with it.

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