Monday, April 5, 2010


Susan Orlean's Reading Habits


I first came to know Susan Orlean at a certificate course I was taking at the local university on nonfiction writing. No, Orlean wasn't the instructor (I'd donated my toes for that chance), but our teacher was a great fan of hers. We studied two of Orlean's New Yorker pieces.

With seven books under her belt and numerous articles for prestigious publications, such as The New Yorker, Orlean has established a reputation as one of the best writers of narrative nonfiction.

Recently, The Atlantic Wire asked Susan Orlean what she read on a daily basis. This is a series to answer this question that I've puzzled over very much lately: "How do other people deal with the torrent of information that pours down on us all? Do they have some secret? Perhaps."

Before reading Orlean's answer, bear in mind, she is married, has a young son, pets (including backyard chickens, ahem), lives in the countryside, and teaches at New York University.

Right after she wakes up, she dives into the New York Times on her iPhone. She then scans news aggregators Fluent News and Huffington Post. Her next cruise stop is Twitter where she further follows new outlets, such as @BreakingNews, specific reporters, such as @markknoller and @brianstelter, and infuential bloggers, such as @ebertchicago and @mashable. She then listens to National Public Radio during her busy family morning routine.

At this point, she takes a break for work.

At lunch, she dives into printed materials: Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The New Yorker, and 11 other magazines. She's a fast peruser. She also has a few of her favorite magazines always loaded on her iPhone so that wherever she is, she's guaranteed reading material.

Another break for work in the afternoon, then family stuff in the evenings.

Nighttime in bed is her fiction-reading time. She's a voracious (and most likely super-fast) reader.

I'm convinced she does not sleep or makes do with a short nap.

Are you amazed? I am. Most assuredly so.


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