How do people deal with the torrent of information pouring down on us all? What sources can't they live without? We regularly reach out to prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts, and the literary world to hear their answers. This is drawn from a phone conversation with David Granger, who has been the editor-in-chief of Esquire since June 1997.
I leave pretty early — just get up and go. I try to separate my sleep time from all other time. The first media I consume at all: I drive to work, so I listen to news on the radio. I alternate between things on AM and FM — but mostly AM. WCBS, 1010WINS, there's this 10-minute thing on Bloomberg where they go through the stuff they're reading on other sites and news services. I get a little dose of stuff there.
My reading breaks down into two things, there's the reading I do when I'm actually trying to do qualitative reading. Then there's the reading you do all throughout the day when it's just stuff that people are referring to you.
The first qualitative thing I do as soon as I get to the office, which is at about 7 a.m, is read The New York Times. I read it for a long time. I make sure I have at least 45 minutes to read The Times. It's a source of information unlike any other. They spend considerable, almost unimaginable resources to embed people in the most amazing places, where nobody else is going anymore. I read it in paper. I buy it from a guy out on the West Side Highway — a guy from East Africa who sells all the newspapers. I find when I read it on my iPad the emphasis is all off. You never know what's important. On Wednesdays I can't find the Pete Wells restaurant review — it's just another item in this little configuration. I love reading the actual newspaper, you get emphasis, you get a sense of what the editors think is important at the moment.
I don't read the Sunday Times. I think of all the days of the week, the Sunday New York Times has the least actual information in it. It's mostly speculative; it's all trend stories: if this happens, this might happen. The Saturday New York Times is probably my favorite New York Times. I think people relax at The Times on Friday nights or something, they think nobody is going to read it. More interesting, offbeat unexpected stories show up on Saturday. Sunday, all the pressure is on, because there's this idea — I guess more people subscribe to it on Sunday than any other day of the week — I think there's a lot more pressure and people try to show off more. It's a little more feature-y and speculative than the daily papers, which are just jam packed with information and great stories.
Throughout the day, it's just a flood of things that I get in news roundups or from all sorts of different sources. I only follow about 25 people on Twitter. (There aren't that many people I trust.) Some of them are hard news reporters like Chris Chivers at The Times, some of them are my writers. I follow Chris Jones, I follow Pete Wells, I follow Teju Cole. I follow Sarah Silverman just because she might be funny. I also follow my fashion department, like Nic Screws and Nick Sullivan because they're constantly showing me stuff that I need to know about.
They all refer me to so many different stories that I just kind of go with that flow. And I'll sample a lot of that stuff throughout the day, and of course all the retweets that come across my phone or my computer send me to lots of different stories. That's the opposite of qualitative reading, you're just grazing through a ton of stuff and seeing if something piques your interest.
I actually go to The Atlantic Wire all the time — it covers such a wide range of stuff. For a while I was looking at BuzzFeed because I was curious. But I didn't find that to be as useful or in my wheelhouse as it could be. I'll look at it on my phone sometimes.
I have to read a lot at work. There's this magazine that I edit called Esquire and we run lots of stories. I read a lot of that. In August we published maybe one of the greatest stories Esquire has ever published in the realm of fiction by Adam Johnson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Orphan Master's Son. I started that but I haven't finished that.
There's lots of magazines that come into the office. The ones I read that come to my home are, of course, New York magazine because their reviews and their service stuff are not to be missed. Of course, Departures comes to the house because we're American Express users. I gotta say that's really good. I've been reading The New York Observer lately. They've been getting much more interesting and trying to do somewhat more ambitious writing since Ken Kurson took over as editor. Other than that, my magazine consumption is mostly glancing at the office at what comes through.
Then I've been concentrating on finding times when reading is my entertainment. So generally at night I read books. I like to read books as books, but I read a lot of them through my Kindle application, too.
I was judging an award for PEN — the writing organization, they give out these big writing awards each year — in the category of literary sports writing. So I read all these literary sports writers. We gave the award to Frank Deford. He's one of the great sports writers of all time. He was sort of ground breaking. I've been reading his memoir, called Over Time.
Then Elmore Leonard died, I always felt like he was one of those writers I should have read a lot more of. So I read a couple of his books. Like those Raylan Givens books that gave him that television series that stars Timothy Olyphant. I read one of those, which I didn't think was that good. I read Hombre, which was I think a movie that Paul Newman starred in. I never saw the movie, but the book is really good.
I read a novel this summer called Bangkok 8, which is kind of a procedural with a police detective but its set in Bangkok. I learned a huge amount about Thailand, because I've never been there. It's really fascinating. And then, I just read George Pelecanos's new novel, with a new hero called Spero Lucas. It's kind of the American tough guy genre, but it's an evolution of that genre, because his tough guy is a veteran of the Afghan war.
Even though I don't think it's very good, I've been watching Ray Donovan on demand, mostly because the John Voigt character keeps getting more interesting. Even though I get frustrated by the show I'm interested to see what happens with this Whitey Bulgar character. I guess it's so clichéd, but I also watched the whole season of Mad Men. I got completely wrapped up in The Good Wife last year. That's a really good show, so well written.
I don't subscribed to Netflix, so I haven't seen any of the series they've been doing. There are so many subscription services in my life: you have to subscribe to music, you have to subscribe to magazines, you can subscribe to clothing services that will send you trunks of clothes, and then XM satellite radio. I can't handle any more subscriptions right now.
I can't tell you about some of the things I do right before I go to bed. (That was just a joke.) I'm generally reading, I've always got either a book or my Kindle next to my bed.