Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

What Are You Recommending, Chris Watson?


NBCC members and finalists and winners of our book award were eligible to vote in the winter edition of the NBCC’s Good Reads. One of the member voters was critic Chris Watson, of the Santa Cruz Sentinel—who had this to say about recommending the long-listed title The Thing About Life is That One Day You’ll be Dead, by David Shields (pictured left).

“David Shields is startlingly honest about his own life, especially the emotional side of it as regards adolescence, maturation and senescence—his own, his daughter’s and his aging father’s.

More importantly to this essay-istic memoir, Shields deftly incorporates tidbits of science—mostly biological—that are fresh and speak directly to his personal story.

Brilliantly conceived, researched and executed, “The Thing About Life is That One Day You’ll be Dead” shows how human emotions often direct our search for knowledge.

The science is fascinating. But what keeps us reading is Shield’s warmth.
When he writes that “Adulthood didn’t turn out to have quite as much shimmer as we thought it would” and proceeds to eat Rice Krispie treats at least twice a week, we become his confidante and he ours. 

This is an exciting book that holistically balances the membrane between self, family and the fate of man.”