Essay collections are underrated and often ignored in favor of short stories or novels. But in the hands of a writer as practiced as Ann Patchett, critic Maureen Corrigan says the essay becomes an expansive storytelling vessel. Patchett's new book is This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage.
The Chinese town of Shijiao is known for recycling discarded Christmas tree lights for their copper and wire insulation, which are then used to support growing economies and make slipper soles, respectively. In Junkyard Planet, Adam Minter explores the business of recycling what developed nations throw away.
As an aid worker, Jessica Alexander worked in Rwanda, Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Haiti, but don't call her a hero or a saint. Alexander tells Michel Martin about why she wanted to challenge perceptions of aid workers in her new book, Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid.
The flap over the Kentucky senator's articles and speeches is just the latest in a series of cases of plagiarism by high-profile journalists and politicians. Linguist Geoff Nunberg looks at the way the word plagiarism has been used since it was invented by the Romans, and wonders if it's always immoral or just bad form.
On her Hyperbole and a Half blog, Allie Brosh writes stories about her life illustrated with a "very precise crudeness." Most are lighthearted — about her dog or her favorite grammatical pet peeve ("a lot" vs. "alot) — but her most popular posts have also been the most upsetting, about her crippling depression.
In softcover fiction, Katherine Marsh searches the heavens for a teenage dwarf's destiny and Juliann Garey approaches a bipolar life from three different angles. In softcover nonfiction, Jeff Speck paces the city streets and Ezekiel Emanuel reflects on the family life of three brothers with a few sharp angles of their own.
Roy Scranton and Jacob Siegel edited and contributed to the collection of short stories by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They tell Fresh Air about how soldiers cope with the fear of death, and why many soldiers feel conflicted about sharing their experience with a larger audience.
Young-adult fiction writer Matt de la Peña didn't finish reading a novel until he was in college. In his Mexican-American family, men who read books were seen as "soft." But he discovered his passion in literature, which he now shares with his young readers and family.
Award-winning author Cynthia Rylant's pictures books revolve around children relying on their families for love and support. To write a good children's book, she says, "you have to be a good poet." Her latest book, God Got A Dog, is a collection of poems that only took her a day to write.