“This Boy’s Life” by Tobias Wolff

Toby Wolff is used to running–driving from Florida to Utah to Seattle to escape his mother’s boyfriend; moving to Concrete, WA, with his stepfather; dreaming of high school in Paris, France. But when he stops to face himself, he finds only scattered shadows of an identity.

Top Ten NBCC Picks I Want to Read

The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) recently announced its 2012 finalists for outstanding books. While there are a handful of titles I’ve been planning to read, there are also several books I’d never even heard of–which is surprisingly common with the NBCC annual picks. Here are the titles I’m most looking forward to reading: 10. The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande When Reyna Grande’s father leaves his wife and three children behind in a village in Mexico to make the dangerous []

“Doomsday Book” by Connie Willis

Doomsday Book tells the story of young Kivrin, an undergraduate at Oxford, who wants to travel back in time. Such technology is typically forbidden to undergrads, and doubly so for the generous and uncharted fourteenth century. But she manages to finagle a trip and heads back to 1320 for the chance at some first-hand historical reporting. Back in 2054, things start falling apart as soon as Kivin is gone.

“S.E.C.R.E.T.” by L. Marie Adeline

It’s been a long time since Cassie Robichaud has felt desired. She was estranged from her alcoholic husband when he crashed his car and died five years ago, and they never really had a healthy relationship in the first place. Since then, her romantic life has sputtered and died.

Read Like a Writer: Join the Club

I’ve contributed to the wonderful Literature and Libation, which is run by my classmate and good friend Oliver Gray. Check out the post, and don’t forget to subscribe to his blog–he’s got some very solid advice for writers! So you want to be a writer? Join the club. The book club, that is. If you are serious about writing, start reading. Whether you want to write fiction or nonfiction, articles or trilogies, you need to be aware of what else is out []

Reading Challenges in 2013

It’s that time of year again: Time to survey the new year ahead of us and dream about all of the wonderful books we’ll read and the places we’ll go. I’m already planning four international and three domestic trips this year, which I’ll be writing about here. And how better to keep entertained on those long flights than with books? Goodreads Reading Goal: 50 Books This year, I’m setting a more reasonable goal for the 2013 Goodreads Reading Challenge: 50 books. After []

Recipe: Beef Stew with Root Vegetables

I’ve adapted this recipe from Dishing Up Maryland, one of my favorite cookbooks. It takes about 3 hours to cook, plus prep time, so this was a weekend project for me. This version of the recipe made enough food for three relatively hungry adults, with one serving left over. Let me know what you think in the comments! Ingredients: 1/2 cup flour (plus 1/4 cup for thickening) 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper 1 lb stewing beef, cut into 1″ chunks 1/4 []

“Butterfly’s Child” by Angela Davis-Gardner

Angela ­Davis-Gardner’s novel, Butterfly’s Child, begins where Puccini’s opera, “Madame Butterfly,” leaves off. Frank Pinkerton, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, has returned to Japan with Kate, his new wife. Cio-Cio-san (Butterfly), his mistress, sees her chance at simultaneous revenge and redemption. She commits suicide, and Benji’s world changes in a moment.

How to Archive Your Documents Like a Pro

We’ve all been there. You accidentally delete an important work project and unthinkingly empty your trash. Your PC succumbs to a virus. Your laptop gets run over by a car. And you sit, numbly, too heartbroken for tears, as you realize that a labor of love—or, at least, tons of time—has been lost forever.