I don't read self-help books. On any given day my self seems to need so much help that 200 pages of cheerful advice and end-of-chapter exercises miss the core of my dilemma. The real question keeping me up at night is this: What the hell is a self anyway? How did I get one and why is it so damn desperate for help?
Best-selling crime novelist Karin Slaughter (yes, that's her real name) grew up just south of Atlanta in the 1970s and '80s, when the city saw some of its most gruesome crimes: A rash of child murders in which dozens of African-American children disappeared, their bodies turning up in nearby woods and rivers. The realization that horrid crimes can happen even to children changed Slaughter's life.
As the federal debt balloons, reducing it would seem more and more pressing. Yet policymakers remain far apart. Debt, deficit and budget rhetoric is often accompanied by numbers cherry-picked to support a particular political view.
But a new book by Wall Street Journal economics writer David Wessel lays out the numbers that both political parties face.
Poet Ouyang Yu comes to NPR's Poetry Games representing two continents: Asia, where he was born (in China); and Australia, where he moved in 1991. He is a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, literary translation and criticism in English and Chinese.
Of his poem "Lifting," he writes: "Much as I admire weightlifting heroes or heroines, I can't help reminding myself that, however powerful a weightlifter is, he or she can't lift himself or herself up. The magic of the word is that, when well lifted, it has the power to transform."
This may be the year of actor Matthew McConaughey.
At the very least, fans will remember 2012 as the year that McConaughey revolutionized his career. He's starred in five different independent films, taking on smaller, character-actor parts in place of his usual roles as the sly-grinning heartthrob in romantic comedies.