This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary. Two years ago, 90 percent of kids playing with Legos were boys. You heard that right. Nine-zero. That's partly because Lego had turned from gender neutral buckets of bricks to selling heavily franchised sets such as "Star Wars" or "Avengers." For our series about kids and culture, NPR's Neda Ulaby looked at Lego's recent gamble on girls.
Susan Choi's previous novels have pulled from events in the headlines: the Korean War for The Foreign Student; the Patty Hearst kidnapping for American Woman; and the Wen Ho Lee accusations for A Person of Interest. But her latest book, My Education, was inspired by something else — youthful passion.
Richard Russo, the writer who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for his book Empire Falls, published a new novel six months ago. If you're wondering how you missed it, it might be because Russo chose not to publish with a traditional publisher. There are no hardcover or paperback copies of Nate in Venice -- it's only available by subscription on Byliner, a digital publishing service, where you can only read it on an e-reader, phone or tablet.
For the sweetest, smoothest strawberry jam, author Kevin West suggests staying as far away as possible from what he calls "Pamela Anderson fruit": the big strawberries found in regular supermarkets. He prefers picking small, red berries from farm stands, instead.
Credit Kevin West / Knopf
These snappy dill pickles were once Kirby cucumbers. The canning liquid is made with vinegar, fennel and coriander seeds that give them their distinct tart flavor.
Credit Josh Norris / Knopf
Kevin West is a "canning evangelist," and he's the author of Saving the Season, a colorful guide to preserving the bounty from a backyard vegetable harvest — or a compulsive farmers market shopping spree.
Shopping at a farmers market on a weekend morning can turn bittersweet if your eye for just-picked summer fruit is bigger than your refrigerator and appetite.
That's a crisis first-time cookbook author Kevin West found himself in a few years back. After one particular farmers market spree, West's buyer's remorse came from a big package of fresh strawberries.
At the time of his death from cancer in June, Iain Banks had written 27 books. He was the rarest of creatures, a writer acclaimed (by critics and fans alike) not just for his literary fiction, but also for the science fiction novels he wrote as Iain M. Banks. It is hard to think of another author who crossed genres and melded audiences with a comparable level of success.