Over the past five years, we've published more than 80 year-end book lists. So this year, we decided to try something new. Introducing NPR's Book Concierge, your personal guide to the best books published in 2013.
NPR staff and critics selected more than 200 standout titles. Now it's up to you: Choose your own adventure! Use the categories to search through our favorite books and find the perfect read for yourself or someone else. Happy reading!
In the debate over whether to cut the food stamp program, members of Congress are looking at two pretty arcane provisions in the law. People who want to cut food stamps call the provisions loopholes. People who don't want to cut food stamps say they're efficient ways to get benefits to those who need them most.
1. Categorical Eligibility
People who qualify for one means-tested program — like welfare — can automatically qualify for other programs — like food stamps. This is called "categorical eligibility."
The nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers will face its first test this weekend. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are due to make a long-delayed visit to a nuclear site in Iran where plutonium could be produced.
A nuclear reactor and associated production plant in Arak are a special concern because plutonium can be used in a nuclear bomb. Under last month's accord, Iran promised to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities.
Officials on both sides say they are committed to the nuclear deal, but keeping it on track will be a challenge.
In 2009, Mike Bender was horrified to find that his mother had hung a particularly embarrassing family photo.
"It was a vacation photo. It was my dad's 50th birthday. I was 13," he says. "My dad had my brother and I do a Rockette's kick with our skis. We were on top of a mountain, right by the lift, and I just remember feeling, you know, stuck in that pose: This. Is. Awkward."
But as an adult he realized that the photo was not only awkward — it was hilarious.
The Sunday pregame shows feature interchangeable ex-players and ex-coaches saying the same banal things, one after another.
"They've got to cut down on turnovers."
"They've got to convert more third-down situations."
And so on. There's no human interaction, just mirthless recitations. But on female-centered shows like The View and The Talk, the hosts actually discuss, argue, hash things out, laugh for real and behave like flesh-and-blood human beings. And they dare do it all without a net, before a live audience.
Just about every Mustang owner has a story about how their love affair with the car began.
Laura Slider's story began the day a red Mustang appeared in the driveway across the street.
"I've wanted one ever since I was 15," she says. "It was owned by a very cute boy that I liked. And then we rode in it and it was very fast and sporty and fun and pretty, and I thought, I want one someday."
Now, decades later, she has one. And, yes, it's red.
In 2000, Auliya Atrafi paid thousands of dollars and risked his life to escape Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. He spent 12 years in England getting educated and becoming a documentary filmmaker.
Last year, he gave up life in the West and returned home to southern Helmand province. Now, he's the father of twins and he's working in a rural government office while trying to readjust to life in a conservative society that he finds dysfunctional.
The leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees are meeting Wednesday as they continue to try to work out the differences between their respective farm bills. If they fail, the country faces what's being called the "dairy cliff" — with milk prices potentially shooting up to about $7 a gallon sometime after the first of the year.
Here's why: The nation's farm policy would be legally required to revert back to what's called permanent law. In the case of dairy, that would be the 1949 farm bill.