Books: 4 Great Reads By or About Women

Daughters of the Union book

I love literature, and as an English major I’ve read a lot of fiction over the years. But these days it seems I read mostly nonfiction. Just finished dipping into an academic book I picked up in the Library of Congress’s gift shop, titled Daughters of the Union: Northern Women Fight the Civil War, by…

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Washington-Area Classes for Book Writers

Writer's Center logo

Writing is never easy, and the long-haul process of writing a book — especially if it’s your first — can feel overwhelming at times. When I started thinking about a book on Eliza Scidmore, I decided to do what I’ve always done when there’s something I’m not sure I can easily figure out on my own:…

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On Serendipity in Research

Albatross engraving

Serendipity is like the crack cocaine of research. It gives you a lasting high.

I remember well the first time I came to understand the term. It was 25 years ago. I was in graduate school, studying journalism at the University of Missouri. For a science writing class I had arranged to interview several researchers on campus who were studying different aspects of cystic fibrosis. It’s an insidious disease in which a faulty gene and its protein product cause the body to produce a tick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and impedes proper digestion. A pediatrician was working to improve clinical observations; a pair of biochemists hoped to develop a reliable diagnostic test for the disease; another researcher was studying glandular secretions in a rat model.

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Eliza Scidmore’s American Fan Club

Cherry Blossom Festival book

I’m not the only one with a fixation on Eliza Scidmore. After I began researching her I met two other women equally fascinated by her remarkable life. Washington writer Ann McClellan learned a lot about Eliza while writing The Cherry Blossom Festival, published in 2005 as a souvenir book for the National Cherry Blossom Festival.…

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