NPR Staff

When writer Ta-Nehisi Coates sat down at NPR's New York studios a few days ago, he got a little emotional.

It was the first time that Coates, who writes for The Atlantic, had held a copy of his latest book, Between the World and Me.

This book is personal, written as a letter to his teenage son Samori. In it, we see glimpses of the hard West Baltimore streets where Coates grew up, his curiosity at work on the campus of Howard University and his early struggles as a journalist.

The nation's capital is sweaty and sweltering right now, but Washington locals and visitors can find a seaside getaway in the most unlikely of places. In the middle of downtown D.C., the National Building Museum has installed a 10,000-square-foot indoor "beach" that has attracted kids, tourists and workers looking for an out-of-the-ordinary lunch break.

Daniel Majok Gai wants to go back to South Sudan.

He thinks he can help his homeland — the youngest nation in the world. Today marks the fourth anniversary of its independence. But there's little celebration. The country is being ripped apart by civil war.

Yet Gai, who suffered through years of violence and pain as a refugee, believes he can play a role in moving South Sudan toward peace and safety.

Against all odds, the 34-year-old is an incredible optimist.

He was 6 when a militia attacked his village.

If you've been following the Greek financial crisis, you've certainly seen this old cliche in the headlines.

In USA Today, there was "If 'it's all Greek to you,' here's the skinny on debt crisis." The BBC says, "All Greek to you? Greece's debt jargon explained."

It's a bit of an understatement to call Judd Apatow busy.

His new book, Sick in the Head, a 500-page collection of Apatow's conversations with some of the greatest minds in comedy, is on the New York Times best-seller list. Meanwhile, his film collaboration with the white-hot Amy Schumer, Trainwreck — his fifth movie as a director — is set for release within two weeks.

Oh, and he just wrapped up shooting another movie that's due out next year.

It was the middle of the Cold War and the CIA was having a difficult time getting information on what the Soviet Union was up to next.

The agency needed a spy — a Russian spy — who was willing to go the full way and betray his country.

It found one in Adolf Tolkachev, a Soviet aviation expert.

David Hoffman tells Tolkachev's story in his new book, The Billion Dollar Spy.

Walking through the farmers market this time of year is a wondrous thing: juicy tomatoes, rows of jewel-toned eggplants, fragrant basil and sweet yellow corn. But then, you see bunches of greens that look like weeds, stuff with names like kohlrabi and purslane, and suddenly, you feel intimidated. Other people know what to do with these greens, why don't I?

Everyone has had the dream in one form or another. You are about to take a big test when you realize you don't know anything about the subject. You are on stage but you haven't memorized the lines. You have to make a speech but you haven't written it.

It's your basic performance anxiety nightmare.

But if you are a musician, performance anxiety, better known as stage fright, can ruin your career — maybe before it even gets started.

Louisa Hall was a nervous speaker when she was little. At school, kids teased her and said she talked like a robot.

"I think I was just so nervous that I kind of couldn't put any real animation in my voice," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. "But ever since then I've kind of looked at robots or looked at machines and wondered whether they were just having trouble acting human."

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