NPR Staff

Ten years ago, Stephenie Meyer put a twist on the whole boy-meets-girl thing.

In her young adult novel Twilight, girl meets vampire, and later, werewolf. The supernatural romance between Bella and Edward sparked a saga that includes four best-selling books translated into more than 50 languages and five blockbuster movies.

For the past few years, crime has been mostly a good news story — the crime rate remains near record lows. But several major U.S. cities have been experiencing a rise in homicides and other violence this year.

Now, the Justice Department is bringing together police and prosecutors to figure out what's going on, and how the federal government can help.

For many students, Sandra Cisneros is required reading. She tells stories of working-class Latino life in America, particularly Chicago, where she grew up, and where she set her well-known book, The House on Mango Street.

The meaning of home has been a central theme in Cisneros' life and work. And in her new memoir, A House of My Own, she writes about leaving home, her parents' house — without getting married, which was a shock to her father.

Anthony Marra writes about Russia like he was born there.

Actually, the 31-year-old American lived there only a semester, as a college student. "I arrived in January without knowing a lick of Russian," he tells Morning Edition host (and former Moscow correspondent) David Greene. "I just became immediately fascinated with the extremes of life, of geography, of political events that it almost seemed impossible not to want to set a story there."

Annie Duke was about to win $2 million.

It was 2004, and she was at the final hand of the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions. Annie had beat out some of the best poker players in the world — all men — to get to this point.

But she wasn't sure she deserved to be there.

Before there was Madonna or Lady Gaga, there was Grace Jones.

The creator of that gender-bending, hypersexual persona has been a supermodel, a muse for artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, and a musician whose influence is still felt throughout popular music to this day. Now, she's telling her story in a memoir titled I'll Never Write My Memoirs, which shines a spotlight on every side of her — including Beverly Grace Jones ("Bev"), the more reserved childhood version of the future star.

Catholic bishops and other representatives of the world's more than 1 billion Roman Catholics are meeting in Rome on Sunday for the start of the Synod on the Family. This meeting will guide Church teaching on issues like marriage, divorce and contraception.

This September alone, three high school football players died after injuries sustained on the field. The latest, a 17-year-old quarterback from New Jersey, suffered a ruptured spleen during a game just over a week ago.

In some high schools across the U.S., deaths such as these — and an increased focus on the risk of head injury and concussions — have raised concerns among parents and diminished interest in the sport. At others, like the Maplewood Richmond Heights High School in suburban St. Louis, the football programs have disbanded altogether.

Caron Butler has had a stellar career. The two-time NBA All-Star has contributed his talents on the court to the Miami Heat, the LA Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks, where he was part of a championship team in 2011.

But before he got to the NBA, his life was headed in a very different direction. He had a rough upbringing in Racine, Wis., and took an unusual route to get to the pros, which included numerous drug arrests, a stint in prison and a close call that could have changed his entire life — all before he turned 18.

We often feature musicians who make cover albums — their versions of songs made popular by others. Now comes a project where writers — some of the most acclaimed of our time — cover Shakepeare's works, retelling the Bard in their own words. Jeanette Winterson's new novel, The Gap of Time, is a re-imagining of The Winter's Tale, and it's the first book in the series to be published.