Jennifer Bort Yacovissi

Jennifer Bort Yacovissi

Jennifer Bort Yacovissi grew up in Bethesda, MD, just a bit farther up the hill from Washington, DC, where her debut novel, Up the Hill to Home, takes place. The novel is a fictionalized account of her mother's family in DC from the Civil War to the Great Depression. In addition to writing and reading historical and contemporary literary fiction, Jenny reviews for both the Independent and the Historical Novel Society. She owns a small project-management and engineering consulting firm, and enjoys gardening and being on the water. Jenny lives with her husband, Jim, in Crownsville, MD. Click here to learn more about the families in Up the Hill to Home and to see photos and artifacts from their lives.


133 entries by Jennifer Bort Yacovissi

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An Interview with Louis Bayard

The novelist talks presidents, unconventional courtships, and the allure of Jackie O.

Book Review

Avalon: A Novel

By Nell Zink

Avalon: A Novel

Ironic detachment keeps the emotional stakes low in the author’s latest comic tale.

Book Review

The Living Sea of Waking Dreams

By Richard Flanagan

The Living Sea of Waking Dreams

Australia’s most celebrated novelist demands that we stop ignoring climate change, but it’s a repetitive lecture.

Book Review

French Braid: A Novel

By Anne Tyler

French Braid: A Novel

The literary patron saint of Baltimore serves up her signature affectionate take on family dysfunction.

Book Review

Thank You, Mr. Nixon: Stories

Spanning the 1970s to today, these linked tales sing with insightful, arch observation.

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The School for Good Mothers: A Novel

This chilling debut envisions our judgmental parenting culture run amok.

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Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American

A funny, poignant appeal to our better angels.

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I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home

A now-successful author’s witty reflection on decades of struggle.

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Yonder: A Novel

By Jabari Asim

Yonder: A Novel

The Thieves may control the plantation, but the Stolen control their own destiny.

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These Precious Days: Essays

By Ann Patchett

These Precious Days: Essays

A wry collection suffused with elegiac considerations of what brings meaning to our lives.

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What It Means to Be Independent

…And how your support makes it possible!

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Five Tuesdays in Winter: Stories

The satisfying tales in this collection leave the reader wanting more.

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Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller

The author packs an entire library’s worth of subjects into this captivating memoir.

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Burning Boy: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane

This weighty homage seeks to spark a renaissance in the 19th-century author’s readership.

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The Lincoln Highway: A Novel

The master storyteller is back with a rollicking road trip that nonetheless wrestles with thorny moral questions.

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What About the Baby?: Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction

A master of understated storytelling offers her insights on the craft.

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The Living Sea of Waking Dreams: A Novel

Australia’s most celebrated novelist demands that we stop ignoring climate change, but it’s a repetitive lecture.

Book Review

Notes on Grief

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Notes on Grief

Both of-the-moment and timeless, this slim volume captures the essence of mourning.

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Mission Accomplished!

The virtual 2021 Washington Writers Conference Zooms into the history books.

Book Review

Why Didn’t You Just Do What You Were Told?

These selected works showcase the late author’s wit, insight, and never-boring exploration of how she fit into everything.

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The Souvenir Museum: Stories

By Elizabeth McCracken

The Souvenir Museum: Stories

Family lies at the center of these insightful, acerbic, witty tales told by a master of the form.

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First Person Singular: Stories

By Haruki Murakami

First Person Singular: Stories

For better or worse, the author’s latest collection is stamped with his trademark surrealism, musical taste, and go-to point of view.

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Unmaking the Presidency

By Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes

Unmaking the Presidency

America’s current “I dare you” commander-in-chief underscores how completely the position hinges on the noble intent of its holder.

Book Review

Ordinary Girls

By Jaquira Díaz

Ordinary Girls

A scalding, extraordinary debut by a talented young author.

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On the Plain of Snakes

By Paul Theroux

On the Plain of Snakes

The legendary travel writer takes a harrowing trip deep into the mysteries and miseries of Spanish-speaking North America.

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Book Review

Transcendent Kingdom: A Novel

In her sophomore effort, the author tells a deeply humane tale of love and faith.

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Make It Scream, Make It Burn

By Leslie Jamison

Make It Scream, Make It Burn

Another collection of fearless, closely observed, and — yes — empathetic essays from a master of the form.

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The Boy in the Field: A Novel

By Margot Livesey

The Boy in the Field: A Novel

Grace and decency suffuse this quiet mystery, offering balm to the battered reader.

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It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump

A GOP strategist who helped create the monster now admits the error of his ways.

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Nothing Is Wrong and Here Is Why: Essays

Follow along as the political satirist draws her zany cast of characters from the world’s worst reality show.

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Humankind: A Hopeful History

By Rutger Bregman

Humankind: A Hopeful History

This book makes a compelling and much-needed argument for the innate decency of humans.

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Red Dress in Black & White: A Novel

The author’s signature intimate portraits are drawn against eerily familiar national protests.

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Tree Story: The History of the World Written in Rings

This fact-packed look at the study of dendrochronology is a rollicking good read.

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Galileo and the Science Deniers

A fresh reminder of the wrongheaded outcomes that result when science is thwarted by politics.

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Word Search

What happens when you can no longer find them?

Book Review

Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life

A wide-ranging search for meaning in the face of an uncaring universe.

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Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today

This part-scholarship, part-memoir debut explores the many charges leveled at unruly ladies through the ages.

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Culture, Canceled.

Well, 2020 is a wash. Let’s support each other until we can all try again next year.

Book Review

Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir

An affecting reflection from the writer who made herself heard above the cacophony of men explaining things.

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The Lost Week

Sick in bed, the author curls up with some disquieting reading.

Book Review

Little Constructions: A Novel

The author deploys savage wit but neglects to bring her warm, humane voice to this oh-so-dark comedy.

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Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump’s War on the World’s Most Powerful Office

America’s current “I dare you” commander-in-chief underscores how completely the position hinges on the noble intent of its holder.

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Coventry: Essays

By Rachel Cusk

Coventry: Essays

Autobiographical pieces form the captivating, frustrating heart of this collection.

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Ordinary Girls: A Memoir

By Jaquira Díaz

Ordinary Girls: A Memoir

A scalding, extraordinary debut by a talented young author.

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Book Review

On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey

The legendary travel writer takes a harrowing trip deep into the mysteries and miseries of Spanish-speaking North America.

Book Review

Grand Union: Stories

By Zadie Smith

Grand Union: Stories

From post-sea-rise humanity to the mind of God stuck in a creative slump, this sharp-eyed collection offers no easy answers.

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Hollowed Victories

Celebrating DC sports while missing their biggest fan.

Book Review

Make It Scream, Make It Burn: Essays

Another collection of fearless, closely observed, and — yes — empathetic essays from a master of the form.

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Learning as You Go

Encountering raptors and royalty on a recent Scottish sojourn.

Book Review

The Catholic School: A Novel

By Edoardo Albinati; translated by Antony Shugaar

The Catholic School: A Novel

What might have been an engaging “fictionalized memoir" is buried under reams of self-indulgent, misogynistic lecturing.

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Summer Memories

Our author gets a bit lost in her memories of vacations gone by...

Book Review

Words and Worlds: From Autobiography to Zippers

The longtime novelist tackles a range of topics in this insightful essay collection.

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Comforting Absurdities

A looming one-year anniversary that no one will celebrate

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Laughing Shall I Die

By Tom Shippey

Laughing Shall I Die

Being fearless in battle was important, but shuffling bravely off the mortal coil mattered more.

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The Restless Wave

By John McCain and Mark Salter

The Restless Wave

The senator reminds us how our political system is supposed to work, and that compromise is not, in fact, a dirty word.

Book Review

The House of the Pain of Others: Chronicle of a Small Genocide

By Julián Herbert; translated by Christina MacSweeney

The House of the Pain of Others: Chronicle of a Small Genocide

Recounting a little-known massacre of Chinese immigrants in Mexico.

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The Next Step

The author considers her path out of the workaday world.

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Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do

No need to fear being scolded in this understanding, revealing look into the insidiousness of partiality.

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Enlightenment Now

By Steven Pinker

Enlightenment Now

Don’t buy into the gloom and doom, the author argues. Things are better than they’ve ever been.

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Book Juggling

Sure, it’s a thing. I’m just not very good at it.

Book Review

Landfall: A Novel

By Thomas Mallon

Landfall: A Novel

This fictional tale of the Bush administration lacks many things — chief among them, a point.

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The Book of Delights: Essays

A poet finds endless enchantment in the everyday.

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Debuts Continue to Impress

Judging for the NBCC Leonard Prize often makes for the year’s best reading.

Book Review

Island of the Blue Foxes

By Stephen R. Bown

Island of the Blue Foxes

The curious tale of an ambitious sea voyage spent mostly on dry land.

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My Year in Reading: 2018 Edition

A look back at the pages I’ve perused these past 12 months.

Book Review

The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life

It wasn’t Darwin’s fault that he didn’t have access to fully sequenced genomes.

Book Review

Where Did You Get This Number?: A Pollster’s Guide to Making Sense of the World

A timely reminder that saying you’re going to vote isn’t the same as voting.

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Crossing the Genre Line

Will readers follow when a writer veers too far off course?

Book Review

Enemy of the People: Trump’s War on the Press, the New McCarthyism, and the Threat to American Democracy

An elder statesmen of the news media issues a call to arms, reminding journalists they truly can make a difference.

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Have Book, Will Travel

What to read when it’s time to get away

Book Review

The New Inheritors: A Novel

The author delivers his third gorgeous and savage story, a native son’s continuing critique of the American myth.

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Probing for the Empathy Bone

After a friend is murdered, the author glares at her novel-in-progress and thinks, “What’s the point?”

Book Review

Night-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense

These stories work better separately than in the aggregate, but they’re still appropriately disturbing.

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Requiem

Finding the best way to honor the life of a lifelong friend

Book Review

Laughing Shall I Die: Lives and Deaths of the Great Vikings

Being fearless in battle was important, but shuffling bravely off the mortal coil mattered more.

Book Review

The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations

The senator reminds us how our political system is supposed to work, and that compromise is not, in fact, a dirty word.

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Room to Write

In this Year of Writing, our intrepid author attempts to clear a spot — on the table, on the calendar, and in her brain — to get some work done.

Book Review

Rising Star

By David J. Garrow

Rising Star

An exhaustive dissection of virtually every experience that went into shaping our 44th president.

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Volunteering: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Helping out in the writing community pays dividends all around.

Book Review

Votes for Women! American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot

A candid, kid-friendly history of the fight for women’s rights.

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Need Some Advice?

Deeper into her Year of Writing, our author seeks feedback from people and advice books.

Book Review

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Don’t buy into the gloom and doom, the author argues. Things are better than they’ve ever been.

Book Review

A Wilder Time: Notes from a Geologist at the Edge of the Greenland Ice

The mind of a scientist, the heart of a philosopher, and the soul of a poet are all captured in this slim journal.

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The Plot Thickens

In this year of writing, the author vows to up her game.

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The Year of Writing?

In 2018, all our intrepid columnist wants is a window seat, a few books, and a laptop.

Book Review

Island of the Blue Foxes: Disaster and Triumph on the World’s Greatest Scientific Expedition

The curious tale of an ambitious sea voyage spent mostly on dry land.

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Withering Heights

Scaling (or not) the mountain that is my TBR stack

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Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York

The cartoonist serves as a happy, helpful tour guide through her favorite place on earth.

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What Makes a Good Editor?

Peter Ginna and a wide cast of contributors help to answer that question

Book Review

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

By Carmen Maria Machado

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

This impressive debut collection features tightly wrapped tales that combine a sense of the everyday and otherworldly dread.

Book Review

Overload: Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News

By Bob Schieffer with H. Andrew Schwartz

Overload: Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News

The veteran journalist offers a handbook for informed citizens and considers how we can all do better next time.

Book Review

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History

The cathartic laugh/cry we all need, even if it’s painful.

Book Review

The Complete Ballet: A Fictional Essay in Five Acts

Set aside expectations of a conventional narrative in this unlikely combination of gangsters, strip clubs, and classical dance.

Book Review

The Ninth Hour: A Novel

By Alice McDermott

The Ninth Hour: A Novel

A deceptively quiet story that illuminates the profundity of everyday life.

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A Lesson in Every Object

These gorgeous little book-length essays showcase compelling writing on an expanding array of the everyday.

Book Review

Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution

A captivating look at dueling theories on the origin and adaptability of species.

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The Datum Is Clear

Language shifts in real time.