Weekend Edition: The week's best reads
"Are you crazy? I'm not touching you there." That was the response when Brazilian Janea Padilha asked a beautician to remove most of her pubic hair in the late 1970s. But that was then and Janea, who went home and did it herself, so inventing the Brazilian wax, is one of the J Sisters. Their salon in New York now turns over millions of dollars a year catering to the grooming demands of the rich and famous. "It's an inspirational story of self-made women who came from nothing, illegal immigrants who made it in America," says Laura Malin, author of a forthcoming book about the sisters.
In 1977, Dutch woman Johanna van Haarlem finally tracked down the son, Erwin, she had abandoned as a baby 33 years earlier. She immediately travelled to London to meet him. What followed was a scarcely believable story of deception and heartbreak, ending in Erwin van Haarlem's unmasking in court as an imposter and Soviet spy. More than two decades after his release from prison, the man newspapers called the "spy with no name" was living in Prague, where Jeff Maysh went to hear his story.
"It was on the second day of our trek that I realised it was missing," says Eloise Dicker. "We had packed up the tents and loaded the horses. I reached up to the horse's mane to pull myself up and saw that my wrist was bare. 'My mum's bracelet! It's gone,' I thought, and immediately burst into tears. That bracelet was a physical part of my mother who is no longer physically in the world. It became part of me, and now was gone." Some weeks later, having returned to Europe from Kyrgyzstan and made peace with the loss, Eloise received a Facebook message that changed everything.
"Ever since guns entered the country, Japan has always had strict gun laws," says Iain Overton, author of Gun Baby Gun. "They are the first nation to impose gun laws in the whole world and I think it laid down a bedrock saying that guns really don't play a part in civilian society." Tough regulations extend to the police, who rarely use firearms - so how do they deal with incidents of violence and what is the effect of strict gun laws on crime in Japan?
After an hour's bus journey through forest from the town of Mae Sot, Mae La appears suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere. In the morning mist, thousands of bamboo huts cling to steep limestone crags. It is the largest of nine refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border, and home to almost 40,000 people. Many families have been there for decades, but instances of suicide in women before and after childbirth appeared worryingly high. Researcher Gracia Fellmeth went there to find out why young women have been killing themselves.
"Magazine stories come and go," says National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore. "But I had not seen the plight of endangered species getting better so I thought about what I could do to actually make a difference." The answer he decided on was to make professional studio-style portraits of species close to extinction. He has now photographed more than 6,000 species in 40 countries and the results, preserved in the National Geographic Photo Ark, are amazing.