Katherine Sharpe

A sampling of my published work:


04EXPLORER4-master675On the Via Francigena in Tuscany, Monasteries and Fellowship
The New York Times
Sept. 7, 2016

“Summoning our courage, my husband and I knocked on the unmarked door of the Convento di San Francesco, a 13th-century monastery in the Tuscan hill town of San Miniato.

Then we stood back to wait. As shadows lengthened across the stone wall, I began to second-guess our decision to throw a few clothes into a backpack, board a regional train and flee the crowds of Florence in an attempt to find an ancient pilgrimage route called the Via Francigena and walk it south for four days, to Siena.”


n plus one

nplusone-fixed_logoR We Going 2 Dai Alone?
June 2009
“There was a time during the middle of 2007 when every junior staff member at the magazine where I worked was looking for love on the internet. The art director, an amiable Scandinavian in his mid-twenties, set up a white umbrella lamp in his tiny 
office and snapped some pictures of our coworker Rob that revealed a pair of bee-stung lips and dreamy eyelashes we had never quite noticed while sitting hunched in 
the glare of our computers. Rob had wanted the pictures for online-dating purposes, and he posted them, next to descriptive text that made him sound noble and introspective (maybe, all this time, he really was noble and introspective). Within a few weeks, he began dating a beautiful Cuban law student. I felt a sense of envy, but not of loss. I didn’t quite want to date Rob. Sitting four feet away from me, day in and day out, he was too close already to want to bring into that other kind of closeness. But the rest of New York, it seemed, was too far away.”


ac8cf23c0528fe4ea28b748cd7fb8846The Smart-Pill Oversell

February 2014
“Ben Harkless could not sit still. At home, the athletic ten-year-old preferred doing three activities at once: playing with his iPad, say, while watching television and rolling on an exercise ball. Sometimes he kicked the walls; other times, he literally bounced off them.

“School was another story, however. Ben sat in class most days with his head down on his desk, ‘a defeated heap’, remembers his mother, Suzanne Harkless, a social worker in Berkeley, California. His grades were poor, and his teacher was at a loss for what to do.


lancet_psychiartyThe Silence of Prozac
Lancet Psychiatry
October 2015
” . . . Those discussions now feel dated. While antidepressants themselves are here to stay, they just don’t pulse with meaning the way they once did. Like the automobile or the telephone before them, SSRIs are a one-time miracle technology that have since become a familiar—even frumpy—part of the furniture of modern life. At some point recently, they’ve slid into the final act of Mickey Smith’s wonder-drug drama. And in the aftermath of that change, many of the things that people used to say about them have come to sound completely absurd.”

Just One Single Lady
(review of Spinster, by Kate Bolick)
Lancet Psychiatry
December 2015

Out of Time (review of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has The Time, by Brigid Schulte)
Lancet Psychiatry
June 2014

School Daze (review of The ADHD Explosion, by Stephen Hinshaw and Richard Scheffler)
Lancet Psychiatry
July 2014


Prevention-USA-June-2014American Women Run on Prozac
June 2014
“Linda King was seriously unhappy with her performance as a mom. While other mothers carried on with their social lives, appearing placid, organized, patient, and able to enjoy their kids, King was wound up and overwhelmed. ‘My toddler was sensitive, and I’d get anxious,’ she says. ‘I would lose my temper.’

The 5 Rules of Reinventing Your Life at Any Age
September 2014


Cycling’s Randonneurs Take the Long View [PDF]
San Francisco Chronicle
June 18, 2013
“One evening last month, Martin Meyer of Oakland sent his cycling partner a text message: ‘Hello Jenny. We will pick you up tomorrow morning at 4:45—and then go on a longer recreational bike ride.’ That ride, organized by the San Francisco Randonneurs, was, strictly speaking, ‘recreational.’ It was also 373 miles long. Meyer and two friends finished it in 38 hours, including a one-hour nap and a hot shower, squeaking in under the 40-hour limit.”

Please Don’t Call the Landlords
San Francisco Chronicle
October 7, 2014
“When I moved to the Bay Area from New York City two years ago, there were a lot of things I had to get used to — like a different fashion sensibility, a dearth of late-night dining options, and an extremely high ambient level of physical fitness.”

No Ordinary Feat: Walking for 24 Hours with Wanderers Union
San Francisco Chronicle
August 17, 2014
“‘I think that part of the appeal of wandering is the sense of freedom from your ordinary motivations,’ Kizu-Blair says. ‘I want it to feel like an unproductive activity.'”


The Medication Generation
The Wall Street Journal
June 29, 2012
“When I was a college freshman in the late 1990s, antidepressants were everywhere. Prozac was appearing on magazine covers, and I’d just seen my first commercial for Paxil on TV. Halfway through the semester, I was laid out by a prolonged anxiety attack and found myself in the school’s campus health center, tearfully telling a newly minted psychiatry resident about my feelings of panic and despair. Given the spirit of the times, it wasn’t a complete surprise when she sent me away a few minutes later with a prescription and a generous supply of small cardboard boxes full of beautiful blue pills, free samples dropped off on campus by a company rep.”

chronicle higher ed

Prozac Campus: The Next Generation [PDF]
The Chronicle of Higher Education Review
May 27, 2012
“In an accelerated culture, 15 years is a long time. And last spring, when a stiff, cream-colored envelope arrived in the mail to announce preparations for my 10th college reunion, I realized that it had been nearly that long since my experience with antidepressants began.”

In Praise of Depression
The Rumpus
August 14, 2012
“Not long ago, I had a conversation with a woman fifteen or twenty years older than myself, who told me that she thinks of Prozac as ‘the penicillin of my generation.’ She was interviewing me about my book about growing up on antidepressants, and she didn’t try to hide the fact that she found my semi-critical stance toward medication bewildering. ‘Wait,’ she said near the end of our conversation. ‘I need to ask again to make sure I’m clear on your answer. You mean you really don’t think that depression is a disease like diabetes?’ I told her I don’t.”

A Happy Pill in Every Purse
New York Daily News
March 21, 2013
“In a recent print ad for the drug Abilify, which is prescribed to treat persistent depression, a cartoon woman claws her way out of a deep hole in the ground. In another, a woman stands on a sunny city street, beneath a sad-eyed umbrella that dribbles rain just on her. In a TV commercial from the same campaign, a woman is followed around by a furry blue bathrobe that represents her illness.
The only men to be glimpsed in these ads are concerned family members and, in each one, a friendly doctor who explains the medication’s risks and benefits.”


Battlefield: 1814 [PDF]
September/October 2013
“On the evening of August 30, 1814, a full moon shone on the fields and farmhouses of Kent County, Maryland. Sixty miles away, the public buildings of Washington, D.C. lay charred and cindered.”

Turning Back the Human Clock
November/December 2012

Re-creating Nordic Grog
March/April 2014

SparkTruck’s Surprise Lesson: Using design skills to build kids’ characters
Wired Design
November 7, 2012
“According to social scientists (and the journalists who popularize their work), American children are said to be weenies, much more helpless and less resourceful than their age-matched peers in other countries. In educational settings, American kids are worryingly lacking in the faculty known as ‘grit,’ the one that allows people to power through difficult problems, absorbing and learning from setbacks rather than giving up.”

Surplus Predator Drone Container Morphs into War Protest Machine
Wired Design
November 5, 2012
“He told me it would make a great koi pond,” said James Enos, recalling the dealer in obscure military surplus who did business, along with his dog, in one of the weedy fields around Ramona, California.”

Sip Lattés and Fix Busted Stuff at the Repair Café
Wired Design
May 31, 2012
“For 80 years or so, planned obsolescence has been the dirty little engine that drives our consumer economy. Today the members of a nascent fixer movement say it’s been long enough.”

Slideshow: Bad Mothers and Single Women
Huffington Post
June 11, 2012
“What follows is a collection of twenty ads for antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, spanning the late 1960s to the current year. Many ran in medical journals like JAMA and the American Journal of Psychiatry, encouraging doctors to prescribe brand-name drugs to their patients. Others, aimed directly at the consumer, ran in major publications like Time. Many of them I discovered in the course of researching my book on youth and antidepressants, Coming of Age on Zoloft. The ads are campy, funny, disturbing, and sometimes downright weird.”


Hyper One Day, Calm the Next: Changes in ADHD Over Time
Scientific American Mind
March 2011
“Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition, and if left untreated, it can set a child up for a lifetime of difficulties in learning and forming relationships. At least that is the assumption that has guided the popular approach to treating ADHD for decades. But new research suggests that ADHD might be much less persistent than previously thought. A team led by Prudence Fisher and J. Blake Turner, both at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, reviewed the records of nearly 1,500 children from four studies that had used a standard diagnostic interview to screen for ADHD. They found that a majority of children who qualified for an initial diagnosis had lost their diagnosis by two years later.”


GOOD magazine, Issue 19The GOOD Guide to Better Neighborhoods
April 2010
“Say the word ‘commune,’ and it calls up certain associations: hippies, yurts, big pots of bean stew, awkward free love experiments gone wrong. But the idea of cooperative living arrangements predates all of that, and if current-day advocates like Stephanie Smith of WeCommune and Alex Marshall of Brooklyn Cohousing have anything to do with it, it will survive long into the future. Smith, an architect in San Francisco, is aware of the sex, drugs, and yurts cliche of communes, but she defines the essence of a commune as a simple and sensible pairing. ‘To me, a commune just means community and resource-sharing together,’ she says. It’s the economic advantages of sharing, combined with the ‘low hum of support’ that comes from knowing that the people around you are watching your back.”


Comfort Food [PDF]
February/March 2009
“‘Where are the scallions?’ calls a voice from the kitchen, where a dozen twenty- and thirty-somethings chop, rinse, stir, and pour. Someone is perched on a chair, the better to reach down into a steel pot the size of an oil drum. Ten-pound meatloaves glisten with ketchup coatings. The scent of lemon zest wafts through the air, which crackles with laughter and activity. We’re in the spacious, plywood-floored loft that Laura Braslow shares with her roommates in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. It’s early afternoon, and preparations are well under way for ‘Umami: People + Food,’ an occasional dinner party for 75 guests that strikes a note somewhere between a fancy supper club and a chaotic community social. The woman whose spirit hovers over these proceedings is M.F.K. Fisher, an American food writer who’s best remembered for her luscious prose and her conviction that the pleasures of eating are deeply important—not just to gourmets, but to everyone.”

Room and Board: How an artistic couple transformed their blank-slate rental loft into a cozy live/work abode [PDF]
Aug/Sept 2008


Retrieval: Of A Fire On the Moon, by Norman Mailer [PDF]
Seed Magazine
June 2008
“It’s July 1969. Nixon is president and the hippie era is in full swing. In a country still reeling from protest, war, and assassination, teams at NASA prepare to attempt the most audacious technological feat in history. And Norman Mailer—who thinks that NASA’s ‘blind push’ is a distraction from problems on Earth—nonetheless finds himself in Houston, enduring press conferences to write a book about it. Mailer, best remembered as a larger-than-life pioneer of New Journalism, is the perfect writer to tell the story of Apollo 11.”

Museum: The Peenemünde Center, Peenemünde, Germany [PDF]
Seed Magazine
April 2008
“One can argue that the Space Age began years before Sputnik, on a lonely spit of land in the Baltic Sea. There, in 1942, technicians at the Nazis’ Peenemünde test site launched the first man-made object into Earth’s atmosphere, a V2 rocket. From 1937 to 1943, Peenemünde was a world-class research facility, housing scientists and engineers dedicated to the perfection of military ballistics.”

Field Museum: Constructing Art and Science on a Frozen Minnesota Lake
January, 2009

Girl, Lightly Medicated
The Brooklyn Rail
June 2007
“It’s 1998 and I’m sitting on the long front porch at Kate Simpson’s house on Cora Street in Portland, Oregon. Freshman year is over. The end-of-year parties have stopped and the Pacific Northwest sun, shy at first, has grown hot enough that we can sit here languidly, our feet up on the dusty railing, drinking amaretto sours and fanning ourselves in the golden afternoon. ‘We’ is me, Kate, and Kate’s three glamorous housemates, one our year and two older. They study serious things like anthropology and linguistics. They know French theory and a dozen tasty ways to prepare seitan.

Drama King
Washington Post Magazine
November 6, 2005
“The first thing that struck me about my sixth-grade drama teacher was his appearance. Michael Demick dressed in flannel shirts unbuttoned over clashing tees, rumpled shorts and beat-up sneakers. His beard and mass of auburn hair looked as if they’d been styled by a chicken.”