Rachel’s ambition, on graduating from Yale University, was to work on a dude ranch in Wyoming (never having been to a dude ranch—or to Wyoming). Moving to Missoula, Montana, for an MFA in creative writing is the closest she’s come. After a dozen years as an editor of scholarly books, at Oxford and Duke University Presses, she slid down the ladder of social mobility and did a stint in college admissions, quitting to write Admissions Confidential: An Insider’s Account of the Elite College Selection Process (St. Martin’s, 2001) in an attempt to demystify an arcane and brutalizing rite of passage. Since then she has published a memoir, The Pig and I (Penguin, 2005; Bison Books, 2009) and Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running (University of Nebraska Press, 2008). Rachel writes a monthly column in The Chronicle of Higher Education and for many years wrote for Running Times magazine. Her work has appeared in various and diverse places, including The New York Times, The LA Times, Ploughshares, Glamour, Inside Higher Ed, Reader’s Digest, Runner’s World, Ascent, JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) and variety of other more academically-oriented publications. Her work also appears on the Athleta blog, where she was a sponsored athlete for 2012.
In June, 2014, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published her first novel, On the Road to Find Out. In June 2016 FSG published Misunderstood: Why the Humble Rat May Be Your Best Pet Ever. Rachel’s next book, an advice guide for high school students on crafting the personal essay, will be published in fall 2017 by the University of Chicago Press.
Rachel is professor of Creative Writing at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers in Spokane, the graduate writing program of Eastern Washington University. She lives with her photogenic dog, Helen.