Katie Hafner

Author Photo by Jessica Raimi

Katie Hafner was on staff at The New York Times for ten years, where she remains a frequent contributor, writing on healthcare and technology. She has also worked at Newsweek and BusinessWeek, and has written for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Wired, The New RepublicThe Washington Post, and O, The Oprah Magazine. She is the author of five previous works of nonfiction covering a range of topics, including the origins of the Internet, computer hackers, German reunification, and the pianist Glenn Gould. She recently completed her first novel, to be published by Spiegel & Grau in 2022. 

On top of the Our Mothers Ourselves podcast, Katie is the creator and host of Lost Women of Science, a new narrative podcast that illuminates the lives of remarkable female scientists whose stories have been lost to history.


Once a week for the Our Mothers Ourselves podcast, Katie interviews the offspring of one extraordinary mother. The concept is simple. And sometimes simple turns profound.

Katie Hafner Our Mothers Ourselves Podcast

Listen to every episode HERE.

In the News

12-22-20 — With the recent nomination of California Assembly member Shirley Weber to Secretary of State by Governor Gavin Newsom in California, I thought you might like to listen to my interview with Shirley about her extraordinary mother, Mildred Nash. Read the blog post and listen to the episode HERE.


Give us your word!

Since Mother Daughter Me was first published in 2013, I’ve been asking people to describe their mother in one word. The words people choose are as poignant as they are diverse: Saintly. Perfect. Violent. Unselfish. Clannish.

Some words keep showing up over and over. “Caring” is one. “Narcissist” is another (ouch). The list is now so long — and so compelling — that a few years ago I created a word cloud in order to get a better fix, visually, on how we collectively feel about our mothers. That is, the more frequently a particular word crops up (e.g. “Loving” and “Strong”), the bigger the word is when shown on the word cloud. I update the cloud once a week.

Please contribute your own word to the cloud HERE.


Through the years, Katie Hafner’s journalism has been finding occasional expression in books of narrative non-fiction. In 1991, Simon & Schuster published Hafner’s first book, Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier (with John Markoff), the first book about the computer underground. While researching one of the main characters in Cyberpunk, a West German hacker named Pengo, Hafner traveled to Hamburg and Berlin, around the time the Berlin Wall fell. She stayed in Berlin to write stories for The New York Times about the effects of reunification on the former East Germany. Out of that fine mess of national confusion emerged Hafner’s second book, The House at the Bridge: A Story of Modern Germany (Scribner; 1995) which focused on 150 years in the life of one old dilapidated villa on the Potsdam side of the famous Glienicke Bridge, where spies were exchanged during The cold War. In 1996, turning back to the topic of technology, Hafner returned to Simon & Schuster to publish Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet, which she wrote with her late husband, Matthew Lyon. In 2001, Carroll & Graf published Hafner’s The Well: A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community, which first appeared as a very long piece in Wired Magazine. Smitten with the conceit of describing a world through a grain of sand, wrote A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould’s Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano (Bloomsbury USA; 2008), which Kirkus called “the musical version of Seabiscuit.”  In 2013, Hafner published a memoir, Mother Daughter Me (Penguin Random House), about a misbegotten experiment in multi-generational living. She recently finished her first novel and is working on a book about taking up the game of golf in order to spend more time with her husband, tentatively titled, Pebble & Pearl: An Unlikely Golfing Love Story.

Read more about her books HERE.

Katie Hafner's Favorite Books

28 inches, 31 books

I recently decided to try an exercise in library triage: give myself 28 inches of bookshelf and see how many of my favorite books I could cram onto it. Click here to see the result. (You’ll see that I cheated a bit on either end, with the help of a wall and a sturdy bookend.)  I’m working on a  blog post for each and every choice.