New Releases | August 15, 2023
August 15, 2023
Excellent new books are brought into the world every single week. Here at Porchlight, we track them all and elevate four new releases we are excited about as they hit bookstore shelves on Tuesday morning.
The books are chosen by Porchlight's Managing Director, Sally Haldorson, and the marketing team: Dylan Schleicher, Gabbi Cisneros, and Jasmine Gonzalez. (Book descriptions are provided by the publisher unless otherwise noted.) This week, our choices are:
Jasmine's pick: A Brief History of the Female Body: An Evolutionary Look at How and Why the Female Form Came to Be by Dr. Deena Emera, Sourcebooks
Knowledge is the most powerful weapon.
As the female body is constantly being politicized and policed, it is now more than ever that people must understand the inner workings of women’s body. Written by an evolutionary geneticist, Deena Emera, Ph.D., in an accessible, nonjudgmental tone, A Brief History of the Female Body unravels misconceptions women have about their own bodies and supplies evolutionary-backed scientific analysis that provides a more complete understanding of women’s bodies. Covering topics once considered taboo—from periods, to pregnancy, to the female orgasm—A Brief History of the Female Body illuminates how the female form has transformed over millions of years to become the beautiful, unique bodies women see in the mirror each day.
Gabbi’s pick: Daughters of Latin America: An International Anthology of Writing by Latine Women edited by Sandra Guzman, Amistad
Daughters of Latin America collects the intergenerational voices of Latine women across time and space, capturing the power, strength, and creativity of these visionary writers, leaders, scholars, and activists—including 24 Indigenous voices. Several authors featured are translated into English for the first time. Grammy, National Book Award, Cervantes, and Pulitzer Prize winners as well as a Nobel Laureate and the next generation of literary voices are among the stars of this essential collection, women whose work inspires and transforms us.
An eclectic and inclusive time capsule spanning centuries, genres, and geographical and linguistic diversity, Daughters of Latin America is divided into 13 parts representing the 13 Mayan Moons, each cycle honoring a different theme. Within its pages are poems from U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón and celebrated Cervantes Prize–winner Dulce María Loynaz; lyric essays from New York Times bestselling author Naima Coster, Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, Ford Fellow Giannina Braschi, and Guggenheim Fellow Maryse Condé; rousing speeches from U.S. Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, and Lencan Indigenous land and water protector Berta Caceres; and a transcendent Mazatec chant from shaman and poet María Sabina testifying to the power of language as a cure, which opens the book.
More than a collection of writings, Daughters of Latin America is a resurrection of ancestral literary inheritance as well as a celebration of the rising voices encouraged and nurtured by those who came before them.
Sally’s pick: In Defense of Love: An Argument by Ron Rosenbaum, Doubleday
Who wrote the book of love?
In an impassioned polemic, Ron Rosenbaum—who has written books on the mysteries of Hitler’s evil, the magic of Shakespeare’s words, and the terrifying power of thermonuclear explosions—takes on perhaps his greatest challenge: the nature of love. Rosenbaum argues that what we know as love is imperiled now by the quantifiers, the digitizers, and their algorithms, who all seek to reduce love to electrical, chemical, and mathematical formulas.
Rosenbaum brings excitement to his thinking as he interrogates the neuroscience of love, with its “trait constellations,” and the efforts of others to turn all human lovers into numerical configurations. He asks us why our culture has become so obsessed with codifying and quantifying love through algorithms. The very capacity that makes us human, Rosenbaum argues, is being taken over by numerical methods of explanation.
In Defense of Love is more than an examination of the intersection of love with literature and science. It is a celebration of the persistence of a mysterious and uncanny phenomenon: the inexorable power of love.
Dylan’s pick: The Problem of Twelve: When a Few Financial Institutions Control Everything by John Coates, Columbia Global Reports
A “problem of twelve” arises when a small number of institutions acquire the means to exert outsized influence over the politics and economy of a nation.
The Big Four index funds of Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and BlackRock control more than twenty percent of the votes of S&P 500 companies—a concentration of power that’s unprecedented in America. Then there’s the rise of private equity funds such as the Big Four of Apollo, Blackstone, Carlyle and KKR, which has amassed $2.7 trillion of assets, and are eroding the legitimacy and accountability of American capitalism, not by controlling public companies, but by taking them over entirely, and removing them from public discourse and public scrutiny.
What can be done to check this level of power? Harvard law professor John Coates argues that only politics can fight the problem of twelve.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING AT HOME
"I'm listening to Megan Rapinoe's memoir One Life. I am not a football person, but it's hard not to admire her for being an all-around good person and effector of positive change. It's a good story with lots of positive messaging, and she does a great job with the reading too."
—Michael Jantz, Custom Projects Director