New Releases | August 29, 2023
August 29, 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: End Credits: How I Broke Up with Hollywood by Patty Lin, Zibby Books
What if achieving your professional dreams comes at too high a personal cost? That’s what screenwriter Patty Lin started to ask herself after years in the cutthroat TV industry. One minute she was a tourist, begging her way into the audience of Late Night with David Letterman. Just a few years later, she was an insider who—through relentless hard work and sacrifice—had earned a seat in the writers’ rooms of the hottest TV shows of all time. While writing for Friends, Freaks and Geeks, Desperate Housewives and Breaking Bad, Patty steeled herself against the indignities of a chaotic, abusive, male-dominated work culture, not just as one of the few women in the room, but as the only Asian person.
This funny, fresh, eye-opening, and inside-Hollywood story will resonate with anyone trying to please their parents, maintain a love life, and find their way in the world—and will inspire countless dreamers to listen to their inner voices and know when it’s time to get out.
Gabbi’s pick: Mother Tongue: The Surprising History of Women's Words by Jenni Nuttall, Viking
So many of the words that we use to chronicle women’s lives feel awkward or alien. Medical terms are scrupulously accurate but antiseptic. Slang and obscenities have shock value, yet they perpetuate taboos. Where are the plain, honest words for women’s daily lives?
Mother Tongue is a historical investigation of feminist language and thought, from the dawn of Old English to the present day. Dr. Jenni Nuttall guides readers through the evolution of words that we have used to describe female bodies, menstruation, women’s sexuality, the consequences of male violence, childbirth, women’s paid and unpaid work, and gender. Along the way, she challenges our modern language’s ability to insightfully articulate women’s shared experiences by examining the long-forgotten words once used in English for female sexual and reproductive organs. Nuttall also tells the story of words like womb and breast, whose meanings have changed over time, as well as how anatomical words such as hysteria and hysterical came to have such loaded legacies.
Inspired by today’s heated debates about words like womxn and menstruators—and by more personal conversations with her teenage daughter—Nuttall describes the profound transformations of the English language. In the process, she unearths some surprisingly progressive thinking that challenges our assumptions about the past—and, in some cases, puts our twenty-first-century society to shame. Mother Tongue is a rich, provocative book for anyone who loves language—and for feminists who want to look to the past in order to move forward.
Sally’s pick: Nervous: Essays on Heritage and Healing by Jen Soriano, Amistad
The power of quiet can haunt us over generations, crystallizing in pain that Jen Soriano views as a form of embodied history. In this searing memoir in essays, Soriano, the daughter of a neurosurgeon, journeys to understand the origins of her chronic pain and mental health struggles. By the end, she finds both the source and the delta of what bodies impacted by trauma might need to thrive. In fourteen essays connected by theme and experience, Soriano traverses centuries and continents, weaving together memory and history, sociology and personal stories, neuroscience and public health, into a vivid tapestry of what it takes to transform trauma not just body by body, but through the body politic and ecosystems at large.
Beginning with a shocking timeline juxtaposing Soriano’s medical history with the history of hysteria and witch hunts, Nervous navigates the human body—centering neurodiverse, disabled, and genderqueer bodies of color—within larger systems that have harmed and silenced Filipinos for generations. Soriano’s wide-ranging essays contemplate the Spanish-American War that ushered in United States colonization in the Philippines; the healing power of an inherited legacy of music; a chosen family of activists from the Bay Area to the Philippines; and how the fluidity of our nervous systems can teach us how to shape a trauma-wise future.
With Nervous, Soriano boldly invites us along on a watershed journey toward healing, understanding, and communion.
Dylan’s pick: We Need to Talk About Antisemitism by Rabbi Diana Fersko, Seal Press
Antisemitism is on the rise in America, in cities and rural areas, in red states and blue states, and in guises both subtle and terrifyingly overt. Rabbi Diana Fersko is used to having difficult conversations with members of her congregation about the issues they face—from the threat of violence to microaggressions and identity denial. In We Need to Talk About Antisemitism, she gives all of us the ultimate guide to modern antisemitism in its many forms.
Exploring topics like vile myths about Jewish people and the intersection of antisemitism with other forms of discrimination, We Need to Talk About Antisemitism gives readers the tools they need to understand the state of antisemitism today. Fersko shows Jews and non-Jews alike how to speak up and come together, spreading a message of solidarity and hope. This is a timely read for anyone passionate about fighting for social justice.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING AT HOME
"Fat Ham by James Ijames. Saw this on Broadway this season! It's Shakespeare's Hamlet updated to the present day in the South at a BBQ after a funeral. The play had an all-Black leading cast and featured major queer characters. It spins the bard's tale into a must-see/must-read ending that will leave you wanting more."
—Roy Normington, Senior Customer Service Specialist