New Releases | August 8, 2023
August 08, 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: Crushed: How Student Debt Has Impaired a Generation and What to Do About It by David E. Linton, J. Ross Publishing
Crushed is a timely and insightful work that sheds light on the state of American universities and their graduates. It takes readers on a fascinating and reflective journey into the current student debt crisis and how it has become a major burden to American society. Beyond just describing how we got into this huge mess, Crushed also offers actionable public-policy steps to help fix this ever-growing problem.
This reader-friendly guide explores the U.S. university system in depth, the incentive structures driving university decisions, and what has led to both rapid tuition inflation and skyrocketing student debt. It also explores why the U.S. university system is no longer reducing the racial wealth gap and how it is now contributing to intergenerational poverty. Crushed explains what every parent or prospective student should know before, during, or after enrolling in college, including what choices they should make to graduate on time, with a valuable degree, and with little (or no) debt. Additionally, it concludes with a detailed policy discussion and provides simple, yet powerful, ways to mitigate and eventually eliminate runaway tuition inflation and the overwhelming stock of student debt.
Gabbi’s pick: On Being Unreasonable: Breaking the Rules and Making Things Better by Kirsty Sedgman, Faber & Faber
Manners, order and respect... these are all ideals we subscribe to. In opposed positions, we ought to be able to 'agree to disagree'. Today's world is built from structures of standards and reason, but it is imperative to ask who constructed these norms, and why. We are more divided than ever before--along lines of race, gender, class, disability--and it's time to question who benefits the most. What if our propensity to measure human behaviour against rules and reason is actually more problematic than it might seem?
Kirsty Sedgman shows how power dynamics and the social biases involved have resulted in a wide acceptance of what people should and shouldn't do, but they create discriminatory realities and amount to a societal façade that is dangerous for genuine social progress. From taking the knee to breastfeeding in public, from neighbourhood vigilantism to the Colston Four--and exploring ideas around ethics, justice, society, and equality along the way--Sedgman explores notions of civility throughout history up to now.
On Being Unreasonable mounts a vital and spirited defence of why and how being unreasonable can help improve the world. It examines and parses the pros and cons of our rules around reason, but leaves us with the rousing question: What if behaving unreasonably at times might be the best way to bring about meaningful change that is long overdue?
Dylan’s pick: On Wars by Michael Mann, Yale University Press
Benjamin Franklin once said, “There never was a good war or a bad peace.” But what determines whether war or peace is chosen? Award-winning sociologist Michael Mann concludes that it is a handful of political leaders—people with emotions and ideologies, and constrained by inherited culture and institutions—who undertake such decisions, usually irrationally choosing war and seldom achieving their desired results.
Mann examines the history of war through the ages and across the globe—from ancient Rome to Ukraine, from imperial China to the Middle East, from Japan and Europe to Latin and North America. He explores the reasons groups go to war, the different forms of wars, how warfare has changed and how it has stayed the same, and the surprising ways in which seemingly powerful countries lose wars. In masterfully combining ideological, economic, political, and military analysis, Mann offers new insight into the many consequences of choosing war.
Sally’s pick: Please Unsubscribe, Thanks!: How to Take Back Our Time, Attention, and Purpose in a World Designed to Bury Us in Bullshit by Julio Vincent Gambuto, Avid Reader Press
When the pandemic essentially brought the world to a standstill, author Julio Gambuto came to understand a powerful truth: in the pre-pandemic world, Americans were exhausted, lonely, unhappy, wildly overworked and overbooked, drowning in a sea of constantly being on the go and needing to buy more, more, more. But when that pressure disappeared, people rediscovered what was important to them. They quit jobs that made them unhappy and moved their families to the suburbs. Simple things like outdoor walks replaced gym memberships; home cooking and backyard gardens replaced takeout; less commuting meant more time for family and creative projects; and for perhaps the first time in a long time, people were being honest. Honest about what they wanted, what they believed in. Honest about the problems they were facing within their families, friend groups, workplaces, towns, and society overall.
That honesty, he noticed, had the potential to make the ground shift. It created a capacity for change. But he also knew that it likely wouldn’t last, because the most powerful forces running our world would not allow it to. They wanted control over our clicks, our conversations, our dollars, our work, our votes—our lives. The only way that we could beat those systems, would be to resist the calls to keep moving, and to “go back to normal.” In order to change, we had to unsubscribe.
Now, in Please Unsubscribe, Thanks!, Gambuto gives us a radical blueprint for the ways we can take a deep breath, renew and commit to a life that we really want, individually and collectively, from unsubscribing to emails and automated subscriptions to reevaluating the presence of people and ideas and habits that no longer serve us or make us happy. Infused with the practical advice in James Clear’s Atomic Habits and the humor of Sarah Knight’s The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, Please Unsubscribe, Thanks! helps us focus on where we find joy in our lives and encourages us to toss out what doesn’t bring us joy in this modern world.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING AT HOME
"I just finished The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin, and it reinforced some of my own beliefs about art-making but also opened me up to new approaches to creativity that are applicable in both art-making and creative expression of any sort: business, personal, or otherwise."
—Gabbi Cisneros, Creative Director