December 19, 2023
December 19, 2023
Finding the right book at the right time can transform your life or your organization. We help you discover your next great read by showcasing four recently released titles each week.
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:
Say’s pick: In Defense of Processed Food by Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, Reaktion Books
By turns a scientific, feminist, and economic critique, this book gleefully attacks received wisdom about the dangers of processed food. Anastacia Marx de Salcedo argues that, in fact, most processed foods are relatively healthy and that their consumption is an undisputed boon to women’s equality—since the burdens of cooking disproportionately fall on women. In de Salcedo’s account, processed foods take too much blame for the negative effects of modern sedentary life, and alternative food systems are doomed to economic dysfunction. Ultimately, de Salcedo embraces the preserved foods in her pantry and encourages the reader to do the same.
Jasmine’s pick: Just Transformations: Grassroots Struggles for Alternative Futures edited by Iokiñe Rodríguez, Mariana Walter, and Leah Temper, Pluto Press
The climate crisis is the greatest existential threat humanity faces today. The need for a radical societal transformation in the interests of social justice and ecological sustainability has never been greater. But where can we turn to find systemic alternatives?
From India, Turkey, and Bolivia, to Venezuela, Canada, and Lebanon, Just Transformations looks to local environmental struggles for the answers. With each case study grounded in the social movements and specific politics of the region in question, this volume investigates the role that resistance movements play in bringing about sustainable transformations, the strategies and tools they utilize to overcome barriers, and how academics and grassroots activists can collaborate effectively.
The book provides a toolkit for scholar-activists who want to build transformative visions with communities. Interrogating each case study for valuable lessons, the contributors develop a conceptualization of a just transformation that focuses on the changes that communities themselves are trying to produce.
Gabbi’s pick: Stress Resets: How to Soothe Your Body and Mind in Minutes by Jennifer Taitz, Workman Publishing Company
Here’s a promise that could not be more timely or needed: You can dial down your stress in just a few minutes, with no ponderous meditations, medications, or martinis required. Written by Dr. Jennifer L. Taitz, a clinical psychologist who specializes in teaching mindfulness-based behavioral skills to manage intense emotions and situations, Stress Resets provides 75 scientifically proven ways to improve how you respond to stress, both in the moment and the long run.
There are accessible yet powerful exercises like dipping your face in ice water to quiet your body and mind; adopting a half smile to change your mood from the outside in; singing your irrational negative thoughts to reduce their believability; building a hope kit so you can remind yourself of what’s possible in tough moments; and making a pie chart of your life to gain perspective. By incorporating these into your days, you can stop the cycle of obsessing, panicking, and avoiding and instead effectively approach what matters to you most. You’ll also find stress buffers designed to build your resilience so you can navigate whatever comes your way.
Through personal anecdotes, expert interviews, cutting-edge studies, and practical tips, you’ll learn how to manage your emotions instead of the other way around. Stress Resets will not only change how you view your stress but also give you the hope and confidence you need to reset and ultimately change how you feel.
Dylan’s pick: This Other Eden: A Novel by Paul Harding, W.W. Norton & Company
In 1792, formerly enslaved Benjamin Honey and his Irish wife, Patience, discover an island where they can make a life together. Over a century later, the Honeys’ descendants and a diverse group of neighbors are desperately poor, isolated, and often hungry, but nevertheless protected from the hostility awaiting them on the mainland.
During the tumultuous summer of 1912, Matthew Diamond, a retired, idealistic but prejudiced schoolteacher-turned-missionary, disrupts the community’s fragile balance through his efforts to educate its children. His presence attracts the attention of authorities on the mainland who, under the influence of the eugenics-thinking popular among progressives of the day, decide to forcibly evacuate the island, institutionalize its residents, and develop the island as a vacation destination. Beginning with a hurricane flood reminiscent of the story of Noah’s Ark, the novel ends with yet another Ark.
In prose of breathtaking beauty and power, Paul Harding brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters: Iris and Violet McDermott, sisters raising three orphaned Penobscot children; Theophilus and Candace Larks and their brood of vagabond children; the prophetic Zachary Hand to God Proverbs, a Civil War veteran who lives in a hollow tree; and more. A spellbinding story of resistance and survival, This Other Eden is an enduring testament to the struggle to preserve human dignity in the face of intolerance and injustice.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING AT HOME
"Prayers to Broken Stones by Dan Simmons. I read this once a year. It smacks of Bradbury at his darkest. The first short story is obliquely sci-fi and absolutely heartbreaking."
—Dan Brouchoud, Sales Specialist