New Releases | July 18, 2023
July 18, 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:
Gabbi’s pick: As Figs in Autumn: One Year in a Forever War by Ben Bastomski, Delphinium
Set against the diverse landscapes of Israel, Bastomski’s journey from Ivy League university to the Israeli army is a deeply personal memoir chronicling his journey out of grief and finally finding his own way back home. In storytelling vividly attuned to the land and its changing seasons, Bastomski finds solace and meaning with the help of a cast of strangers, brothers-in-arms, and finally family.
In his final college semester, Ben awakens to read on his computer screen of the death of his classmate and childhood friend Avi. Avi’s death is sudden and senseless, killed by a drunk driver on his way back to his dorm. Here begins Ben’s story of coming to terms with loss and finding his way to adulthood.
In the fall of 2010, with his new degree in Moral Philosophy, Ben boards a plane to Israel to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Though Ben has never held a gun, before the next summer ends, he is a trained sharpshooter. His service takes him from the Negev Desert to the Occupied Territories and Gazan border, all while finding "home" at a southern kibbutz where he is adopted as a brother and son. From Providence, Rhode Island to California and at last to Israel where Ben joins Mahal, the special set of non-Israeli-born Jews who volunteer in the IDF, he finds family where never expected, a place of his own in the Israeli mosaic.
In a memoir that is both coming-of-age story and epic ballad, Bastomski’s lyrically told story is intensely personal and ultimately universal.
Dylan’s pick: Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud by Ben McKenzie with Jacob Silverman, Abrams Press
At the height of the pandemic, TV star Ben McKenzie (The O.C., Gotham) was the perfect mark for cryptocurrency: a dad stuck at home with some cash in his pocket, worried about his family, armed with only the vague notion that people were making heaps of money on something he—despite a degree in economics—didn’t entirely understand. Lured in by the promise of taking power from banks, possibly improving democracy, and sure, a touch of FOMO, McKenzie dove deep into blockchain, Bitcoin, and the various other coins and exchanges on which they are traded.
But after scratching the surface, he had to ask, “Am I crazy, or is this all a total scam?” In Easy Money, McKenzie enlists the help of journalist Jacob Silverman for a caper and exposé that points in shock to the climactic final days of cryptocurrency now upon us. Weaving together stories of average traders and victims, colorful crypto “visionaries,” Hollywood’s biggest true believers, anti-crypto whistleblowers, and government agents searching for solutions at the precipice of a major crash, Easy Money is an on-the-ground look at a perfect storm of 2008 Housing Bubble–level irresponsibility and criminal fraud potentially ten times more devastating than Bernie Madoff.
Sally’s pick: Encounterism: The Neglected Joys of Being in Person by Andy Field, W.W. Norton & Company
The light touch of a hairdresser’s hands on one’s scalp, the euphoric energy of a nightclub, huddling with strangers under a shelter in the rain, a spontaneous snowball fight in the street, a daily interaction with a homeless man—such mundane connections, when we closely inhabit the same space, and touch or are touched by others, were nearly lost to “social distancing.” Will we ever again shake hands without a thought?
In this deeply rewarding book, Andy Field brings together history, science, psychology, queer theory, and pop culture with his love of urban life and his own experiences—both as a city-dweller and as a performance artist—to forge creative connections: walking hand-in-hand with strangers, knocking on doors, staging encounters in parked cars. In considering twelve different kinds of encounters, from car rides to video calls to dog-walker chats in the park, Field argues “that in the spontaneity and joy of our meetings with each other, we might find the faint outline of a better future.”
Jasmine’s pick: On Class by Deborah Dundas, Bibioasis
Growing up poor, Deborah Dundas knew what it meant to want, to be hungry, and to long for social and economic dignity; she understood the crushing weight of having nothing much expected of you. But even after overcoming many of the usual barriers faced by lower- and working-class people, she still felt anxious about her place, and even in relatively safe spaces reluctant to broach the subject of class. While new social movements have generated open conversation about gender and racism, discussions of class rarely include the voices of those most deeply affected: the working class and poor.
On Class is an exploration of the ways in which we talk about class: of who tells the stories, and who doesn’t, which ones tend to be repeated most often, and why this has to change. It asks the question: What don’t we talk about when we don’t talk about class? And what might happen if, ﬁnally, we did?
WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING AT HOME
"I just finished Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn: a history of the ways in which the medical field has failed and ignored women, broken up into chunks of time starting with Ancient Greece and ending around 2020. I spent much of the book looking for a void to scream into and wondering how I knew so few of the stories that were included in this book. I'm glad I took the time to sit with the stories as I went."
—Ava Bush, Customer Service Specialist