New Releases | July 4, 2023
July 04, 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:
Dylan’s pick: The Light Room by Kate Zambreno, Riverhead Books
“Kate Zambreno’s writing is mysterious, unclassifiable, and yet intimate and familiar,” Jenny Zhang has written. Now, Zambreno offers her most profound and affecting work yet: a candid chronicle of life as a mother of two young daughters in a moment of profound uncertainty about public health, climate change, and the future we can expect for our children. Moving through the seasons, returning often to parks and green spaces, Zambreno captures the isolation and exhaustion of being home with a baby and a small child, but also small and transcendent moments of beauty and joy. Inspired by writers and artists ranging from Natalia Ginzburg to Joseph Cornell, Yūko Tsushima to Bernadette Mayer, Etel Adnan to David Wojnarowicz, The Light Room represents an impassioned appreciation of community and the commons, and an ecstatic engagement with the living world.
How will our memories, and our children’s, be affected by this time of profound disconnection? What does it mean to bring new life, and new work, into this moment of precarity and crisis? In The Light Room, Kate Zambreno offers a vision of how to live in ways that move away from disenchantment, and toward light and possibility.
Jasmine’s pick: Our History Has Always Been Contraband: In Defense of Black Studies edited by Colin Kaepernick, Robin D. G. Kelley, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Haymarket Books
Since its founding as a discipline, Black Studies has been under relentless attack by social and political forces seeking to discredit and neutralize it. Our History Has Always Been Contraband was born out of an urgent need to respond to the latest threat: efforts to remove content from an AP African American Studies course being piloted in high schools across the United States. Edited by Colin Kaepernick, Robin D. G. Kelley, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Our History Has Always Been Contraband brings together canonical texts and authors in Black Studies, including those excised from or not included in the AP curriculum.
Featuring writings by: David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James, James Baldwin, June Jordan, Angela Y. Davis, Robert Allen, Barbara Smith, Toni Cade Bambara, bell hooks, Barbara Christian, Patricia Hill Collins, Cathy J. Cohen, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Saidiya Hartman, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, and many others.
Our History Has Always Been Contraband excerpts readings that cut across and between literature, political theory, law, psychology, sociology, gender and sexuality studies, queer and feminist theory, and history. This volume also includes original essays by editors Kaepernick, Kelley, and Taylor, elucidating how we got here, and pieces by Brea Baker, Marlon Williams-Clark, and Roderick A. Ferguson detailing how we can fight back.
To read Our History Has Always Been Contraband is to be an outlaw for liberation. These writings illuminate the ways we can collectively work toward freedom for all—through abolition, feminism, racial justice, economic empowerment, self-determination, desegregation, decolonization, reparations, queer liberation, cultural and artistic expression, and beyond.
Sally’s pick: Touch: A Novel by Olaf Olafsson, Ecco
When the pandemic hits, Kristofer is forced to shutter his successful restaurant in Reykjavik, sending him into a spiral of uncertainty, even as his memory seems to be failing. But an uncanny bolt from the blue—a message from Miko Nakamura, a woman whom he’d known in the sixties when they were students in London—both inspires and rattles him, as he is drawn inexorably back into a love story that has marked him for life. Even as the pandemic upends his world, Kristofer finds himself pulled toward an answer to the mystery of Miko’s sudden departure decades before, compelling him to travel to London and Japan as the virus threatens to shut everything down.
A heart-wrenching love story and an absorbing mystery, Touch delves into the secrets of the past to explore the hidden lives that we all possess, the pain and beauty of our past loves and friendships that continue to leave their mark on us. Searching and lyrically rendered by acclaimed author Olaf Olafsson, Touch is a stunning tribute to the weight of history and the complexities of the human heart.
Gabbi’s pick: When Do You Feel Free?: Voices Across America by Ryland Hormel, Trope Publishing
Photographer Ryland Hormel traveled across the United States from Alaska to Florida, asking people “When do you feel free?” Respondents wrote down their answers on 3” x 5” index cards, then had their photographs taken with Hormel’s vintage Leica M6 analog camera.
When Do You Feel Free? is a collection of over 100 hand-written responses, alongside photographs that put the answers in context. The pages contain answers and photographs of recent immigrants, former convicts, fishermen, cowboys—that all come together to create a collective conversation about freedom through the fragmented perspectives of individuals across America. When Do You Feel Free? makes the reader realize freedom isn’t a location, but a state of mind, one that can be uncovered at any time.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING AT HOME
"Teenager by Bud Smith... Great bildungsroman-slash-road-novel about a seventeen-year-old who breaks out of juvie in NJ, murders his girlfriend's parents, and then sets out with said girlfriend on a road trip to Montana. Lots of the story is ridiculously implausible, but if you suspend disbelief, it makes for a comic and sweet page-turner."
—Michael Jantz, Custom Projects Director