New Releases | June 13, 2023
June 13, 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: Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World by Christian Cooper, Random House
Christian Cooper is a self-described Blerd (Black nerd), an avid comics fan, and an expert birder who devotes every spring to gazing upon the migratory birds that stop to rest in Central Park, just a subway ride away from where he lives in New York City. When birdwatching in the park one morning in May 2020, Cooper was engaged in the ritual that had been a part of his life since he was ten years old. But when a routine encounter with a dog-walker escalates age old racial tensions, Cooper’s viral video of the incident would send shockwaves through the nation.
In Better Living Through Birding, Cooper tells the story of his extraordinary life leading up to the now-infamous encounter in Central Park and shows how a life spent looking up at the birds prepared him, in the most uncanny of ways, to be a gay, Black man in American today. From sharpened senses that work just as well in a protest as in a park, to what a bird like the Common Grackle can teach us about self-acceptance, Better Living Through Birding exults in the pleasures of a life spent in pursuit of the natural world and beckons you to discover these joys for yourself.
Equal parts memoir, travelogue, and primer on the art of birding, this is Cooper’s story of learning to claim and defend space for himself and others like him, from his days as a writer for Marvel Comics, where Cooper introduced the first gay storyline, to vivid and life-changing birding expeditions through Africa, Australia, the Americas, and the Himalayas. Better Living Through Birding is Cooper’s invitation into the wonderful world of birds, and what they can teach us about life, if only we would stop and listen.
Sally’s pick: The Power Code: More Joy. Less Ego. Maximum Impact for Women (and Everyone) by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, Harper Business
We are living in a moment of unprecedented transformation for women. Despite recent setbacks, women continue to advance in almost every arena—politics, business, education. We are starting to earn more than our husbands. More of us are getting elected to public office. We are better educated than men. Businesses know they need us and are desperate to hire and keep us. Management gurus at top universities say female leaders are the key to success in the 21st century. Of course, not everything is equal yet—and progress doesn’t follow a straight line, as the recent Supreme Court ruling makes painfully clear—but the underlying evidence and the long-term indications show that the world is moving inexorably from one dominated by men, as it has been for 2000 years, to one in which women have an equal if not greater say in how things run.
If it’s all so great, (at least for some of us) why does it feel so hard and why are there so many tensions that no one wants to talk about? Almost a dozen global studies show women improve profits, so why aren’t more of us CEOs? We’re doing better at school than boys, yet we can’t crack STEM? Do women use power differently and do we even want it? Can men ever learn to live with and, yes, love powerful women? And can we ever make real progress if we’re still operating in a world built by and for men? Do we still have to become alpha men in skirts?
What we need is a new definition of power and a reimagined workplace and homefront that everyone can buy into and benefit from. Drawing on the latest research, interviews with high-powered women, and their own personal stories, Kay and Shipman ask tough questions, surfacing hidden opportunities that draw on women’s underappreciated strengths and presenting a new operating system that helps women use their talents to become their most powerful selves.
Dylan’s pick: Team Building: A Memoir about Family and the Fight for Workers' Rights by Ben Gwin, Belt Press
In 2019, Ben Gwin played an integral role in organizing the contract workers at Google’s Pittsburgh offices. In Team Building, he takes us inside the employees’ fight for better benefits and more flexible scheduling, offering us a candid account of today’s labor movement and the forces in America that aim to divide workers and maintain the status quo. But this is also a personal story of struggle and triumph. As Ben works with the union, he’s suddenly faced with the prospect of raising his teenage daughter alone after her mother dies of a drug overdose. As he juggles work and the challenges of single fatherhood, he offers us a frank portrait of daily American life, where it sometimes feels like every moment is an uphill battle. Expertly crafted and tightly structured, Team Building artfully explores the ways our working conditions reach deeply into our lives outside the office. It’s an honest and ultimately hopeful look at the importance of building solid foundations with the teams that matter most.
Gabbi’s pick: When the Hibiscus Falls by M. Evelina Galang, Coffee House Press
Moving from small Philippine villages of the past to the hurricane-beaten coast of near-future Florida, When the Hibiscus Falls examines the triumphs and sorrows that connect generations of women. Daughters, sisters, mothers, aunties, cousins, and lolas commune with their ancestors and their descendants, mourning what is lost when an older generation dies, celebrating what is gained when we safeguard their legacy for those who come after us. Featuring figures familiar from M. Evelina Galang’s other acclaimed and richly imagined novels and stories, When the Hibiscus Falls dwells within the complexity of family, community, and Filipino American identity. Each story is an offering, a bloom that unfurls its petals and holds space in the sun.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING AT HOME
"I just started listening to the audiobook of Slow AF Run Club and it is wonderful. The author is an excellent storyteller and it just feels like you’re sitting with a friend. I might even give running another try, who knows?"
—Jasmine Gonzalez, Managing Editor