New Releases | June 20, 2023
June 20, 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: Adult Drama: And Other Essays by Natalie Beach, Hanover Square Press
From the writer whose New York Magazine piece "I Was Caroline Calloway" broke the internet comes a fresh, incisive, laugh-out-loud funny memoir-in-essays about the frenzied journey to adulthood.
Natalie Beach became an internet sensation when her essay on her toxic friendship with Instagram influencer Caroline Calloway went viral. Now, for the first time, and in her own indelible voice, Beach offers a revelatory glimpse into her own life alongside a broader cultural criticism of the world today. Through stories of heartbreak, odd jobs, political activism, existential crises and low-rise jeans, Natalie Beach explores the high stakes and absurdist comedy of coming of age in a world gone mad.
Effervescent, hilarious and unflinchingly self-aware, Adult Drama marks the arrival of an electrifying new literary voice.
Sally’s pick: In Light-Years There's No Hurry: Cosmic Perspectives on Everyday Life by Marjolijn van Heemstra, translated by Jonathan Reeder, W.W. Norton & Company
One stifling summer night, the poet and journalist Marjolijn van Heemstra lay awake, unable to sleep—like so many of us feeling anxious and alienated, deeply exhausted yet restless. Amid the suffocating stream of daily obligations, the clamor of notifications and increasingly dismal headlines, she longed for a way to rise above the frenzy, for a renewed sense of meaning and connection. Then she learned about the overview effect—a permanent shift in consciousness many astronauts experience when beholding Earth from outside the atmosphere—and wondered: could the perspective of outer space offer the internal space she sought?
The lyrical account of van Heemstra’s yearlong quest to experience the overview effect on Earth, In Light-Years There’s No Hurry invites us to lift our gaze above eye level and discover our connections with the cosmos, our planet, and each other. We follow as van Heemstra’s cosmic awareness expands and she finds herself feeling simultaneously lighter and more grounded. Compared with the complexity of the universe, daily life on Earth begins to seem more manageable, while understanding the improbability of our collective existence gives her new patience and tenderness for her neighbors. The grand rhythms of light-years and eons become a source of restoration and relief—a comforting, necessary reminder to slow down and zoom out.
Contemplating the solace a cosmic perspective offers in our chaotic, divided world, In Light-Years There’s No Hurry is a moving meditation on what it is to be human amid the vastness of the universe.
Jasmine’s pick: National Dish: Around the World in Search of Food, History, and the Meaning of Home by Anya von Bremzen, Penguin Press
We all have an idea in our heads about what French food is—or Italian, or Japanese, or Mexican, or . . . But where did those ideas come from? Who decides what makes a national food canon? Recipient of three James Beard awards, Anya von Bremzen has written definitive cookbooks on Russian, Spanish, and Latin American cuisines, as well as her internationally acclaimed memoir Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking. Now in National Dish, she sets out to investigate the truth behind the eternal cliché—“we are what we eat”—traveling to six storied food capitals, going high and low, from world-famous chefs to scholars to strangers in bars, in search of how cuisine became connected to place and identity.
Paris is where the whole idea of food as national heritage was first invented, and so it is where Anya must begin. With an inquisitive eye and unmistakable wit, she ponders the codification of French food and the current tension between locavorism and globalization. From France, she’s off to Naples, to probe the myth and reality of pizza, pasta, and Italian-ness. Next up, Tokyo, where Anya and her partner Barry explore ramen, rice, and the distance between Japan’s future and its past. From there they move to Seville, to search for the community-based essence of Spain’s tapas traditions, and then Oaxaca, where debates over postcolonial cultural integration find expression in maize and mole. In Istanbul, a traditional Ottoman potluck becomes a lens on how a former multicultural empire defines its food heritage. Finally, they land back in their beloved home in Queens, for a dinner centered on Ukrainian borsch, a meal that has never felt more loaded, or more precious and poignant.
A unique and magical cook’s tour of the world, National Dish brings us to a deep appreciation of how the country makes the food, and the food the country.
Dylan’s pick: Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Insha Allah: How The Journey Back To My Roots Became An Adventurous Escape From the Sahara by Sara Cheikh, Feral House
At the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak, what was supposed to be a long-awaited homecoming becomes a desperate adventure escaping border guards and surviving on candy bars, all the while trying to avoid losing her cool with unwanted and unlikely traveling companions. On her odyssey back home through a changing world, she faces starvation, the possibility of arrest, and kidnapping, as she attempts to cross the border into Algeria by any means possible. Alternating between tense, poignant, and funny, this heartfelt first-hand account explores life and lessons from the plight of the Saharawi people. Sara's story questions the meaning of cultural heritage and the universal desire to have a homeland.
Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Insha Allah is Sara’s first book and is the first memoir published in English by a Saharawi woman writer. The book includes historical and personal black & white images, color image insert, and maps of the Saharawi territory and Sara’s journey.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING AT HOME
"Plenty of books have left me feeling changed after reading them. Elliot Page’s memoir, Pageboy, may be the first book I’ve read where I could feel the fundamental shift happening within me in real time. Page expresses the hope that his story will ‘help someone feel less alone, seen, no matter who they are or what journey they are on,’ and without a doubt, his book does just that."
—Jasmine Gonzalez, Managing Editor