New Releases | March 7, 2023
March 07, 2023
Looking for your next great read? We're here to help! Each week, our marketing team—Dylan Schleicher (DJJS), Gabbi Cisneros (GMC), Emily Porter (EPP), and Jasmine Gonzalez (JAG)—highlights four newly released books we are most excited about.
Book descriptions are provided by the publisher unless otherwise noted.
This week, our choices are:
The Devil's Element: Phosphorus and a World Out of Balance by Dan Egan, W.W. Norton & Company (DJJS)
Phosphorus has played a critical role in some of the most lethal substances on earth: firebombs, rat poison, nerve gas. But it’s also the key component of one of the most vital: fertilizer, which has sustained life for billions of people. In this major work of explanatory science and environmental journalism, Pulitzer Prize finalist Dan Egan investigates the past, present, and future of what has been called “the oil of our time.”
The story of phosphorus spans the globe and vast tracts of human history. First discovered in a seventeenth-century alchemy lab in Hamburg, it soon became a highly sought-after resource. The race to mine phosphorus took people from the battlefields of Waterloo, which were looted for the bones of fallen soldiers, to the fabled guano islands off Peru, the Bone Valley of Florida, and the sand dunes of the Western Sahara. Over the past century, phosphorus has made farming vastly more productive, feeding the enormous increase in the human population. Yet, as Egan harrowingly reports, our overreliance on this vital crop nutrient is today causing toxic algae blooms and “dead zones” in waterways from the coasts of Florida to the Mississippi River basin to the Great Lakes and beyond. Egan also explores the alarming reality that diminishing access to phosphorus poses a threat to the food system worldwide—which risks rising conflict and even war.
With The Devil’s Element, Egan has written an essential and eye-opening account that urges us to pay attention to one of the most perilous but little-known environmental issues of our time.
The Kingdom of Prep: The Inside Story of the Rise and (Near) Fall of J.Crew by Maggie Bullock, Dey Street Books (JAG)
Once upon a time, a no-frills J.Crew rollneck sweater held an almost mystical power—or at least it felt that way. The story of J.Crew is the story of the original “lifestyle brand,” whose evolution charts a sea change in the way we dress, the way we shop, and who we aspire to be over the past four decades—all told through iconic clothes and the most riveting characters imaginable.
In The Kingdom of Prep, seasoned fashion journalist Maggie Bullock tells J.Crew’s epic story for the first time, bringing to life the deliciously idiosyncratic people who built a beloved brand, unpacking the complex legacy of prep—a subculture born on the 1920s campuses of the Ivy League—and how one brand rose to epitomize “American” style in two very different golden eras, and also eventually embodied the “retail apocalypse” that rocked the global fashion industry and left hollowed-out malls across the country.
In a juicy business narrative rich with humor and insight, Bullock combines the colorful characters of The Devil Wears Prada, the business insight of Deluxe, and the nostalgia factor of True Prep, to chart J.Crew’s origin story, its Obama-era heyday, and its brush-with-death decline through the stories of the mercurial characters who helmed the company. There is founder Arthur Cinader, who set out to sell the Ralph Lauren look for half the price, and his daughter Emily, who turned J.Crew into a new campus uniform, and then a temple to ‘90s minimalism. Then came ex-Gap CEO Mickey Drexler—the most renowned (and controversial) retailer of his generation—who took J.Crew to a never-before-seen peak, only to contribute to its financial disaster, and the brilliant designer Jenna Lyons, who rose from the anonymous ranks of a catalogue company to become a star in her own right, but burned so bright she left J.Crew in her shadow.
Through extensive interviews with more than 100 J.Crew insiders and top industry experts, Bullock crafts an impossible-to-put-down, neon-glitter-sprinkled tale that traces the trajectory of American style, invites us into the inner sanctum of fashion’s most bold-faced names, and weaves together the threads of style, finance, and culture like no other brand’s story in our lifetime.
Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock by Jenny Odell, Random House (EPP)
In How to Do Nothing, Jenny Odell wrote about the importance of disconnecting from the “attention economy” to spend time in quiet contemplation. But what if you don’t have time to spend?
In order to answer this seemingly simple question, Odell took a deep dive into the fundamental structure of our society and found that the clock we live by was built for profit, not people. This is why our lives, even in leisure, have come to seem like a series of moments to be bought, sold, and processed ever more efficiently. Odell shows us how our painful relationship to time is inextricably connected not only to persisting social inequities but to the climate crisis, existential dread, and a lethal fatalism.
Inspired by pre-industrial cultures, ecological cues, and geological timescales, Saving Time brings within reach a more humane, responsive way of living. As planet-bound animals, we live inside shortening and lengthening days alongside gardens growing, birds migrating, and cliffs eroding; the stretchy quality of waiting and desire; the way the present may suddenly feel marbled with childhood memory; the slow but sure procession of a pregnancy; the time it takes to heal from injuries. Odell urges us to become stewards of these different rhythms of life in which time is not reducible to standardized units and instead forms the very medium of possibility.
Saving Time tugs at the seams of reality as we know it—the way we experience time itself—and rearranges it, imagining a world not centered on work, the office clock, or the profit motive. If we can “save” time by imagining a life, identity, and source of meaning outside these things, time might also save us.
What's Eating Us: Women, Food, and the Epidemic of Body Anxiety by Cole Kazdin, St. Martin’s Essentials (GMC)
Women of all ages struggle with disordered eating, preoccupation with food, and body anxiety. Journalist Cole Kazdin was one such woman, and she set out to discover why her own full recovery from an eating disorder felt so impossible. Interviewing women across the country as well as the world’s most renowned researchers, she discovered that most people with eating disorders never receive treatment––the fact that she did made her one of the lucky ones.
Kazdin takes us to the doorstep of the diet industry and research community, exposing the flawed systems that claim to be helping us, and revealing disordered eating for the crisis that it is: a mental illness with the second highest mortality rate (after opioid-related deaths) that no one wants to talk about. Along the way, she identifies new treatments not yet available to the general public, grass roots movements to correct racial disparities in care, and strategies for navigating true health while still living in a dysfunctional world.
What would it feel like to be free? To feel gorgeous in your body, not ruminate about food, feel ease at meals, exercise with no regard for calories-burned? To never making a disparaging comment about your body again, even silently to yourself. Who can help us with this? We can.
What's Eating Us is an urgent battle cry coupled with stories and strategies about what works and how to finally heal—for real.