November 21, 2023
November 21, 2023
Finding the right book at the right time can transform your life or your organization. We help you discover your next great read by showcasing four recently released and upcoming titles each week.
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:
Sally’s pick: All Things Edible, Random & Odd: Essays on Grief, Love & Food by Sheila Squillante, CLASH Books
Sheila Squillante’s heartfelt and humorous essays introduce us to a father—a 1980s businessman and early adopter of the term “foodie”—and a daughter’s complicated grief. It also moves beyond that grief, to embrace the intricacies and delights of how life grows from it.
Food remains central throughout the collection with essays that serve up a menu (and sometimes recipes!) of Hawaiian beach seaweed, turtle soup, and fermented Icelandic shark. Nostalgia clashes with reality, through stories connecting memories to taste.
With poetic prose, Squillante expresses the complexities of unresolved relationships, the importance of shared experiences, and how family and food make us who we are.
Jasmine’s pick: Empire of Normality: Neurodiversity and Capitalism by Robert Chapman, Pluto Press
Neurodiversity is on the rise. Awareness and diagnoses have exploded in recent years, but we are still missing a wider understanding of how we got here and why. Beyond simplistic narratives of normativity and difference, this groundbreaking book exposes the very myth of the ‘normal’ brain as a product of intensified capitalism.
Exploring the rich histories of the neurodiversity and disability movements, Robert Chapman shows how the rise of capitalism created an ‘empire of normality’ that transformed our understanding of the body into that of a productivity machine. Neurodivergent liberation is possible – but only by challenging the deepest logics of capitalism. Empire of Normality is an essential guide to understanding the systems that shape our bodies, minds and deepest selves – and how we can undo them.
Gabbi’s pick: Liquid Asset: How Business and Government Can Partner to Solve the Freshwater Crisis by Barton H. Thompson, Jr., Stanford University Press
Governments dominated water management throughout the twentieth century. Tasked with ensuring a public supply of clean, safe, reliable, and affordable water, governmental agencies controlled water administration in most of the world. They built the dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts that store water when available and move that water to areas with increasing populations and economies. Private businesses sometimes played a part in managing water, but typically in a supporting position as consultants or contractors. Today, given the global need for innovative new technologies, institutions, and financing to solve the freshwater crisis, private businesses and markets are playing a rapidly expanding role, bringing both new approaches and new challenges to a historically public field.
In Liquid Asset, Barton H. Thompson, Jr. examines the growing position of the private sector in the "business of water." Thompson seeks to understand the private sector's involvement in meeting the water needs of both humans and the environment, looks at the potential risks that growing private involvement poses to the public interest in water, and considers the obstacles that private organizations face in trying to participate in a traditionally governmental sector. Thompson provides a richly detailed analysis to foster both improved public policy and responsible business behavior. As the book demonstrates, the story of private businesses and water offers a window into the serious challenges facing freshwater today, and their potential solutions.
Dylan’s pick: Wiring the Winning Organization: Liberating Our Collective Greatness through Slowification, Simplification, and Amplification by Gene Kim and Steven J. Spear, IT Revolution Press
Forget vision, grit, or culture. Wiring the Winning Organization reveals the hidden circuitry that drives organizational excellence.
Drawing on decades of meticulous research of high-performing organizations and cross-population surveys of tens of thousands of employees, award-winning authors Gene Kim and Dr. Steven J. Spear introduce a groundbreaking new theory of organizational management. Organizations win by using three mechanisms to slowify, simplify, and amplify, which systematically moves problem-solving from high-risk danger zones to low-risk winning zones.
Wiring the Winning Organization shines an investigative light on some of the most famous organizations, including Toyota, Amazon, Apple, and NASA, revealing how leaders create the social wiring that enables exceptional results.
This is not feel-good inspiration or armchair philosophy but a data-driven prescriptive playbook for creating excellence grounded in real-world results and proven theory. This is the rare business book that delivers concrete tools—not platitudes—to convert mediocrity into mastery.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING AT HOME
"Curses by George Wylesol. It’s a weird and mesmerizing book of comics. The art reminds me of Goodnight, Moon, and the text reminds me of conversations in dreams that seem normal until you repeat them back at someone when you wake. So it’s an experience somewhere between nostalgia and pleasant, colorful confusion."
—Gabbi Cisneros, Creative Director