September 19, 2023
September 19, 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:
Sally’s pick: The Book of (More) Delights: Essays by Ross Gay, Algonquin Books
In Ross Gay’s new collection of small, daily wonders, again written over the course of a year, one of America’s most original voices continues his ongoing investigation of delight.
For Gay, what delights us is what connects us, what gives us meaning, from the joy of hearing a nostalgic song blasting from a passing car to the pleasure of refusing the “nefarious” scannable QR code menus, from the tiny dog he fell hard for to his mother baking a dozen kinds of cookies for her grandchildren. As always, Gay revels in the natural world—sweet potatoes being harvested, a hummingbird carousing in the beebalm, a sunflower growing out of a wall around the cemetery, the shared bounty from a neighbor’s fig tree—and the trillion mysterious ways this glorious earth delights us.
The Book of (More) Delights is a volume to savor and share.
Jasmine’s pick: Failures of Forgiveness: What We Get Wrong and How to Do Better by Myisha Cherry, Princeton University Press
Sages from Cicero to Oprah have told us that forgiveness requires us to let go of negative emotions and that it has a unique power to heal our wounds. In Failures of Forgiveness, Myisha Cherry argues that these beliefs couldn’t be more wrong—and that the ways we think about and use forgiveness, personally and as a society, can often do more harm than good. She presents a new and healthier understanding of forgiveness—one that will give us a better chance to recover from wrongdoing and move toward “radical repair.”
Cherry began exploring forgiveness after some relatives of the victims of the mass shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, forgave what seemed unforgiveable. She was troubled that many observers appeared to be more inspired by these acts of forgiveness than they were motivated to confront the racial hatred that led to the killings. That is a big mistake, Cherry argues. Forgiveness isn’t magic. We can forgive and still be angry, there can be good reasons not to forgive, and forgiving a wrong without tackling its roots solves nothing. Examining how forgiveness can go wrong in families, between friends, at work, and in the media, politics, and beyond, Cherry addresses forgiveness and race, canceling versus forgiving, self-forgiveness, and more. She takes the burden of forgiveness off those who have been wronged and offers guidance both to those deciding whether and how to forgive and those seeking forgiveness.
By showing us how to do forgiveness better, Failures of Forgiveness promises to transform how we deal with wrongdoing in our lives, opening a new path to true healing and reconciliation.
Dylan’s pick: It's On Me: Accept Hard Truths, Discover Your Self, and Change Your Life by Sara Kuburic, The Dial Press
So many of us feel lonely, unfulfilled, or trapped—in our roles and relationships, in cycles of self-sabotage and wrong decisions, by our toxic patterns and misguided attempts to feel happy—or to feel something. Many of us struggle to like the person we see in the mirror. According to Sara Kuburic, it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Really.
Instead of pushing harder or running faster, the secret lies in taking full responsibility for the choices and actions that create our reality. It’s about slowing down, cutting through the clutter of demands and expectation, and finally taking ownership of this person we call our “Self.”
Now, Kuburic unpacks “self-loss,” giving us new vocabulary to understand our unarticulated experience, and offers tools she’s used for years to help her clients recover. Self-loss becomes apparent when we feel the pain and emptiness from performing or observing life, rather than living it. Guiding us through the process of self-reflection, acceptance, and discovery, Kuburic proves that we can:
- experience but not feel overpowered by our emotions
- establish a healthy connection to our bodies
- set loving boundaries to define ourselves and heal our relationships
- declutter our physical and mental environments to create space for our true selves to thrive
- find meaning and purpose in a seemingly meaningless world
Gabbi’s pick: Of Time and Turtles: Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Matt Patterson, Mariner Books
When acclaimed naturalist Sy Montgomery and wildlife artist Matt Patterson arrive at Turtle Rescue League, they are greeted by hundreds of turtles recovering from injury and illness. Endangered by cars and highways, pollution and poachers, these turtles—with wounds so severe that even veterinarians would have dismissed them as fatal—are given a second chance at life. The League’s founders, Natasha and Alexxia, live by one motto: Never give up on a turtle.
But why turtles? What is it about them that inspires such devotion? Ancient and unhurried, long-lived and majestic, their lineage stretches back to the time of the dinosaurs. Some live to two hundred years, or longer. Others spend months buried under cold winter water. Sy turns to these little understood yet endlessly surprising creatures to probe the eternal question: How can we make peace with our time?
In pursuit of the answer, Sy and Matt immerse themselves in the delicate work of protecting turtle nests, incubating eggs, rescuing sea turtles, and releasing hatchlings to their homes in the wild. We follow the snapping turtle Fire Chief on his astonishing journey as he battles against injuries incurred by a truck.
Hopeful and optimistic, Of Time and Turtles is an antidote to the instability of our frenzied world. Elegantly blending science, memoir, philosophy, and drawing on cultures from across the globe, this compassionate portrait of injured turtles and their determined rescuers invites us all to slow down and slip into turtle time.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING AT HOME
"José Olivarez’s poems have this effect in which I find myself recalling them in both the everyday and extraordinary moments of my life, and I cherish his latest collection, Promises of Gold, dearly. "
—Jasmine Gonzalez, Managing Editor