January 2, 2024
January 02, 2024
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 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:
Dylan’s pick: The Algorithm: How AI Decides Who Gets Hired, Monitored, Promoted, and Fired and Why We Need to Fight Back Now by Hilke Schellmann, Hachette Books
Hilke Schellmann, is an Emmy‑award winning investigative reporter, Wall Street Journal and Guardian contributor and Journalism Professor at NYU. In The Algorithm, she investigates the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in the world of work. AI is now being used to decide who has access to an education, who gets hired, who gets fired, and who receives a promotion. Drawing on exclusive information from whistleblowers, internal documents and real‑world tests, Schellmann discovers that many of the algorithms making high‑stakes decisions are biased, racist, and do more harm than good. Algorithms are on the brink of dominating our lives and threaten our human future—if we don't fight back.
Schellmann takes readers on a journalistic detective story testing algorithms that have secretly analyzed job candidates' facial expressions and tone of voice. She investigates algorithms that scan our online activity including Twitter and LinkedIn to construct personality profiles à la Cambridge Analytica. Her reporting reveals how employers track the location of their employees, the keystrokes they make, access everything on their screens and, during meetings, analyze group discussions to diagnose problems in a team. Even universities are now using predictive analytics for admission offers and financial aid.
Jasmine’s pick: How to ADHD: An Insider's Guide to Working with Your Brain (Not Against It) by Jessica McCabe, Rodale Books
Diagnosed with ADHD at age twelve, Jessica McCabe struggled with a brain that she didn’t understand. She constantly lost track of important items and had trouble with relationships. By thirty-two, she had dropped out of college twice, changed jobs fifteen times, and ruined her credit. Determined to understand her challenges, Jessica reached out to experts, read articles, and shared her discoveries on YouTube.
In How to ADHD, Jessica reveals the insights and tools that have changed her life while offering an unflinching look at the realities of living with ADHD. The key to navigating a world not built for the neurodivergent brain isn’t to fix or fight against its natural tendencies but to understand and embrace them. She explains how ADHD affects everyday life, covering executive function impairments, rejection sensitivity, difficulties with attention regulation, and more. You’ll learn tried-and-true strategies for adapting your environment, routines, and systems to work with the ADHD brain, including:
- Boost the signal and decrease the noise. Facilitate focus by putting your goals where you can see them and fighting distractions with distractions.
- Have less stuff to manage. Learn why you have trouble planning and prioritizing, and why doing more starts with doing less.
- Build your "time wisdom." Work backward when you plan and track how long it actually takes for you to complete a task.
With quotes from Jessica’s online community, chapter summaries, and reading shortcuts designed for the neurodivergent reader, How to ADHD will help you recognize your challenges, tackle "bad brain days,” and be kinder to yourself.
Gabbi’s pick: The Other Side: A Story of Women in Art and the Spirit World by Jennifer Higgie, Pegasus Books
It's not so long ago that a woman's expressed interest in other realms would have ruined her reputation, or even killed her. And yet spiritualism, in various incarnations, has influenced numerous men—including lauded modernist artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich and Paul Klee—without repercussion. The fact that so many radical female artists of their generation—and earlier—also drank deeply from the same spiritual well has been sorely neglected for too long.
In The Other Side, we explore the lives and work of a group of extraordinary women, from the twelfth-century mystic, composer, and artist Hildegard of Bingen to the nineteenth-century English spiritualist Georgiana Houghton, whose paintings swirl like a cosmic Jackson Pollock; the early twentieth-century Swedish artist, Hilma af Klint, who painted with the help of her spirit guides and whose recent exhibition at New York's Guggenheim broke all attendance records to the 'Desert Transcendentalist', Agnes Pelton, who painted her visions beneath the vast skies of California. We also learn about the Swiss healer, Emma Kunz, who used geometric drawings to treat her patients and the British surrealist and occultist, Ithell Colquhoun, whose estate of more than 5,000 works recently entered the Tate gallery collection. While the individual work of these artists is unique, the women loosely shared the same goal: to communicate with, and learn from, other dimensions.
Weaving in and out of these myriad lives while sharing her own memories of otherworldly experiences, Jennifer Higgie discusses the solace of ritual, the gender exclusions of art history, the contemporary relevance of myth, the boom in alternative ways of understanding the world and the impact of spiritualism on feminism and contemporary art. A radical reappraisal of a marginalized group of artists, The Other Side is an intoxicating blend of memoir, biography, and art history.
Sally’s pick: The Power of Art: A Human History of Art: From Babylon to New York City by Caroline Campbell, Rodale Books
Taking readers from ancient Babylon to contemporary Pyongyang, the eminent curator Caroline Campbell explains art's power to illuminate our lives—and inspires us to benefit from its transformative and regenerative power.
Unlike the majority of contemporary art history, this book is about much more than the cult of artists’ personalities. Instead, each chapter is structured around a city at a particularly vibrant moment in its history, describing what propelled its creativity and innovation.
The emotions and societies she evokes are highly recognizable, revealing how great art resonates powerfully by transcending the boundaries of time.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING AT HOME
"The Stronghold by Dino Buzzati. A very quiet, moody existentialist novel about a young lieutenant in the Italian military who is stationed at a remote fortress that borders on a desert. Despite his initial distaste for and a hope to quickly leave behind what he thinks will be a life of military mundanity, our protagonist Drogo suddenly and inexplicably finds himself attracted to staying at his remote station. The character's decision to stay turns this novel into a kind of 'story of the mind'; the city he once longed for is replaced by a desert, and daily routines that allow his mind to go exploring, as he awaits some imagined moment of consequence, a siege, for which the fort is long-overdue. A great rumination on meaning, opportunity, and loss."
—Michael Jantz, Logistics Director