January 23, 2024
January 23, 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:
Jasmine’s pick: Black Women Taught Us: An Intimate History of Black Feminism by Jenn M. Jackson, Random House
This is my offering. My love letter to them, and to us.
A professor of political science and columnist for Teen Vogue, Jenn M. Jackson, PhD, has been known to bring historical acuity to some of the most controversial topics in America today. Now, in their first book, Jackson applies their critical analysis to the questions that have long energized their work: Why has Black women’s freedom fighting been so overlooked throughout history, and what has our society lost because of our refusal to engage with our forestrugglers’ lessons?
A love letter to those who have been minimized and forgotten, this collection repositions Black women’s intellectual and political work at the center of today’s liberation movements.
Across eleven original essays that explore the legacy of Black women writers and leaders—from Harriet Jacobs and Ida B. Wells to the Combahee River Collective and Audre Lorde—Jackson sets the record straight about Black women’s longtime movement organizing, theorizing, and coalition building in the name of racial, gender, and sexual justice in the United States and abroad. These essays show, in both critical and deeply personal terms, how Black women have been at the center of modern liberation movements despite the erasure and misrecognition of their efforts. Jackson illustrates how Black women have frequently done the work of liberation at great risk to their lives and livelihoods.
For a new generation of movement organizers and costrugglers, Black Women Taught Us serves as a reminder that Black women were the first ones to teach us how to fight racism, how to name that fight, and how to imagine a more just world for everyone.
Dylan’s pick: Infectious Generosity: The Ultimate Idea Worth Spreading by Chris Anderson, Crown
Let’s face it: Recent years have been tough on optimists. Hopes that the Internet might bring people together have been crushed by the ills of social media. Is there a way back?
As head of TED, Chris Anderson has had a ringside view of the world’s boldest thinkers sharing their most uplifting ideas. Inspired by them, he believes it’s within our grasp to transform outrage back into optimism. It all comes down to reimagining one of the most fundamental human virtues: generosity. What if generosity could become infectious generosity?
- How a London barber began offering haircuts to people experiencing homelessness—and inspired a movement.
- How two anonymous donors gave $10,000 each to 200 strangers and discovered most recipients wanted to “pay it forward” with their own generous acts.
- How TED itself transformed from a niche annual summit into a global beacon of ideas by giving away talks online, allowing millions access to free learning.
In telling these inspiring stories, Anderson has given us “the first page-turner ever written about human generosity” (Elizabeth Dunn). But, more importantly, he offers a playbook for how to embark on our own generous acts—whether gifts of money, time, talent, connection, or kindness—and prime them, thanks to the Internet, to have self-replicating, even world-changing impact.
Sally’s pick: Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine by Uché Blackstock, MD, Viking
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, it never occurred to Uché Blackstock and her twin sister, Oni, that they would be anything but physicians. In the 1980s, their mother headed an organization of Black women physicians, and for years the girls watched these fiercely intelligent women in white coats tend to their patients and neighbors, host community health fairs, cure ills, and save lives.
What Dr. Uché Blackstock did not understand as a child—or learn about at Harvard Medical School, where she and her sister had followed in their mother’s footsteps, making them the first Black mother-daughter legacies from the school—were the profound and long-standing systemic inequities that mean just 2 percent of all U.S. physicians today are Black women; the racist practices and policies that ensure Black Americans have far worse health outcomes than any other group in the country; and the flawed system that endangers the well-being of communities like theirs. As an ER physician, and later as a professor in academic medicine, Dr. Blackstock became profoundly aware of the systemic barriers that Black patients and physicians continue to face.
Legacy is a journey through the critical intersection of racism and healthcare. At once a searing indictment of our healthcare system, a generational family memoir, and a call to action, Legacy is Dr. Blackstock’s odyssey from child to medical student to practicing physician—to finally seizing her own power as a health equity advocate against the backdrop of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Gabbi’s pick: Rise Above the Story: Free Yourself from Past Trauma and Create the Life You Want by Karena Kilcoyne, BenBella Books
Before Karena Kilcoyne was a successful criminal defense attorney, trauma defined her early life. Her mother tried to give her away at birth. Her father went to a federal penitentiary when she was 12, leaving the family poverty-stricken and Karena to care for her siblings and her mentally unstable mother. After her mother died, she adopted her 9-year-old brother and graduated from law school at the age of 24. She fought for the freedom of others while imprisoning herself in self-doubt, depression, and anxiety. Existing only in survival mode, she repeatedly recounted the stories she’d written about herself: that she would never be enough, that she could never be happy.
In Rise Above the Story, Karena shares with raw vulnerability how she rose above her stories of abandonment, worthlessness, and shame. She’ll help you let go of your own past by embracing every beautiful, imperfect piece of yourself—no matter what your story looks like. She’ll teach you how to:
- Acknowledge your story. Identify the story that’s limiting your life.
- Release your story. Discover how your story took over your life by unearthing your repressed fear and shame.
- Rise above your story. Explore how your hardships can serve you and learn how to finally love yourself unconditionally.
Rising above your story will empower you to live the life of your dreams. Karena’s beautifully simple, yet powerful, formula offers emotional freedom and unfettered joy when you’re ready to embrace the vibrant, worthy, and lovable person you truly are.
Your past doesn’t define you—you do. It’s time to rise above your story and live the authentic life you deserve.