New Releases

July 2, 2024

July 02, 2024


Discovering your next great read just got easier with our weekly selection of four new releases.

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:

Gabbi’s pick: The Imagination Muscle: Where Good Ideas Come From (And How to Have More of Them) by Albert Read, Union Square & Co. 

This beautifully written book explores one subject, imagination, through the lens of history and memoir, with some prescriptive aspects to it as well. The author posits that imagination, while elusive, is not just for artists and creatives, it is a muscle—an essential faculty of the mind to be trained and developed over a lifetime. Spanning prehistoric times through to the twenty-first century, from the earliest cave paintings to Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions to Steve Jobs’s approach to office design, it touches on art, music, film, literature, science, and entrepreneurship, to examine how the imagination has evolved—in shape, power, and pace—through the millennia.

Albert Read reveals how we can harness the imagination in our day-to-day lives and why, in the new age of technology, it is more pressing than ever that we do so. He explores where to find ideas, how to foster skills in observation and connection, and how to be more attentive to the fluxes of our own minds. After all, as Read expertly outlines, the imagination is our supreme gift, our biggest opportunity, our greatest source of fulfillment and our most vital asset for the future. The book is illustrated throughout with approximately 60 images.


Sally’s pick: Private Revolutions: Four Women Face China's New Social Order by Yuan Yang, Viking

While serving as the deputy Beijing bureau chief of the Financial Times, Chinese-British journalist Yuan Yang began to notice common threads in the lives of her Chinese peers—women born during China’s turn toward capitalism in the 1980s and 1990s, who, despite the country's enormous economic gains during their lifetimes, were coming up against deeply entrenched barriers as they sought to achieve financial stability.

The product of seven years of intimate, in-depth reporting, this transporting and indelible book traces the journey of four such women as they try to make better lives for themselves and their families in the new Chinese economy. June and Siyue are among the few in their villages to graduate high school. Each makes her way to Beijing, June as a young professional and Siyue an entrepreneur. Like Siyue, Leiya lives with her grandparents in their village while her parents send money home; yearning for a different life than those of the women she sees around her, Leiya soon joins her parents in Shenzhen as an underage factory worker. Born to an urban middle-class family, Sam is outraged when her eyes are opened the poor treatment of workers, and becomes a labor activist, increasingly under threat by the authorities.

As the women grapple with government policies that threaten their businesses, their children's access to education, their choice of where to make a home, and, in Sam’s case, their lives, a vivid, damning, and urgent picture emerges of the previously unseen human cost of China’s rising economic tide—and the courage and perseverance of those caught in the swell.


Dylan’s pick: The Raging Erie: Life and Labor Along the Erie Canal by Mark S. Ferrara, Columbia University Press 

The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 was a monumental achievement. Linking the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, it transformed New York City into a hub of international trade, drove the rise of industrial cities in once sparsely populated areas, and accelerated the westward expansion of the United States. Yet few of the laborers who toiled along the canal shared in the prosperity it brought.

Mark S. Ferrara tells the stories of the ordinary people who lived, worked, and died along the banks of the canal, emphasizing the forgotten role of the poor and working class in this epochal transformation. The Raging Erie chronicles the fates of the Native Americans whose land was appropriated for the canal, the European immigrants who bored its route through the wilderness, and the orphan children who drove draft animals that pulled boats around the clock. Ferrara also shows how the canal served as a conduit for the movement of new ideas and religions, a corridor for enslaved people seeking freedom via the Underground Railroad, and a spur for social reform movements that emerged in response to the poverty and suffering along its path.

Brimming with vivid characters drawn from the underbelly of antebellum life, The Raging Erie explores the social dislocation and untold hardships at the heart of a major engineering feat, shedding light on the lives of the canallers who toiled on behalf of American expansion.


Jasmine’s pick: Sharing Space: An Astronaut's Guide to Mission, Wonder, and Making Change by Cady Coleman, Penguin Life

In 2010, Cady Coleman boarded a rocket and blasted off into space for her third NASA mission, a six-month expedition to the International Space Station where she was the only woman on her six-person crew. After years spent overcoming obstacles in competitive, high-performance environments, including grappling with her own doubts and training in a spacesuit that was too big, Coleman became a success story in a role that wasn’t built with her in mind—an astronaut who is also a mother, Air Force colonel, scientist, and leader. Her determination and amazing experiences give her a unique perspective on how to set yourself up for success, in space and here on Earth.

In Sharing Space, Cady shares counterintuitive insights integral to her success, such as how to know when to adapt and when to press for change instead, how to leverage insecurities to beat expectations, and how to be the glue that holds a disparate team together, shaping it to thrive. Illustrated with stories from her life and training, Cady takes readers from meteorite hunting in Antarctica to launching a $1.6 billion telescope into space to the wonder of spending six months living and working in zero gravity. This book will inspire anyone eager to escape a box in which they have been (wrongly) placed and to develop the confidence to succeed, even when they’re not an obvious “fit.”


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