New Releases

March 5, 2024

March 05, 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: 3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the Lost Empire of Cool by James Kaplan, Penguin Press 

The myth of the ’60s depends on the 1950s being the “before times” of conformity, segregation, straightness—The Lonely Crowd and The Organization Man. This all carries some truth, but it does nothing to explain how, in 1959, America’s great indigenous art form, jazz, reached the height of its power and popularity, thanks to a number of Black geniuses so legendary they go by one name—Monk, Mingus, Rollins, Coltrane, and, above all, Miles. Nineteen fifty-nine saw Miles, Coltrane, Bill Evans, and more come together to record what is widely considered the greatest jazz album of all time, and certainly the bestselling: Kind of Blue.

3 Shades of Blue is James Kaplan’s magnificent account of the paths of the three giants to the mountaintop of 1959 and beyond. It’s a book about music, and business, and race, and heroin, and the towns that gave jazz its home, from New Orleans and New York to Kansas City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and LA. It’s an astonishing meditation on creativity and the strange hothouses that can produce its full flowering. It’s a book about the great forebears of this golden age, particularly Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and the disrupters, like Ornette Coleman, who would take the music down truly new paths. And it’s about why the world of jazz most people know is a museum to this never-replicated period.

But above all, 3 Shades of Blue is a book about three very different men—their struggles, their choices, their tragedies, their greatness. Bill Evans had a gruesome downward spiral; John Coltrane took the mystic’s path into a space far away from mainstream concerns. Miles had three or four sea changes in him before the end. The tapestry of their lives is, in Kaplan’s hands, an American odyssey with no direction home. It is also a masterpiece, a book about jazz that is as big as America.


Sally’s pick: Beautiful People: My Thirteen Truths About Disability by Melissa Blake, Hachette Go 

In the summer of 2019, journalist Melissa Blake penned an op-ed for CNN Opinion. A conservative pundit caught wind of it, mentioning Blake’s work in a YouTube video. What happened next is equal parts a searing view into society, how we collectively view and treat disabled people, and the making of an advocate. After a troll said that Blake should be banned from posting pictures of herself, she took to Twitter and defiantly posted three smiling selfies, all taken during a lovely vacation in the Big Apple:

I wanted desperately to clap back at these vile trolls in a way that would make a statement, not only about how our society views disabilities, but also about the toxicity of our strict and unrealistic beauty standards. Of course I knew that posting those selfies wasn't going to erase the nasty names I'd been called and, the chances were, they would never even see my tweet, but that didn't matter. I wasn't doing it for them; I was doing it for me and every single disabled person who has been bullied before, online and in real life. When people mock how I look, they're not just insulting me. They're insulting all disabled people. We're constantly told that we're repulsive and ugly and not good enough to be seen. This was me pushing back against that toxic, ableist narrative.

For the first time, I felt like I was doing something empowering, taking back my power and changing the story.

Her tweet went viral, attracting worldwide media attention and interviews with the BBC, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, PEOPLE magazine, Good Morning America and E! News.

Now, in her manifesto, Beautiful People, Blake shares her truths about disability, writing about (among other things): 

  • the language we use to describe disabled people 
  • ableism, microaggressions, and their pernicious effects 
  • what it's like to live in a society that not only isn't designed for you, but actively operates to render you invisible 
  • her struggles with self‑image and self‑acceptance 
  • the absence of disabled people in popular culture 
  • why disabled people aren't tragic heroes 

Blake also tells the stories of some of the heroes of the disability rights movement in America, in doing so rescuing their incredible achievements from near total obscurity. Highlighting other disabled activists and influencers, Blake’s work is the calling card of a powerful voice—one that has sparked new, different, better conversations about disability.


Gabbi’s pick: Think Remarkable: 9 Paths to Transform Your Life and Make a Difference by Guy Kawasaki with Madisun Nuismer, Wiley 

Ever wonder what sets people like Steve Wozniak, Stacey Abrams, Mark Rober, and Jane Goodall apart? Why do some people seem to eat, sleep, and breathe “awesome?”

In Think Remarkable, tech titan Guy Kawasaki teams up with Madisun Nuismer, producer of the Remarkable People podcast, to share invaluable knowledge from more than 40 years of working with game-changing organizations such as Apple, Canva, Google, Mercedes Benz, and Wikipedia, and delivers insights from a collection of amazing interviews that'll kick you into high gear and get you ready to start showing the world your best, most amazing self. Together the authors show you how to lead a fulfilling life by drawing on insights from working closely with some of the world's most remarkable people. You'll learn: 

  • How to find your own inner ass-kicker and unlock potential you never knew you were capable of 
  • Cultivate the resilience, grit, and fearlessness needed to overcome obstacles and setbacks 
  • Apply the lessons from the world's most innovative companies to your personal growth journey

Make the leap from average to exceptional. Think Remarkable is more than a book—it's a way of life. It is the gotta-read-right-now book you can't afford to miss. So, grab a copy today and start making yourself—and the world—a whole lot more remarkable.


Jasmine’s pick: Work, Retire, Repeat: The Uncertainty of Retirement in the New Economy by Teresa Ghilarducci, University of Chicago Press 

While the French went on strike in 2023 to protest the increase in the national retirement age, workers in the United States have all but given up on the notion of dignified retirement for all. Instead, Americans—whose elders face the highest risk of poverty compared to workers in peer nations—are fed feel-good stories about Walmart clerks who can finally retire because a customer raised the necessary funds through a GoFundMe campaign.

Many argue that the solution to the financial straits of American retirement is simple: people need to just work longer. Yet this call to work longer is misleading in a multitude of ways, including its endangering of the health of workers and its discrimination against people who work in lower-wage occupations. In Work, Retire, Repeat, Teresa Ghilarducci tells the stories of elders locked into jobs—not because they love to work but because they must.

But this doesn’t need to be the reality. Work, Retire, Repeat shows how relatively low-cost changes to how we finance and manage retirement will allow people to truly choose how they spend their golden years.


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