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Books to Watch | June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020

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Each and every week, our marketing team—Marketing Director Blyth Meier (BRM), Digital Marketing Specialist Gabbi Cisneros (GMC), and Editorial Director Dylan Schleicher (DJJS)—highlights five new books we are most excited about.

This week, our choices are:

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Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces: How to Unleash Everyone’s Talent and Performance by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, PhD, Berrett-Koehler

Right now, we're all learning how to more adequately make space for diversity, so Jennifer B. Kahnweiler's introvert-focused business books are an appropriate addition to our bookshelves (The Introverted Leader and Quiet Influence, that is.). Her latest book, Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces is a call for inclusivity not just from our coworkers but from ourselves for ourselves.

Kahnweiler opens with her recollection of a week-long leadership class in which one participant had been holding back from contributing to the discussions. He explained that he didn't believe he could be a manager, because no matter how interesting the class's material was, his (introverted) way of interacting in the workplace didn't match the schema that previous experiences had defined in his mind of a "manager": loud-talking, fast-moving, authoritative go-getters.

"I realized that my work with introverts had to be part of a broader movement, one in which organizations also worked to harness introvert power."

The lack of diverse precedents is a global issue, and I'm reminded of that every time I see an announcement of an achievement beginning with “First  ____” (fill in the blank with anything besides “Straight White Male”) and those headlines, while exciting and generally inspiring, also bring to mind how unfair it is that so many people lack representation and hence lack motivation or confidence to achieve anything from Mayor to Academy Award Winner to Poet Laureate to Class President (related: This article highlights some inspiring and influential female leaders in our city of Milwaukee, a few of which are persons of color).

This book is a worthwhile addition to informing your movement towards diversifying your workplace beyond diversifying the people in it. I'll leave you with a reminder from Kahnweiler on the importance of allyship with those unlike oneself:

"Just as men speak up for women and straight and cis people advocate for those in the LGBTQIA community, extroverts like me can manage their own airtime and make room for their introverted peers to be heard and emerge as true leaders

(GMC)

FURTHER RESEARCH: "You don't have to be the loudest person in the room to voice your opinion" is an essential lesson for everyone.

 

Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi, Tara Wigley, Ten Speed Press

With the arrival of warmer weather here in Wisconsin, my work-from-home set up has moved outdoors, so I’m typing away alongside my garden, where eggplant, tomatoes, parsley, mint, kale, spinach, and dill reach for the sun. As if by magic, the universe has materialized the perfect cookbook to help me plan for the bounty that is coming this summer. In Falastin, Sami Tamimi (founding member of Yotam Ottolenghi’s London restaurant) and Tara Wigley (Ottolenghi’s cookbook writing partner) join forces to write a “love letter” to Palestine, the country of Sami’s birth. “Sharing food is not just about sharing food. It’s about sharing time, space, ideas, and stories.” That is exactly why I love cooking, cookbooks, and this cookbook in particular. I can picture myself in the region, among the blazing sun and strong shadows that fill the photographs of open-air vegetable markets, hidden side streets, and terraced farmyards. I am marking the pages for too many recipes I want to try: Hassan’s easy eggs with za’atar and lemon (a dish from Sami’s father); Butternut squash and saffron soup with caramelized pistachios and herb oil; Jerusalem sesame bread; Labneh cheesecake with roasted apricots, honey, and cardamom; Beet and feta galette with za’atar and honey; and Baby gem lettuce with charred eggplant yogurt, smacked cucumber, and shatta (so gorgeously displayed on the cover). And yet, as the authors point out, “all the food and hospitality that a recipe book celebrates must be served, in the case of Palestine, against a very sobering backdrop,” which is why my favorite part of this book is the interweaving of profiles of Palestinian people and places alongside the recipes. You’ll roll balls of labneh with the yogurt-making ladies of Bethlehem, cook dumplings in the Aida refugee camp, go fishing in Gaza, and meet the founder of the Palestinian Seed Library who is working to preserve the agricultural and culinary history of the region. “Recipes are like stories: events brought to life and shared in the making and telling.” Let this cookbook serve as a reminder that long before this pandemic, the world has been filled with many places that limit the movement of their peoples. And despite those restrictions, people eat and connect and flourish, and fight for a better day. (BRM)

This interview with the authors explains how Falastin is author Sami Tamimi’s “love letter home” And it has quite a few free recipes for hummus, shatta, prawn & tomato stew, and more! 

 

See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valarie Kaur, One World

In 2016, Sikh activist Valarie Kaur inspired millions to ban together during difficult times with her six-minute address at the Metropolitan AME Church. And soon she was being quoted on protest signs as many oppressed groups were unsettled (to put it lightly) by that year's presidential election.

"What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb but the darkness of the womb?"

We are again faced with an era made up of layered darknesses: viral infection, climate change, unemployment, and police brutality among others, with systemic racism being a driving factor making some people endure the effects of these issues more than others. While our communities continue striving to strip off these layers to reveal light, Valarie Kaur's worldly and spiritual outlook on life provides a bit of solace during this endless fight. She reminds us that the largest changes are made up of the smallest individual choices, and that love should serve as our anchor, because: 

"'Love' is more than a feeling. Love is a form of sweet labor: fierce, bloody, imperfect, and life-giving—a choice we make over and over again. If love is sweet labor, love can be taught, modeled, and practiced. This labor engages all our emotions. Joy is the gift of love. Grief is the price of love. Anger protects that which is loved. And when we think we have reached our limit, wonder is the act that returns us to love."

Kaur brings up the Oak Creek Sikh Temple massacre, which happened just over 10 miles from Porchlight Book Company, across the street from a bowling alley that (pre-COVID19) was regularly filled with neon-lit kids' birthday parties and adult bowling league nights catered with pizza, beer, burgers, and wings. In such an unassuming area of the Midwest occurred "the most violent hate crime against Sikhs in U.S. history," which Kaur says changed her understanding of the term "victims." She says:

"Sikhs had something to teach America about how to respond to the violence of white nationalism, socially, politically, and spiritually. I saw the practices of revolutionary love at work—we wondered, grieved, and fought; we raged, listened, and reimagined the future."

See No Stranger interlaces Kaur's memoirs with the guidance of other wise thinkers, scientists, and activists to teach readers how to love and empathize with others (even our opponents) and how to love ourselves as the shifting, growing, learning beings we are. Combining these abilities to care is important, because:

"[...] Loving only ourselves is escapism; loving only our opponents is self-loathing; loving only others is ineffective. All three practices make love revolutionary, and revolutionary love can only be practiced in community."

(GMC)

Be inspired in less than half an hour when you watch Valarie Kaur's captivating TED talk "3 lessons of revolutionary love in a time of rage."

 

Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood by Colin Woodard, Viking  

Colin Woodard’s American Nations changed my view of the country I live in as much as any book I’ve read in my adult life. His new book, Union, which I’ve only just begun, is already doing the same. We grow up, as in any country, indoctrinated in our history, but the history we are taught is always imperfect at best—both in its teaching and its reality. Woodard helps us understand how our shared history came to be shared, and how the struggle for the narrative is ongoing. The book details how the dangers of oligarchy and ethnonationalism (specifically, the entrenchment and the evolution of white-supremacy) have not only haunted us throughout our entire history, but have been ever-present realities and features of it. And yet, we continue to strive toward our professed ideals of equality, and in that struggle I find the country I still believe in. Nationalism is a deservedly dirty word these days, but what would have become of our experiment in self-governance—if it existed at all—had we not cohered as thirteen separate colonies into one nation? George Bernard Shaw wrote that “Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.” It has been a long time since I believed our country was exceptional, but when I see the protests sweeping the streets fighting for change, I know that its people are, that as Woodard says, “The battle for America’s soul hasn’t ended,” and that we can’t give up. (DJJS)

Few books have influenced my view of American history and politics more than Colin Woodard's American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America,” says Patrick Wyman, PhD who interviewed Colin Woodard on his podcast “Tides of History” in 2017.

 

What You Need to Know About Voting—and Why by Kim Wehle, Harper 

It is our most fundamental right, but the right to elect which of our fellow citizens will represent us in government has historically been dependent on where we live, what we look like, and what reproductive organs we were born with. It is a right that continues to be unevenly applied even today, and trying to understand the rules that govern how we elect our representatives can feel more like reading a Kafka novella than a civic duty for our country. So Kim Wehle’s What You Need to Know About Voting—and Why, is an extremely important and timely primer. Like her previous book, How to Read the Constitution–And Why, it reveals how many of the things we believe are written in law are actually just social, democratic norms that we need to uphold, exercise, extend access to, and perhaps fight to make more legally binding. Do you have questions about the electoral college, Citizens United, gerrymandering, foreign interference in our elections, the prevalence of voter suppression or voter fraud? Kim Wehle has some answers. (DJJS)

For related content, read our review of Kim Wehle’s previous book, How to Read the Constitution–and Why, in July 2019. And for more voting info, the YouTube channel “How to Vote in Every State” is a helpful and easy to share resource.

 

What we're reading away from work:

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree"I'm reading The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar. The story is about a literary family living through the Iranian Revolution. It's full of magical realism, and Azar goes as far as invoking One Hundred Years of Solitude more than once in the book, making her aim quite clear. It's a beautifully-told story." —Michael Jantz, Project Development Director

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