Books to Watch | June 2, 2020
June 02, 2020
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:
The Book of Rosy: A Mother's Story of Separation at the Border by Rosayra Pablo Cruz & Julie Schwietert Collazo, HarperOne
After six nights of uprising (and, yes, riots) in over 110 cities across America, the president signed the most sweeping civil rights legislation in our nation’s history into law. That was in 1968, after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, and while it constituted progress, it did not end systemic racism in our country. After six days and nights of protest and uprising in 2020, our current president declared Monday afternoon that he would deploy the United States military into the “battle space” of American cities against American citizens, in violation of the constitution he swore an oath to uphold. And, though there is a lot of (Donald Trump’s signature) confusion around the statement, no one should be surprised. It is a playbook of militarization he has already deployed at the border, as witnessed by the child detention centers and our country’s earlier military deployment against “migrant caravans” seeking a better life by applying for legal asylum. An overreaction at best, and a political ploy at least. Which brings me to the importance of books like The Book of Rosy, and the individual stories of those who met such a reaction at our border.
Her husband had already been murdered. Three years later, Rosayra Pablo Cruz was shot twice herself, once through each wrist, on the way home from helping her mother close her food stall in the town’s market. And, although it seems she’ll never know exactly why she was shot or her husband murdered, she was also a small business owner who lived in a small town where criminal gangs extorted businesses like hers as a “protection tax,” and had been known to murder those who refused to pay it. So she made a decision to leave the only home she’d ever known and head for America. It turned out to be one of the worst times in our history to make such a journey. When she left, there was no “zero tolerance” policy in place for people like her, fleeing violence and hoping to find asylum in the United States. But, by the time she arrived, there was such a policy in place, in America, and parents were being forcibly separated from their children when they arrived, which is what happened to Rosayra Pablo Cruz, who was held in Eloy Detention Center, a private prison in Arizona (To read more about private prisons, see our co-owner and CEO’s review of American Prison) for months.
The Book of Rosy bears witness to the injustice and pain she experienced and endured in her journey to America and through our criminal justice system, and it ends in hope. When a lawyer and a group of activist mothers from New York got Yeni Gonzalez freed from detention, even after “the facility was put on lockdown,” according to Rosayra Pablo Cruz after an earlier release, “so the rest of us wouldn’t know someone was being freed,” she was reunited with her children and made a home in New York City, where she is now the co-president of her oldest son’s Parent Teacher Association and an active member of her church and community. (DJJS)
Watch a video of the authors in conversation for Girls Write Now.
Eventide: Recipes for Clambakes, Oysters, Lobster Rolls, and More from a Modern Maine Seafood Shack by Arlin Smith, Andrew Taylor, and Mike Wiley, with Sam Hiersteiner; Ten Speed Press
When I was growing up, we were a road-trip kind of family. My dad had a habit of buying big empty conversion vans and customizing them himself with carpet, drink holders, a convertible bed space in the back, and curtains my grandma would sew. Then the five of us would gather up our things and drive around the country; up to North Dakota to visit family, West to California to visit my godparents, East to Cape Cod with our close friends to visit their family. We put thousands and thousands of miles on those vans, and by the time I was a teenager, I was proud to say I had visited almost all of the 48 continental states. One of the states that has still eluded me is Maine, and this new cookbook from Portland’s Eventide Oyster Co. has me aching for a road trip to visit a seafood shack on the ocean. Calling themselves a “revival of the great American oyster bar,” the restaurant is helmed by a James Beard award-winning crew. That excellence translates to the page, with photos that almost make you smell the salt air. Step by step photos show you how to break down a multitude of fish, from which you can build your own raw bar, crudo spread, or clambake in the Eventide style. Recipes from their menu feature coastal classics like a fried fish sandwich and New England Clam Chowder, along with more unique offerings like the Brown Butter Lobster Roll served on a bao-style steamed bun, Halibut Tail Bo Ssam, and Scallop Waffle-Yaki. Small chapters on desserts and cocktails round out the book, but it’s the “Basics” chapter that you’ll return to time and time again, which fills you in on the secrets for their buns, sauces, snacks, and sides that will add a touch of Maine to your summer table, wherever you are. (BRM)
Recipe for Eventide Fish Chowder featured in this New York Times feature on “12 Restaurants America Loves. With Recipes!”
Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman, Little, Brown and Company
Rutger Bregman’s new book begins with a really depressing historical fact that leads to a hopeful conclusion. It concerns the German Blitz of the UK during World War II, and the Allied bombing raids on Germany made in response. The depressing fact about both—and remember that the Blitz lasted for nine months and at one point bombed London for 56 out of 57 days in a row—is that they both largely, even primarily, targeted civilians. During the Blitz, more than 80,000 bombs were dropped on London, and whole residential neighborhoods were levelled. In the Allied response, Rutger Bregman writes, “On one night in Dresden, more men, women, and children were killed than in London during the whole war.” It was all based on the idea that bombing civilians would destroy their will to resist, and cause a collapse of civilian morale and a decline in the production of factories left standing to support the war effort. The hopeful conclusion is that it didn’t work.
Studies of the bombings’ effects on both civilian populations revealed not only that it gave the underseige populations a greater a sense of purpose, solidarity, and community, but that the productivity of factories where civilians were targeted actually increased after such raids—in both places. Rather than breaking people’s spirits, it lifted them up and gave them a determination to carry on. It was a “stiff upper lip” that saved England, but the human spirit. Rutger Bregman’s conclusion is simple, but powerful, and forms the basis of his new book, Humankind:
That most people, deep down, are pretty decent.
Humankind is a book about humanity’s innate goodness, and that is what makes it so radical and so necessary in this moment. Whether he is dissecting human culture—based in the idea of Homo ludens, or “playing man”—what real democracy looks like, “The Best Remedy for Hate, Racism, and Prejudice,” or the bombing of civilians, Bregman reveals how our human nature is what has led us through tough times, not held us back. It is, in fact, the bleaker view of human nature—often mistakenly described as “just being realistic”—that led to such atrocities described above. Humankind offers a “new realism,” based in scientific fact and historical precedence, one whose time has come. (DJJS)
Give a quick, six-minute listen to an interview with the author on NPR.
One by One by One: Making a Small Difference Amid a Billion Problems by Aaron Berkowitz, MD, PhD., HarperOne
Idealism can inspire someone to go after their possibly unrealistic dreams and end up proving everyone else wrong, but what happens between the start and the finish line is often overlooked. This bumpy road of successes and failures, large and small, becomes a more stressful and high-stakes journey for those in the medical field who hold the lives of others in their hands. You've probably seen signs that declare HEROES WORK HERE in front of hospitals, but this slogan says little about the daily struggles of those very human heroes: the fears, the pressures, the uncertainties, the concerns that all who work there must overcome in order to keep another alive.
One by One by One brings to light the many obstacles Dr. Aaron Berkowitz encounters in his quest to save the life of just one patient (Janel) with a large brain tumor in Haiti, a country of 10 million with only one neurologist and insufficient access to the proper equipment or specialized care for the surgery Janel would require. And he is not an isolated case. More than half the world's population lacks access to basic healthcare, and one by one by one they can be helped.
The book highlights the Creole Haitian proverb “tout moun se moun," meaning "every person is a person," and it's a very timely and important lesson for all of us to understand. We have to see beyond the wall of numbers and statistics to do what we can to improve the lives of other individuals. Every one of our actions builds into larger actions, and Berkowitz and Janel's ambitious journey proves that choosing "solidarity over sustainability, compassion over cost-effectiveness" is something that each one of us can also adopt amidst the difficulty of our world. (GMC)
The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having—or Being Denied—an Abortion by Diana Greene Foster, PhD, Scribner
The Planned Parenthood near Porchlight Book Company is tucked away in a rather industrial, largely untrafficked section of the city. It is an unassuming building set back a bit from the road, and I wouldn't even have noticed it if it were not for the protestors that stood on the sidewalk handing out pamphlets and grainy pictures of fetuses almost every day that my friend and I walked past. On one occasion, a protestor shouted indignant expressions (insults and near-threats) about "killing babies" at two people exiting the building, his words chasing them as they hurried into their car. I wondered why my friend and I would repeatedly take this route when it would only lead to us getting angry over strangers shouting inaccurate and/or cherry-picked facts at other strangers.
I realized that being able to walk past these people repeating the same, unconvincing line at me day after day felt like an accomplishment of the dissenting sort, like standing up for myself and others by not allowing the protestors to stop my body from moving forward in motion or waste any of my time. However, I realized that we need more than to ignore people to dissipate their hate. This past week of Black Lives Matter protests, marches, speeches, social media posts, and fundraisers proves that we need to actively engage with causes we believe in. If not, adversity and injustice will continue raging on.
Educating ourselves and others on issues is an important step, which is why books are so important to our world. The Turnaway Study by Diana Greene Foster is an important book to read as a stepping stone towards the country's understanding of abortion, which, you may not be surprised to find, did not end with Roe v. Wade forty-five years ago.
"The political debate about abortion has shifted in the last few decades. Instead of focusing on the rights of fetuses versus the rights of women, anti-abortion advocates and lawmakers have tried to reframe the abortion debate as a women’s health issue, suggesting that abortion hurts women, leading to depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Where evidence is lacking, policymakers have routinely invented it."
Foster's book focuses on why women may delay getting abortions, what happens to the women who do receive abortions, and what happens to those who are turned away for being too far along in their pregnancies. She investigates the state of the women's relationships, their mental/emotional health, and their socioeconomic statuses to discern the legitimacy of an issue that is sometimes about women's health and other times about politics, and she does a good job of elucidating both the negative and positive results of abortion. It's the first study to examine both women who were turned away and women who received abortions, and the book contains ten years-, 40 researchers-, 50 academic papers-, and over 1000 women-, worth of answers. (GMC)
Studies included in The Turnaway Study have been published in many articles online. Here is one about the financial toll of being denied an abortion.
What we're reading away from work:
"I started reading The Hills Reply by Tarjei Vesaas this weekend. It’s the first of Vesaas’s works I’ve read and it’s the last he wrote before his death. The tone is somber, meditative, and dream-like due to how poetically it’s written. Vesaas’s words build vague shapes that slowly build into scenes that reveal various coming-of-age moments for a boy and the nature that surrounds him. It took me a few rereads of the first few pages to understand what was happening, but now that I’m two chapters in, I really appreciate the slow-buildup and stream-of-consciousness descriptions that swing between human’s, animal’s, and nature’s." —Gabbi Cisneros, Digital Marketing Specialist