In a ruminative but urgent treatise, historian Popkin (The Year of the Return) takes a philosophical approach to climate change, drawing analogies to other crises in human history. He begins by discussing the climate crisis as a global rallying point and by pinpointing its major causes, from the outsize political influence of fossil fuel companies to consumer culture, while recalling how his experience working for an environmental group demonstrated to him why activism is often ineffective. Popkin’s analysis picks up steam when he cites Hannah Arendt’s notion of the “banality of evil”—originally formulated in reference to those who actively or passively facilitated Nazism’s crimes—to argue that, with humanity careening toward another historic catastrophe, silence and inaction about climate change is morally unacceptable. He also discusses, more briefly, how the medieval world reacted to the Black Death, and draws from the works of Italo Calvino, Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, and more. Admitting that concrete solutions to the climate crisis are beyond his purview, he concludes by urging others who are concerned about the environment to channel their concerns into action. In a glut of books on the topic, Popkin’s is notable for its thought-provoking longview perspective on how to think about and face climate change. (Dec.)
The Publishers Weekly review of To Reach the Spring:
While the first printing of TO REACH THE SPRING is under way, the author's initial appearance has been scheduled.
On Tuesday, December 1, publication day, he'll be discussing the book with Gail Straub, the award-winning author and co-director of the Empowerment Institute. The Zoom webinar, under the auspices of the Walden Woods Project (yes, that Walden), starts at 7:00 p.m.
To register for the event and get the Zoom link, go here.
It's not our publication, but we feel like bragging anyway because the author, Louis Greenstein, is a long-time member of the Working Writers Group, the organization behind New Door Books.
You may recognize the title, The Song of Life, as a play on the name of the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu holy scripture. But this is a novel. But this is also a spiritual book. But this is also a book about violence and murder. But this is primarily a book about love, friendship, and peace.
The story begins when Margaret, the chief protagonist, is sitting among the stacks in her town library. For no reason on earth, a copy of the Bhagavad Gita falls off a shelf and bonks her in the head. She leaves the library with a lump on her skull and her life changed forever.
Those who've read Greenstein's Mr. Boardwalk will recognize his goofy humor, which surprises and delights throughout the book, especially through the character of Elliott Fenwick, the world's nerdiest nerd who somehow wins every reader's heart.
Much less funny is Margaret's relationship with an abusive minister, "Pastor Gary," who takes advantage of his religious authority. The Gita's influence helps her recover from this trauma. As Janet Mason, one of the early reviewers puts it, the book "explores the underbelly of religion and the upside of spirituality."
Check it out. The Song of Life will create a lump in your throat, if not on your head.
We've been working to minimize reliance on that Giant Online Store that everyone loves to hate but everyone keeps using to buy everything from books to toilet paper. To that end, our printed books have been available for some time now on Bookshop.org, the online book depot for independent presses.
Now we're beginning to do the same for our e-books. Our page at MyMustReads.com offers our e-books through the My Must Reads e-reader platform. The e-reader app itself is a free download, and it works pretty much like other such apps, though it's not quite as sophisticated (yet) as some. We encourage everyone to try it out. The logo is a Hummingbird, which seems more natural than a swooping arrow.
Yet another great advance review of Nathaniel Popkin's forthcoming book, TO REACH THE SPRING:
Just posted: an incredibly moving interview with our author Mark Lyons about his work helping immigrants tell their own stories.
The debut novel by David Hallock Sanders, BUSARA ROAD, has racked up more awards. In the American Fiction Awards competition, it was a finalist in two categories: Best New Fiction and General Fiction.
That's a total of SEVEN awards for this one book, including the Gold Medal from the Nautilus Book Awards.
It's a truly great read. Check it out here.
The first two reactions to TO REACH THE SPRING have arrived, and unlike most blurbs, these are utterly passionate and committed:
"Nathaniel Popkin is a swordsmith. He hones words that cut deep through the lies and self-deceptions that license cruelty, revealing the brittle bones of an unjust, death-dealing culture. Everyone should read this book. It is clarifying, bracing, and ultimately transformative; truth-telling is essential for change, and change is essential." --Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Great Tide Rising
"To Reach the Spring is a tour de force, both an incisive reckoning with the full magnitude of the climate emergency along with a visionary understanding of how and why we have come to this place. I read this book with an unruly range of emotions and states of mind including shame, unspeakable grief, existential dread, curiosity, insight, admiration for the author but finally, most of all, hope. By illuminating how our reverence for earth is intrinsically connected to our capacity to hope and to heal leading to an inexorable yearning to act, Nathaniel Popkin has offered us a way forward. This book is essential reading for anyone who cares about our future." --Gail Straub, award winning author, The Ashokan Way: Landscape’s Path Into Consciousness
Advance review copies are available now, through our Contact page and on Edelweiss in the listing for Pathway Book Service. We promise that any existential dread you feel will be more than balanced by the author's transformative truth-telling and hopeful call to action.
This fall will mark a new adventure for us. We're expanding beyond fiction and memoir to publish an impassioned book on climate change. More precisely, it's an extended essay on human complicity in the destruction of our planet.
Though it includes an abundance of scientific fact, To Reach the Spring focuses primarily on how we think about global warming, particularly the way human society manages to paralyze itself in the face of oncoming catastrophe.
Beginning with a letter to his future (potential) grandchild, Nathaniel Popkin delves into psychology, politics, and the economics of capitalism to analyze what's wrong. Then, through ethical reasoning, he outlines a possible redemption.
Long active in the environmental movement, Popkin described the present era as an "age of loss" in a 2018 essay in The New York Times. His new book is an extension and deepening of that concern. The title references a quotation from Primo Levi: "Today, here, our only purpose is to reach the spring."
To request a review copy, go to the Contact page.
For the past several months we've been pleased to have our books available through Bookshop.org, the online bookseller that dedicates part of its proceeds to independent bookstores. Recently our authors have contributed a couple of recommended reading lists to our Bookshop page:
From Louis Greenstein, "Ten Novels with Strong Female Protagonists"
From Miriam Seidel, "Powerful Sci-Fi/Fantasy by Black Women & Nonbinary Authors"
We hope you'll take the time to check out these suggestions. Remember, anything you buy at the Bookshop site helps support independent bookstores.