COVID Newsletter #2


Greetings from Three Lives & Company!


Our first week of internet bookselling is in the bag, and it was a whirlwind: learning new tasks, adapting to a digital environment, making recommendations over email instead of face-to-face. You have had to adapt as well, and though we miss your presence in the shop, it has been wonderful to hear from many of you via email and our online ordering form. It has been a balm for us in these times to check in and chat with you on the phone when we confirm your books. Thank you to everyone who has placed an order, purchased a gift certificate, or made the effort to keep in touch.


We have a full newsletter for you this week, but we also want to know how you are filling your time – so send us your recent favorite reads and activities! We will feature a selection of them in our next newsletter.


Below you will find a release list of major new titles for April and May. Though we endeavored to mention the books of most interest to our readers, the list is hardly exhaustive, so if you have a title in mind that you do not see below, please ask us about it. If you would like to preorder any of these titles, we would be happy to ship it to you for release day. Yes, books are still being published!


And yes, books are still being read! To kick off National Poetry Month, our Nora has written a roundup of poetry titles that she has recently loved – the perfect escape from our troubled news cycle. You will find it at the end of the newsletter.


But first, Three Lives owner Toby Cox has written a letter to share with our reading community, in the West Village and at large.



~ A Letter from the Owner ~


What unprecedented times!


As owner of Three Lives & Company, I wanted to write and thank you for all the incredible support and good wishes the bookshop has received in recent days. It has been heartening and encouraging to hear from you and a great boost to me and the staff during these deeply unsettling times. There has been a lot of worry about the wellbeing of the bookshop and staff, and I want to address these concerns forthrightly and reassure you that we will make it through. After all, Three Lives is your bookshop, too.


But, first, we are in the midst of an intensifying pandemic, and I am in complete agreement that we must shut down and do all that we all can to help ease this contagion. As much as our business cherishes and depends on the daily interactions that happen on our shop floor, we must now pause and isolate, as mandated by New York State and a broad consensus of scientific experts. This social distancing seems to be the single most effective measure we can take to help stop the spread of COVID-19. I feel it is our responsibility to do what we can to help ourselves and each other make it through this safely.


For small businesses dependent on in-person access, such as retail enterprises, this is a difficult situation to navigate. Such is the case for Three Lives. The bookshop was established and has been sustained on the idea of customers browsing and enjoying and participating in the physical space. That business model has taken a hit, to be sure. Our revenue has eroded, but the shop is financially sound, and, with the help of recent governmental aid made available specifically to address COVID-19Õs economic impact on small businesses, I truly believe we will make it through and be back to open our bookshop for your browsing and greetings.


Of equal importance to me is the health and wellbeing of my staff. Your concern for the staff is greatly appreciated, and I am grateful that you all understand just how important they are to the life of Three Lives. I have had the opportunity to live my dream, owning and operating a bookshop, in New York City no less!, and it would not be possible nor nearly as engaging or enriching if not for the incredible staff on hand, now and over the nineteen years I have owned Three Lives. I am determined not only to keep my staff who are dependent on the bookshop for their livelihood on the payroll but to maintain their compensation in full.  


I have received a number of inquiries asking how to assist the bookshop and ensure that Three Lives survives and is able to reopen when the shutdown orders are eventually lifted. I cannot tell you how much these offers mean to me. I am humbled deeply by them. At this time, we are able to manage this ordeal. I will, however, make one pitch for BINC (Book Industry Charitable Foundation), a nonprofit dedicated to assisting booksellers across the country in times of need. Not surprisingly, in the last two weeks BINC received more requests for aid than in the previous three years combined. BINC is there for the booksellers who have been laid off, or furloughed, or find their paychecks diminished due to COVID-19. It is a tremendous organization, one to which Three Lives donates annually, and would welcome any support.


In response to the COVID-19 shutdown, we have created an online ordering feature and the staff has been phenomenal in implementing this system in short order. As we complete our first week of online bookselling, we have already processed hundreds of requests. Thank you. Our digital footprint has always been purposely light – we are about the experience of coming to a bookshop, entering a warm and welcoming space, the serendipity of browsing an interesting selection of books, and fostering community around like-minded folk. This new system has been a radical change for the little bookshop, and it is not the bookshop we all know, but it does allow Three Lives to continue to provide books for our customers.


Please take good care, and we will see you again, when we can once again open our doors and welcome you to Three Lives & Company.


Be well.

Toby Cox



~ Upcoming Releases ~


April 7

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez (Algonquin)

The British Are Coming by Rick Atkinson (paperback, Holt)

Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd (Europa Editions)

Milk Street Fast and Slow by Christopher Kimball (Voracious Books)

To Calais, in Ordinary Time by James Meek (Canongate Books)

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips (paperback, Vintage)

Spring by Ali Smith (paperback, Anchor)

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler (Knopf)

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore (Harper)

Broken by Don Winslow (William Morrow)

How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang (Riverhead Books)


April 14

What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life by Mark Doty (W.W. Norton)

Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles (William Morrow)

Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen by Mary Norris (paperback, W.W. Norton)

The Beneficiary: Fortune, Misfortune, and the Story of My Father by Janny Scott (paperback, Riverhead Books)


April 21

A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry (Viking)

Warhol by Blake Gopnik (Ecco Press)


April 28

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane (paperback, Penguin Books)

The End of October by Lawrence Wright (Knopf)


May 5

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake (paperback, Flatiron Books)

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (paperback, Holt)

Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by John Glynn (paperback, Grand Central)

The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler (paperback, Penguin Books)

Four by Four by Sara Mesa, translated by Katie Whittemore (Open Letter)

Correspondents by Tim Murphy (paperback, Grove Press)

Fracture by Andrˇs Neumann, translated by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

All Adults Here by Emma Straub (Riverhead Books)


May 12

On Lighthouses by Jazmina Barrera, translated by Christina MacSweeney (Two Lines)

The Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey (Grove)


May 26

The Yellow House by Sarah Broom (paperback, Grove Press)

Leading Men by Christopher Castellani (paperback, Penguin Books)



~ National Poetry Month Selections ~


Felon by Reginald Dwayne Betts (W.W. Norton) is the best poetry collection I have read this year. It weaves together many threads about life after prison and the ways we can rebuild ourselves. This is a redemptive, powerful book that often defies expectation. Some poems ooze suspense and feel intentionally broken, while others are beautifully tender and intimate. Simply extraordinary.

Fanny HoweÕs Love and I (Graywolf) feels like a hug, especially right now. It reads as a moral conversation, with Howe asking: how can we be and do good in the world? It is a wandering, searching collection that honors the journey across countries and questions. I would follow her anywhere.

Rick BarotÕs newest, The Galleons (Milkweed), also deals with journeys. At once a dissection of colonialism and a personal and historical story of migration across oceans and time, BarotÕs collection explores love and identity with clarity and heart.