COVID Newsletter #4


Greetings from Three Lives & Company!


Two more weeks down: more books read, more movies and shows watched, more baked goods, and urban homestead experiments, and slightly lopsided YouTube-aided haircuts. Our new daily commutes – to the sofas and desks we use as our home offices – have become almost as routine as our old trips on the subway, with the added bonus (or danger?) of kitchen treats always within reach.


Though we have so far avoided the need for Zoom conferences, your bookstore staff has been in constant communication to fulfill your online orders. Many of you have gotten calls from Nora, Troy, or Miriam to confirm your order and chat about books, and we have sent out dozens of email recommendations in response to your queries. (Remember, if you want to check on the availability of a title or need suggestions, you are welcome to email us before you fill out your order!) Other staff members process payments, write gift certificates, plot out our newsletters, and plan our Instagram ad campaigns. (Just kidding about that last one.)


Working remotely has been a new experience for many of us, and though we all dearly miss the tactility of our little slice of the West Village, there have been encouraging signs that New York City may be turning the corner on COVID-19. We are still in wait-and-see mode and do not know when it will be safe for us to reopen. But with your support we will reopen.


And when we do, you will have fresh shelves and displays to peruse. Many of you have already ordered brand-new releases, and there are more on the horizon: for the end of April and the beginning of May, we will get Sebastian BarryÕs A Thousand Moons (Viking), Blake GopnikÕs Warhol (Ecco), Lawrence WrightÕs The End of October (Knopf), Andrˇs NeumanÕs Fracture (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and Emma StraubÕs All Adults Here (Riverhead).


There are also a bounty of new paperbacks out this spring – read on for a list of highlights, the books we have been enjoying, and a roundup of our most-ordered books since we went digital!



~ Staff Updates ~ 


I miss the staff so much and all of our customers! I cannot wait to get back down there, and I never thought I would miss the A train, but here we are. ItÕs the little things, I guess! This weekend was cookie-palooza: chocolate chip, peanut butter loversÕ, and a hybrid PB-Choco Infused cookie. Super yum. I had a dream about making doughnuts, and they would not puff up in the fryer, so I was stressed out entirely the next morning –think I have been baking too much? (I have not found yeast yet and have also struggled to find unsalted butter.) Reading: Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami (Europa) and the upcoming Emma Jane Unsworth book Grown Ups (Gallery/Scout Press, on sale August 18). Both are super engaging (go women!) with surreal and funny takes on form, respectively. – Tatiana



I have seen a lot of people comparing their quarantine lives to Little House on the Prairie, and I have to say, I am loving my return to my prairie roots. I finally baked a good loaf of sourdough bread, plus lots of sourdough crackers and pancakes, and this past weekend brought my first attempt at sourdough pizza. We have roasted our own coffee beans, and I have taken a deep-dive into learning about heirloom apples. I just might have my parents send me some Haralsons from their tree in North Dakota to make cider this fall, but for now I have been ordering from some great cideries in upstate New York. I have also found myself appreciating the spring blooms more than ever this year – though here is Edna St. Vincent MillayÕs wonderful poem ŅSpringÓ ( describing so perfectly how much the blooms bring joy... and yet donÕt. As for reading, I have reached back a bit in time there, too, to Patricia HighsmithÕs The Price of Salt (W.W. Norton), which is the easiest book to fall into every time I pick it up. On the TV screen, I have been reliving the BullsÕ glory days with the new ten-part (a real blessing in quarantine!) ESPN documentary The Last Dance.Emily



I have decided to make an effort to watch more movies, namely classics I have always meant to see. The highlight has been Doris Day and Rock Hudson, and their wonderful comedy team-ups of the 1950s and Ō60s. Pillow Talk and Send Me No Flowers are new favorites – and just the sweet escape I needed! Poetry month is coming to a close, but there is one more collection to share with you all: Jake SkeetsÕs Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers (Milkweed) is a profound portrait of the American West in all its pain, brutality, and beauty. One of the best debuts I have read all year. While mystery is not my genre, Tana FrenchÕs In the Woods (Penguin) has made me something of a crime-reading convert. This novel, which follows murder squad detective Rob Ryan, is sharply written and genuinely surprising and reminds me that a well-plotted novel is a true art form. And who doesnÕt want to be transported to the shadowy, cobblestone streets of Dublin? – Nora



During these unsettling and trying times, what a glory to land on an incredible book and be lost for hours and days. Newly available a century after its publication, with an English translation by Naomi Lebowitz, Lucky Per (EverymanÕs Library), the epic novel from 1917 Nobel Prize winner Henrik Pontoppidan, found critical attention in the U.S. upon release last fall (James Wood in the New Yorker called it a Ņshattering, sometimes unbearably powerful novelÓ). I got myself a copy... and promptly stashed it in the stacks and stacks of books by the bed. It was a customerÕs rave in response to our recent newsletter that persuaded me to dig it out (thank you, Brenda, I LOVED it too!). The restless, reckless son of a strict provincial parson in 1870s Denmark, Per joins the movement to drag his country into the modern era of machines and liberal society. As Per – fervent, mercurial, and often confounding – follows his passions and whims, sometimes at great cost, the issues of the day are revealed: life in an industrializing state, rampant anti-Semitism, the rupture of faith. Stunning, prophetic, enrapturing.Toby



Postcard from Park Slope: keeping body and soul together (and hands moisturized!). To keep up appearances I managed quite a nice haircut, if I say so myself, with a YouTube tutorial! Two short story collections are keeping me content: The Stories of Jane Gardam (Europa) and The Complete Stories of David Malouf (Vintage). Everything they have ever written is gold to my mind. National Theatre Live is streaming HD performances of Frankenstein (with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller) and Antony & Cleopatra (Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo), so I am in heaven! Small comforts include scalloped potatoes and the lilacs blooming outside my bedroom window. A tip from my sister to curb stay-at-home snacking: wear your bathing suit instead of your pajamas. YouÕre welcome! – Joyce



Being confined mostly to a five-mile radius in Queens, I have picked up a book that is about as far from my current reality as possible: Arabia Felix (New York Review Books), Thorkild HansenÕs classic account of an ill-starred Danish expedition to ŅHappy ArabiaÓ (Yemen) in the 1700s. Beset from the beginning with foul weather and warring personalities, the scientific voyage is already threatening to fall apart in my reading – and I have only reached the Mediterranean so far. (Claudine, if you are reading this and need another Ņhubris-laden doomed expedition,Ó here is one to add to the pile.) I would love to hear about your own favorite travelogues – I am always looking for new travel writers, classic or current, even though reading about grand adventures in far-off places can be an exercise in frustration at the moment. – Ryan



Recently, I have been digging through my shelves and pulling out books I have been meaning to read for ages but never seem to get to. Last week I started The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch (Penguin Books), which has lived up to the hype. MurdochÕs prose is lovely and her voice sharply comic. I also enjoyed Rebecca SolnitÕs new memoir Recollections of My Nonexistence (Viking), recalling SolnitÕs coming-of-age as a writer and a critic in 1980s San Francisco. And if you are in the mood to bake (as it seems we all are right now), I will recommend Bon AppˇtitÕs ŅBest Banana Bread,Ó which only lasted for a couple of hours on our kitchen counter. – Ruby



After five full weeks at home, it has finally happened: Sam and I have organized our bookshelves. Shelves had become haphazard, and stacks had gone up around the apartment like high-rises in Manhattan. Order has been restored. Interesting to see that Virginia Woolf and Edmund White tied for the most books by a single author with ten each on our shelves – although Edmund White has just eked ahead with the arrival of a galley of his new novel A Saint from Texas (Bloomsbury), due out on August 4th. Right now I am reading Deborah MadisonÕs memoir An Onion in My Pocket (Knopf), out in September, and the fact that it is fabulous will be no surprise to MadisonÕs many cookbook fans. And that reminds me of the chef Gabrielle Hamilton, who got my attention with her recent piece in The New York Times Magazine titled ŅMy Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore?Ó Important and honest. I highly recommend. – Troy



~ New in Paperback ~ 


On Sale Now

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane (Penguin)

Circe by Madeline Miller (Back Bay)

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

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips (Vintage)

Spring by Ali Smith (Anchor)


May 5

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake (Flatiron)

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (Holt)

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

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

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (Scribner)

Correspondents by Tim Murphy (Grove)

Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl (Random House)

Orange World by Karen Russell (Vintage)

The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell (Hogarth)


May 12

The Body in Question by Jill Ciment (Vintage)


May 26

The Yellow House by Sarah Broom (Grove)

Leading Men by Christopher Castellani (Penguin)

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn (Liveright)

Our Man by George Packer (Vintage)

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie (Random House)



~ The Three Lives & Company Bestseller List ~ 


1. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf)

2. The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson (Crown)

3. Writers & Lovers by Lily King (Grove)

4. Normal People by Sally Rooney (Hogarth)

5. Actress by Anne Enright (W.W. Norton)

6. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe (Anchor)

7. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (William Morrow)

8. Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips (Vintage)

9. Weather by Jenny Offill (Knopf)

10. Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby (Vintage)

11. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Harper)

12. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)