COVID Newsletter #7


Greetings from Three Lives & Company,


In recent days, as the staff wrote their pieces for the latest shop newsletter, many of us found the Black Lives Matter events taking place throughout our city, across the country, and around the world to impact and inform us deeply. We planned on a New York City-themed newsletter to celebrate the cityÕs tentative steps out of the Shutdown, but weÕll bring that to you next time. For now, our thoughts. And, we do hope to see you soon on the corner for our curbside bookselling.



~ Staff Updates ~


I have been a fan of Morgan Jerkins since her essay collection This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America (Harper), a book I highly recommend! Her new book, Wandering in Strange Lands (Harper), explores the Great Migration and the movement of six million black Americans across the country over a period of more than fifty years, from 1916 to 1970. What makes this book all the more incredible is JerkinsÕs ability to weave in her own familyÕs history and broaden the scope to provide a sobering reminder – and reality – of the systemic racism, displacement, and oppression that pervade American culture even now.


In light of the protests across our country, IÕd like to mention a few additional reads and personal favorites that not only provide important insights in this moment but also are important all on their own in their ability to engage and enlighten: classics like Jazz by Toni Morrison (Vintage) and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Harper). And poetry! Felon by Reginald Dwayne Betts (W.W. Norton), DonÕt Call Us Dead and Homie by Danez Smith (Graywolf), Night Angler by Geffrey Davis (BOA Editions), Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf), Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis (Knopf), and A Fortune for Your Disaster by Hanif Abdurraqib (Tin House). Lastly, Catherine LaceyÕs novel Pew (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, on sale July 21) follows a raceless, genderless person who appears in a small Southern town and causes quite the stir in the conservative community. ItÕs a timely read, one that asks more questions than it answers but is all the more powerful as a result. – Nora



The books that have stuck out to me in the last few weeks are Fierce Attachments and The Odd Woman in the City, both by Vivian Gornick (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). I read them back to back and was struck by GornickÕs strong voice and confident prose. Some of you may remember that last year Fierce Attachments was named the best memoir of the past fifty years by the New York Times, and it lived up to my high expectations. I'm eager to read more of her. IÕm also in the middle of How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell (Melville House), a fitting read for our lives in quarantine and an interesting examination of the attention economy. 


And if you are looking for some anti-racist reading, IÕll recommend Self Portrait in Black and White by Thomas Chatterton Williams (W.W. Norton), Negroland by Margo Jefferson (Vintage), Good Talk by Mira Jacob (One World), and Citizen by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf) – all of which I learned a lot from and also thoroughly enjoyed. – Ruby



I have been thinking a lot about Larry Kramer since learning of his passing on May 27. I wish I had dated my copy of Faggots (Grove) to know when exactly I had the guts to buy it and read it. But what I do know is that Faggots made a big impact on me as a young man just coming out in the mid-90s. I read it with laser attention, and it helped shape the way I understood gay life in New York in the late 70s. Then I read The Normal Heart (Grove), which altered me as a human being and showed me who Larry Kramer was and what he was capable of. The last time I remember Larry in the bookshop, he was approached by a few young students who appeared in awe: they excitedly said hello and thanked him. Larry looked very pleased. On Sunday, while Sam and I stood among thousands in Washington Square Park for a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest, I again thought of Larry Kramer, who for over forty years lived in an apartment overlooking the park and how he spent his life raising his voice for human rights. Now he is gone, but he has shown us what using our voices and taking action can do. Tony Kushner put it perfectly in the New York Times: ŅHe was a blisteringly magnificent solar flare of a human being.Ó Thank you, Larry Kramer, for everything, the demands and the love. Rest in power, Larry. – Troy



I am currently almost done reading WhatÕs Left of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott (Doubleday, on sale June 23), and IÕm starting two other books: The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar (Europa) and Brunch and Other Obligations by Suzanne Nugent (She Writes Press). I have to admit that I fell into a reading slump, having lost focus and been unable to sit or read like I used to for the last two weeks. It feels good to get back into these books because IÕve missed them! I also put my reading on pause to put my energy into protesting, donating, and educating myself and others on the Black Lives Matter movement that is currently getting the attention it deserves. – Tatiana



These past two weeks, IÕve been simultaneously filled with anger at the continued police brutality against the Black community and with excitement about the countryÕs sustained, diverse response to it. When protests first began after the murder of George Floyd, the one book I could focus on was Good Talk by Mira Jacob (One World), a moving graphic novel about mothering a brown child in America that felt just right for my headspace. Just this weekend I pulled my copy of White Fragility (Beacon Press) off the shelf, and IÕve been thinking a lot about the books that have taught me the most about race in America: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (New Press), This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins (Harper), Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (One World), The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (Vintage). If your head is in more of a fiction space, a few contemporary recommendations: We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin (One World) is an incredibly clever novel set in a near future where Black people are getting de-melanization surgery, and the Black narrator and his white wife have conflicting thoughts about whether their son should get it. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Algonquin) is an affecting look at wrongful imprisonment and, even more so, a beautiful story of love and just how much we can expect a relationship to endure. – Emily



Postcard from Park Slope: is it possible that the revolution has begun – the rearranging of the social order of all things?! Shaking this tree will be the work of generations, but I am ever hopeful even as I trip over myself to make sense of each day. Exhilarated/exhausted in equal measure. I attend to my daily bread, walk, do chores, chat on the landline (satisfying to hear voices), cook and share meals with my granddaughter via computer, and stream and tune in to all sorts of entertaining and interesting stuff. I wish I had some really terrific reading recommendations for you, but only the news of the day has my attention. I read The Nation or The Atlantic. Or I listen to NPR and move furniture and polish all the floors. I am done in but the hardwood came up gorgeous! – Joyce



Like many other readers, my attention has been fixed much more on the news than on books. There is so much to read about, so much excellent reporting being done, so many righteous protests in seemingly every neighborhood that it is easy to forget whatÕs on my reading table. I see the incredible organization and dedication of Black Lives Matter activists in New York City and across the nation, and contrast it to growing up in my home state, which still features the Confederate battle emblem on its flag – a persistent symbol of the entrenched pride in a bigoted and poisonous heritage whose end is long overdue. – Ryan 



~ The Three Lives & Company Bestseller List ~ 


Our list of recent bestsellers reflects what is on the minds of many Americans: titles on racism and racial justice by Michelle Alexander, Ibram X. Kendi, Robin Diangelo, and James Baldwin join recent releases by Brit Bennett, Roy Jacobsen, and Emma Straub. The surge in interest has made some of these titles scarce, but we are working to get copies to everyone who orders them. 


1. White Fragility by Robin Diangelo (Beacon Press)

2. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (Riverhead)

3. The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen (Bibioasis)

4. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (One World)

5. All Adults Here by Emma Straub (Riverhead)

6. Dirt by Bill Buford (Knopf)

7. Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House)

8. The Chiffon Trenches by Andrˇ Leon Talley (Ballantine)

9. A Burning by Megha Majumdar (Knopf)

10. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (Vintage)

11. Normal People by Sally Rooney (Hogarth)

12. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (New Press)



~ Curbside Pickup ~ 


Curbside pickup for prepaid orders only is available at the bookshop Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. You may order for curbside via our online form or by calling the bookshop during those hours. (We will also continue to ship nationwide.)