Greetings from Three Lives & Company!
As the weather warms and the sidewalks fill back up, our dreams turn to slow afternoons in Washington Square Park with a book and coffee or tea, or early mornings in our favorite reading chairs while the spring sunshine streams inside. Luckily, as you can see by our staff picks below, there is lots of material for your own chosen reading situation, whatever that may be.
We also have a new Cookbook Corner for you: our cookbook maestro, Troy, has put together half a dozen of his top selections for the season, including new titles from Nigel Slater, Julia Turshen, and Sam Sifton. Given that it is now April (how did that happen so quickly?), we also want to recognize Poetry Month. New titles from Joy Harjo (the memoir Poet Warrior, September 7), Arthur Sze (The Glass Constellation), Rita Dove (Playlist for the Apocalypse, August 3), and Yusef Komunyakaa (Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth, June 15) are on the way, and you will find them all tucked into the poetry room in our new space.
And speaking of the new shop, you may have noticed that one section did not make the move with us in November: our travel guides. With slightly more restricted shelf space in our temporary spot, and with nobody traveling anyway, we stashed them in a storage room for the time being. However, as vaccinations surge (got yours yet?), and we all start to dream of traveling again, we want to make it clear that we are happy to bring you guides on request, even if they are not on the shelf. We keep a range of both international and domestic guides from Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, FodorÕs and DK Eyewitness, alongside smaller guidebook lines – everything you need for your next trip to Morocco or Maine.
When you do visit us to pick up that travel guide – or your latest novel, or a Three Lives tote bag! – you might want to be cognizant of the day and time. Since reopening last June, we have restricted customers to five at a time to allow for social distancing. That means you get more shop real estate to yourself while you browse, but it also can mean long lines on the sidewalk at busy times and on the weekend. If you are able to visit during the week, especially before noon, you are much more likely to avoid a wait – and if you are just picking up a book on hold or know exactly what you want, we can always handle the transaction curbside.
As we have mentioned previously, we are delighted to preorder any upcoming title for you and have highlighted some of our most anticipated books in the staff roundups below. There is one particular book coming out this autumn that many of our customers might want to reserve early: Amor TowlesÕs third novel, The Lincoln Highway, goes on sale October 5, and Amor has agreed to sign and personalize copies for anyone who preorders and pre-pays. Give us a call or send an email if you are interested in this or anything else on the release schedule.
It is hard to believe that one year ago, we were all at home, running the bookshop virtually from our desks and beds. In 2020 we had to skip Independent Bookstore Day, one of our favorite occasions at Three Lives. This year, though we will not be bringing in our traditional baked goods for all of you (maybe in 2022!), we can at least celebrate together in person once again. IBD is on Saturday, April 24 – we hope to see you.
~ Recent Staff Favorites ~
IÕm thinking I need to pay closer attention to university presses! I was recently given a copy of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies – I know, great title! – by Deesha Philyaw (West Virginia University Press): wry, tender short stories sharing glimpses of the intimate relationships and private moments that become our lives. What sheer luck to find her truly original voice! And looking forward, I couldnÕt possibly pass up Jo Ann BeardÕs Festival Days (Little, Brown) or Joan SilberÕs Secrets of Happiness (Counterpoint, May 4) because, well, these are two writers who just always get to me! One more with a June pub date: IÕm very curious to have a look at the new Edward St. Aubyn, Double Blind (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 1). There is always more, but we have strict instructions from our newsletter editor to keep this Ņrelatively short,Ó so IÕll leave you with this: isnÕt it swell to have some real sunshine in our lives again?! – Joyce
I donÕt know about you, but after the last year I could really use a hug. Luckily, I read George SaundersÕs latest, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain (Random House), at just the right moment and was moved by its warmth, heart, and generosity. The book can be described as a sort of masterclass on the short story, based on a course that Saunders teaches at Syracuse University that highlights a few of the Russian greats (Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol) and their works – stories that, Saunders says, have changed him as a writer, reader, and human. But calling this literary criticism or a book on writing just isnÕt enough. ItÕs a glowing account of the power of literature – enhanced by SaundersÕs voice, as witty and smart and feeling as ever – and the endless ways it can enrich our lives. I was sad to finish it. Ahead, I canÕt wait to lose myself in Patrick Radden KeefeÕs first book since my beloved Say Nothing, Empire of Pain (Doubleday), a multi-generational account of the Sackler family that is sure to be a stunner. – Nora
Reissues donÕt often catch my attention, so IÕm not entirely sure what it is about the new edition of Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin (Vintage) that made me pick it up immediately. What immense joy that I heeded its siren song! I am familiar with ColwinÕs superb essay collection Home Cooking but am a novice to her novels. That is about to change. After reading this witty, warm, New York-centric tale of four young people falling in love and navigating new relationships (and later, marriages), I plan to read every single work Colwin penned. First published in 1978, Happy All the Time is the book I want and need right now, as we emerge from a year of hibernation and anxiety – it is full of life, and heart, and humor.
Colwin may not have been on my immediate radar, but the new Patrick Radden Keefe certainly is. Empire of Pain is a deep dive into the history of the Sackler family, owners of the Purdue pharmaceutical company and the makers of OxyContin, and their role in the opioid crisis that has engulfed our country. If KeefeÕs previous book Say Nothing is any guide, it is sure to be a phenomenal work of narrative nonfiction and investigative reporting.
And the book IÕm most eagerly anticipating this spring and plan to read next: Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford (Scribner, May 18). His previous novel Golden Hill blew me away with its originality, voice, and vivid depiction of eighteenth-century New York. This forthcoming novel promises to be similarly creative and immersive: it narrates the lives that five children might have led had they not died when a German rocket destroyed a Woolworths department store in London in 1944. – Miriam
Recently I picked up Joan DidionÕs ŅnewÓ essay collection Let Me Tell You What I Mean (Knopf). In these twelve (mostly early) essays Didion writes about her love of Hemingway, getting rejected from Stanford, and Martha Stewart, among other things. I had never read most of these pieces and was happy to return to DidionÕs sharp mind and elegant prose. Looking forward, I am waiting with bated breath for Sally RooneyÕs novel Beautiful World, Where Are You (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) to come out on September 7, and Helen Ellis (author of Southern Lady Code) has a new collection of essays, Bring Your Baggage and DonÕt Pack Light (Doubleday), on sale July 13. – Ruby
I have recently had the pleasure of diving into Patti SmithÕs Just Kids (Ecco) for the first time. She really is something else, and this memoir is incredibly special. New York comes to vibrant life through her words, full of musicality and intent even when plainly spoken. The grit, opportunities, love, and artistic freedom that New York City promises is all right there on the page, set keenly against the cultural backdrop of the Ō60s and Ō70s. Patti makes a strong argument for spending a night on a park bench in Tompkins Square Park. Just kidding! (Or am I? I guess weÕll see...) This year, IÕm particularly excited for Amor TowlesÕs Lincoln Highway (Viking), Sally RooneyÕs Beautiful World, Where Are You, and Michelle ZaunerÕs memoir Crying in H Mart (Knopf, April 20). And IÕm even more excited to discover new reads and writers I donÕt yet know about! – Tatiana
Viet Thanh NguyenÕs The Committed (Grove) provokes the same feelings that its brilliant predecessor, The Sympathizer, did: respect for a fearless writer flouting convention, excitement for one of literatureÕs great fictional narrators thumbing his nose at pretty much everyone, and a tinge of disappointment as the last page turns. The Committed picks up several years after the events of The Sympathizer, as its communist-reeducated protagonist, again a refugee from his homeland of Vietnam, lands among the gangs of Paris and becomes a drug-runner to the rich and cultured. Events spiral to an inevitable encounter with an old ally and a gut-wrenching moment of reckoning.
It is still months in the future, and I know almost nothing about it at this point, but Ruth OzekiÕs upcoming book The Book of Form and Emptiness (Viking, September 21) has already leapt to the top of my must-read list. I have read all three of OzekiÕs previous novels, and there is perhaps no book from the past decade that I return to in my mind more often than her audacious, wildly creative Tale for the Time Being. – Ryan
The founders of Three Lives liked to say that it is difficult for a bookseller to Ņread backward,Ó but at the turn of the new year I found myself looking back, through my bookshelves at home. My first book of the year was Toni MorrisonÕs 1987 masterpiece Beloved (Vintage), a book that has spent decades on my TBR pile. This gutting narrative, and its setting on the Ohio River borderland between slave and free state, got me to swing around to David BlightÕs magisterial Race and Reunion (Harvard University Press) from 2001, a revealing, critical history of the postbellum Lost Cause myth. My Ō70s schoolboy history texts didnÕt examine the Reconstruction and following eras to such a degree nor with such forthrightness.
Wandering the histories of nineteenth-century America, I was repeatedly faced with Ida B. Wells, a remarkable Black journalist and crusader, and got myself The Light of Truth, an edition of her collected writings from the great Penguin Classics. Born a slave in 1862, kicked off a segregated train for refusing to give up her seat seventy years before Rosa Parks remained seated on a Montgomery bus, Wells fled north after publicly denouncing local lynchings in her newspaper, the Memphis Free Speech. Thus was born a mighty force against lynching across the South, a patriot fighting malign forces for the equal treatment of all under the law, and a truth-teller against all odds. Reading WellsÕs contemporary accounts of murder, repression, violence, and inequity was an unparalleled experience.
Despite wandering through older books, I still have an eye to the latest releases. I am very excited for The Promise (Europa), the latest from the great South African novelist Damon Galgut, and the short story collection Farthest South from Ethan Rutherford (Strange Object), a former Three Lives employee. – Toby
~ TroyÕs Cookbook Corner ~
Spring is here, and isnÕt it thrilling to think of all the vegetables and fruits that are just weeks or months away at the greenmarkets? Asparagus, strawberries, new garlic, potatoes and onions – if youÕve never seen a New Yorker go giddy at the sight of a heap of wild ramps, youÕve really missed out! Allow yourselves to think of the summer to come with blueberries, peaches, green beans, corn, and tabletops covered with ripe glorious tomatoes.
Now is the time to plan and dream about the dishes and meals youÕll share with family, friends, and neighbors. Sharing with those you love and care about is a reasonable dream, and it has been a long time coming. I have very good news for you: this yearÕs spring and summer cookbooks are wonderful.
The following are just six of the many that I am excited about. And as always, I encourage you to visit the shop and spend some time looking through the shelves to see what entices you to start cooking and baking. You may be surprised by what you end up walking out with.
Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food
I donÕt think IÕve ever come across a more bighearted and inclusive cookbook. Julia says it herself: ŅWith something for everyone – whether you skew savory or sweet, are vegan or prefer just a little meat, embrace carbs or live gluten-free – Simply Julia will inspire you to simply get into the kitchen and spend a little time cooking up something that makes you feel good.Ó Julia offers nonjudgmental and generous definitions for both ŅhealthyÓ and ŅcomfortÓ that I hope get passed on and on. (Harper Wave)
Towpath: Recipes and Stories
Lori De Mori and Laura Jackson
From a sliver of a restaurant on RegentÕs Canal in London comes the Towpath cookbook, which takes us through the seasons and into the rich community of a waterside eatery that has no website, no phone, and no takeaway. ŅYou can use this book to learn to cook beloved Towpath recipes. But it is our real wish that you take a page from LauraÕs honest, unfussy and comforting approach to the table: one that celebrates the flavors of every season, wastes nothing, delights in cooking with whatever is at hand, and finds inspiration everywhere – so long as itÕs about making the ingredients shine.Ó (Chelsea Green)
Home Farm Cooking
Catherine and John Pawson
Okay, so I donÕt live in the English countryside, nor do I live in a farmhouse designed by John Pawson – but IÕd sure like to see whatÕs that like and to know what Catherine and John cook for their family and friends. Oxfordshire, here we come! (Phaidon)
New York Times Cooking: No-Recipe Recipes
Sure, a cookbook without recipes could be a little intimidating. Liberating too! Sam SiftonÕs cookbook is filled with terrific advice, loads of encouragement and, best of all, fresh ideas for what to cook, with ease. Once I hit the savory French toast with cherry tomatoes and basil, I was sold. (Ten Speed)
Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution
Roxana is the baker and co-owner of Friends & Family in Los Angeles, and this is her first cookbook. Her recipes are organized around the eight fundamental ŅmotherÓ grains: barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, rice, rye, sorghum, and wheat. Mother Grains is a comprehensive guide to understanding, choosing, and baking or cooking with each of these grains. And oh, the recipes! (Roxana, if you are reading this, I would give anything to have Rose MarieÕs sweet corn lasagna recipe.) This is a masterwork and an act of devotion. (W.W. Norton, April 20)
Greenfeast: Spring, Summer
ItÕs almost here: the follow-up to Autumn, Winter, which was a hit here at Three Lives. Spring, Summer is vegetarian and filled with NigelÕs uniquely inspired combinations, as well as sublime writing on how the seasons influence the way we cook and eat. With its compact size and beautiful design, Spring, Summer should stay on the counter until summerÕs end. (Ten Speed, April 20)
And finally, a selection of exciting new releases that arenÕt cookbooks but are food-adjacent, for those in-between times when youÕre not actually cooking:
Finding Freedom: A CookÕs Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch by Erin French (Celadon)
Marvelous Manhattan: Stories of the Restaurants, Bars and Shops that Make This City Special by Reggie Nadelson (Artisan)
We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto by Alice Waters (Penguin Press, June 1)
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (Knopf, April 20)
~ Staff Favorites Now in Paperback ~
Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (Black Cat)
The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich (Harper)
White Shadow by Roy Jacobsen, translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw (Bibioasis)
Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd (Europa)
The Margot Affair by Sana‘ Lemoine (Hogarth)
The Carrying by Ada Lim—n (Milkweed)
Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey (Vintage)
Farthest South by Ethan Rutherford (Strange Object)
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (Atria)
Dirt by Bill Buford (Vintage)
Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong (One World)
Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed)
~ Signed Editions ~
Lazarus Rising by Joseph Caldwell (Delphinium)
Yes & No by Elisha Cooper (Roaring Brook Press)
The Astonishing Life of August March by Aaron Jackson (Harper)
Transient Desires by Donna Leon (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Walking Manhattan Sideways by Betsy Bober Polivy (Polivision Productions)
American Utopia by David Byrne and Maira Kalman (Bloomsbury)
Growing Up Bank Street by Donna Florio (New York University Press)
How We Live Now by Bill Hayes (Bloomsbury)
The Doctors Blackwell by Janice P. Nimura (W.W. Norton)
All the Beauty Still Left by Spencer Reece (Turtle Point Press)
The Secret Gospel of Mark by Spencer Reece (Seven Stories Press)
Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith (Vintage)
~ The Three Lives & Company Bestseller List ~
1. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf)
2. The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove)
3. Writers & Lovers by Lily King (Grove)
4. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Grove)
5. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Harper)
6. Mike Nichols by Mark Harris (Penguin Press)
7. Deacon King Kong by James McBride (Riverhead)
8. The Margot Affair by Sana‘ Lemoine (Hogarth)
9. Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion (Knopf)
10. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Viking)