Winter 2022


Greetings from Three Lives & Company!


Another whirlwind holiday season is in the books – and we made it through without too much disruption to the fabled supply chains! Thank you for ordering early and ordering big: it made for a very lively and fun December at the bookshop. Most of us had an opportunity to take a bit of time off since then, so we are refreshed for the rest of the winter season and the busy spring to follow. (And a small update: we do expect to be back in our permanent location at 154 W. 10th by summertime. More details to come, but indications are that everyone will be very happy with the restored space. Our red doors are back on their hinges, and they are looking beautiful.)


It may have seemed like every possible author published a new book in the just-passed fall season, but there are still plenty of books to come from some of our favorite writers. Olga TokarczukÕs Books of Jacob (on sale now – see TobyÕs review below), Julie OtsukaÕs The Swimmers (February 22), Sarah MossÕs The Fell (March 1), Ocean VuongÕs Time Is a Mother (April 5), Emily St. John MandelÕs Sea of Tranquility (April 5), and Roy JacobsenÕs Eyes of the Rigel (April 5) will all arrive in the next two months, in addition to plenty of paperback editions of last yearÕs favorites. We are also anticipating Douglas StuartÕs Young Mungo, the authorÕs first novel since his Booker-winning (and wildly popular) debut Shuggie Bain. Douglas will sign and personalize pre-ordered copies of Young Mungo, so please send us your request before the book goes on sale April 5.


In addition to our usual writeups, we are also kicking off the reading year with a special collection of favorites. Regulars to the shop will know that we always keep a table of rotating staff picks based around a theme – be it memoirs, short books, poetry, books set in warm places for these cold winter nights – and our first theme of the year is the books that bring us joy. As you can imagine, we have quite a range of opinions on what this description constitutes, from genial British humor to travel writing to philosophical cookbooks. See below for our selections, and please send us the books that bring you joy as well!


And one more treat for the collectors among you: over the years (decades) we have amassed a collection of signed first editions that we have kept squirrelled away in the Three Lives archive – i.e., the basement. As the time of our return to Waverly and West 10th approaches, it seems like the perfect moment to put some of these up for sale – and lighten our load when the big move happens. We have titles from Larry Kramer, Marilynne Robinson, David Mitchell, Michael Cunningham, Patti Smith, Jonathan Franzen, Hanya Yanagihara, Edmund White, Michael Chabon, Shirley Hazzard, Kazuo Ishiguro, and a number of others. If you are interested in a complete list, please email us at



~ The Books That Bring Us Joy ~


I donÕt necessarily read for escapism, but itÕs indisputable that travel writing tends to bring me joy – and not just cheery travelogues or memoirs like Peter MayleÕs Year in Provence (Vintage), which I selected for our joy table. In truth, any well-written account of a place brings me happiness, from Paul TherouxÕs grumpy, epic voyages (my favorites: Riding the Iron Rooster, Dark Star Safari and The Happy Isles of Oceania, all published by Mariner), to Jan MorrisÕs jubilant, minute renderings of Hong Kong and Oxford, to my current read, Freya StarkÕs A Winter in Arabia (Tauris Parke), chronicling a 1930s expedition into what is now Yemen. – Ryan



I often say that I do not read happy books. As a fan of the macabre and a natural-born crier, I gravitate towards gloom. Death? Fine by me. Lost and lonely curmudgeons? Sure! I welcome doom and cynicism the way some readers crave World War II epics or mysteries set in Italy. We like what we like!


That doesnÕt mean books donÕt bring me joy. Take Census by Jesse Ball (Ecco), my favorite contemporary novel. Though dark (a terminally ill father takes his son on a road trip across a brutal, re-imagined America), it reignited my love for fiction with its compassion and gentle grace. And, every so often, unapologetically joyful books do fall into my hands, like Ellen MeloyÕs Seasons (Torrey House), a bite-sized ode to the desert, passionate and thoughtfully observed from a life spent in the Utah wilderness. Similarly diminutive is Beth Ann FennellyÕs Heating & Cooling (W.W. Norton), micro-memoirs that chronicle fifty-two moments in the life of a funny, insightful, deeply-feeling woman. – Nora



IÕve been reading some of Alan BennettÕs diaries in the London Review of Books.  Have you read him? He has this gentle, sly, British humor that pokes fun at the human condition in the kindest possible way – to my mind, the best antidote to this bitter winter season. Read The Uncommon Reader (Picador) or The Clothes They Stood Up In or The Lady in the Van (both Random House) or The Laying On of Hands (St. MartinÕs) – each guaranteed to leave you smiling. – Joyce



HereÕs a book, Patricia HanlonÕs Swimming to the Top of the Tide (Bellevue Literary Press), that I thoroughly enjoyed while reading and figured I had moved on from as soon as I picked up the next book. Yet, these many, many weeks later, I find that I miss the beat of HanlonÕs writing, the rhythm of her account of swimming around the Great Marsh near her home north of Boston, the easy banter with her husband – her partner in this year of swimming. In the second half of the book, Hanlon moves from the micro to the macro – ruminating on her environment, nature, our relationship to the world around us – and I found I was often saying to myself: yes, exactly. Hanlon has written a charming and fun account of her days swimming in and about a salt marsh and has also fashioned a beautiful, contemplative piece of nature writing. – Toby



It should be no surprise that I would choose a cookbook as the kind of book that brings joy. Anna Jones, author of One: Pot, Pan, Planet (Knopf), speaks to some of the reasons why they do: ŌIÕve realized that the kitchen is one area where people can feel some agency and make small, not incredibly expensive daily decisions that are repeatable, that are actually joyful, that are delicious.Ķ Discovery, beauty, and creation are ingredients for joy. – Troy



In the bleak midwinter, the mind wants to travel. Where to? For me itÕs St. Botolphs, the fictional New England fishing village at the heart of John CheeverÕs first novel, The Wapshot Chronicle (Vintage). In this story of a zany sea captain and his wayward sons, Cheever captures all the schmaltz and pathos of the sleepy town: traditions are silly while they last and sad as soon as theyÕre gone. Two things Cheever always gets right are dialogue (it should be funnier than real life, but only barely) and cocktails (it really is always five oÕclock somewhere). Have some rum, and enjoy your stay. – Lucas



~ Recent Staff Favorites ~


I read Katie KitamuraÕs Intimacies (Riverhead) after two trusted recommendations, and I am happy I did. ItÕs that rare kind of novel that, stylistically, is cool and concise but maintains kindness and deft emotional power. A story of a translator who moves from New York to The Hague, this is a novel of rootlessness, the difficulty of being understood, and the random chaos of life, but, most of all, the courageous act of love.


As You Were (Biblioasis), a novel by Elaine Feeney, follows several patients in a hospital ward in present-day Ireland. SinŽad, a 30-something mother dying of cancer, grapples with regret and guilt. But FeeneyÕs scope is huge and forgiving, and though I spent 300-plus pages with the dead and dying, this novel, warm and even fun, argues that life, however hopeless, has its gifts. Nora



Wow, here we are going into COVID Year 3, and IÕm finally beginning to embrace it all! Imagine that! I donÕt know about you, but my reading life – among other things – has certainly been upended. And while I still read all the time, there is very little fiction on my table these days and a bit more of everything else. IÕm especially partial to essays by really smart people, and IÕm a big fan of bright ideas. The 1619 Project (One World), created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times Magazine, has been floating around my apartment for a while now, and IÕm finally going to go for it. The premise, as IÕm sure you know, is a new origin story to reframe our understanding of American history. Bold, IÕd say!


ValentineÕs Day is upon us... donÕt forget the cards! Joyce



The Books of Jacob (Riverhead, translated by Jennifer Croft), the latest of Nobel laureate Olga TokarczukÕs works to be translated into English, is a glorious epic, with the scope of George Eliot or Leo Tolstoy and the sentiment of our present day. Set across the many lands, peoples, and borders of 18th-century Eastern Europe and focused on the historical figure of Jewish mystic/heretic Jacob Frank and his followers, the novel creates a wildly rich and immersive reading experience. The reader is jostled in the mayhem of a 1700s market town, suffers the stifling heat inside a Polish cathedral on a midsummer day, smells the spices and feels the silks in a Turkish bazaar. ThereÕs much to ponder as the book traverses the physical and moral boundaries of nations, religions, cultures, and traditions. Toby



I chose Hanya YanagiharaÕs novel To Paradise (Doubleday) as my first book of 2022 not because IÕm looking for another singular reading experience like A Little Life, but because IÕm always highly interested in YanagiharaÕs perspective in the pages of T magazine, with its myriad subjects: fashion, design, politics, travel, New York City and its many artists, writers, and creators. In the same way IÕm curious about what a playwright brings to the stage, IÕm interested in what Yanagihara brings to a novel – especially one about the idea of paradise, i.e., America. In a letter placed in each early reading copy of To Paradise, she writes: ŌI had conceived of [To Paradise] before the 2016 election, but witnessing some of the things that happened in those subsequent years was a visceral, inescapable reminder of AmericaÕs starkest contradictions: a country that had invented modern democracy while enslaving humans; a country that was – and is – a haven for so many (including, four generations ago, my own ancestors), while also denying so many their fundamental rights. Was America a paradise, or was it a lie? Was the promise of America for some contingent upon the betrayal of that promise for others? One thing we forget about the concept of paradise is that heaven is not inclusive – a true paradise is meant to keep people out. Have we expected too much all along?Ķ Yanagihara brings it all, with her own artistry. Troy



Albert SamahaÕs memoir Concepcion (Riverhead) hits all the right notes: in telling the tale of his familyÕs fits-and-starts migration to the United States from the Philippines, Samaha weaves together personal and political history in a way that makes the small details of one familyÕs journey illuminate a millions-strong diaspora. Samaha is skilled at both the nuances of journalism and the power of anecdote: the stories of his family searching for postwar treasure in the mountains of Luzon, or mapping out the perfect commute in the gridlocked Bay Area, feel as momentous as his accounts of the Marcos dictatorship or the impact of migrant-exclusion laws in the United States. I have long been fascinated with the convolutions and contradictions of American immigration, and Concepcion provides an edifying and emotional case study of one clanÕs triumphs, roadblocks and heartbreaks. Ryan



I mostly read translated books at the end of 2021. From Norway, there was Scenes from a Childhood by Jon Fosse (Fitzcarraldo), translated by Damion Searls. Selected from across FosseÕs career, these stories (and one novella) are eerie and opaque. With simple diction and obsessive repetitions, SearlsÕs translation conveys FosseÕs gift for quiet menace. And Hanne ¯rstavikÕs novel Love (Archipelago), translated by Martin Aitken, really impressed me. ¯rstavikÕs narrative slips between the minds of a mother and her son, showing how a misunderstanding can pull two people apart, isolating them in the perpetual night of Norwegian winter. Combining the dangers of childhood fantasy with the allure of traveling carnivals, Love is like a nightmare reimagining of JoyceÕs ŌAraby,Ķ with a more frightening conclusion. 


I was mesmerized by DoppelgŠnger (New Directions), a novel by the Croatian writer Daša Drndić, translated by S.D. Curtis and Celia Hawkesworth. Told in two parts that never quite converge, DoppelgŠnger denies us the consolations of a standard narrative. The past is not past, the dead are not dead; everything is connected, but itÕs unclear how or why. There is snow, there are rhinoceroses, there is sadness. Finally, The White Dress by Nathalie LegŽr (Dorothy), translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer: a short meditation on art, memory, violence, and the performance of womanhood.


But I closed the year in English, with a long poem by A.R. Ammons, Tape for the Turn of the Year (W.W. Norton). Ammons typed the whole thing on a roll of adding-machine tape between December 1963 and January 1964, looking out his window and writing what crossed his mind. The result is excellent: funny, yearning, and uniquely American. It made me want to read Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman (Biblioasis), which I now canÕt put down. Lucas



~ Staff Favorites Now in Paperback ~


The Anarchy by William Dalrymple (Bloomsbury)

My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee (Riverhead)

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz (Grove)

Summerwater by Sarah Moss (Picador)

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic OÕDonnell (Tin House)

Educated by Tara Westover (Random House)



~ Signed Editions ~



Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Hades, Argentina by Daniel Loedel (Riverhead)

The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed (Knopf)

What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez (Riverhead)

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Viking)

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles (Viking)

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (Penguin)

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong (Copper Canyon)

On Earth WeÕre Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Penguin)

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Anchor)

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara (Anchor)

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday)



Sweat by Bill Hayes (Bloomsbury)

Luscious, Tender, Juicy by Kathy Hunt (Countryman)

The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman (Penguin Press)

That Sounds So Good by Carla Lalli Music (Clarkson Potter)

Marvelous Manhattan by Reggie Nadelson (Artisan)

The Art of Walking Manhattan Sideways by Betsy Bober Polivy and Gabriella Sanchez (Polivision)

Walking Manhattan Sideways by Betsy Bober Polivy (Polivision)

Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz (Random House)



~ The Three Lives & Company Bestseller List ~ 


1. To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday)

2. The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles (Viking)

3. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Anchor)

4. Intimacies by Katie Kitamura (Riverhead)

5. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Washington Square)

6. When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut, translated by Adrian Nathan West (New York Review Books)

7. The Fran Lebowitz Reader by Fran Lebowitz (Vintage)

8. Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

9. Just Kids by Patti Smith (Ecco)

10. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (Hogarth)