We've always known this to be true, in our hearts, and now we're seeing it and living it every day: Stories bring us together. Books bind us, if you'll pardon the pun.
As we're all living through these strange days of physical distance, we want to share some of the stories (in the many forms they take, not just books!) and people (Algonquin authors!) who are inspiring and delighting us. Plus, the many ways there are for you to connect with them, with us, and with your fellow readers—even in these socially distant times.
Together we are #StoryStrong.
"Reading Has Always Been about Being Together Apart"
The wonderful Julia Alvarez always has a way of helping us understand ourselves and our world a little bit better. In this video, she talks about the importance of reading and stories in our lives, particularly right now. "Stories help us survive the worst of times." The best books, she says, don't provide answers in difficult times. "They help us understand the questions. And they help us feel accompanied."
As it happens, Julia's brand-new novel, Afterlife—her first for adults in almost 15 years—does share a story of "joy and resilience" in the face of challenges and sorrow. "A moving portrait of the lengths people will go to help one another." —Time
Delight and Unite
We've been hearing from so many of you about two books in particular that have been bringing you comfort and inspiration and joy: The Book of Delights by Ross Gay and What Unites Us by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner.
The Book of Delights When author and poet Ross Gay wrote short "essayettes" about the things that delighted him every day for a year, he didn't know it'd be the perfect guide, exercise, and companion in these times.
As he told Bim Adewunmi on NPR's "This American Life," he learned that we have to seek out delight, actively look for it: "Being in a state of trying to train your curiosity, and trying to train this sense of not knowing. Delight and curiosity are really tied up. You have to be OK with not knowing things. You have to be actually invested and happy about not knowing things."
What Unites Us Dan Rather's calm voice has been so reassuring during these uncertain days. His videos and social media posts have been a daily comfort, and these words from the chapter titled "Steady" in What Unites Us keep bubbling to the top of mind, even more applicable to nowadays than when he wrote it not long ago:
"I am worried, but I hear the voice of my father once more: 'Steady, Danny. Steady.' I remind myself and others that we have been through big challenges in the past, that it often seems darkest in the present . . . And regardless of the invariable ups and downs that stretch before us in the future, I hope we can at least vow to try to remain steady. I would like to think that those around me would say that was one lesson I learned well."
Our Authors on Our Times
Heather Lende, author of the upcoming Of Bears and Ballots, has been doing video readings from a previous memoir in her lovely, soothing way. As she said in her first video (above), "I wrote this book, Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs, about a couple of bad Aprils I had. It really helped me get through it, mainly through community and faith, and my family and friends. And I think this might help you, too."
Heidi Pitlor, author of the upcoming novel Impersonation, in her essay for Literary Hub:"Giving shape to time is especially important now, when the future is so shapeless . . . I decided then that every Friday we would celebrate in whatever way we could, at least until we felt safe in the world again. This might only entail take-out Chinese and gorging on Ben and Jerry’s, forgoing the laundry and having a food fight."
Silas House, author of Southernmost, in his essay for The Atlantic: "We have a new way of life now. I suppose this is community too; this not being together is how we help one another. In my neighborhood, one family put a basket of toilet paper at the end of their sidewalk, offering it to anyone who might need it in this time of hoarding."
Here, quick quick quick, you can read The Great Gatsby, Don Quixote, and Jane Eyre in Lisa's drawings above—all in ninety seconds total! This is a treat for readers of every age.
Read. Donate. Buy. Repeat.
We know that our shared bond with you over books also extends to a shared love of—devotion to, need for, loyalty toward—independent bookstores, too. Right now, our dear indie bookshops are experiencing an especially rough time and need our extra love and support. Yes, please keep ordering books from your local store. Or from Bookshop.org.
Please also donate to the SaveIndieBookstores.com, created by the American Booksellers Association. And use the #SaveIndieBookstores to let your friends know how they can help, too.
Our mailing address is: Algonquin Books P.O. Box 2225 Chapel Hill, NC 27515