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During the Pandemic, #BooksAreEssential


Who says books are not essential? Where would we be without them during the pandemic? In the fallout of all but “essential” businesses being shutdown or closed to the public, books were deemed “nonessential.” So. Not. True. Along with the shows and movies we binge-watch, books are helping us keep our sanity. They are a lifeline as we continue to shelter in place. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Not to mention, we cannot forget all the bookstores working hard to make sure we get the books we order delivered to our homes or ready to collect at curb-side pickups. The COVID-19 pandemic may have curbed our contact with the outside world, but it won’t curb the importance of reading.

We want to thank Publishers Weekly for starting their #BooksAreEssential campaign to drive this point home. Hopefully, as businesses start to reopen, bookstores will be ranked as the essential businesses they have always been. Some of our staff members took part in the campaign. Here’s what they had to say. Yes, we’re obviously biased.


Helene Atwan reading Yes to Life

“Today, more than ever, we need great books to console and inspire us. There’s a good reason that Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning has sold sixteen million copies, and why 65,000 Americans have turned to it since the pandemic began. We’re so lucky to have Yes to Life, this newly discovered work, out right now.”
—Helene Atwan, director


Marcy Barnes reading Yes to Life

“[H]uman beings are able to give meaning to their existence, firstly, by doing something, by acting, by creating—by bringing a work into being; secondly, by experiencing something—nature, art—or loving people; and thirdly, human beings are able to find meaning even where finding value in life is not possible for them in either the first or the second way—namely, precisely when they take a stance toward the unalterable, fated, inevitable, and unavoidable limitation of their possibilities: how they adapt to this limitation, react toward it, how they accept this fate . . .”
Marcy Barnes reading an excerpt from Viktor E Frankl’s Yes to Life

Marcy Barnes reading Wow, No Thank You

“The timing of this book coming out at the moment we all began to quarantine is almost a divine level of intervention. She makes me laugh harder and longer—and shed a few tears too—more than any other writer. Yes, thank you, Sam Irby.”
—Marcy Barnes, production director


Nicole-Anne Keyton reading The Way to the Sea

“Since early childhood, I’ve always considered books essential. Books have made me smarter, more inquisitive, and more open-minded to other perspectives and worlds outside my own lived experience. Without them, I would not be the constantly curious and verbosely inquiring person I am today. My quarantine read right now is schooling me on the history of a river that I’m also currently writing about in my own fiction, and every time I crack open this book, I’m transported to another era and another land entirely that I find fascinating. Thank you, Caroline Crampton and Granta Books!”
—Nicole-Anne Keyton, editorial assistant


Cliff Manko reading Man's Search for Meaning

“We learn from those who persevered through hard times.”
—Cliff Manko, chief financial officer


Gayatri Patnaik’s son Matthew reading The Reptile Room

Publishers Weekly launched their #BooksAreEssential campaign. So grab a book and post!”
—Gayatri Patnaik, associate director and editorial director