As “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day,” for months that the pandemic has made feel like years, it can be difficult to find bright spots, let alone the light at the end of the tunnel. One such bright spot appeared yesterday as I was spending a few masked, socially distant moments at a local independent bookstore.
There, among shelves filled with so many political tell-all books it seemed as if everyone in the world had written one, I found Alone Together, edited by Jennifer Hauput. The book, subtitled Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of Covid-19, is a collection of essays, poems, and interviews that “serves as a lifeline for negotiating how to connect and thrive during a time of isolation.”
The cover and the concept caught my attention, but it was the fact that all proceeds from the book will be donated to the Book Industry Charitable Fund, a nonprofit organization that coordinates charitable programs to strengthen the bookselling community, that convinced me to make the purchase.
In response to the pandemic, Jennifer Haupt rallied 90 authors, as well as her publisher and other business partners, to contribute their work, free of charge, to support independent booksellers during the pandemic. The roster of diverse voices includes Faith Adiele, Kwame Alexander, Jenna Blum, Andre Dubus III, Jamie Ford, Nikki Giovanni, Luis Alberto Urrea, Pam Houston, Jean Kwok, Major Jackson, Caroline Leavitt, Devi S. Laskar, Ada Limón, Dani Shapiro, David Sheff, Garth Stein, Steve Yarbrough, and Lidia Yuknavitch. Read more about all the contributors here.
The overarching theme of the book is how this age of isolation and uncertainty is changing us as individuals and a society and is divided into five sections: What Now?, Grieve, Comfort, Connect, and Don’t Stop!. The print book contains 69 essays, interviews, and poems. The audio and ebook editions have 22 bonus pieces.
Full disclosure: I have not read the book yet (I did just get it, after all), but I really loved the concept of a group of writers getting together to create something that could entertain, connect people, and also give a little boost to booksellers. I’m thinking this will be my go-to book for the foreseeable future, as I replace watching the news before bed with curling up with a good book.
I have a fondness for books written for charitable causes–from Stephen Colbert’s Whose Boat is This Boat? (proceeds support hurricane relief) to the Stories for Homes anthology (proceeds support the housing charity Shelter) that featured a short story by our very own Jilly, I have a number of them on my shelf. Enjoyable in their own right, I tend to think of them as donations that come with a bonus book.
I’m looking forward to reading something that is not a Ngaio Marsh mystery (much as I enjoy them) and to reading some new voices.
Definitely a bright spot.
So, what bright spot have you found lately?