Books to Read When It Feels Like the World is Ending

alex atkins bookshelf booksThis is a very difficult time for many businesses, especially small businesses. About half of the average small businesses in America can survive about a month with cash reserves and not generating any income. One type of small business that has been severely impacted during the coronavirus pandemic is the neighborhood bookstore. Take, for example, Green Apple Books that is one of the most cherished bookstores, selling used and new books, in San Francisco. Co-owner Pete Mulvihill recently did an interview with SFGate, the sister website of the San Francisco Chronicle, where he discussed the many challenges that the bookstore faces during the shelter-in-place order: “Thanks to a wholesale partner, we can accept orders on our website that are fulfilled by their warehouses. It’s providing some income to keep some staff working, but the margins are awful. What we wish we could do is curbside pickup (like restaurants) so we can sell books we’ve already paid for, get more staff working, etc. On the other hand, we don’t want to risk staff or public health, so I’m a bit at sea.” Asked how he would weather the pandemic, Mulvihill responded, “Honestly, I have no idea. Our landlords want (and are legally entitled to) their rent; we want to keep as many staff paid and insured as long as possible; and we owe publishers our regular monthly payments. One of our [satellite] stores relies heavily on author events, and that concept seems dead in the water for 6 to 18 months… Our ‘normal’ practice of buying used books from individuals walking in seems like it may be a long way off, so we may need to rethink all we do.  We DO have TONS of good books that we think readers want; and we have TONS of goodwill in the community.  We hope some combination of government intervention and community support will get us through this, but right now, we’re just running out of money and aren’t even sure what we should do with money if we got some.”

Responding to the reporter’s question about why books are important now more than ever, Mulvihill said, “[For] so many reasons: accurate information, lessons from history, escape, distraction, community (like those book clubs staying in touch remotely through a shared love of books), education for all those kids (and adults) with no school right now. The list goes on and on.” To that end, Mulvihill and his staff have created several suggested reading lists on their website. One of them is a list of books to read when it feels like the world is ending:

Books for When it Feels Like the World is Ending

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14Th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman

Annihilation: A Novel by Jeff Vandermeer

Black Death at the Golden Gate: the Race to Save America from the Bubonic Plague by David K. Randall

Black Wave by Michelle Tea

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Chaos Walking: The Complete Trilogy by Patrick Ness

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

Doomsday Book: A Novel by Connie Willis

The End of Eternity: A Novel by Isaac Asimov

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Warm Bodies: A Novel by Isaac Marion

During the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, support your local businesses by purchasing locally and helping businesses, like Green Apple Books, weather the storm.

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