While binging basketball movies or Robert Downey Jr. films can be a fun way to spend your quarantined days, it’s hard to beat the timeless enjoyment of reading a good book. The owners of the charming Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor have been increasingly busy as of late, completing an influx of phone orders for curbside pickup, delivery and shipping, but they took a moment to share their top six books to read during quarantine—some new, some old, all penned by East End writers.
Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty and Achieve Peace (April 14, 2020) by Carl Safina
In his recently released tome, Amagansett ecologist Carl Safina shatters the misconception that animals operate purely on instinct, not a sense of culture. His research reveals that sperm whales, scarlet macaws and chimpanzees understand both community and individuality, develop social intelligence and impart cultural norms on their offspring. Canio’s Books co-owner Maryann Calendrille praises the book for its “fascinating stories of particular creatures, brought into focus with the skill of this seasoned scientist and master storyteller.”
Shirley (2015) by Susan Merrell
Source of the eponymous 2020 thriller that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, Sag Harborite Susan Merrell’s Shirley is a novel that follows two imposing literary figures, horror writer or Shirley Jackson and literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman—who have welcomed another couple to move into their unsettling house. With nightly unanswered phone calls, a volatile marriage and tales of a missing female student, something is clearly amiss in the Hyman-Jackson home. “Read it pre-movie release!” Calendrille adds.
Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962) by John Steinbeck
In a 21-page travelogue, Sag Harbor author John Steinbeck chronicles his 1960 road trip around the U.S. with his poodle, Charley. Inspired to rediscover the country he’d written about for so long, he set out to meet interesting characters, experience new sensations and reflect on American character. Calendrille says, “It starts in a Sag Harbor hurricane and travels across the country (virus free!). No reason to feel stuck at home when you can travel with Steinbeck!”
What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life (April 14, 2020) by Mark Doty
Springs poet Mark Doty’s latest work is, to quote Calendrille, a “literary memoir that illuminates Whitman in new ways, interweaving the life of the author in lyrical exact prose.” Doty looks inward as he reflects on themes found in the great American writer’s library of work—transformation, enlightenment, queer sexuality and an obsession with death—revealing the unwavering power of Whitman’s writings.
Mourning Songs: Poems of Sorrow and Beauty (2019) by Grace Schulman
In Mourning Songs, Springs poet Grace Schulman has curated poignant poems by Elizabeth Bishop, William Carlos Williams, Gwendolyn Brooks, Pablo Neruda, Catullus, Dylan Thomas, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and other greats to ease the heart of the bereaved. “It touches on the many facets of grief with the transformative power of poetry,” Calendrille notes.
Zone One (2011) by Colson Whitehead
In Zone One, East Hamptonite Colson Whitehead, a New York Times bestselling author, re-envisions New York City as a sci-fi, post-plague, zombie-filled wasteland that has sorted humanity into categories—the uninfected living and the infected living dead. The book unfolds as Mark Spitz spends three days removing stragglers from Zone One, overcoming the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder and coming to terms with a fallen world.
Call Canio’s Books at 631-725-4926 (Thursday–Tuesday, noon–5 p.m.) to order one of these exceptional East End titles or hundreds of other tomes, or email [email protected] to make a book request. Shipping, Sag Harbor delivery and pickup are offered free of charge. Games, puzzles, notebooks, teas, soaps and shirts are also available.