Dear Atlantic Books Today reader, the stories now at your fingertips do indeed deal, conceptually, with “the unexpected.” But no matter how hard smart people think about the unexpected, real life tops it.
Other than my introductory piece on how life and work has changed for book professionals in the time of COVID-19, this entire issue was written before states of emergency were declared across our region.
The work remains the same, but takes on a different meaning.
We must pay proper respect to the weight of world events. I want to acknowledge the enormity of loss in life, the risks essential workers take each day, and the peril of of our economic situation, which will likely worsen before it improves.
I am also compelled to acknowledge that as our economy has slowed and stalled, so has our unsustainable impact on the natural world. That creates a difficult piece of mental gymnastics I won’t dive into too deeply, other than to say, I’m happy to write about books right now.
Books have long held me in awe, with their power to make worlds and shape this one. In a time when our experiences have become so geographically limited, books can safely traverse any land, space or timescape. They won’t answer every question, but they’ll pose better ones, and kick start the emotional journey we heroes need, if we want to live rich lives without leaving big footprints.
Perhaps that is one unexpected lesson from all this: the time to read is always.