“Stories have given me a place in which to lose myself. They have allowed me to remember. They have allowed me to forget. They have allowed me to imagine different endings and better possible worlds.” – Roxane Gay
I don’t know about you, but it feels to me like time’s been thrown completely out of joint. I no longer know what hour or day it is; all of my normal routines are held in abeyance. Yet somehow, bafflingly, the earth is still in orbit and April has arrived. Green buds have appeared on the trees outside my window, Steller’s jays are stopping off for birdseed on their return flight to the mountains’ peaks, the creeks are high with snowmelt.
I’ve been trying to get outside at least once a day to try to stave off the self-isolation doldrums. Just feeling the sun for a few minutes is a huge mood-booster. But I know many of us are dreaming of doing more than just walking around the block. With travel suspended for the foreseeable future, I’ve turned to some of my favorite adventure & nature writing books for escape and inspiration.
I hope spring brings you peace, health, and vitamin D!
Yours in books,
Events We Missed
Revamp: A Memoir of Travel and Obsessive Renovation: Nonfiction
If only we had been able to host Pamela before the shelter-in-place, we would have all had plenty of home improvement projects to work on.
"A wisdom-filled memoir that doubles as a sweeping travelogue reaching from Boston to Sardinia and back again. Gorgeously written and culturally astute." -The Boston Globe
When a big-city journalist quits her dream job to move to a remote Italian island for love, she discovers a whole new life beyond the romantic fantasies of Italy spun by books and movies. Struggling to adapt to a different culture, she buys a quirky house in the Sardinian countryside, goes to art school and becomes obsessed with home improvement and renovation. Ultimately, her ex-pat adventure opens her world to making and embracing art in life and home, understanding, ultimately that home is where the "art" is.
Pamela Reynolds is an award-winning writer and artist who has written for numerous lifestyle magazines and blogs. Formerly a writer and editor at The Boston Globe, she currently writes on the visual arts for WBUR, an NPR affiliate in Boston. She has added Washington D.C. to her list of “hometowns.”
Wanda Coleman, a poet laureate of anger and honesty, lived resistance and shouted rebellion, has always been the poet America needed, though sometimes it seemed like she was the only one who knew that. With this new book of poems selected and introduced by Terrance Hayes, perhaps America will finally know it too. --Josh
For all the latest on events, new books, reviews, and more for young and young-at-heart readers.
Looking to get some good book recommendations, personalized just for you? Check out our Virtual Bookseller! Just fill out the form with your likes and dislikes, genres and favorites, and we'll crowdsource a bunch of great picks for you with our crack team of real life booksellers. Give it a whirl!
Preorders are a great way to support PSB while we're not able to actually be at the store for two reasons:
They bring in income now while the store is closed.
We can deal with them later!
You can see all of the books from the future we're excited about here.But you can preorder more than just what we're excited for. Any book with an inventory status (who knew you'd have to get to know our online inventory statuses so well) of "Coming Soon--Available for Pre-Order Now" or "On the Horizon--Available for Pre-Order Now," is, uh, available for preorder now.
Miss one of our bedtime stories? Or one of the tours of our libraries in the epic YouTube series PSB: Cribs? Good news! We've made playlists on YouTube so you can catch up on all of them.
Are you missing out on our recommendations, pining for our Staff Pick display?? Our April crop of staff picks is now live on our website! We'll feature titles throughout the month, but you can browse the full list at the link below. As ever, all staff picks are 20% off - so go crazy!
Book clubs are a great way to use books and literature to build community, socialize with friends, family, and coworkers, structure your wine drinking, and, in general grow as a person and a reader. With all the available resources for online meetings, they're also really easy to move or even start online. So if you have a book club, don't give it up just because you're staying at home. And if you don't, now might be a good time to start, as a way to make sure you still some of the people important to you.
Check out Josh's video for some perspectives, questions, and tips, to help deepen your reading and enrich the conversations you have in your book club.
A few of the highlights.
Get a reading notebook. (Or anything that lets you write down your thoughts in one place.)
Look for details like colors, landscapes, and places that repeat throughout the book
Ask the questions, Who is the narrator? and Why are they telling this story?
Trust yourself. If you think you notice something, you noticed it.
You are a better reader than you think you are.
Josh Reads from The Dreamed Part
Last night's bedtime story took place in Josh's world famous solarium. It's a short passage from a strange and brilliant book called The Dreamed Part by Rodrigo Fresan. Sweet dreams. Don't forget to tune into our LIVE nightly Bedtime Story, 8:45pm on Instagram!
Support Cafe Zing baristas!
Although Cafe Zing is its own business separate from ours, we really don't see it that way: Zing workers are part of the Porter Square Books family. They keep us well supplied - very well supplied - with caffeine, kindness, and some great tunes. Sometimes they give us staff picks; sometimes we give them exact change because we've bought the same, perfect, comforting, delicious beverage twice a day five days a week for how long, now?
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, & You by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
Jason Reynold's "Stamped Jr" is a great resource for kids and adults who want to talk to kids about the systemic racism rooted in our country's history. Reynolds weaves together historical moments (some that students may have studied in other contexts, others totally new) in a way that connects them to a larger picture and to today. His playful asides make it feel far from textbook reading; perfect for at-home study. Highly recommend the audiobook from Libro.fm - you'll really feel like you're hanging out with Jason Reynolds in your living room! --Leila
For some reason, we've been thinking about the apocalypse lately, (insert joke about moving dystopian fiction into current affairs) which, of course, got us thinking about the Apocalypse Team game. The rules are simple and presented here in their bookish version. Build a team with three realistically human or animal characters from literature. So no picking characters with magic or super powers or anything like that. Once everyone in your group has assembled their team, each person makes the argument for why their team will survive the longest. Debate until a winner is chosen or you get sick of debating. Rinse and repeat with whatever other rules you want to add.
Send us your Literary Apocalypse Team and your argument for why you'll survive. We'll pick a favorite and share the winner in next Thursday's shelf. The winner will get a stack o' galleys sent to them via media mail!
Audio Book Of The Month
Deacon King Kong by James McBride
“Deacon King Kong is a quintessential New York story. Set in the Brooklyn projects in 1969, a perpetually inebriated deacon called Sportcoat aims a gun at the neighborhood’s main drug dealer in the public plaza and pulls the trigger. Incredibly well-constructed and hilarious at times, McBride’s story entwines a number of storylines that are kickstarted by this central event. The local Italian gangster, the veteran cop, the meddling churchgoers, and the drug pushers all have their own agendas, hopes, and dreams that are affected. And though Sportcoat doesn’t remember his actions and is always under the influence of gut-rot moonshine, I couldn’t help but root for him as I was reading this. His delightful ineptitude and absence of clarity made this book impossible for me to put down. If you’ve never read McBride before, this is a great introduction.”