Open for Shipped Orders!
Our physical store is closed, but you can still get many books shipped to you directly from our warehouse. Here's how:  
1. Only order titles with an inventory status of "Available at the Warehouse" 
2. Select the " UPS/USPS Ground Shipping" option
3. Pay with a credit card

We are happy to fulfill other orders, but will not be able to process them until at least May 4. Other options: try  or - keep it indie!
Shelf Stable: April 23
“If it's darkness
we're having, let it be extravagant.”
Jane Kenyon
I have had, since I was young, a fascination with the storytelling tradition of Thousand and One Arabian Nights.

Part of this stems from my very name: Leila. It’s derived from the Arabic word for night , but the beauty of the Arabic language is that there is meaning in the shape of words themselves, and the way the letters reform themselves into my name renders it an adjective. Night-like, some might translate it. A woman like the night. As a professor of mine once said—night-ish. “1001 Arabian Nights” in Arabic is “alf leila w leila.” A thousand nights, plus one. (All nights in Arabic are, by default, Arabian.)

Beyond the allure of the prominence of my name in the title – and let’s just recall that this was a big deal for a kid whose name was never on those gift-rack tourist key chains – I loved Scheherazade’s bravery. The glimpses into a world far away from my own in both time, space and imagination had me rapt. The stories themselves—bawdy, magical, full of morals or anti-morals that felt just out of my grasp, populated by princesses and thieves and djinn and powerful artifacts—they felt like glittering jewels to rival Ali Baba’s hoard. Some are grotesque, violent, misogynistic in the telling, like many, if not all fairy tales. For a teenager? Heady stuff.

But the real allure, I think, is the frame. Not just the trope of the brilliant, brave storyteller, determined to save the girls of her kingdom, nor that of the wounded king, just looking for the right touch to heal. It’s the unraveling, the knowledge that after this one comes another, and another, and another. And that each of these stories is one thread in a narrative that shows you different, swirling images if you press your face close to see all the detail, or pull yourself back to see the entire pattern on the loom.

I feel a little like Scheherazade myself right now. Together, we put together this newsletter for you almost every night; these words come from all of us and many of our hands touch this newsletter, but I almost always give it a final read before we send it on its way. We’re telling a new story each night, and hoping, each night, that we’re getting closer to the time when we won’t need to weave the perfect tale to feel, for a moment, like we’re together again. We’re telling tales to pass the time until we reach the moment where we can just be together, again.

I would tell a thousand more stories over a thousand more nights, for you all--for my own sake, too. But I hope it will be many fewer until you can pick your own stories from our shelves.

Yours, Leila @ PSB
Tomorrow night: Join our virtual event!
Into the Multi-Read-Verse
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been extremely distractible recently. My focus is shot—I can make it ten minutes, maybe, before I’m pulled in one direction or another. Gone are the days where I could pick up a book and lose myself in it for hours, resurfacing only for a snack break or when I’d reached the final page. 

If you feel anything like me, you might be worrying about how to regain your reading mojo, to which I say A) don’t worry about it—it’s such a small worry to have in these trying times, but also B) embrace your inner multi-reader. If you’ve never read more than one book at a time, today is the day to give it a go. Switching focus between books is perfect for days when you want to be reading but can’t bring yourself to commit. I myself have ten (yes, ten!) books on my nightstand at this very moment. (That’s not a typo or a staged photo, it’s literally what was next to me when I started writing this note.)

What are you reading these days? What are you drawn to? --Rebecca
Need some inspiration?
Why is it always the hardest to write when you actually have time?

I'm stuck at home, all plans canceled or moved remote. Yes, I have nigh-infinite access to streaming, but I stare at all the options and sigh because somehow none of them seem interesting. I keep finishing knitting projects and then having to find something new. I've even resorted to doing the dishes. Why can't I write?

The answer is actually pretty easy. It's really HARD right now. The world has changed. We're stressed out. It's hard enough to focus on getting out of bed, let alone stringing words together. And that's fine. Right here and now, I'm giving you complete permission to stop feeling guilty about not getting anything done. If the most creative energy you can muster is in figuring out whether the hole that's developed in your pajamas counts as "stylishly ripped," that's okay. Right now the most important thing is to take care of ourselves, and that means being kind to yourself. If even the idea of trying to write is too much to bear, skip the rest of this piece. Listen to your body. You're doing great.

But for me, and maybe for some of the rest of you, I know I feel better when I manage to push through and write. That creativity lights me on fire (metaphorically, don't worry!) and lets me be more engaged and energetic in all areas of my life.

Maybe you need a little encouragement. What I've been doing is giving myself a goal: 100 words a day.

It's not much. I'm already at twice that here. But it's better than 0 words, and it gets me started. Sometimes I struggle through to the hundredth word and then give up. Sometimes I make it in seconds and keep writing. Either way, I've written. I feel better for the rest of the day. I'm still stuck at home, but I'm happy.

Maybe 100 is still too intimidating. That's okay. See if you can do 50. Ten. One word. One letter. Every story is written one letter at a time, when you break it down far enough. Do it on your laptop between Netflix shows or on your phone while you're lying in bed or even in a notebook with an actual pen. Write an ongoing story, write about your feelings, just write "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" until you fill the page. It's all good. It's writing, and once you crack through your writer's block, the creative juice will start flowing.

If you don't believe in yourself, I'll believe in you for you. You can do it. -- Shana
Bedtime Stories
Last night Shana read from a favorite of theirs, Seanan McGuire's Middlegame !
And of course, don't forget to meet us over at our Instagram story at 8:45pm for tonight's live bedtime reading!
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?

They're our family, and they could use a hand. If you are able, please considering donating to the Cafe Zing GoFundMe; 100% of proceeds go to baristas. What might you have spent at Zing over the past weeks if it we were in normal times? If that $10 is still in your wallet, consider putting it in their tip jar. We love you, Zing!
Featured Staff Pick For Kids
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds with 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 - you'll really feel like you're hanging out with Jason Reynolds in your living room! -- Leila
We Want to Hear from You!
When do you find yourself reading these days, when your time might be more unstructured??
Before bedtime, to unwind
With breakfast in the morning to start the day!
I take breaks from work or other commitments to read for a bit.
As soon as I'm done with my responsibilities for the day!
I... are we not supposed to be reading all day in quarantine???
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.”
--Stuart McCommon, Novel.
See you next time here at Shelf Stable!
We'll get out our next issue as soon as we can. In the meantime, don't forget about all the other places you can catch up with us from afar, on
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