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Shelf Stable: April 27
“A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.” Areopagitica , John Milton
Hello friends,
There is no right way to do this. There is no to-do list that you absolutely have to get done now that you have more time (do you have more time?! I don't feel like I do), no books you have no excuse not to read or shows you can't possibly put off watching any longer. Whatever you are doing to get through shelter-in-place, that is absolutely enough.
All of which is to say, I don't feel like I have any more time than I used to, but I am determinedly wading through my mysteriously ever-growing to-be-read pile, because immersing myself in stories is one of the ways I'm getting through this. My to-be-read pile is not a pile, exactly, but rather the bottom two shelves of one of my bookcases. At this point I've gone through enough of it that it's not even double- or triple-stacked anymore! There have been a few that I discarded partway through, because there are too many great books in the world for me to spend more time than I have to on the ones that don't grab me, but there have been a lot more that I've read to completion and enjoyed thoroughly.
So far, in the last month-and-a-bit, I have read:
+ a story about a young queer bard contending with challenges like his complicated feelings about his terrible mentor, a fantasy version of the Dutch tulip craze, and another narrator arguing with him in the footnotes ( A Choir of Lies by Alexandra Rowland)
+ many cool facts about how language has changed and evolved in new and fascinating ways online ( Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch)
+ a beautiful and often queer collection of fairytale retellings ( Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue)
+ the harrowing and bizarre tale of a biologist and her team exploring a truly surreal landscape -- and if you enjoyed the film, this book will still surprise you ( Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer)
+ a delightful throwback to my childhood in the new graphic novel adventures of Karen Brewer, Kristy the baby-sitter's little sister, who in this story needs to save her neighborhood from the scary witch next door ( Karen's Witch by Katy Farina, adapted from Ann M Martin)
I hope that, however you're getting through this, however many books in your own to be read pile you've tackled, you're also discovering new stories, and enjoying them without any pressure, external or internal. We've got this.
Yours in books,
Ari @ PSB
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Old Hollywood: From Page to Screen
Olivia de Havilland
Despite the world at war, the 1940’s in Hollywood were an extremely productive time:  hundreds of feature films were made, including many in the Film Noir genre.  Film Noir is described as stylish, black and white crime dramas often with a hardboiled detective and a femme fatale as main characters.  Some books adapted into Film Noir include: Dashiell Hammett’s  The Maltese Falcon (1941) and  The Glass Key  (1942); Graham Greene’s  This Gun for Hire  (1942);  Murder My Sweet (1944) and  The Big Sleep  (1946) novels by Raymond Chandler.  Scarlett Street  (1945) based on  La Chienne  by Georges de La Fouchardiere and directed by Fritz Lang. 

Author James M. Cain’s novels were the source of three popular Film Noirs:  Double Indemnity (1944),  The Postman Always Rings Twice , (1946) and  Mildred Pierce  (1945) with Oscar-winner Joan Crawford.

There was also an abundance of literary adaptations in the 1940’s including:  Alfred Hitchcock’s  Rebecca  (1940) story by Daphne du Maurier;  The Letter  (1940), based on the play by W. Somerset Maugham and starring Bette Davis; Jane Austen’s 1813 novel,  Pride and Prejudice  (1940) with Greer Garson.  How Green Was My Valley  (1941) book by Richard Llewellyn – winner of the Oscar for Best Picture;  Mrs. Miniver  (1942) based on the novel by Jan Struther.

Technicolor came into its own in the 1940’s with such films as: the swashbuckler  The Black Swan (1942) by Rafael Sabatini starring Tyrone Power; Enid Bagnold’s  National Velvet  (1944) with a young Elizabeth Taylor; the beloved musical,  Meet Me In St. Louis  (1944) starring Judy Garland and based on a series of short stories by Sally Benson and Louisa May Alcott’s enduring classic,  Little Women  (1949).

Interesting trivia:  Two of the most celebrated films of the 1940’s –  Casablanca  with a star turn by Humphrey Bogart and Orson Welles’s  Citizen Kane  were not adapted from novels or short stories, but were original screenplays.
The performance of Dame Olivia de Havilland, (about to turn 104 in July), in 1949’s  The Heiress  is considered by many as the finest film acting ever; she deservedly won her second Oscar.  Based on the graceful 1880 novel,  Washington Square , by Henry James, this film adaptation underscores how books can brilliantly be turned into films.   Interesting trivia: Henry James is buried in Cambridge, MA in the James family plot. 

Some sites to check out:

~ Nathan @ PSB

Nathan's next up:  Authors in Tinseltown
Need some inspiration?
Recently, I've been cooking more homecooked meals than ever before. Recipes that I never had time to make are all of sudden making their way into my kitchen. Kare raisu which directly translates to curry rice in Japanese is a staple in my home. You can make the curry from scratch, but I use the roux curry packages because they are so good. Although I make kare raisu often, I rarely ever make tonkatsu (pork cutlet) because previously, I worked three jobs and attended college full time (I'm a graduate now yay). Who has the time to make tonkatsu??? It turns out, thanks to the quarantine, we all (okay not all of us, but some of us) have the time to make tonkatsu.

Tonkatsu curry (pork cutlet Japanese curry) recipe!
I just follow the instructions on the roux box, I get the Vermont curry (hot) brand, but they're all very similar. The ingredients on the Vermont curry package is:
  • 1 box House Vermont Curry Sauce Mix
  • 1.1lb Meat (of your choice or you can omit the meat for a vegetarian curry)
  • 4 Onions (I actually just use one big yellow or sweet onion)
  • 3 Potatoes (I use Korean sweet potatoes but russet potatoes go well with this)
  • 1 Carrot
  • 2tbsp Oil
  • 6 Cups of water (or 5 1/2 cups of water if cooking in a covered pot)
  • Cut the meat and vegetables into bite-size pieces, pre-heat oil in pot, and cook well (about 8 mins)
  • Add water and bring to boil, simmer over low to medium heat until ingredients become soft (about 15 mins)
  • Remove from heat, break curry sauce into pot and blend
  • Cook over low heat until curry thickens (about 10 mins), serve over rice

Fun note: "Vermont Curry is the number-one selling brand of Japanese curry roux. It was first introduced in 1963 in Japan...The origin of "Vermont" in Vermont Curry dates back to a book entitled "Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor's Guide to Good Health." The book sparked a health fad that included drinking a mixture of apple cider vinegar and honey. This eventually found its way to Japan, sparking a health fad there that came to be known as the " Vermont Health System ."

 For the tonkatsu part of the meal, I used this recipe  and it turned out successfully! The best place to purchase all ingredients in these recipes is HMart in Cambridge (or Burlington). HMart offers delivery through Instacart and they have online ordering available as well. Or Ebisuya Market in Medford, MA - local Japanese market that is very quiet and easy to shop at right now. If you end up making Tonkatsu Curry, please let me know how your dish turns out! Good luck cooking!

- Sinny
Bedtime Stories
We had this one here last night, but Meaghan is just so great at these. Here she is again reading from Coraline if you didn't finish watching last night.
And of course, don't forget to meet us over at our Instagram story at 8:45pm for tonight's live bedtime reading!
PS - Kate's sorry she wasn't able to do story time with you all last night, so here's her bedtime story in spirit as well as some recommended 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
Brown Girl Ghosted by Mintie Das

Violet Choudbury sees dead people, and in particular the recently murdered queen bee of her cheerleading squad. For one of a handful of brown girls in a small Illinois town, who wants only to blend in, this is not working well. I thoroughly enjoyed this original, fun, and fast-paced story.

-- Robin
Polling place
How do you read fiction?
From the beginning until the end. Like a normal person.
Start at the beginning, then check the end, then double back to the middle.
Random. It's chaos. Just like me.
I read all books in one sitting. That's the important bit.
I mostly listen to books, so as the speaker reads it.
I listen to all my books at 2x speed.
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!
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