Open for Shipping, Delivery, & Curbside Pickup!

Our physical store is closed, but you can still shop online!

DUE TO THE HIGH VOLUME OF SALES & THE LIMITED NUMBER OF BOOKSELLERS THAT CAN SAFELY BE IN THE STORE WE ARE RUNNING SEVERAL DAYS BEHIND IN PROCESSING ONLINE ORDERS. This is a wonderful problem to have and we are so thankful for your support. Please see the website for more details.
Shelf Stable: June 10th
What is reading, in the last analysis, but an interchange of thought between writer and reader? If the book enters the reader's mind just as it left the writer's -- without any of the additions and modifications inevitably produced by contact with a new body of thought -- it has been read to no purpose. Edith Wharton
The summer is upon us and thus a good time to revisit some of our favorite authors.  My choice is the works of Edith Wharton.  Plucky and determined, Edith Newbold Jones was born in New York on January 24, 1862 to a socially prominent family ("keeping up with the Jones"). She began to write at a young age, although discouraged by her parents. A keen observer of New York Society and of human nature, her prose was often lyrical and at times poetic.  Her satire, too, could be strong, but never vengeful, or unforgiving.

In 1885 she married the hapless Teddy Wharton (from Boston), built her summer residence The Mount in Lenox, MA and in 1911 had the audacity to divorce Teddy and move permanently to France.

Extremely prolific, she wrote in the mornings in bed with her writing desk; always in longhand. When finished with a page, she would toss it onto the floor and a secretary would then type it up for her. 

Her first book, written with Ogden Codman, was the non-fiction  The Decoration of Houses  (1897); next came her first novel,  The Valley of Decision  (1902). In 1905 her brilliant novel,  The House of Mirth, put her on the map and made her famous.  She followed that triumph with  The Fruit of the Tree  (1907);  The Reef  (1912 ); The Custom of the Country  (1913), in which the main character is given the very Whartonian name of Undine Spragg The Mother’s Recompense  (1925) and  The Children  (1928) are two of her important later titles. Her final novel was  The Buccaneers  (1938), which she left unfinished. (T he BBC produced a five-part series of The Buccaneers in 1995, which aired on PBS in the United States. )

Edith Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 for her masterpiece,  The Age of Innocence.   Her short story collections include  Tales of Men and Ghosts  (1910),  Xingu and Other Stories  (1916), and  Roman Fever and Other Stories, considered one of her best .

Nearly all of Wharton’s novels and short story collections are available at Porter Square Books – take a look, read and learn .

Under our present situation the question remains what would Edith do?  Obviously, write.

Glancing backward, Nathan
Join our next virtual event!
Jamie Pacton and Jennifer Dugan, The Life and Medieval Times of Kit Sweetly -- June 24th at 7PM
Join Porter Square Books for a virtual event with Jamie Pacton, author of May staff pick  The Life and Medieval Times of Kit Sweetly , in conversation with Jennifer Dugan, author of  Verona Comics and Hot Dog Girl!

This event is hosted on Crowdcast, and is free and open to all. Register for the event here:

Moxie meets  A Knight’s Tale as Kit Sweetly slays sexism, bad bosses, and bad luck to become a knight at a medieval-themed restaurant.
Antiracism Books
Digital Audio Books:
A terrific way to support local indies!
The Power of Preorders!
Preorders are a great way to support PSB and the authors you love! 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! Simply look for "Available for Preorder" in the inventory status.
Virtual Bookseller
Want book recommendations, personalized just for you?

Fill out our 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!
Super-Sized Staff Pick
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

When showrunner Jo is photographed making her assistant laugh on the red carpet, they are immediately declared a couple by the media. Of course, this couldn't come at a worse time as it threatens Jo's new movie and Emma's upcoming promotion. As they begin to spend more and more time together, the question becomes—what if the rumor wasn't so off base after all? This is a delicious slow-burn of a romance that will keep you turning pages as you yell at them to just kiss already. This is the perfect witty, fun, sexy queer (lesbian/bisexual) romance that we've been waiting for—and it's here just in time for Pride month. Great for fans of Red, White, and Royal Blue. It also includes a timely and incisive look at sexual harassment in the film industry in the #metoo era that adds additional depth. There's more to this novel than romance—there's complicated family dynamics, strong female friendships, careers, and more—but don't worry, there's still kissing. The characters are fierce, smart, and well developed, and their voices leap off the page. 


Audio Book of the Month
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia, narrated by Amir Abdullah

Rick Riordan presents Kwame Mbalia's epic fantasy, a middle grade American Gods set in a richly imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods.

"Tristan Strong is a book about memory & storytelling, a clever reimagining of African & black American mythology, & a fun, fast-paced ride! Boxer Tristan feels he's failed his best friend & let down his family. When he accidentally punches a hole to another world, he'll have to rediscover his strength as he fights alongside legends like John Henry, Brer Rabbit, & Anansi. Tristan's voice is tough, tender, & hilarious; his story will appeal to adventure lovers of all ages."
-- Kate about the hardcover version
Need Some Inspiration?
Radical Reread
It can be a joy to reread an old favorite. It can be a comfort to return to a book you’ve read many times before. In fact, that sense of getting together with an old friend is one of the ways rereading is important. But rereading doesn’t always have to be a blanket and a warm cup of tea. You’re a different person than you were in high school or college. Hell, a whole lot of us are different people from who we were last month or even last week. 

So, in some ways, every time you reread a book it should be different. That doesn’t mean it has to be a confrontational reread, but it certainly can be and that doesn’t mean you have to try to tear down an idol, but you can. We’re all being asked to rethink a lot of what we assumed about our country and our society. One of the great powers of books and literature is you can essentially practice that rethinking in the safe space of the text. You can build up those critical skills with anything being risked. You can work through your own thoughts and emotions in the privacy of your own brain. 

Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you reread an old favorite that might reveal new depth, highlight shortcomings, and give you some new perspectives on the book, the world, and yourself.

  • What is NOT in the story that maybe should be? 
  • What does the writer seem to assume “everyone knows?”
  • How would the story change if the protagonist swapped places with the nemesis? What about if a minor character became the protagonist? 
  • If it’s one of those books with a very famous line or passage, are there different ways to interpret that line or passage than you’re used to? Is there a way to read it so it seems to mean the opposite of what it says? If so, how does that change the rest of the book?
  • Is the book funnier than you remember? Dirtier? If so, why do you think you missed those aspects of the book the first time around?
  • If you mark up your books, is there a note or underlined passage that is absolutely baffling to you now? If so, what does that say about how you've changed since you read it last?

Books are amazingly user friendly. Say you give a radical reread a try and just don't have the emotional energy for it. The book doesn't mind if you switch back to reading for comfort. Or maybe you started trying to hang out with an old friend, but something caught in your mind. The book won't mind if you decide to dig deeper. We're all trying to figure everything out and we're also all trying to keep mind and soul together. As readers, we are fortunate because often the same book can do both.

Shop the store!
Father's Day Gifts

Father's Day approaches! We've come up with a great list of gifts for you to browse from - socks, puzzles, books, joke books, oven mitts - all your favorites from the store! Remember to place your order early in order for us to have it ready for you in time for the holiday itself. Hope your dad or the guardian in your life loves it!
Journals, Stationery & Crafts
Sometimes a new notebook is what it takes to get the juices flowing! Browse our new online selection of journals, diaries, coloring books, and pen sets.
Book Bundle Offerings
Face Masks
Face coverings are going to be with us for a while, so we’re now offering non-medical grade cloth masks (including kid size) from a variety of makers. Right now quantities are limited, but additional styles are on the way. We’ll keep you posted!
New style now available:
Bedtime Stories
A bedtime story and a bit of armchair travel. Here is Jesmyn Ward reading from & discussing Sing, Unburied, Sing at Shakespeare & Company in Paris.
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!
June staff picks are now live! Please note that many of these staff picks were chosen prior to recent events.
Featured Pick for Kids
Somewhere Only We Know by Maureen Goo

This is such a feel-good book that I want everyone to read it. Lucky is the biggest K-pop star, Jack works for the tabloids, they eat amazing food in Hong Kong, and I just don't know what else there is. I am very food motivated and there are lots of good food in this book, amongst a rom-com feel to the plot.

Featured Pick for Adults
Abigail by Magda Szabo, translated by Len Rix

Headstrong, spoiled Gina is suddenly sent from Budapest to a strict boarding school by her doting father, a high-ranking general. Boarding school antics abound, but soon Gina must learn true strength and courage in this coming-of-age story. 

We want to hear from you!
Our Virtual Grown Up Book Fair ( is scheduled for Monday June 15, but with everything going on, we're not sure this is an appropriate event for the times. But with the store still closed it is also one of the few times in the near future our booksellers will be able to interact with your community. So we decided to reach out to you and see what you would like us to do.
Should we:
Cancel/reschedule the event
Go forward as planned (I could use a break from all this)
Go forward but spend some time on racial justice
See you next time here at Shelf Stable!
Did you miss an installment, or want to share with a friend? The Shelf Stable Archive has all our past issues!
And don't forget to subscribe to our Events Newsletter for the full line up of events coming up, and our Kids Newsletter for all the latest on events, new books, reviews, and more for young and young-at-heart readers.
Looking for other ways to keep up with us? Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube:
25 White St. Cambridge, MA 02140