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 A DAY OR MORE 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 3rd
"It's okay to love something bigger than yourself without fearing it. Anything worth loving is bigger than we are anyway." Percival Everett
You know that author you’ve heard of, who you just know you would be a huge fan of, but you never quite get around to reading them. Percival Everett is that author for me. His apparent wild experimentation, his apparent playfulness, his apparent ability to bend the borders between genres like spoons. Even after I read and loved So Much Blue, an art novel that is also a crime novel, I didn’t end up going through more of his catalog. There are just so many other books to read. But when this interview came out talking about how his new novel Telephone has three different endings (among other differences between the editions) and I had a galley, I just had to read it.

Even though I’ve only read one version, I think I’ve wrapped my mind around the three different endings, and what Everett is saying about storytelling with them. My ending was very much ambiguous, with one of the main plotlines being left aggressively unresolved. Which got me thinking. If there are three endings and mine was unresolved then there are essentially two possible sets of three endings; a set of three unresolved endings and a set with one unresolved ending, one happy ending, and one sad ending. When I was in the store next, I checked the copies of the book we have to see if I was right and, luckily, the store had a different edition than the one I read.

And it had a happy ending. (Well, “happy” in the context of the plot.) And so in a very simple, but at the same time very complex action, Everett articulated a fundamental principle of storytelling. You can either resolve the plot, or not, and if you resolve the plot you can give your readers the material to feel “happy” about that ending or “sad” about that ending. By fundamentally ignoring the principles of storytelling, Everett illuminated the principles of storytelling. And I also saw, immediately, why he chose to reveal the three different endings, because the “sad” ending is almost certainly going to be absolutely devastating. With nerves already frayed and a massive power structure gaslighting the entire nation, it would have been irresponsible to leave those who read the “sad” ending to endure it alone.

But I think Telephone does something else too. It questions the very nature of “endings” and “conclusions.” How can a story be “over” when there are different words on the last pages? And if a book is the really the interaction between the reader and the text, is it ever really over? And what about all those things in life that aren’t contained by front and back covers? The stories that get passed from person to person? Generation to generation? Book to book? If a bound book is never really “over” what is?

-- Josh
This Saturday: Join our next virtual event!
An Antiracist Reading List
Hello Bibliophiles,
I wanted to take a moment to expand on Leila’s last Shelf Stable  post about George Floyd. These murders keep happening. Whatever we’re doing to work towards wokeness as white people isn’t enough. It’s time we turn inward, start fixing from our insides out, and listen to – not just hear – what our BIPOC community is saying. We (the PSB staff) hope that this list of titles will be a good jumping off point for those who don’t know where to start. The list ranges the gamut from books that will teach you to notice your own white supremacy, to poetry, culture, and reflections on the black experience from black writers. This list is by no means a comprehensive list, and many other fantastic indie bookstores across the country have been compiling similar lists, so please check everyone out. We’d especially like to highlight  Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury . While we hope we can help with this, these are the people who can truly put the right book in your hand on this topic. -- Stacey
P.S. A lot of these books have gone out of stock over the weekend and might be out of stock for a while. If there’s something you’re interested in that isn’t available, we recommend checking  for the digital audio version. Downloadable audio doesn’t go out of stock. A book list isn’t going to change the world, but we are a bookstore and books and books lists are what we do. We are continuing to explore more ways to help, some you might see and some you might not, but we also hope you see this list as a starting point. Thank you. -- Josh 

P.P.S. As Josh says, expect delays on some of these titles and definitely check out audiobooks for the speediest way to engage with this material; I'd also suggest that you fill your carts with books by Black writers that maybe aren't explicitly about asking white people to engage with our country's foundational racism - remember that even fiction can give you insight into other perspectives. My opinion? A delay on these titles is not necessarily a bad thing. Trust me, you are still going to need to engage with this material in 2 weeks - maybe even more so then. Order your book and spend the wait time channeling that energy into donating, researching local organizations and offering support, staying engaged with news and calling local and state representatives. When your book arrives down the line? There's your second wind right there, your reminder to keep pushing forward to do this work, even if headlines have changed. This is not a struggle that is going away without us doing something about it. -- Leila
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!
Cookbooks: Spotlight on Black Voices
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?
Hey. You doing okay? Sorry, dumb question, no one's doing okay right now. There is a lot of work to be done and a lot of changes to be made. 

But we're here for a marathon, not a sprint, and if you're going to make it to the finish line, you need to take a break. Today that's what I'm suggesting to help inspire you. Take a break. Breathe. Let yourself close Twitter for a little while. Turn off the news. Once you're refreshed, you'll be ready to keep fighting. 

Here are some cute animal live streams to help you relax.





Take care of yourself, okay? You're doing great. -- Shana
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
Shana reads from The Deep by Rivers Solomon - if this start gets you hooked, the audiobook is wonderful, read by Daveed Diggs!
Shana's got a bedtime story planned for the usual 8:45 time on Instagram Live tonight!
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 current events.
Featured Pick for Kids
Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene 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. -- Sinny
Featured Pick for Adults
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Funny, sharp, and incredibly diverting. Pick this one up if you enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere.
-- Rebecca (co-loved by many on staff!)

We want to hear from you!
What's the most important face mask attribute to you?
Ones that have the part that go up on the nose
Ones with wires on the nose
Ear loops
Ones that tie around the back of your head
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