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 5th
“We can never be gods, after all--but we can become something less than human with frightening ease.” ― N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Hello Readers,

There is a deluge of new information that changes daily regarding COVID-19 and public protests in defense of black lives: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor (today would have been her 27th birthday), Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, and many more. It feels disingenuous to write anything without mentioning these awful realities first.

I've written and re-written this opening letter ten times over, and I keep arriving at the same question: how do you take care of your mental health in a racist world? You can be an ally and donate, sign petitions, protest, call your legislators for police reform, call on your community to support black lives, while also taking a step back to recoup your energy to come back stronger and continue to help. Through learned experiences, I've realized that overextending myself doesn't help anyone, least of all, me.

On the days that I'm working on processing orders to get your lovely books and packages to you as fast as possible, I have to mentally clear my head and get to work. That's how I've been learning to divide my emotional space and time in my personal life. There are hours, days, maybe even weeks that I have to step away from the news and social media so that I don't completely fall apart. This is my privilege, absolutely it is my privilege, to live a life where I can turn off the news, throw myself into books, and go on a hike without my life being in danger every second. But it is clear to me that the best way to help and the only way that I can effectively help is if I'm strong enough mentally, physically, and emotionally.

What works for me is a good YA (young adult) book, tea, writing, and nature. If you have a hard time figuring out what works for you, here is a list of self-care books written by black women that might help:

Yours in books,

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
Dottir Press Offers Free PDF Downloads for Kids' Anti-Racism Books
Through June 19th, Dottir Press is offering free PDF editions of two of their anti-racism books: Not My Idea by Anastasia Higginbotham and IntersectionAllies by Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi. To access those free downloads, click here:
If you'd like hard copies, you can order them through us (please note that Not My Idea is currently backordered):
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!
April's Comfort Food
I don’t know about all of you, but I have a feeling I’m not the only one feeling unfocused and uninspired this week. I feel like I should be constantly refreshing the news and checking Twitter and reposting fundraisers, petitions, and bail funds (and I’m doing all of those things as much as I can). But that doesn’t leave a lot of energy for cooking or reading or anything else. As a result, this week I’ve been turning to recipes that are easy, comforting, and satisfying.

I made the No-Knead Bread from Half Baked Harvest Super Simple today for a satisfying but low-effort project, and tonight I’m going to pair it with the homemade Spaghetti-Os from the same cookbook, which come together in less than half an hour but will be warm and comforting.

Last night, I made the “Better-than-Boxed-Mix” brownies from Michelle Lopez’s Weeknight Baking and I can confirm—they take about 5 minutes more work than actual boxed-mix brownies but with an even better taste. (And you probably already have the ingredients!) If this level of effort seems like too much over the weekend, I’ll be reaching for the box of Ghirardelli boxed-mix brownies that have been sitting in my cupboard, and the boxes of Annie’s mac and cheese I have hidden away.

If that’s where you’re at this week, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember to eat (three meals if you can!) and try to make something that feels like a warm hug this weekend or that will give you a sense of accomplishment. Putting in 20 minutes of effort today and coming out with a loaf of bread gave me a little boost, and I hope you can find something to give yourself a boost too.

-- April
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?
Once upon a time, you may have received an illustration from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg in a class, the teacher asking you to write the story to go with the illustration you received. Images are powerful, with stories growing from them as you ask questions about the subject, setting, and sequence of events.

With so many museums putting curated exhibits online, it's easy to find an intriguing image for such an exercise:
"Art in Place" from the Eric Carle Museum (great for all ages)
From the Society of Illustrators, there's " Pirates, Petticoats, and Puffed Sleeves*."
Art Up Close (images you can zoom into)
You can also use a postcard!

Once you've selected your image, start asking questions.
What characters do you see? (Remember, they might be inanimate.)
What mood does this evoke?
Where is this set?
What is happening?
Who is narrating?
How would I describe this in words?

Rather than forcing a story, write from the question, letting the words flow. Don't be concerned about what you're writing so much as continuing to keep your hand(s) moving, whether with a writing utensil or over the keyboard. It may help to set a timer for 5 minutes, free-writing until it sounds. Lastly, if the idea of reading what you've written scares you, try burying it in a drawer or on your harddrive for a few weeks, waiting to read it with fresh eyes.

*There isn't an illustration of Anne Shirley in this collection, but I promise you she'd swoon over some of these sleeves.

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
Not quite a bedtime story, but invaluable: Ibram X. Kendi's TED talk on How to be an Antiracist!
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
Out Now edited by Sandra Mitchell

This fabulous(ly queer!) follow-up to Mitchell's lauded All Out anthology is sure to delight and inspire.

Featured Pick for Adults
I Left the House Today by Cassandra Calin

Hilarious and so real, Calin's comics are perfect to read while curled up in sweats (yours or stolen from a significant other) and eating a bag of chips-- preferably ones that leave your hand orange.
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