"There is creative reading as well as creative writing. When the mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous."
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
I was one of the people who was, until this week, driving around bringing books to our local customers in Cambridge and Somerville. On Tuesday I was at the store at 8 AM, packing crates of books into my tiny car and loading up google maps. I was happy to do this, even though as an evening shift person, I'm rarely up that early. I understand as well as the rest of our libromancers that providing the community with books is an essential service. When we can't leave the house physically, at least we can go on adventures through reading. We can't go to school, but there are non-fiction books out there on every topic imaginable. We can't touch anyone without risking infection, but there are romance novels out there with… well, you get the picture.
So this was a job I was happy to do. I drove from house to house, dropping books in the mailbox or on the porch, and shooting off texts to customers to let them know the books were there. We have very good customers. I almost always got a thank you, and if text well wishes were as effective as soap in destroying the virus, I would be able to last a long time on all the "be safe" and "stay healthy" messages I got.
And then there were the messages of appreciation. I know Porter Square Books is well loved in the community, but I haven't seen it demonstrated this frequently or with this many exclamation points until now. Here are a few highlights:
"BTW, you guys are ROCKING IT."
"Appreciate all the work you've all been doing during this time—you guys are the best!"
"Thank you so much!! I miss PSB! Good luck!"
"Oh great! Thank you so much--what a treat!"
"Thank you so much!!!!! You and PSB are awesome!"
The store is now completely closed (though you can still order online!) and local deliveries are on hold with everything else. Like so much else happening right now, I don't like it, but I understand it. The safety of the community comes first.
But I hope that community knows we love them as much as they love us.
Stay connected, stay well, and keep reading.
all the best, Shana @ PSB
Events We Missed
After Hours with Lily King
Writers & Lovers: Fiction
On Sunday, March 22nd, we were meant to be sharing something really special with you all. Every so often, we like to host a Porter Square After Hours event: we invite you into our store after we close, pour some wine, and encourage you to mingle with author, audience and books in an event that's more akin to an evening spent with friends than a traditional seated talk.
Our After Hours with Lily King was one we were especially looking forward to. Not only is Lily a terrific friend of the store's, but we are actually obsessed with this book. You know how we usually have four shelves or so of staff picks? Yeah, so many of us wanted to staff-pick this one that initially we discussed dedicating a whole shelf for Writers & Lovers.
Following the breakout success of her critically acclaimed and award-winning novel Euphoria, Lily King's Writers & Lovers follows Casey--a smart and achingly vulnerable protagonist--in the last days of a long youth, a time when every element of her life comes to a crisis.
Blindsided by her mother's sudden death, and wrecked by a recent love affair, Casey Peabody has arrived in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997 without a plan. Her mail consists of wedding invitations and final notices from debt collectors. A former child golf prodigy, she now waits tables in Harvard Square and rents a tiny, moldy room at the side of a garage where she works on the novel she's been writing for six years. At thirty-one, Casey is still clutching onto something nearly all her old friends have let go of: the determination to live a creative life. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, her world fractures even more. Casey's fight to fulfill her creative ambitions and balance the conflicting demands of art and life is challenged in ways that push her to the brink.
Written with King's trademark humor, heart, and intelligence, Writers & Lovers is a transfixing novel that explores the terrifying and exhilarating leap between the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.
Here's the good news (we could all use some, right?): We've already made sure that, once it's safe to do so, Lily will definitely be coming back for a rescheduled After Hours event. Admission will be $5, and space is limited, so definitely keep your eyes peeled -- and in the meantime, pick up a copy of Writers & Lovers for %20 off.
Our good friend Bear - you know and love Bear, they usually live in our Children's section - is practicing responsible productivity: they're staying at home, washing paws regularly, and keeping up on their workload with a highly functioning home office set up. (Well, mostly.)
For all the latest on events, new books, reviews, and more for young and young-at-heart readers.
Looking to get some good book recommendations, personalized just for you? Check out our Virtual Bookseller! Just fill out the 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!
Preorders are a great way to support PSB while we're not able to actually be at the store for two reasons:
They bring in income now while the store is closed.
We can deal with them later!
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. Any book with an inventory status (who knew you'd have to get to know our online inventory statuses so well) of "Coming Soon--Available for Pre-Order Now" or "On the Horizon--Available for Pre-Order Now," is, uh, available for preorder now.
Need some inspiration?
This bookseller here has avidly followed Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah since his incredible, bestselling debut story collection, Friday Black, was published. (I've probably added this one to some of your stacks!) Nana, who teaches creative writing at Syracuse, is an incredibly talented writer, a protege of George Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo) and generally, a really great human being. He's also giving a story talk tomorrow, Friday the 27th, at 6:30pm on Instagram Live!
At around 8:45pm each night on Instagram Live, the PSB booksellers you know and love will be regaling you with renditions from some of our favorites. We'll do our best to save these and add them to our YouTube channel - but not going to lie, it's pretty lovely to have a live audience to enjoy it! Tune in at 8:45pm weeknights on our Instagram story to be read to!
We're sorry we didn't capture the video for this one, but last night, Meaghan read from Emma in full period costume. Bless you, Meaghan. We needed this.
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?
"Oona Out of Order is a work of fiction that genuinely encouraged me to reflect upon my own mortality and the trajectory of my life. Oona wakes up on her birthday every year in a different part of her life. The difficulty this imposes is fascinating. Pop culture and music is ever-present, as Oona is a musician and chapter titles are taken from song titles or lyrics. What would it be to live your life out of order? To instinctively want to second guess and redo what you saw as failures? At the heart, Oona Out of Order is about mastering the art of living in the moment and it is a terribly fun romp."