Open for Shipped Orders!
Our physical store is closed, but you can still get many books shipped to you directly from our warehouse. Here's how:  
1. Only order titles with an inventory status of "Available at the Warehouse" 
2. Select the " UPS/USPS Ground Shipping" option
3. Five or fewer books per order if possible.

We are happy to fulfill other orders, but will not be able to process them until at least May 4. Other options: try  or - keep it indie!
Shelf Stable: May 1
“Everything in the world exists in order to end up in a book. – Stephen Mallarme
Through our formal education, we learn a, what’s the phrase, "particular set of skills" for reading. These skills will get you through school, of course, and also through most books great and small. But not every book. Some books don’t really use characters, aren’t concerned with plot, push against what it means to tell a story, and even what it means to make sense. The usual techniques of understanding and making meaning from characters, plot, and theme don’t apply, and sometimes even the mechanics of metaphor and imagery don’t actually work. Just like trying any new skill, (I did once try to learn to knit. It did not go well.) books like this can be frustrating to read, but, just like learning a new skill they can also be rewarding.

In my experience, books like this include their own “reading instructions,” essentially teaching you how to read themselves. Renee Gladman’s Event Factory comes to mind (in part because I’m always thinking about it.). The narrator is a “linguistic-traveler” visiting a foreign city who speaks the language but is explicitly an outsider to the culture. She can understand the words everyone says, at a literacy level, but can’t actually grasp what they’re trying to communicate. She just does her best to respect the locals, while trying to discover the central malady afflicting the city. Or, to describe her situation another way, she is reading a book in English that doesn’t follow the conventions she is familiar with, doing her best to respect those foreign conventions while still searching for a “center” from which she can understand the whole. Often, you are expected to identify with the narrator, and in this case, you’re actually supposed to emulate the narrator, reading Event Factory the same way as she explores Ravicka. In some ways, "Event Factory," the story, is about how to read Event Factory , the book.     

Gerald Murnane’s The Plains (which I think reads very well with Event Factory ) gives you the keys right at the beginning, even if you don’t yet know what door those keys unlock.
I’ll say one thing (leaving the rest for you to discover) about this opening passage and how it teaches the reading technique for the book: notice how the narrator undercuts himself with the word “seemed.”

I love books that teach you how to read them, in part, because I enjoy that particular path of discovery, I like to wrestle with books, I like to be adrift, I like to feel as though something is out of reach, I like to say things like “This book is amazing. I have no idea what it’s about,” and also, because they demonstrate the endless possibility of storytelling. They are proof that there is no limit to how we write or how we read.

Josh @PSB
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Plantagenet Fangirl
I’m a bit of a Plantagenet fangirl, and it’s Josephine Tey’s fault. (Okay, it’s also Ian McKellan’s fault. Setting Richard III in the 1930s with an amazing cast was a brilliant decision.)

I spent my teen years extremely into the Tudors. But Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time – in which a temporarily bedridden policeman solves the mystery of who killed the princes in the Tower of London – got me hooked on the earlier generations. The Plantagenets are ridiculous and dramatic and ambitious, and it’s no surprise that there are 98090584 books about them, more or less.

Right now I’m reading two of them (plus a dozen others, because let’s be real) that are coming out soon: Thomas Penn’s The Brothers York (that would be Richard, plus his older brothers Edward IV and George, who was good at betraying people) and Nicola Tallis’ The Uncrowned Queen (Margaret Beaufort, grandmother of Henry VIII).

They’re meaty history books, the kind where you look up and realize that somehow you’ve just spent an hour on one thing, not alt-tabbing between websites and spreadsheets and inventory systems. (Come on, I know it’s not just me.)

And they’re also upcoming releases, with June and July publication dates – so reading these books means thinking about sharing them with all of you, and how we might be connecting over new books this summer, and what the store is going to look like in another month or two. Here’s to history books that leave us thinking about the future!
Need Some Inspiration?
While so many of us are away from our families next weekend, something more than your quick “Happy Mother’s Day!” card may be in order.

There’s something special about homemade cards, even if the giver is not particularly an artist. Some of the best birthday and anniversary cards I’ve received have been made in Microsoft Word or written in ballpoint pen on a piece of folded over paper, because it’s the sentiment inside that truly matters. Not to say you can’t go further than that; I made a couple cards using washi tape, markers and colored pencils. You can use whatever you have around the house, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.

You might try illustrating or describing the day you wish you could have with your mom, or the first thing you want to do together when you see each other again. Maybe you’d rather reminisce about a favorite memory, or thank your mom for the ways she’s helped you become a great parent yourself.

Kids who are at home with mom can draw or describe the best part about spending so much time together, or a favorite activity the family has done while stuck inside.

Holidays are a particularly tough time to be separated from loved ones or cooped up inside, but we can still create moments of connection. Consider sending mom some extra love this Mother’s Day.

Bedtime Stories
If one must begin, one should at least begin badly. Shana reads from A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning. Check it out on PSB's YouTube!
And of course, don't forget to meet us over at our Instagram story at 8:45pm for tonight's live bedtime 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
The Mermaid, the Witch, & the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

This sweeping fantasy adventure delves deeply into questions of identity, sacrifice, and freedom. So queer, so artful, so delicate, so exceptional. I love this book fiercely , and you will too.
A Porter Square Books Choose Your Own Adventure!
You notice an odd book on your bookshelf. You don't remember seeing it there before, but, well, you've bought so many books it wouldn't be the first time you found a surprise on your own shelves. The spine is a nice green leather with no title or author, just an odd little symbol that looks like a duck in one of those old timey carnival shooting ranges. You take the book down and suddenly, a hidden door opens in the wall.
Do you...
Barge right through, carpe-ing the heck outta some diem
Linger at the doorway all Hamletty and such
Look at the book itself before cautiously entering
Pull the door closed, put the book back, and call your landlord
Audio Book Of The Month
The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

Fatima is a concubine of the sultan of the last emirate in the Iberian Peninsula to submit to the Spanish Inquisition. When her dearest friend, Hassan, a mapmaker who can map places he has never seen (and that do not always exist), is singled out by the Inquisition, she flees with him and a jinn, following the trail of the elusive and mythical Bird King, who may or may not be able to grant them sanctuary. Wilson’s latest novel is rich with the historical detail, lush description, and fantastical elements that we have come to know and love from her. A story of resistance, freedom, seeking, and strength, and a true fable for our times.
--Anna Elkund, University Bookstore
See you next time here at Shelf Stable!
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