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 2
“Pen-bereavement is a serious matter.”-- Anne Fadiman
In the space of two days, I finished the ink in two pens. Which never happens, right? You buy pens, and then you use pens, and yet you never use them up. They sit in your house accompanied by the pens you collect from your work, your kid’s school, the doctor’s office—they multiply until you’re forced to throw some perfectly good pens away because you’re in danger of being overrun. And yet in the last 48 hours, I’ve finished off two pens. Is this a metaphor? (That’s what they taught you in high school literature class, isn’t it? Seek the metaphor? See also: what does that green light mean anyway?)

I don’t know if it’s a metaphor, but it did make me think about things that sit in my house that I didn’t fully appreciate or use until I was spending 99% of my life—you guessed it—in my house. Books, of course. All the books I’ve accumulated over the years and haven’t yet read. I’m finally getting through Romantic Outlaws , which, let me tell you, is an excellent book about two shockingly interesting women. Yeast! Who knew that yeast would be one of the top five most wanted items of 2020? But also, time.

I’m fortunate to be in a stable living situation and without the responsibilities of caretaking, which means that my days have been pared down to two main projects: working, and keeping myself (and those around me) healthy. I can’t go to a restaurant or a movie or a dinner party with friends, so time stretches in a way it didn’t used to. There are opportunities now for my mind to wander in ways that I didn’t allow it pre-covid-19, when I was always coming from somewhere, or going to somewhere, usually with a podcast in my ear. I’m not listening to so many podcasts right now. Sometimes I allow silence to settle, and myself to sit with it. It’s been a valuable exercise.

Though it seems endless, this time shall pass (is what I try to keep in mind). As I sit, I’m thinking about the things I want to bring with me into the future. They’re not all the same things I left in the past—and I think that’s a good thing. (But I’m not leaving the books behind.)

-- Rebecca @ PSB
Join our next virtual event!
Need Some Inspiration?
I just turned 30, and it was the most anticlimactic big birthday since I turned 21 in Israel. Quarantines kind of put a damper on parties.

Or at least, so I thought. 

That was before my little sister called and asked me what I was doing on my birthday and told me not to make plans, and to see if my roommates wanted in. She wouldn't give me details at first, just that she, my middle sister, and my parents had figured out a way to make it special. Then, the day before my birthday, we all went to a park, set our blankets ten feet apart, and had a socially distant picnic. They'd even made tiny tea party sandwiches and pastries for us all to share! It was sweet and special and I felt loved and celebrated.

If you're planning a birthday or other celebration, either for yourself or others, you're welcome to the idea. But I have loads of other ideas I might have gone with if my family hadn't been so on top of things. Maybe they can help you?
Craft parties

Get on Zoom and create something! It can be just a general craft night if you all have projects you're working on, or you can pick a specific craft to work on. Maybe get some plain shirts and tiedye or fabric markers. Maybe just glue and construction paper and crayons. Dress up in your best twenties gear and make masks while talking about how brave the boys (and girls and nonbinary people) on the frontline are. Our friends at Gather Here have kits and accept donations! Or you could choose a pastry, everyone can get ingredients and cook together while hanging out and chatting on Zoom. I personally recommend Joanne Chang's cookbooks because I love Flour pastry so much, but there are plenty of other options.

On a less tasty notes, one of my most memorable birthday parties was the one where I decided I wanted to spend the day dissecting owl pellets. I don't know if this is going to appeal to anyone else, but hey, throwing it out there, it was pretty cool. Found a lot of neat rodent bones.


I love tabletop roleplay games. I've written about them previously. Run a one night only Dungeons and Dragons campaign! Who needs to go outside when you can go to a fantasy realm and fight DRAGONS? If that's too much work and planning for you (I understand, it's A LOT) there are looser, more improv-y games you can try like the free one-page game Lasers and Feelings . Or you can just play some improv games, or take turns contributing to a story. Trust me, it might feel a little awkward starting out, but once you get in the swing of things, you'll be having plenty of fun.


If you're on this newsletter, I can say with some certainty that you like reading books. You might be thinking: but just getting together on Zoom and reading?? What kind of party is that?? And you're right. Just reading isn't exactly a party, though I may or may not have spent several parties hiding in a remote corner and reading. But reading to each other? THAT can be fun. Try picking out some favorite poems and doing Poetry Karaoke. If you need somewhere to start, check out the details from our event . Or do actual Karaoke. No reason you can't just sing into your Zoom microphone! Just… maybe no duets. It's hard to get sound to sync right and it'll sound weird.

You could also try reading a play together. Since it's not really a performance, you don't have to worry about licenses or anything, just choose characters and go nuts! I suggest something like William Shakespeare's Star Wars , but there are a lot of other good ones out too. Something's bound to appeal.

A book club party would also be neat. Pick your favorite book, the one you've been trying to get your friends to read for ages but they're busy and they have other books on their to-read list yadda yadda excuse excuse IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY NOW THEY HAVE TO READ YOUR FAVORITE. Give them an appropriate amount of time, shorter if it's a picture book, longer if it's Les Mis , then get together and talk about it!
Or you could celebrate by not talking to anyone and reading alone or with a household pet. Believe me, I won't judge. Sometimes the best parties are the ones where you don't have to deal with other people. -- Shana
Bedtime Stories
Last night, Kate picked up where she left off in the third installment of The Hobbit!
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 take the book down and suddenly, a hidden door opens in the wall. "Well, that's strange," you think to yourself, "I better look at this more closely." You turn the book over in your hands and notice there's a page corner folded down, midway through the book. You let the book fall open - it's clearly been opened to this spot many times before, you feel it - and immediately see that same odd symbol drawn beside what seems to be a poem: "Every other step / a letter beneath your foot / read your path ahead." Curiouser and curiouser--you tentatively step through the open door. It's dark and cool inside. For a moment, light filters in from the room you've just left. Then as your eyes are still adjusting: the door slams shut, and you are in pitch black.
Do you...
Immediately rush over to the door and try to force it back open - let me out!!!
Pull out your cell phone to examine the entryway & surroundings.
Squint at the pages of the book by phonelight for more clues.
Weird, but OK, cool! You take a few brave steps toward the unknown adventure.
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!
We'll get out our next issue as soon as we can. In the meantime, don't forget about all the other places you can catch up with us from afar, on
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube:
25 White St. Cambridge, MA 02140