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 18. Other options: try  or - keep it indie!
Shelf Stable: May 22
 “Will I decide there can be more again? Or will I procrastinate at this door until the end of my days? Or will I choose to remember that there are some things I already know how to do?”— Eimear McBride
In her first two novels, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and The Lesser Bohemians , Eimear McBride didn’t write sentences; she tamed static electricity and taught it to dance. Her prose crackled. Her prose sizzled. Her prose sparked. Her books were hot or maybe sharp to the touch. Her new book, Strange Hotel , returns to the problematic, perhaps even abusive, relationships at the center of her two previous books, but obliquely, as if the narrator wants to tell you everything else about her life besides the most important events in her life. Where Girl and Bohemians were direct, often brutal, Strange Hotel is dispersed, maybe even referential. But that difference isn’t why I wanted to write about it for a Shelf Stable letter.

In some ways, Strange Hotel is the perfect book for this moment, as the narrator is always stuck in between, unsure whether to leave or stay, not sure if she’s trapped or stagnant or just resting because sometimes it’s OK to rest. But that also isn’t why I wanted to write about it for the Shelf Stable letter.

I think McBride is one of the great living prose stylists in English, but with Strange Hotel , she tries something different, less crackle and more ripple. Less sharp and hot and more heavier-than-it-looks. The sentences in Strange Hotel are like Henry James sentences in a mirror you then smash into smaller phrases and I can honestly say that I do not know if Strange Hotel is a good book. It might even be a bad book. 

But instead of settling into what she was already good at, McBride took a risk, changing the most distinctive aspect of her work into something unrecognizable. She wrote beyond herself. So even if Strange Hotel itself isn’t a successful book, through the risk and potentially through the failure, McBride has created a ton of new potential space for her already amazing prose style to grow into. What is prose that is dense like a paper weight and buzzes with electricity? What happens to emotional intensity when you spread it thin? When you heap it into mounds? Can a sense both shock and sedate you? Both unnerve and soothe you?

To me, for this moment, Strange Hotel is a reminder that something is always created when you fail, that everything you have to throw out because it didn’t work leaves something behind, that when you aim for something beyond what you think you’re capable of, you grow whether you reach that something or not. (And sometimes you discover that you’re actually capable of it, that there are things you already know how to do.)

If you had told me what Strange Hotel was about before I read it, I would have assumed it was an “Eimear McBride book.” But now that she’s written Strange Hotel in the way she has, I have absolutely no idea what her next book will be. And that is really exciting to me.   

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Digital Audio Books:
A terrific way to support local indies!
The Power of Preorders!
Preorders are a great way to support PSB while we're not able to actually be at the store for two reasons:
  1. They bring in income now while the store is closed.
  2. 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.
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
Happy Fri(ed rice)day! Sinny cooks: kimchi fried rice
Kimchi fried rice or kimchi-bokkeumbap 김치볶음밥 is easy to make and comforting to eat. There are several recipes out there, but my favourite recipe comes from Maangchi . The recipe works best with day-old rice and aged kimchi as well, then you're all set.

There is always additional protein that you can add to the mix. I like to serve the fried rice with an egg on top and others like cooking Spam into the fried rice. Your protein is up to you, cheers!

  • 3 bowls steamed rice (3 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped kimchi
  • ¼ cup kimchi juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2-3 tablespoons gochujang
  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 sheet of gim, roasted and shredded (seaweed)

  • Heat up a pan. Add the vegetable oil.
  • Add the kimchi and stir fry for 1 minute.
  • Add rice, kimchi juice, water, and gochujang. Stir all the ingredients together for about 7 minutes with a wooden spoon.
  • Add sesame oil and remove from the heat.
  • Sprinkle with chopped green onion, roasted gim, and sesame seeds. Serve right away.

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Need Some Inspiration?
I make this pasta salad for every cookout or picnic I attend, and it’s always a big hit. It’s a staple at Memorial Day and 4th of July every year. Normally, I’d be spending Memorial Day weekend at the lake with my in-laws, celebrating their return from Florida and the start of summer. That’s not happening this year, but I still made my pasta salad. I made the full batch even though there’s no party this year, because I’ll gladly eat it every day for lunch. The recipe can easily be scaled up or down to meet your needs.

This recipe was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s Marinated Pepper Salad with Basil, Capers & Pecorino, (from Ottolenghi's Plenty) which is so fantastic I had to make it into a full meal. It requires a bit of planning since the peppers must be marinated overnight, but I promise it’s worth it.

-- Katie

  • 6 peppers (mix of red, yellow, and orange), quartered
  • 3 tbsp plus ½ cup olive oil
  • salt
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 6 thyme sprigs 
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound short pasta
  • handful each of arugula, basil, and parsley, chopped
  • ¾ cup Pecorino Romano, shaved
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers

Preheat the oven to 375º F. Toss the peppers with 3 tablespoons of the oil and some salt. Scatter them in a roasting pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until they soften and take on some color. Remove to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Once cooled to room temperature, peel the peppers and cut into thin strips. Layer in a storage vessel, adding a light sprinkling of salt to each layer.

Whisk together ½ cup of the oil, the balsamic vinegar, water, sugar, thyme, garlic and some salt and pepper. Pour this over the peppers and leave aside overnight in the fridge.

The next day: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook pasta according to package instructions (I always use orechiette because it’s my favorite, but any smallish pasta shape would be great). Drain pasta and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking and transfer to a large bowl.

Remove the thyme sprigs and garlic cloves from the marinade, and mix the rest of the marinade, peppers, and the capers. Just before serving, stir in most of the herbs and Pecorino, then top the bowl with remaining herbs and cheese for garnish.

Serves 6-8 as a meal, more as a side.

Happy Memorial Day to all of you! I hope that sunny days are ahead.
PSB Bundles and Gifts
New: Graduation Bundles
You asked, we answered! Introducing fifteen gift bundles perfect for grads (or you, or anyone, we won't judge).
Book Bundle Offerings
Make your shopping easy by buying bundles, handpicked by our expert booksellers!

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!
Bedtime Stories
Shana reads from The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill!
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!
Are you missing out on our recommendations, pining for our Staff Pick display?? Our May crop of staff picks is now live on our website! We'll feature titles throughout the month, but you can browse the full list at the link below. As ever, all staff picks are 20% off -- so go crazy!
Featured Pick for Kids
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo has done it again! Like in her award-winning The Poet X, Acevedo gives us a beautiful, lyrical look into the life of her protagonists. What I love about this is that in spite of the gripping premise (two girls from opposite sides of the world discover they are half-sisters after their father dies) there’s such a focus on the specific lives of each main character. There are no blanket statements about the two cultures they hail from (though plenty of insights into both), just two people that seem so real they could walk off the page. -- Caleb
Featured Pick for Adults

The roads of tomorrow will be cleaner, emptier and you may not recognize (or own) the vehicles that use them.
-- John

A Porter Square Books Choose Your Own Adventure!
Okay, time to find a duck. Normally you would think "where am I going to find a duck?" but at this point, you're sure you can get one somewhere. "Hey Roger, are there any ducks in this awful book?"

Roger peers out from under the bed, "why yes, I believe there's one on page 23? Oh actually, that one's a platypus. Hmmm...oh! right, page 112. There's a duck there, but I am loathe to encounter said creature again."

"Roger," you plead, "we need to break this curse!"

As if on cue, Summit puffs his chest, straightens his cap, and declares "I will go fetch the waterfowl. I will secure the beast with rope (gently, we don't need to hurt them now). I can then hold the duck out so that it may bite you once."

Roger looks a little doubtful but manages "Okay....okay...yes. Go get the duck, brave knave!" Beaming with self-satisfaction, Summit falls into page 112 with some help from Roger. You're worried that maybe there's something else you need to do, so you scour the recipe card for anything amiss. Suddenly, you hear a ruckus outside the room. Roger slides as far as possible under the bed. You hear a cry from Summit, so you throw open the door.

It turns out the duck Roger was referencing has fangs and outweighs the Cerberus, who after one attempt to scare the duck back whence it came, takes off down the hall. The duck continues its rampage, dragging Summit by a rope entangled around his foot.
Do you...
Lunge for the duck's neck.
Offer up some Cerberus food and hope the duck is placated.
Scream at Roger to get in the fight already!
Start reciting the recipe. Can't hurt, can it?
See you next time here at Shelf Stable!
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