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Shelf Stable: May 24
"In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody's best friend." Carlos Ruis Zafon
If you know anything about me as a bookseller and reader, you know my tastes tend towards science fiction and fantasy. My staff picks are a mishmash of superhero comics, space opera, urban fantasy, and everything in between. (Also one cookbook , just to keep people guessing.) So now, in this weird unprecedented time of having way more time available to read than ever before, guess what I'm reading?

WRONG. Assuming you guessed more of the same, which is what I would have guessed if I was someone else reading through this. I am NOT reading more sci-fi and fantasy. I have, bafflingly, found myself on a romance kick. 

It's not like I've specifically avoided romance books up until now, but I generally shy away from books that center around it. Like, sure, have a kiss or two, but let's have some epic space battles while we're at it! I'm not interested in two people falling in love unless they're doing it while riding dragons. But the books I've found myself drawn to are Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner (out this Tuesday!). Both romances. Both taking place in something a lot closer to the real world than most of what I read. 

So why is this? Why, after thirty years of looking for out-of-this-world adventure am I suddenly turning to adventures of the heart? 

I mean, it's hard to say, since it's not like I planned it or did it on purpose. I've just been reading what appeals to me. My best theory is that end of the world stakes don't hold as much appeal when I can get that same feeling just by checking out the latest news. With the world as messy as it is, my escapism looks less like "I want a space ship" and more like "I want to go to a cafe and sit there with other people in my vicinity and have it not be dangerous." Or "I want people to be able to fall in love and then be able to go on dates where they don't sit six feet apart." It's the little things. 

It's nice to be able to read at all, since there have definitely been times over the past few months when I couldn't focus enough. And it's nice to get a taste for a new genre that until now, I haven't known much about. I'll be that much more prepared to give good book recs when the store opens up again. 

Oh, and in case you've started worrying I've been replaced by a pod person? Don't worry, all the romances I'm reading are still very, very gay.

- Shana
Join our next virtual event!
Curbside Pickup, More Shipping Options, & A Shelf Stable Update
In accordance with Phase One of the governor's plan for reopening Massachusetts we will begin curbside pick up on Tuesday, May 26 from 3PM-7PM and will continue to offer the service seven days a week for the foreseeable future. With more access to the store we've also added a number of shipping options. Click here for the full update .

Also, since more of us will be working in the store we don't have as much time to write Shelf Stable. We really enjoy doing it and we've heard that many of you appreciate it so we're definitely going to continue publishing it, just a little less frequently. So, starting tomorrow, look for Shelf Stable every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
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!
Caleb's Quarantine Writing Prompts
Hi again!

I know a lot of you are probably groaning seeing this feature coming again but on the bright side, I'm not starting it off with some lame pun and also some of the shutdown restrictions are starting to ease up. I'm looking forward to getting back into our wonderful community (and seeing my wonderful co-workers), still wearing a mask of course, and hoping that excitement leads to a little more writing energy. That said, we all still get stuck, so here's some more writing prompts for the week!

1. Imagine you started this quarantine in another era and it finally ended after decades. How would you explain your chosen era to people in the present? Alternately, say things went backwards (cuz #PurgeRules), how would you explain your current time to people in decades past?
2. Let's leave the Rip Van Winkle stuff behind, but only sort of. You get out of quarantine and rush to see your best friend, only to find out they just saw you yesterday...or so they think. It's as if no time passed at all, but literally, even though you're 100% sure it's been months! Write that exchange.

3. When I haven't been writing and cleaning I've been killing time with some video games...What would your life look like as a video game? Translate all the simple tasks into quests and figure out your main mission. What would the final boss be?
4. You get out of quarantine and find out someone else has been living your life this whole time. That's right, it's time to write an Evil Twin (TM) scenario!
5. Why aren't you writing yet? Oh what, you thought because we're walled up in quarantine I couldn't break the fourth wall and directly address you? Purge Rules, baby!
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
Need Some Inspiration?
Design Your Own Literature Course.

The fact that many of us have had to become part-time (maybe even full-time!) educators at home, got me thinking about a thought experiment I’ve always found interesting. If you could teach any literature course, what would it be? Clothing as Status Symbols in Regency Romances? Narrative as Topography in Renee Gladman’s Ravickian Novels? The Works of Hanif Abdurraquib ? The Natural World in Middle Grade Fantasy? I Just Want to Teach My Three Favorite Books & I’ll Come Up With an Overarching Theme Later? All great.

Imagining teaching a literature course can do a couple of interesting things for your reading. It gives you a structure or even just an angle when rereading some of your favorite works. As you imagine answering questions or coming up with assignments you start to develop an expertise in those books. You can also discover gaps, other books you’ve heard about that seem like that would fit in your course, but that you haven’t read yet. 

You can also spend as much or as little time on this thought experiment as you want. Five minutes of thinking in the shower? Great. Go all the way and design a full syllabus complete with assignments? Also great. Something in between like this blog post I did a few years ago? Well, I had fun, so also great. 

Imagining teaching your our literature course is a no stakes, but still potentially challenging, way to jumpstart your critical thinking, while giving you some new ways to think about your favorite books, and potentially add to your TBR pile.


Shop the store!
Journals, Stationary & 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
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!
New style now available:
Bedtime Stories
We don't have an "official" bedtime story for you today, but, we've now started recording all of our virtual events, so you can rewatch the older ones whenever you want. Click on the link below to see what's already happened and what's coming up.
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
A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

A Wish in the Dark is brilliant - how many Thai inspired fantasies have you read lately? None? I say go for this one!

Featured Pick for Adults
The Golden Age by Roxanne Moreil, illustrated by Cyril Pedrosa

A high fantasy adventure of peasant uprisings, stolen thrones, and secret treasure, The Golden Age is a winner for YA and adult fantasy fans. The artwork is simply magnificent, drawing inspiration from Disney's Sleeping Beauty. The intricate, fluid line-work and astonishing palette will marvel readers.

-- Marika
A Porter Square Books Choose Your Own Adventure!
The Witch storms into the room making a horrible, awful, terrible, no good, very bad noise. Past you would have run away, but present you has seen some things so you decide it's time to hold your ground. You stand right in front of The Witch, as tall as you can and prepare to say the bravest words you have ever said. But then you notice something about the noise.

"Are you...crying?" you ask.

The Witch nods her head.

"But also...laughing at the same time?" you ask.

The Witch. "I'm just so happy," she says. "I've been waiting for so long for someone to break this curse and now it has finally happened."

"" you start to ask but she cuts you off.

"Oh you know how it is. You cast a curse thinking someone will break it in a few hundred years and the next thing you know, you're tending this project you haven't believed in in ages. In a way," she said wiping her eyes and collecting herself, "the curser is just as cursed as the cursee, you know?"

You did not know, but you nod anyway because what else are you going to do?

"Well, it's time to send you home. Start waving good-bye to your friends now as you'll start vanishing before I finish my sentence. You'll find a little present as a token of gratitude for breaking the curse. Good luck."

The strangest feeling you have ever felt--and that is saying something now--comes over you and in a blink you find yourself back in front of your library waving at the wall where Summit and Roger had so recently been. The book with the duck symbol is back in its place.

But there's another book next to it, one you didn't recognize. Before you can stop yourself, you pull it off the shelf. Luckily, nothing happens. You look at the book and there is a picture of a mountain lion on it. Well, you're certainly done with ducks and pirates for the time being, so maybe a book about mountain lions will work. You open the book and start reading.

The End.

By You & Your Friends at PSB.
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