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 7
"So many gods, so many creeds / So many paths that wind and wind, / When just the art of being kind / Is all this sad world needs."
― "The World's Need" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Hello friends,

I'm not going to lie, the endless shelter-in-place has been getting to me, especially now as the weather's getting nicer. I want to be outside! I want to be able to enjoy basking in the sunlight in a public park, with other people around, the way we did in the Before Times. It's difficult to feel summer approaching and know that it's going to be different this year.

I've been combating this melancholy and disappointment with the most reliable form of happy escapism I know: rereading books I know will make me happy. Not everyone enjoys rereading -- maybe remembering the story too well makes a reread feel pointless; maybe you feel like there are just too many new stories to read to justify revisiting the ones you already know -- but I love it. Rereading a comfort book is like visiting an old friend. So today I, your friendly neighborhood bookseller who loves SFF a whole lot, am going to tell you about some of my favorite comfort books.

+ The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C Wrede: Princess Cimorene, impatient with the small boring scope of her princessly duties, runs away to cohabit with a dragon and put her more practical skills to use. That's the opening gambit to a four-book romp of fractured fairytales, which also includes a delightful no-nonsense witch and her many, many cats, one of my favorite absent-minded magicians, and a rabbit who, through several unfortunate twists of fate, is now a large floating blue semi-substantial donkey. I can and often do devour these books in a day.
+ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: This is one of the most soothing books I know. It's about a crew of people, both human and alien, learning about one another and building relationships on a long spaceflight. It dwells a lot on the details of various invented alien cultures; not a lot actually happens besides the slow discovery of friendship between very different kinds of people, and sometimes that's exactly what I want out of a story.

+ The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce: Pierce has written a number of series set across the same fictional worlds, and objectively her books get better with time, but I have a huge soft spot for this first series. Alanna wants to become a knight in a world where this isn't an acceptable career path for girls, so she and her twin brother disguise themselves as each other, and Alanna spends the next eight years living as a boy and training for knighthood. It's very swords-and-sorcery, and also very from the '80s -- Pierce has acknowledged that she'd be writing it with a lot more awareness of various kinds of queerness if she were writing it now -- but it's very close to my heart, and one of the first stories I reach for when I want a comfort read.
+ King of Shadows by Susan Cooper: This was the book that got me interested in Shakespeare as a kid. Our protagonist, Nat, is playing Puck in a production of Midsummer Night's Dream in a youth theater troupe, and one morning he wakes up in Elizabethan London to discover he's now in the original production. It's a fun historical fantasy and features probably my favorite fictional rendition of William Shakespeare.

+ The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien: I know, this story is long and dense and it's a kind of weird choice for a comfort read. But sometimes what I really want is a narrative that's 50% loving descriptions of every rock and tree the characters pass, and 50% the fierce belief that even when things seem hopeless, we can still keep going and make some kind of difference.
Assuming your taste at all aligns with mine, I highly recommend any of these as comfort reads to stave off some of the roughness you might be feeling with our situation. Stay safe, be well, keep reading.

Yours in books,
Ari @ PSB
Reflections on Game Night
One of the things I miss most about the before times is game night. Almost every family gathering involves a game (or four) of Catan . My mom has been known to come downstairs at midnight to find the rest of us still yelling about sheep, driving hard bargains for more wheat and dashing each other’s hopes with the thief. If you’re lucky enough to be sheltering with two or more other people, you can’t go wrong with this classic.

Another game perfect for a small group is Anomia . The concept is simple; watch everyone’s cards and when you match with someone, be the first to come up with a word in the category on the card. It sounds easy, until you’re banging on the table and shouting gibberish with a word on the tip of your tongue.

It’s just my partner and me at our house now, so we’ve been rotating through our stash of two-player games. 7 Wonders Duel is a great two player strategy game, in which players collect cards to build civilizations and the titular wonders of the world. With multiple ways to win, the game is different every time.
Recently we’ve been playing Pandemic: The Cure , a simplified version of the original Pandemic game. It’s a cooperative game in which players with different special abilities work together to beat the game rather than competing against each other. If that’s too on the nose at the moment, Mysterium is another thematic coop in which one player is the ghost and the other players are mediums attempting to help solve a murder mystery.

A perfect option for families is Dixit , a storytelling game for 3-6 players ages eight and up. The storyteller looks at the images on the cards in their hand, and makes up a sentence to describe one of the cards. Other players then choose the card in their hand that best matches the sentence, and all players bet on which card was the storyteller’s.
Some more personal favorites that can be played with two players (or more, in most cases):
  • Bohnanza: Compete to plant and harvest the most valuable crop of beans.
  • Patchwork: Reminiscent of Tetris, collect differently shaped pieces to assemble a quilt. 
  • Azul: Tile a wall in a Portuguese palace. 
  • Ticket to Ride: Build trains to complete multiple routes, available in many different country or continent editions. 
  • Forbidden Island: Family coop game in which players must escape an island before it disappears into the sea.

These five aren’t available from PSB right now, but I’d encourage you to check with your local game store. Henry Bear’s Park (Cambridge, Arlington, and Brookline) and Eureka (Brookline) are both accepting online orders.

-- Katie
Need Some Inspiration?
It’s a tough time to be creative. Everyone’s talking about finishing the next great American novel in quarantine, but please let me reassure you—your only job in the time of social distancing is to make it through, as responsibly and healthily as possible. (For people like me, whose job is to be creative, it gets a little messier. But that’s another story.)
Anyway, if you happen to be looking for something to do, please feel free to embark on an adventure with this dynamic duo. What are their names? Under what circumstances would a penguin and a dragon meet up in the first place? Why is the penguin larger than the dragon? What’s up with the winter wear? It’s May! Write a picture book or a short story about these two—or a song, if you’re feeling ambitious.
Yes, it’s ridiculous. Yes, I am now tempted to drop my own deadline to do this myself.

-- Rebecca
Bedtime Stories
Special guest reader tonight: Daniel Radcliffe!! Mostly kidding. We didn't have a bedtime story last night (oops, sorry, love you all!), so here's Daniel Radcliffe reading from Harry Potter.
It looks like he'll be doing a series of readings, for your listening pleasure. 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
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

A half-Chinese girl in frontier South Dakota brings a new perspective to the pioneer story.

-- Sarah
A Porter Square Books Choose Your Own Adventure!
You resign yourself to heading back up the hallway in search of some rum. When you turn though, the hallway is gone. The room has seemingly sealed itself shut. " do I get out...?" You ask the cloaked figure. Exasperated, they throw their hands in the air, "what a useless assistant! dear me!" They wave their hand, and as you fall through the hole they opened in the floor, you hear them shout "And read the rest of the blasted book!" You're falling through darkness, pondering about the point of it all, when the temperature starts to warm, and the darkness starts to yield. Then BAM. You' land in sand, the book joining you with a smack on your face. Head spinning, you look around. You're on an island. From behind some shrubbery, you hear gruff voices, accented in a way you don't often hear. You turn and look. Pirates! You look down at your peculiar clothes and realize "oh bother, the cloaked figure sent me back in time to a rum runner's island." Unfortunately, you say that aloud. The pirates draw their swords and begin approaching you none-to-kindly.
Do you...
Speak in your best pirate and talk about being thrown overboard. Mutiny!
Tell the truth. What's the worst that could happen?
Say 'hullo' and ask where the rum's at.
Reach into your pockets and hope to find something useful.
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
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