Shelf Stable: October 5th
"The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story."—Ursula K. Le Guin
I must confess that I did not wait for October this year. I was pulling it close with September still well in the room.

This is unusual for me. I love seasons and I mourn them. There is an old Lebanese saying that translates to "if summer had a mother, she would be crying," referring to this time of falling seasons, the change in the quality of the air, the hues of yellow and green rounding to reds and oranges, one kind of beauty chasing the other out. I was born in the summer and thrive in it: the sweetness of the sunlight in July and the freedom of long days and mild nights. Legs remain bare and windows thrown open in mutiny when the season retreats. I know I love the colors of the autumn, and yet every year I feel summer's loss so personally. I will feel the same when winter steps forward to steal fall away.

Therefore I do not, as a rule, hurry seasons. But this year September felt strange and nebulous, too-warm and too-quiet. We missed the sound of school children running amok. The delight of folding into a friend's cozy armchair after an afternoon apple picking in the changing sunlight is out of reach for me right now. So many of the activities and small joys I associate with late summer and early autumn just didn't seem possible. But October: October is a defined entity. It's a month outside of the seasonal transition. It's true, deep fall, a time for hot drinks and sweaters, and every day of the month counts down to my personal ultimate autumnal holiday: Halloween.

So it was that I began practicing October in September this year. On the very first day of last month, skies still sunny but at least with one suitably overcast grey corner, I selected a book perfect for my mission (you'll be hearing a lot about this one from PSB booksellers to come). I walked the two and a half miles from my apartment to Mt. Auburn Cemetery on a quiet Tuesday afternoon -- listening to an audio book en route, of course.

I spent a while just walking around at first. Taking in the different headstones and names and dates. Following winding paths in no particular order or direction. Acknowledging the beauty of this place in the city that is green, and solemn, and both far away from and so close to the affairs of the living. I noticed that for all the quiet, for all the graves, there's an awful lot of life happening, too: I met a veritable scurry of chipmunks by a small pond, ambling along by the paved path along their own businesses. A round of robins perched on a cluster of marble tombs. Three disdainful turkeys plodding a slow path through a grassy expanse. Even the freshness of new flowers placed on a decades-old headstone spoke to me, as someone who has recently lost someone.

Finally I was ready to sit. There are benches, each engraved with a name. There are, of course, wonderful verdant patches of grass among the most beautifully carved tombstones, but you don't quite know what's beneath them, and you don't want to be impolite. At last I curled up between the gnarled, jagged roots of a very old tree, and read my Japanese ghost stories in the quiet earthiness. On that first day of September, I started carrying October with me, and with it, the comfort of an old friend. Welcome.

Shop with Your Pod!
Don’t want to wait in line outside? Want more control over who you’re sharing indoor space with? Want to make sure you get your holiday shopping done easily and early? Shop with your pod!
Reserve Porter Square Books from 6PM-7PM, after the store has closed to the general public for the day, for a group of 5-10 people. One bookseller will be your concierge for the evening, checking your group in at the door, answering questions, giving recommendations, and helping you find books. If a slot is "Out of Stock" it's already been reserved, so try another!
Expanded hours for safe in-store shopping!
Thanks to all our friends who've visited so far -- it's been wonderful to see everyone's face (well, the top half above the mask anyway) and we're so grateful to everyone who has been so respectful of our policies!

Updated In-Store Shopping Hours:
Tuesday - Sunday: 11AM - 6PM
Saturday (at risk customers): 9AM - 11AM
Monday: CLOSED

We really appreciate your support!
Join our next virtual event!
Wednesday, October 7th, 5PM
*Ticketed* Virtual: Duff Goldman, Super Good Baking for Kids

Porter Square Books is delighted to partner with HarperCollins and bestselling celebrity chef Duff Goldman to bring you a virtual event for Goldman's latest cookbook, Super Good Baking for Kids, joined by Kristin Salaky of! *This event is ticketed, and your ticket includes a copy of Super Good Baking for KidsThe first 50 tickets sold will include *signed* bookplates so don't delay! The event takes place on Crowdcast, and a join link to enter the virtual event will be emailed to ticket holders the day of the event.*

Super Good Baking for Kids, from New York Times bestselling celebrity chef and host of Ace of Cakes and Kids Baking Championship Duff Goldman, teaches budding young bakers how to make dozens of crazy delicious concoctions—from confetti snickerdoodles to unicorn cupcakes to amazing dessert pizzas. With more than 35 delicious recipes and tons of fun fact-filled sidebars on everything from the science of yeast to the history of baking, Super Good Baking for Kids shows kids how to make treats that will amaze parents, delight friends, and make the whole family go “mmmmmm.”
Need Some Inspiration?
Well, friends, here we are, almost a week of October under our belts. What better way to spend the time than daydreaming about Halloween?? This year will certainly be different - no house parties (unless you count not leaving your house as a party), no big crowds in Salem or at the pub - but we only get one preapproved Definitely Dress Up Today day a year and I, for one, don't plan on missing it!

I know we, as a species, come in two formulations which are "Have Known My Halloween Costume For Months" and "Oh Snap, Is Halloween Tomorrow Already." If you are of the latter, I'm here to help get those gears turning early this year, because what else are we doing?

Step One: Assess Your Commitment Level
This is an important place to start. Dressing up in a costume does not have to be ostentatious, complicated, or expensive. Planning to wear one item of clothing in a nod to a character you love is both perfectly acceptable and a delightful little detail to enjoy to yourself if you feel a little silly going all out for a costume with nowhere to wear it. On the other hand, if going all out - getting into every detail, sewing up a storm, full-on make-up - is going to give you joy, do it! And take pictures.

Step Two: Find Your Inspiration
The hardest part is deciding what to do! We're book people here, so we'll always encourage you to dress up as a favorite character - you can carry a copy of the book as a prop for bonus points. Run through what you've read or watched lately. What character has a distinctive feature or look you've always wanted to play off? Who would you want to be, just for a day? Who is your character doppelganger? What iconic duo can you choose for an excuse to rope your innocent dog into wearing a hat? No idea is wrong.

Step Three: Research and Reflect
That sounds serious. It's not! Once you've found a direction - or a couple - get some inspiration going by rereading or rewatching your source material, drawing little sketches, writing a description of how you envision a character in your minds' eye, or doing Google image searches. You can search for a specific character or book, a theme, a time period, a place. . . Get your visual motif going, and then turn to your own materials: your closet, art supply drawer, your roommates' discard pile, an old bedsheet. Keep an open mind and repurpose what you have. Wrap a hat in a black scarf for instant spookiness! Put together clothes you never would ordinarily - tonight you're not you!

Step Four: Gather and Practice
This is the time to fill in the details. Now you've got your idea and the outline and maybe the basics. Need some supplemental material? There may still be time to order a perfect spider pin from Etsy--or The Garment District is open 12-8pm. Or of course Goodwill or other local thrift stores are always treasure troves if you're willing to do a little digging. (Hint: If you're struggling at step 2, try heading into a consignment shop or browsing a used clothing site - sometimes a particular article of clothing is what gets the creative ideas flowing!) Once you have the pieces, try everything on together. Seriously, do it. Sometimes I have more fun doing the "dress rehearsal" - plus you'll have a chance to find the perfect finishing touches - a belt, a ring, something funky you do to your hair, etc.

Step Five: Give Yourself Permission
Last step: wear your costume and feel good about it! Here's me officially telling you it's not silly to sit alone in your apartment all dressed up. (Or if it is silly, only in the best way.) Or find a reason to (safely) show it off to friends! Try a Zoom call or, circumstances permitting, an outdoor costume parade. Put your costume on in the morning and FaceTime your niblings. Wave to the neighbors when you put out the trash and see if your best zombie regalia can make them jump or if that's just par for the course in 2020. Take the momentary thrills as they come, right?
Want to show your love of Porter Square Books? Order your very own Porter Square Books T-shirt!
Old Hollywood:  From Page to Screen
Murder She Wrote:  Agatha Christie Movies

Dame Agatha Christie is considered the best selling fiction author of all time having sold over two billion books.  Television has mined her work for years.  More than once the BBC produced all twelve of the Miss Marple stories and London Weekend Television (and other production companies) produced Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet in 70 episodes.   

However, Hollywood always loved a good crime drama and many of Christie’s works were filmed. Starting in 1928 and for the next twenty years there were a few Christie adaptions mostly produced by British companies.  In 1945 the first most significant of the films was And Then There Were None, based on the 1939 novel of the same name and written by Dudley Nichols; a remake was made in 1965 this time called Ten Little Indians.
The next important film was Witness for the Prosecution, which was a filmed version of Christie’s play.  Billy Wilder wrote the screenplay and Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich starred.  Interesting trivia:  Vivien Leigh was considered for the role of Christine.  In the 1960’s M-G-M produced four Miss Marple films.  Starring Dame Margaret Rutherford, the movies were more comedy of manners than suspenseful mysteries.  Murder, She Said (1961) was loosely based on the novel 4:10 From Paddington (1957); Murder at the Gallop (1963) was from the novel After the Funeral (1953); Murder Most Foul (1964) came from the book Mrs. McGinty’s Dead (1952) and the final film was Murder Ahoy!, an original screenplay by David Pursall and Jack Seddon.  Christie thought these films “inferior” to her work. 
The Alphabet Murders (1965), from the 1936 novel, The A.B.C. Murders was produced in 1965 starring Tony Randall as Hercule Poirot. Margaret Rutherford made a cameo in this less than stellar production.  In 1974 Sidney Lumet directed an all-star cast from Christie’s 1934 popular novel Murder on the Orient Express with a screenplay by Paul Dehn.  With six Oscar nominations this film was a massive critical and commercial success. The cast included:  Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Vanessa Redgrave, Wendy Hiller, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins and Best Supporting Oscar winner:  Ingrid Bergman (this was her third Oscar).  For some reason Ridley Scott and other producers decided to remake this film in 2017.  It starred Kenneth Branagh as Poirot with Judi Dench, Willem Defoe and Michelle Pfeiffer in the cast.  A lavish and stylistic production, the movie garnered weak box-office and middling reviews.
Taking over the role of Poirot in Death on the Nile (1937) was Peter Ustinov in 1978 with screenplay by Anthony Shaffer and starring Angela Lansbury, Mia Farrow, Maggie Smith, David Niven and the one and only Bette Davis.  Music by Nino Rota, cinematography by Jack Cardiff and Oscar-winning costumes by Anthony Powell, combined to make a visually stunning film, but not a box-office hit.  Writers Jonathan Hales and Barry Sandler adapted Christie’s 1962 novel, The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side for the 1980 film The Mirror Crack’d. Angela Lansbury starred as Miss Jane Marple along with Hollywood royalty:  Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis.  Interesting trivia:  The title comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem, The Lady of Shallot.  Evil Under the Sun (1941) was adapted by Anthony Shaffer for a film of the same name in 1982.  Ustinov returned as Poirot and was supported by Maggie Smith, James Mason, Diana Rigg and Nicholas Clay.  Christie’s novel Appointment with Death (1938) was adapted in 1988 with Peter Ustinov again as Poirot.  Hayley Mills, Lauren Bacall, Carrie Fisher and John Gielgud co-starred.  The movie received mixed reviews.
Throughout the years the French company CanalStudio produced and distributed many of Christie’s novels for primarily French audiences.  It was announced that yet another remake, Death on the Nile(1937), would be released in October 2020 by Twentieth Century Fox.

Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie née Miller and later Lady Mallowan was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1971; she died peacefully at age 85 in 1976 at her home Winterbrook which she shared with her husband Max Mallowan.

Next Up:  The Russian Novels
Visit your friends at Cafe Zing!
Did you know our beloved Cafe Zing is open for customers? Now you know!

In addition to Fresh Roll Preorders for pick up on Thursdays, you can now walk in and place an order for your favorite Zing beverages and pastries, plus three-packs of fresh rolls.

Open Wednesday-Saturday, 8AM-2PM! See you and your extra-shot, biggest-size-you-have iced latte at the cafe.
Antiracism Books: A Place to Start
Bookseller Bundles

Our bookseller bundles have expanded again! Hannah has joined the fun with her new horror bundle! Having trouble getting into spirit this unusual Halloween? Hannah will hand pick you three spine-chilling paperback novels that will make you double check your locks and hide beneath the covers. Let’s embark on a journey of short story compilations, female horror writers, horror poetry, Halloween books for youth, and classic horror together. Now light that pumpkin spice candle and let’s take a ride to Halloween Town.
Catch the replay!
Have your calendars marked because next Tuesday, October 13th, our very own Rebecca Kim Wells' Storm the Earth launches - preorder your book here (signed copies available!) and make sure to join us for a virtual event the evening of 10/13 to celebrate! And to get in the mood, watch Rebecca talk about the first in the duology, Shatter The Sky, in the virtual paperback launch we hosted this summer by clicking the image below. (Psst, you can re-watch all of our virtual events on Crowdcast!)
Audio Book of the Month

From two-time Newbery medalist and living legend Lois Lowry comes a moving account of the lives lost in two of WWII’s most infamous events: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.

“Incredibly, Newbery Award-winning author Lois Lowry, the daughter of an Army dentist, has home movies, taken in 1940, of her 3-year-old self playing on the beach in Waikiki, Hawaii, as the USS ARIZONA steams towards Pearl Harbor on the horizon. At the age of eleven, she and her family joined her father in postwar Tokyo, Japan—imagine what she just have seen, felt, wondered! In this slim, poignant narrative-in-verse, Lowry draws on the stories of real people, both American and Japanese, as well as her own memories. In spare verse, Lowry deftly puts a human face on those who lost their lives and those who survived and leads readers to consider the tragic consequences of war. Beautifully executed.”

--Jennifer G., Blue Willow Bookshop
Shop the store!
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!
Journals, Stationery & Crafts
Sometimes a new notebook is what it takes to get the juices flowing!

We have now made a much wider variety of notebooks, journals, and even calendars available for order from our website, like this classic Moleskin. Now, along with items with an inventory status of "On Our Shelves Now," you can order journals, notebooks, diaries, calendars, planners, and more with an inventory status of "Available at Warehouses."
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!
Additional Book Bundle Offerings
Make your shopping easy by buying bundles, handpicked by our expert booksellers!

A new month means new staff picks! Check out what we're excited for this month.
Featured Staff Pick for Children
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

This book reminded me of old favorites I devoured as a teen, but better. Vivid world-building, strong characters, magic, adventure, friendship and romance—all the good stuff, rendered in beautiful writing.
Featured Staff Pick for Adults

This is a ghost story of sorts, and a love story of sorts, but mostly a story about a girl who doesn't want to live a stifled life and makes a deal with the devil to live forever. A beautiful, modern story. 
See you next time here at Shelf Stable!
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