Shelf Stable: September 30th
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” - Haruki Murakami
[Disclaimer: I will not be addressing the debate in today's email; I'm sure you've had enough emails and social media about it at this point in your day.]

The thing about Shelf Stable is you often get whatever is going through our heads on a given day. --->

Obviously, it was hard to pick something today, so I ended up going with the date. Tomorrow is the first day of October, and I'm gearing up to start a new project: carving one stamp a day for the entire month. Honestly, I may not do one everyday. Life, after all, is insane. But I'm going to try. I'm doing this for a modified Inktober, as I want to set myself a reasonable task (scroll down to hear a bit about Inktoaber and goals). I've therefore devoted this issue of Shelf Stable to drawing.

The “Need Some Inspiration” column of Shelf Stable has been a comfortable place for me. I am a maker professionally, and in how I've always lived my life. Because making things is integral to my identity, I sometimes forget how amazingly hard it can be. This is not to say I don't struggle with it: I haven't written fiction since March. Some days, I just continue working on my laptop while listening to romance audiobooks after dinner. Making certain things is hard, but in being unable to make some things, I've made space for others. I spent March-May knitting more. I've been carving stamps. My partner and I have fermented so much that we've begun bartering with our creations.

This making isn't work, it's play. And that's good. Playing is, after all, the most important part of living/learning: the knowledge that you should let yourself have fun, muck about, and make mistakes in the quest to understand the world. Play is a trial, error, repeat approach to solving problems, it gives you the space to experiment and enjoy. It often contributes more to work than any “work” does and, if you're trying to “encourage creativity,” vigorous play is the best way. You can play with ideas, pushing and challenging them, and with materials.

If you've never drawn before, or haven't drawn in ages, I invite you to read today's drawing posts thinking about play. Then, pick up a mark-making utensil (a stick in the dirt, a brush, a pencil, the charcoal from your grill, a fork through your mashed potatoes) and play with drawing. You don't have to follow rules, you don't have to have a goal; just approach it with a sense of curiosity and humor. Make mistakes, try again, and be kind to yourself.

Read our reopen policies and hours!
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
Curbside Pick Up: Daily, 3PM-7PM

We really appreciate your support!
Join our next virtual events!
Thursday, October 1st
at 7PM
Virtual: Andrea Hairston with Daniel José Older, Master of Poisons

Porter Square Books is pleased to present a virtual talk with Andrea Hairston, author of Master of Poisons, in conversation with Daniel José Older! Award-winning author Andrea Hairston weaves together African folktales and postcolonial literature into unforgettable fantasy in Master of PoisonsThis event is hosted on Crowdcast, and is free and open to all!

The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find.

Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile.

Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men.

Awash in the rhythms of folklore and storytelling and rich with Hairston's characteristic lush prose, Master of Poisons is epic fantasy that will bleed your mind with its turns of phrase and leave you aching for the world it burns into being.
Need Some Inspiration?

Tomorrow is October 1, which means around the world, people will be picking up pens and brushes to start the first day of Inktober. To participate in Inktober, all you need to do is draw as many days as possible during the month of October. The goal is to draw everyday; it doesn't need to be much- even a one-minute sketch works. This may mean you do October 1st and then skip two weeks, anything is a start!

You've probably read my encouragements to draw before, or, back when we were open, had me excitedly thrust Lynda Barry's Making Comics into your hands. Among the many things I do, I'm an educator and adjunct professor of art and literature. For many people, drawing is hard because it's scary. At some point, someone may have said to you, “you can't draw,” and that was it, you stopped. (For many people this was probably around grade 4.) But, like anything else, drawing can be learned. Actually, you probably don't need to learn, you just need to do.

Unless memoir comics are your profession, it's important to separate therapeutic drawing from traditional, structured drawing. For those who don't draw much, learning techniques is a great way to scare one off drawing. Instead, try making drawing something you enjoy. Pour yourself a glass of something nice, put on some music, and just let yourself play. Make marks, even if they don't resemble anything. Draw spirals. Draw weird accessories on magazine photos.
If you have more training, or work in the arts, use the month as a structure for a project. For example, last year, I used the prompts to create an entire oracle deck, The Wonderer's Traveling Oracle Deck (available for purchase in-store at Porter Square Books). My current roommate used the prompts to create a zine, doing a page of it a day.
(We are not doing anything nearly as crazy this year because, well, the world.)

There are lists of prompts online, from the official Inktober prompts to thematic lists. If this is your first year, or you like structure, I recommend using one of the lists as having direction can be helpful. If you need even more direction, pick a size for your drawings (a post-it pad with a page per day, or a rectangle drawn in a sketchbook), and a theme for each prompt. For example, in 2018, I made square, one-panel comics about food using the prompts. You may also find it helpful to designate a time everyday to do the drawing. For example, set an alarm for 12:50-1pm and spend ten minutes drawing. Ten minutes may not seem like much, but when you have a prompt and direction, it's longer than you think!

Happy drawing!
Want to show your love of Porter Square Books? Order your very own Porter Square Books T-shirt!
You don't need much to draw, I mean, look at what Raul the Third does with ballpoint pens! However, having special materials can give you the impetus to work. Thanks to our incredible sidelines buyer, Katie, we have what you need.

Additional pens, pencils, sketchbooks, and really fun pencil pouches are available in-store.
Books to Draw With
Books to get you started drawing, for everyone from the beginner to the professional.
Syllabus by Lynda Barry
Making Comics by Lynda Barry
A Year in Small Drawings by Matilda Tristram
Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith
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.
Prison Book Program
Porter Square Books is proud to partner with the Prison Book Program to help provide access to books to people in prison. Order any title off this wish list and select the "Curbside Pick Up" shipping option and we'll give to the Prison Book Program to distribute.
Missed our event on Tuesday?
Audio Book of the Month
When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole, read by Susan Dalian & Jay Aaseng

Rear Window meets Get Out in this gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…

Cole’s thriller exposes the underbelly of gentrification and prosperity, taking a searing look at systemic racism. When a pharmaceutical firm plans to move its headquarters to a historically Black Brooklyn neighborhood, an influx of rich white people displace Black residents from their homes and their roots. Timely, groundbreaking, and thought-provoking, When No One Is Watching is essential reading for the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

--Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books
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!

Last chance for the September 2020 Staff Picks!
Featured Staff Pick for Children
The Line Tender by Kate Allen

If you know or have ever been a townie in a New England seaside town, this book will feel like home, like riding your bike through the warm twilight of summer. Even if you've hardly left Boston, this book will sweep you up and break your heart and then put the pieces back together with tape and bits of string. Kate Allen's writing is both lyrical and straightforward, mature and yet captures the enthusiasm and confusion of being thirteen.

Featured Staff Pick for Adults

Sometimes, we all need the most amazing notebook with plenty of pages to get us through a pandemic in September. If your life is a mess, this will not solve any of your problems, but it will make it so that you can transfer a lot of your mess onto paper and forget about it. If your life is perfect, then please share your secrets with us, but still get this great notebook.

See you next time here at Shelf Stable!
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