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. Pay with a credit card

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: April 15
“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.” – Jhumpa Lahiri
Chag Pesach sameach! 

Slightly belatedly, that is. Passover is either over or almost over, depending on what tradition you follow. 

Growing up Jewish, Passover has long been a big deal in our family. We always gather for a Passover Seder , usually in groups of somewhere between 10 and 50 people depending on the night and who we’re celebrating with, and spend somewhere between three and six hours telling stories, singing songs, drinking wine (or grape juice), and generally spending time with family and friends and celebrating freedom and our heritage.

This year was a little different.
We couldn’t gather, so like so many families around the world, we came together on Zoom. It was… different. Nice seeing everyone’s faces, but so much harder actually talking to anyone, and you CANNOT sing together on Zoom, it does not work. Also there were the usual tech issues and muting issues and cats walking across the keyboard and accidentally turning off your video issues… all sorts of things that hadn’t been an issue at Seders past.

But one thing I love about Judaism is how infinitely adaptable we are as a people. Is this how our forebearers imagined seders going? No, but they thought there would be sacrifices at the Temple. We don’t do livestock sacrifices anymore and we don’t have one big Temple in the same way and we speak a hundred different languages and practice a hundred different traditions and now, our seders and Shabbat services are on Zoom. We adapt.

If you want to learn more about the (non-Zoom related) ways Jews have adapted over the centuries, there are a lot of books out there. We recommend Jewish Holidays for the thorough look at how holidays have changed, or Jewish History: A Very Short Introduction for the quicker overview. If you prefer graphic novels or history books , we’ve got those too.

Sometimes, this social distancing feels a little like wandering through the desert for forty years (though with food, electricity, and running water, thankfully. God willing, toilet paper too). We don’t know how long it’ll take us to get through it, and we don’t know what the world will look like when we come out of it. All we know is that the world is changing and, like my people have done for generations, we’ll adapt.

Next year in Jerusalem (or at least in a gathering of more than ten people).

Events We Missed
And a Peek Behind the Screen...
It took me a while to figure out why this round of Twitter recommendations was more difficult than usual. Maybe it had to do with how astrological signs are described in an odd balance between vagueness and specificity. Maybe it had to do with how I don't usually sit at a desk all day, with how even during my office hours shifts I'll have to get up and help on the floor at some point. Maybe it's just the particular wear and tear on the mind that this social distancing has. It could be all of those things and probably a few others I haven't thought of, but something occurred to me that felt the most accurate.

When we're doing recommendation storms on Twitter at the store and I get stuck, I'll usually just walk to the section and see what's there. Sometimes I find the book I'm looking for right away, sometimes I find a tickle in my brain that leads me towards the book, or I get there and suddenly realize the right book isn't in that section at all.

Digital technology provides a certain kind of convenience. If you know what you're looking for it's very easy to find. But if you're not quite sure what you're looking for, if you have just a sense or a hunch or an intuition, Google can't really help you. I'm not sure digital technology will ever match the convenience of a bookshelf when you need a little inspiration before you can even know what to search for to find your answer. So even though we always use digital resources to help make recommendations, we also rely on the physical store itself, its layout, it' space, and it's stock to find the right books for you.

Sometimes it's one of the oldest human technologies that is the right tool for the job.

Need some inspiration?
I currently teach a kids' comics/writing/storytelling class. It started in-person and, like everything else, migrated online over a month ago. Once a week, I do a video chat with my students, everyone drawing away and lifting their drawings to the camera to share. The past two weeks, I've been trying to do activities that help them mentally escape their houses or connect, something I think we all need. A few weeks ago, my friend send me a beautifully illustrated letter, detailing her walk through the woods and including drawings of the flora she saw. I responded with a postcard painted with an image of some of the food I've been cooking.* Using these as examples, my students began working on their own letters and postcards, many involving the antics of their pets.
Looking to connect over something other than a screen? Send an illustrated letter or postcard! If you're unsure of what to include, consider hand-drawn emoji, that outfit you can't show off by wearing out anymore, what you cooked for dinner, the flowers you spotted outside your window, a comic strip of something ridiculous you did, the view from your couch, stick-figure or blob drawings of your fears...

Remember, it's not about how well you draw, it's about taking the time to make something. I promise it's probably worlds better than you think. -- Marika

*I have scouted out the neighborhood and figured out which post boxes have a slot, meaning I don't have to pull a handle to deposit my mail, meaning I don't have to touch anything. Just something to keep in mind!
Bedtime Stories
Stacey reads from store favorite This is How You Lose the Time War -- watch for a surprise!!
Meet us over at our Instagram story at 8:45pm for tonight's live bedtime story with Shana!
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
The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons

Private academy for teenage con artists! What's not to love? Fast-paced, fun, diverting, and there's a sequel once you've finished this one!

We Want to Hear from You!
What's your preference when it comes to book length?
Hefty - the longer the book, the longer you get to spend in that world.
Short and snappy. I have a tall stack and the next book awaits!
Short stories or essay collections that you can dip in and out of!
Short, tall, I'll take 'em all! Page count is only a number.
Audio Book Of The Month
Deacon King Kong by James McBride

“Deacon King Kong is a quintessential New York story. Set in the Brooklyn projects in 1969, a perpetually inebriated deacon called Sportcoat aims a gun at the neighborhood’s main drug dealer in the public plaza and pulls the trigger. Incredibly well-constructed and hilarious at times, McBride’s story entwines a number of storylines that are kickstarted by this central event. The local Italian gangster, the veteran cop, the meddling churchgoers, and the drug pushers all have their own agendas, hopes, and dreams that are affected. And though Sportcoat doesn’t remember his actions and is always under the influence of gut-rot moonshine, I couldn’t help but root for him as I was reading this. His delightful ineptitude and absence of clarity made this book impossible for me to put down. If you’ve never read McBride before, this is a great introduction.”
--Stuart McCommon, Novel.
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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25 White St. Cambridge, MA 02140