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 7
Books are everywhere; and always the same sense of adventure fills us .
– Virginia Woolf
In my teens and early twenties, I was a camp counselor at camps throughout Washington State. Of all the things I had to do as part of being a camp counselor, I think bedtime was the worst. How do you effectively and consistently get a dozen or so pre-pubescent boys to fall asleep without begging, yelling, or becoming a crying huddled mess in the corner? Seriously, it’s freaking hard work. And mind you, I did this for nearly 10 years! I tried telling stories, reading stories, yelling, begging, bribing, and yes, that crying huddled mess may or may not have been based on real events. 

I think I was about five years in the job that I finally – finally! – came upon a solution that actually worked. Surprisingly, it was simple. And maybe not so surprisingly, I found my answer in a bookstore. 

It was – and this is no joke – the US Army Survival Manual . I know, right?! I bought it for myself out of the discount books bin almost as an afterthought. Maybe it’d be a gag gift for a friend. I dunno. But one summer night when I was at my wit’s end, I pulled this book off my reading pile and asked the cabin of twelve-year-old boys if they wanted to learn how to catch a squirrel and prepare it for eating. I have never seen a group of kids more eager than then to learn a new skill.

So yes, I read from “The Manual .” What I immediately discovered is that these kids were listening to every word. And if I were honest with myself, the words were actually kind of boring. So when I finished the section on “procuring food,” the kids were out like a light. My gawd, could this work again?! The next night, I read from the section on how to build a lean-to. And when I finished that section, again, the kids were out like a light. I found it: bedtime kryptonite. “Eureka!” I scream-whispered.

Here’s what I discovered—the US Army Survival Manual to kids was fascinating enough that they wanted to hear every morbid, survival-or-else detail, but in the end, it’s a still a freaking manual. I had accidentally found that sweet spot between capturing their interest and lulling them to sleep—like moths being drawn into the bug zapper (you know, if the moths were just falling asleep). 

Why do I bring this up now while we’re in the midst of a pandemic? 

I don’t know about you, but I think a lot of us are feeling like we’re at the end of our rope. Like we’re going blue in the face begging and pleading our neighbors to just stay home and practice social distancing. The growing rise of “the curve” is scary as hell—how high will it go before it begins to flatten? What will we have when this is over? Who and what of us will be left?

I don’t know the answer. Of course I don’t. But I do know that I’ll be turning to my bookstore for hope. For solace. For community. And for my next read.

Which section of the US Army Survival Manual would you like to hear tonight? I’m here.

If you’d like a copy of the US Army Survival Manual for yourself, you can find it here.

Carter @PSB
Events We Missed
Need some inspiration?
Like many of us, my cooking priorities have changed recently. I’m cooking more at home and focusing much more on what I can make from what I already have. I want to share some of my current cooking inspirations with you so that hopefully you can find inspiration too! First up is Half Baked Harvest. I have her Half Baked Harvest Super Simple cookbook, which I’m loving right now because it focuses on comfort foods made simple—including pared-down ingredient lists. Tieghan also has a “Pantry Recipes” highlight on her Instagram , and I’ve made about half the recipes in the highlight in the last few weeks. Tonight, I’m making her “ best super easy penne…with a lot of garlic ” for dinner because I have all the ingredients already (and I bet you do too if you omit the sausage) and because it calls for dried herbs which is much more convenient right now than buying fresh. 

 I’m also loving Hummingbird High, both her Weeknight Baking book and her Instagram . I’m especially loving her small-batch recipes that she’s putting up on her Instagram, because she takes recipes I love from her book and makes them more appropriate for smaller households. I made the scaled-down version of her Supernatural Brownies last week and it was perfect for two of us (see her Insta story highlights for the recipe).

One final recommendation—for weekly food inspiration with a semi-literary twist, sign up for romance author Jasmine Guillory’s newsletter . Every week she includes a recipe she’s loving right now, including some that appear in her books! 

Happy cooking,
Bedtime Stories
Last night Shana read from long time favorite Good Omens by Neil Gamain and Terry Pratchett . If you've only ever seen the movie, check out the book!

In a lot of ways, Neil is a big reason why we've put so much time and energy into our website and social media over the years. Thanks, in large part to Cafe Zing's soft rolls, we were able to do a signed preorder campaign with him and had to learn how to handle around 5,000 copies of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. We used that experience to continue improving our online presence. Of course, nothing beats being in the store and Neil visited us a few times over the years. I know I haven't met every single human being, but it's hard to imagine anyone being as gracious as he is.
Meet us over at our Instagram story at 8:45pm for tonight's live reading with Stacey!
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!
*Send your entry by Thursday!* For some reason, we've been thinking about the apocalypse lately, (insert joke about moving dystopian fiction into current affairs) which, of course, got us thinking about the Apocalypse Team game. The rules are simple and presented here in their bookish version. Build a team with three realistically human or animal characters from literature. So no picking characters with magic or super powers or anything like that. Once everyone in your group has assembled their team, each person makes the argument for why their team will survive the longest. Debate until a winner is chosen or you get sick of debating. Rinse and repeat with whatever other rules you want to add.

Respond to this email with your Literary Apocalypse Team and your argument for why you'll survive. We'll pick a favorite and share the winner in next Thursday's shelf. The winner will get a stack o' galleys sent to them via media mail!
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!
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