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DUE TO THE HIGH VOLUME OF SALES & THE LIMITED NUMBER OF BOOKSELLERS THAT CAN SAFELY BE IN THE STORE WE ARE RUNNING SEVERAL DAYS BEHIND IN PROCESSING ONLINE ORDERS. This is a wonderful problem to have and we are so thankful for your support. Please see the website for more details.
Shelf Stable: June 26th
Flowers lead to books, which lead to thinking and not thinking and then more flowers and music, music. Then many more flowers and many more books… Maria Kalman
I arrived in Maine just in time for lupine season. Those beautiful, tall wildflowers in stunning arrays of blues, purples, pinks, and sometimes white, adorn most fields and landscapes here in June. I swear there’s an annual unspoken contest for the best lupine landscape photo on Instagram. (Before we get too far let me clarify for anyone that doesn’t know, it’s pronounced lu-PIN, not pine like the tree).

If you’ve never seen lupines in person you’re probably familiar with them from the classic children’s book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney . A faded paperback copy still lives on the bookshelves in my parent’s living room alongside Barbara Cooney’s entire works. In the book, Miss Rumphius devotes her life to sewing beauty for all to enjoy, and spreads lupine seeds wherever she goes. 

Literally last week I learned that lupines are invasive. They’re not a native Maine wildflower as I was raised to believe. In fact they’re responsible for choking out milkweed, the only plant on which monarch butterflies breed and lay eggs. If we want to help prevent monarch butterflies from disappearing (climate change is also a known factor in the significant drop in populations) then we need to do something about lupines. I remember as a child seeing signs in Acadia National Park that said “Take only pictures and leave only footprints.” Well, maybe the opposite needs to be said in this case. Let’s go pick some wildflowers.

Similarly, we’re all now even more aware of the pain racism has caused in this country. While I would in no way try to suggest that the beauty of wildflowers is a synonym for life prior to the Black Lives Matter movement, we are now armed with the knowledge and tools to be anti-racists. Let’s grab the hate in our communities and rip it out by the roots. 

If you’d like to learn more about wildflowers, I recommend the trusty National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers .  

Join our next virtual events!
Head Over Heels - Monday, June 29th at 7PM
Porter Square Books is delighted to welcome friend of the store Hannah Orenstein, author of  Head Over Heels , to your computer screens for a virtual book talk and reading, in conversation with Cristina Arreola! This event takes place on Crowdcast, and is free and open to all. Signed copies of the book are available!

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.
Phone a Friend!
Miss getting great recommendations from your favorite booksellers? Never quite got the hang of the whole online orders thing? Now you can sign up for a time slot to chat with a bookseller! Currently available on Saturday and Sunday between 10-4 pm.

Up this weekend: Josh on Saturday and Meaghan on Sunday!
Antiracism Books: A Place to Start
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!
Need Some Inspiration?
Create Your Own Poetsona

It started when the announcement for our new bookseller bundles caught my eye. The pictures Meaghan, Shana, & Caleb all picked, laid out as they were gave off, to me at least, a very strong poetry reading poster vibe. Obviously, I couldn't keep that to myself so I DM'd fellow poetry-lover and poetry-reading-attender Kate to see what she thought and she agreed. "Off-the-charts poetry reading energy," she said. (What's the MLA for citing a DM?) What do you think?
I wondered if we should tell Meaghan, Shana, & Caleb, if they would also get a kick out of it (they did!) and noted that they were like three of the five white poet stereotypes and we were really just mother poet and...maybe tough guy who wears plaid poet.



oh no
From there we all created our own "Poetsonas." Blake Marcotte, Aster Gosling-Michaels, Karl McGregor, TreLore, and Persephone St. Trimble. (I am 100% you know exactly who is who.)

So, if you're looking to get the creative juices flowing create a "Poetsona." Your poetsona can be silly like ours, or aspirational, or something else. You can, of course, try to write as your poetsona (sometimes casting off your own self is exactly what you need to get the words on the page) but you don't have to. We had a lot of fun creating the backstories for the characters (Blake tells people he's from Lowell but he's actually from Tewksbury) and imaging the relationships and rivalries this group of poets might have. You also don't need to limit yourself to verbal creativity. As we discussed who are poetsonas were and what books they might write Kate (demonstrating yet ANOTHER TALENT) whipped up some book covers. (Pictured below.)

What I love about this exercise is you can do as much or as little with it as you want. We had a ton of fun in our DM thread and if that's all we do with our poetsonas, well, fun is fun, and social fun is even more important when being social is so difficult. But we might also write some poems as these characters and share them with you. And who knows what might come from that?

So, if you're stuck trying to create, maybe create someone else and see what happens. If that act unlocks you for a bit, great! And if all you create is that other person, also great, you've created something.

- Josh
PS: Look at this freaking amazing covers! Kate did these in, like, five minutes each. Amazing!
Super-Sized Staff Pick
The Dreamed Part by Rodrigo Fresan, translated by Will Vanderhayden

No one dreams anymore because no one sleeps anymore, except for one man who is donating his last dream to science. Which he should. It’s his fault after all, because it was his attempt to film a true dream sequence that stole dreams from humanity. And that’s just one plotline. The Dreamed Part is one of those books you could spend hours summarizing and still feel as though you haven’t scratched the surface, one of those books that seems to contain several different books. If you asked me “What is The Dreamed Part about?” I’d probably stare off into the distance and then wander off after my stare. At times baffling, at times exuberant, at times your curmudgeonly professor uncle who doesn’t like smart phones, at times breathtaking, The Dreamed Part is less a book and more a mind-altering substance. Fresan writes about and towards that pliable mental state between waking & dreaming. A tremendous literary accomplishment with some of the most amazing prose about books & reading I’ve ever seen in a novel. 

Audio Book of the Month
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia, narrated by Amir Abdullah

Rick Riordan presents Kwame Mbalia's epic fantasy, a middle grade American Gods set in a richly imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods.

"Tristan Strong is a book about memory & storytelling, a clever reimagining of African & black American mythology, & a fun, fast-paced ride! Boxer Tristan feels he's failed his best friend & let down his family. When he accidentally punches a hole to another world, he'll have to rediscover his strength as he fights alongside legends like John Henry, Brer Rabbit, & Anansi. Tristan's voice is tough, tender, & hilarious; his story will appeal to adventure lovers of all ages."
-- Kate, about the hardcover version
Shop the store!
Alert! New bookseller bundles available now!
Our 'get 3 paperbacks' bundle options have expanded to include Caleb, Meaghan, and Shana! Get 3 paperbacks handpicked by the bookseller that fit in with their theme. You can find all bundles HERE.
Super-Sized Staff Pick
The Mercies by Kirin Millwood Hargrave

The Mercies is a beautifully written tale of a 1600s witch hunt and trial on a small Norwegian island. After all of the men of Vardø die at sea, the village of newly minted widows bands together to keep themselves alive. One might not say they thrive in the harsh world of seaside Norway, but they create a female-led town that functions and affords these women more autonomy than they’ve ever had. Then a fire-and-brimstone Scottish preacher comes to Vardø and, largely out of the desire to prove his own greatness, starts a hunt for witches. And at the heart of the story and in the quiet corners of the village, there is a love story that will make your heart ache. It is a nuanced look at the power of a female community, the toxicity of patriarchy, and the whirlwind of a village descending into madness, eating itself from the inside. Hargrave's writing is blunt and lyrical; her characters seem emotionless, and yet she lets you see the tempest just below the surface. I stayed up most of the night to finish The Mercies ; it will sweep you up in it's whirlwind, like it did me.

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."
Book Bundle Offerings
Father's Day Gifts

Father's Day approaches! We've come up with a great list of gifts for you to browse from - socks, puzzles, books, joke books, oven mitts - all your favorites from the store! Remember to place your order early in order for us to have it ready for you in time for the holiday itself. Hope your dad or the guardian in your life loves it!
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!
Bedtime Stories
I don't know who needs to see this but here's Danny DeVito reading The Lorax. Be careful though, the way he sighs when he sits down gives off such powerful Grandfather-Babysitting-for-the-Night-About-To-Say-"OK, just one more time and then you've got to go bed" energy Peter Falk might suddenly appear and start reading The Princess Bride.
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!
June staff picks are live! Please note that many of these staff picks were chosen prior to recent events.
Featured Pick for Kids
Outside In re We Go From Here by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Cindy Derby

 “Once we were part of the outside, and the outside was part of us.” Beautifully illustrated by Cindy Derby, this book is a poetic meditation on our relationship with nature.
-- Robin
Featured Pick for Adults
Crazy for Birds by Misha Maynerick Blaize

A delightfully colorful, cartoony book about birds. Loaded with fun bird and bird-adjacent factoids. A good book for any bird lover, especially if they’re looking for something funny and not completely irreverent.
-- Stacey
We want to hear from you!
What's been the biggest change in your reading habits over the past few months?
I have a lot more time to read!
I just don't have the focus that I used to have.
My reading has become more centered on current events and social issues.
I'm consciously trying to read more diverse titles these days.
I'm reading more in a new format (digital or audio).
My habits have stayed about the same!
See you next time here at Shelf Stable!
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