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Shelf Stable: June 8th
“Writing can be a lifeline, especially when your existence has been denied, especially when you have been left on the margins, especially when your life and process of growth have been subjected to attempts at strangulation.” Micere Githae Mugo
We all have books that we loved as children but as we got older, maybe we saw flaws in them, like fatphobia and racism and general lack of diversity. Maybe the authors used their twitter to spout anti-trans rhetoric or reveal that wizards just pooped themselves before muggle plumbing was invented. I'm not thinking of any specific examples, of course. Just saying that as you get older, you might still love the books that had a long lasting effect on you as a child, but that maybe going forward, you might want to read some books about magical schools where the characters are queer from the beginning, where people of color exist both in on and off the page, where there are gender neutral bathrooms and that's all we need to know about them. 

Anyway. Rather than dwell on how some authors should really stop using twitter, I'm going to take this opportunity to make some recommendations. 

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan
The protagonist of this book is a snarky Jewish bisexual pacifist. He's at a magic school for humans who defend the magical Borderlands, but he keeps questioning whether they actually need defending or if maybe they should try just talking to all the cool magical creatures humans keep fighting. He keeps making friends despite his best effort to be as unpleasant as possible and discovers his own sexuality and that he is worthy of love along the way. It's simultaneously a critique of magic school and portal fantasy tropes as well as a loving celebration of them. And it's filled with queer characters.
Sal and Gabi Break The Universe by Carlos Hernandez
While Culeco Academy is an art school, not a magic school, I'm still putting it on this list. The school and its inhabitants have an offbeat charm that makes it practically its own character, which is one of the things I look for in a good magic school book. Plus, Sal is training to be a magician, that has to count for something, right? Even if it's stage magic, not actual wand waving. Students and faculty wear costumes to school, and the mascot is a superhero egg. And this is all before Sal starts ripping holes in the multiverse and Gabi starts trying to figure out how he does his tricks. 

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Imagine if Harry Potter had been about Petunia Durlsey, only instead of getting married she'd become a private eye and now she has to investigate a murder at Hogwarts and reconnect with her sister who she hasn't spoken to in years. Also? A whole lot of the students and faculty are queer. Sarah Gailey is nombinary, so they always make a point of including lots of queer characters in their books. They've become one of my favorite writers very quickly.
SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jill Tamaki
You know how high school was weird and awkward and terrible? This is the magic school book that does the best at depicting that. I mean, it's still magic. There are kids with animal heads and laser eyes and magical spells. But they're also having crushes on their friends and playing dungeons and dragons and making weird statement art pieces. It's confusing and doesn't always make sense and that's what makes it so perfect. 

Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older
You know how you read history books sometimes and think "wow, any history period could be improved if EVERYONE RODE DINOSAURS." Magdalys and her friends live in New York while the Civil War rages on in the South. They have to learn to ride dactylback to take down an evil racist magistrate and rescue their friends. Older tackles the realities of racism and the fantasy of dinosaurs with equal grace, making for a unique and wonderful book. And yes, the dinosaurs do have feathers. 

None of these books can replace the books from my youth, the books that, for all their problems, still are important strands in my literary DNA. But there's always room for new books, and always room for books that will reflect and shape the world to come. I've talked before about the power of seeing yourself reflected in a character. Getting to see that character being the hero in an adventure is its own sort of magic. It's well worth making sure as many kids as possible get that opportunity.

-- Shana
Join our next virtual event!
Jamie Pacton and Jennifer Dugan, The Life and Medieval Times of Kit Sweetly -- June 24th at 7PM
Join Porter Square Books for a virtual event with Jamie Pacton, author of May staff pick  The Life and Medieval Times of Kit Sweetly , in conversation with Jennifer Dugan, author of  Verona Comics and Hot Dog Girl!

This event is hosted on Crowdcast, and is free and open to all. Register for the event here:

Moxie meets  A Knight’s Tale as Kit Sweetly slays sexism, bad bosses, and bad luck to become a knight at a medieval-themed restaurant.
Antiracism Books
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!
Old Hollywood: From Page to Screen
The new decade sounded the death knell of the old studio system and now many films were shot on location rather than in studio and most actors were no longer under long-term contracts and were independent contractors.  

Love Story  was the smash hit of 1970.  Based on the sappy bestseller by Erich Segal, this film, savaged by the critics, was the highest grossing film of the year. The black comedy  M*A*S*H , from the novel by Richard Hooker, came in third that year with stellar reviews and boffo box-office.

The French Connection  (1971), based on the book by Robin Moore won Best Picture and Best Actor for Gene Hackman Oscars while  Fiddler on the Roof  (1971) based on the stories by Sholem Aleichem soared at the box office.  Robert Altman’s brilliant revisionist Western,  McCabe & Mrs. Miller  (1971 written by Brian McKay is considered one of Altman’s masterpieces.
In 1972 Mario Puzo’s gritty crime novel  The Godfather  became the hit of the season and two years later  The Godfather Part II  was released to similar acclaim.  Both films won the Best Picture Oscar.  Interesting trivia:  Laurence Olivier, George C. Scott, Anthony Quinn and Orson Welles were all considered for the role of Vito Corleone, but it was Marlon Brando who got the role and the Oscar. 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest  (1975) based on the novel by Ken Kesey starred Michael Douglas and Louise Fletcher – both Academy Award winners.   Jaws  (1975) written by Peter Benchley, was released in June and became the number one moneymaker of the year.  The next year Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s bestseller  All the President’s Men  (1976) came to the screen starring Robert Redford. 

Interesting trivia:  In 1977 Charlie Chaplin, aged 88, died in Switzerland and three months later his body was stolen and held for ransom; it was found in a cornfield five weeks later.
The year 1977 brought  Star Wars  to the screen – although not based on a book or short story, the film was written by George Lucas and it has become an iconic franchise (with its many prequels and sequels). In 1979 the first sequel,  The Empire Strikes Back  began shooting at England’s famed Elstree Studios.

The Best Picture Oscar of 1978 went to  The Deer Hunter  with a screenplay by Deric Washburn (et al.) from his story. Starring Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep, this haunting film won five Oscars, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.

There were many acclaimed films made during this decade that were not adapted from books, short stories or plays –  Chinatown  (1974) was an original screenplay and the hugely popular  Grease  (1978) was based on the stage musical. Interesting trivia: In March 2019 it was announced that a prequel entitled  Summer Loving  was in development.  And for all the  Grease  lovers, last evening CBS television replaced the annual Tony Awards presentation with a  Grease Singalong .  Really?

-- Nathan

Next Up:  Les Français écrivains

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
Need Some Inspiration?
Sinny Cooks the Easiest Sesame Noodles
Hello readers,

Burnout is real, so I'm really into easy recipes right now. Today we have Simple Sesame Noodles by Ree Drummond (check out her cookbook here) . This is one of my favorite sesame noodle recipes to make because of how time friendly and easy it is. Bonus: all ingredients can be found in your local grocers. If you want a more traditional recipe , I highly recommend this recipe by The Woks of Life which is also a time saver and super delicious (see picture below for deliciousness).

-- Sinny
  • 12 ounces, fluid Thin Noodles, Cooked And Drained
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar (I use honey instead)
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Pure Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hot Chili Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 4 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin
  • Whisk all ingredients (except noodles and green onions) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.
  • Pour sauce over warm noodles and toss to coat.
  • Add choice of protein if desired
  • Sprinkle with green onions and toss.
  • Serve right away and enjoy!
Shop the store!
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!
Journals, Stationery & Crafts
Sometimes a new notebook is what it takes to get the juices flowing! Browse our new online selection of journals, diaries, coloring books, and pen sets.
Book Bundle Offerings
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!
New style now available:
Bedtime Stories
Jacqueline Woodson reads from Brown Girl Dreaming!
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 now live! Please note that many of these staff picks were chosen prior to recent current events.
Featured Pick for Kids
Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha

HIV-positive teens in Brazil deal with all the challenges of young love plus a few more -- and learn that revenge is best served with the help of a group of drag queens.
Featured Pick for Adults
The Address Book by Deidre Mask

Everything you ever wanted to know about street addresses -- where they came from, why they matter, and how they can change the world.
We want to hear from you!
Our Virtual Grown Up Book Fair ( is scheduled for Monday June 15, but with everything going on, we're not sure this is an appropriate event for the times. But with the store still closed it is also one of the few times in the near future our booksellers will be able to interact with your community. So we decided to reach out to you and see what you would like us to do.
Should we:
Cancel/reschedule the event
Go forward as planned (I could use a break from all this)
Go forward but spend some time on racial justice
See you next time here at Shelf Stable!
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