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. Five or fewer books per order if possible.

We are happy to fulfill other orders, but will not be able to process them until at least May 18. Other options: try  or - keep it indie!
Shelf Stable: May 20
"A book is thoughts and ideas of a person or persons collected into language and solidified into a stable but still malleable entity by a front and back cover." - Josh Cook
Hello fellow book friends,

I’m feeling good today, and I hope you are too. The sun is shining and the sky is a perfectly cloudless spring blue. The next couple of days will reveal a hint of summer weather with warm temperatures. I can’t wait! Although soon enough I’ll probably be wishing for the respite of the air conditioned store.  

I can’t believe that this pandemic has spanned the entirety of spring. It feels like we’ve been huddled inside against the storms of January and suffered through the stifling heat of August already. But of course, it’s only been spring, fickle as ever. Some of the books I’ve been returning to recently are Karl Ove Knausgaard’s seasons quartet: Autumn , Winter, Spring , Summer (in recommended order). For most of the series Knausgaard offers vignette-style, quiet takes on the objects around him, but he also considers animals, body parts, relationships, and emotions. In Autumn there’s chapters on rubber boots and kitchen chairs, in Winter it’s winter sounds and pipes, in Summer it’s butterflies and ice cubes. Spring, the most slender of the series as well as the most narrative, is about the arrival of a new family member, and the absence of another. In this book life is almost suspended; there is an aspect of carrying on and moving forward, but a hesitancy, as if it could all be pulled back at any moment. That’s how I feel right now too. 

I could hear some of you groan when you read Knausgaard’s name. And for that I offer you another seasons quartet, a series of novels by Ali Smith. I haven’t read Autumn , Winter , Spring , or Summer yet (the latter publishes this August) but they’re on my list. I’m sure they’re just as wonderful, and I look forward to diving into them soon.

-- Heather
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Sinny Recommends: Bánh mì (Vietnamese Sandwich)
I have to confess, I have made bánh mì exactly once, ages ago, and it was a long and intimidating process for someone who had never pickled anything beforehand. If you are a master pickler, then this recipe is for you. If you love bánh mìs, this is also for you. If you are not familiar with bánh mì, they are amazing in taste and cost (they go for $4-5). My favourite sandwich shops are in Boston Chinatown: 'New Saigon Sandwich' and '163 Vietnamese Sandwich,' both places offer meat and vegetarian options. My go-to is the original cold cut, but the recipe I am sharing today can be made with your protein of choice. Author and chef, Andrea Nguyen, is a master of bánh mìs, so much so that she wrote a handbook for all the different kinds of sandwiches that you can make.

  • 1 petit baguette roll or a 7-inch section cut from a regular length baguette, purchased or homemade
  • Mayonnaise, real (whole egg) or homemade mayonnaise
  • Maggi Seasoning sauce or soy sauce
  • Your choice of boldly-flavored meat or tofu, sliced and at room temperature
  • 3 or 4 thin seeded cucumber strips, pickling or English variety preferred
  • 2 or 3 cilantro sprigs, roughly chopped
  • 3 or 4 thin jalapeño pepper slices
  • Everyday Daikon and Carrot Pickle (do chua)

  • Slit the bread lengthwise, and then use your fingers or a bread knife to hollow out the insides, making a trough in both halves. Discard the insides or save it for another use, such as breadcrumbs. If necessary, crisp up the bread in a toaster oven preheated to 325ºF, and then let it cool for a minute before proceeding.
  • Generously spreading the inside with mayonnaise. Drizzle in some Maggi Seasoning sauce or soy sauce. Start from the bottom portion of bread to layer in the remaining ingredients. (As with all sandwiches, you’ll eventually develop an order for layering the filling so as to maximize the interaction between flavors and textures.) Close the sandwich, cut it in half crosswise for easy eating, and enjoy.

As Mass slowly starts to open, I know that we're all awaiting summer days, and my favourite way to spend a hot summer day is near the sea with a book (or ebook thanks to ) and a bánh mì in hand. If you try making bánh mì, please let me know! I'd love to know how your recipe turns out and if your tricks on making the process easier.

Need Some Inspiration?
This February, only about a month before the shutdown, I discovered Abide, a boba tea shop in Central Square. They serve instagram-worthy teas, beautifully layered with different colors. More importantly, their teas are made from scratch on site and, for me, they'd do unsweetened ones with non-dairy milk.

These past two months, I've had cravings for all sorts of food and drink, a mix of wanting comfort, being sick of cooking three meals a day, and wishing I could frequent the local establishments I appreciate. One evening, with a hankering for boba, I remembered I had a copy of The Boba Book: Bubble Tea & Beyond. If I ordered a kit from Abide, it wouldn't come for a few days*, but (local business coming through again) Reliable Market had some tapioca pearls that day. Armed with pantry items and the book, I tried to recreate what I'd been craving.

As an art teacher, I've often said that one of the reasons to try creating art is to gain an appreciation for the skill, time, and effort of professional artists. I've found the same is true of much of the food I've made during the past two months; while I can cook some stellar meals, doing so has given me a new appreciation for the skills of local chefs, cooks, baristas, waitstaff, bartenders, and (especially) dishwashers.

I made a passable boba (not as pretty as Abide's) and I look forward to future experiments, especially now that my Abide kit has arrived (within two days or ordering- they're awesome). No matter how good my skills get, though, I'm looking forward to the day I can get a drink out again. When that happens, I'll appreciate it even more.


-- Marika
Bedtime Stories
Sorry, everyone! It looks like we're having a rough week and missed another bedtime story. Instead, please enjoy Julie Andrew's podcast: Julie's Library.
And of course, don't forget to meet us over at our Instagram story at 8:45pm for tonight's live bedtime reading! (We'll also try not to forget...)
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 Pick for Kids
Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed, illustrated by Sarah Alfageeh

An absolute delight! So charming, bright, and uplifting. Even when there’s some drama, there’s always hope. Love for family, friends, and celebration just make for a wonderful read. The illustrator Sara Alfageeh (@thefoofinator) is also local!
Featured Pick for Adults
Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang

Comic and contemplative, this book helped me pause for a moment during this time of constant stress. Read if you enjoyed Ling Ma's Severance or Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere.
 -- Rebecca

A Porter Square Books Choose Your Own Adventure!
You decide you need to make it back to the kitchen. Unfortunately, you're still hanging in the limbo that is page 275. "Roger, can you shake us out of this page or something?" you ask hopefully. "Well, the only way I know of moving us along is getting to the next page. If I recall correctly, it begins like this: 'Deep in the bowels of a castle / a Cerberus awaits / a hefty meal of rum cake / from a doting witch.'"

The world shifts, you're falling once again, and then land with a splash in something slimy. "This is most distasteful. I must look a toasty mess!" Summit cried. Roger patted his shoulder fondly, "no, no, you look fine. It's just water anyway."

What Roger meant by "water" actually means that the three of you have landed in the Cerberus' drooly water bowl. You're none too happy to be here either, so you climb out and take a look around. You notice several cookbooks, some bones, odd bits and bobs that glow, an enormous egg, and then finally you spot what you were hoping for: a recipe tin.

Just as you make a step towards the tin, however, you hear the rumbling you were dreading. The Cerberus has discovered the water bowl Olympics and charges towards Summit, still trying to dry off his scabbard.
Do you...
Figure Summit can handle it. Go grab the recipes.
Make a dive in front of the beast to save your friends.
Look around for something labelled with a cake symbol.
Audio Book Of The Month
The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

Fatima is a concubine of the sultan of the last emirate in the Iberian Peninsula to submit to the Spanish Inquisition. When her dearest friend, Hassan, a mapmaker who can map places he has never seen (and that do not always exist), is singled out by the Inquisition, she flees with him and a jinn, following the trail of the elusive and mythical Bird King, who may or may not be able to grant them sanctuary. Wilson’s latest novel is rich with the historical detail, lush description, and fantastical elements that we have come to know and love from her. A story of resistance, freedom, seeking, and strength, and a true fable for our times.
--Anna Elkund, University Bookstore
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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