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 4. Other options: try  or - keep it indie!
Shelf Stable: May 6
“I don’t know [why we're here]. People sometimes say to me, ‘Why don’t you admit that the humming bird, the butterfly, the Bird of Paradise are proof of the wonderful things produced by Creation?’ And I always say, well, when you say that, you’ve also got to think of a little boy sitting on a river bank, like here, in West Africa, that’s got a little worm, a living organism, in his eye and boring through the eyeball and is slowly turning him blind. The Creator God that you believe in, presumably, also made that little worm. Now I personally find that difficult to accommodate…”
  David Attenborough
The above is not really a segue into what I am thinking about these days (although one could equate the coronavirus with that little worm), but who doesn't love David Attenborough's astute observations of the natural world?  

Over the past few weeks with all of the talk about the "hum of humanity" quieting and the solitude of sheltering in place, I've been thinking about how much time I spend staring out the window at my birdfeeders and marveling at the variety of winged creatures who visit for just a few seconds or linger as some do, for a minute or two.  Then I read this piece in the New York Times and felt somewhat validated - I'm not the only one. 

I couldn't honestly put bird-watching on a list of my hobbies, but from the time my younger son was in third grade and his teacher was a bona fide birder, he and I have shared a heightened appreciation of our bird friends. It's been a bonding thing - we once lay in a damp field at dusk with the rest of his class looking up and waiting for the ritual mating dance of the American Woodcock. Never happened...but I still remember that evening. Anyway, I see nothing as exotic as a woodcock at my feeders - the ubiquitous chickadees, wrens and nuthatches. From my work perch, I will catch a glint of the brilliant yellow goldfinch or the scarlet of the cardinal from the corner of my eye. The cardinals always come in a pair and he patiently sits on a branch nearby while she gets her fill of sunflower seeds. On the rarer side, I've seen red-winged blackbirds; flickers that just about bring the feeder off it's hook; pesky blue jays who peck at the feeder; and woodpeckers who don't! The hours fly by! (no pun intended)

I usually put the feeders out from November to May, but I think I'll leave them up longer this year for the entertainment value. I've got my trusty Sibley guide,  The Sibley Guide to Birds , Second Edition  at hand. Then there is this new Sibley book available now:  What It's Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing--What Birds Are Doing, and Why . Further reading on the curious behavior of birds (for the layperson) can be found in Diane Ackerman's   The Genius of Bird s   and also brand new from Ackerman, The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think . These are just a few of the titles on our shelves for the avid fan.

On to other visual and auditory experiences - I just finished listening to Valentine: A Novel - featuring some kick ass females taking care of themselves in the oil rich, macho landscape of west Texas in the 1970's. I just finished reading a very early reader's copy (one of the perks of the job) of Zorrie by Laird Hunt, author of Neverhome . Bloomsbury is coming out with this in early 2021 - sorry to tease this, but definitely put this on your list of future must reads. It's a quiet beautifully written novel about a woman making her way in post-Depression Indiana that will put you in mind of the novels of Marilynne Robinson, Kent Haruf and Elizabeth Strout. On the TV front, I've gotten into Unorthodox based on the memoir by Deborah Feldman ( Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots) .  This is wild stuff.

Take care out there. We miss you all and look forward to the time when we can all (or a few of us at a time) be back in the store with our friends at Zing!


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Caleb's Quarantine Writing Prompts
Time for another round of Caleb's Quarantine Writing Prompts, because being stuck in our homes does not mean we can't also be stuck on our creative projects. Hopefully some of these help get your gears going, or at least get you laughing. Half a dozen of one....

1. So you're stuck at home with no human contact and forgot what the deal is with other least you still have yourself! Write about yourself. Get descriptive, like a self-portrait but with WORDS. Is this an autobiography now? Who's to say?
2. What day is it? What's on the schedule today? Oh, the same thing as yesterday? Write about your normal stuff but change up the genre! Maybe the story features the friends you're stuck with (or wish you were stuck with) but sub in some action that isn't part of the normal routine. 
3. What do you think George RR Martin's up to these days? Spoiler alert: he's not finishing that last Song of Ice and Fire book. Write a story about all the things that are distracting him.
4. What would it be like to be stuck with two literary characters that are totally opposite in how they handle this pandemic? Who are they, who's the first to succumb to cabin fever and who's the one perfectly suited for isolation? 
5. What does the world look like when you start breaking the fourth wall? Who are you talking to??
That's all I got. Stay sane and safe!

Need Some Inspiration?
Some days are worse than others, some weeks better than others, and it's all kind of a haze. As we've moved from daffodils to tulips to full spring, I've found that flowers blooming and leaves unfurling are helping me to feel better- even if I can't go to the mountains to really revel in nature.

Two things we're all struggling with are turning from the larger world to the smaller, and becoming more comfortable with a lack of control. Indoor plants have been bringing me joy, making it easier for me to stay inside. I recently moved some plants to the kitchen table, where I sit while I work, and I continually marvel aloud at how I appreciate them. And then there are the creatures: dinosaurs, a pig...they're plastic, but, for them, the container is an entire world; a world in which I can tell stories, jokes, or just have some modicum of control. 

Today, the pig got stuck in the mud when the plant was watered...who knows what will happen tomorrow.

Have you been creating tiny worlds, making miniatures, or getting out in the garden? Sometimes, when the world is too much, or you're sick of the same, watching growth or taking control can be just what's needed.  -- Marika
Bedtime Stories
Meaghan shares the first chapter of one of her favorite recommendations, Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale.
And of course, don't forget to meet us over at our Instagram story at 8:45pm for tonight's live bedtime reading!
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 Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton

I've been searching for a book with the same vibe as A Knight's Tale forever, and fellow readers, this one delivers. This fun modern take features a diverse cast and a gutsy protagonist who's ready to smash the patriarchy with a stick. ("It's called a lance... hello!")

-- Kate
A Porter Square Books Choose Your Own Adventure!
You follow your nose and let the wafting scent of freshly baked cake guide your feet. You've gotten a few yards down the new hallway when you begin to hear the faint sound of warbling. You speed your stride, and the sound gets louder and louder - it's someone singing. Finally, you turn a sudden corner and find yourself in a vast kitchen. A figure in a cloak - the hood pulled down - is belting out show tunes while whisking a bowl of batter at a frankly impressive tempo, clearly unaware of your presence. "Um, hello?" you try. The person whirls around, batter splattering as they do so. "Ah!" they cry. "There you are. I've been waiting. Where's the booze?" You stammer out your confusion - what booze?

"The rum, dear child, the rum! How ever am I meant to make the perfect upside-down pina colada pineapple sponge without rum? You promised! No take-backsies!"

You try to apologize and explain that they must have confused you with someone else, but they won't hear it. That dulcet singing voice turns into an enraged shriek.

"Wretched thing! Fetch me the bottle at once, or else face my mettle at cards. Winner takes the cake, such as it were! Loser... leaves it all behind. Including that very interesting book you've got there."
Do you...
Firmly explain that you never promised anything - and who are they, anyway??
Resign yourself to heading back up the hallway in search of some rum.
"Deal me in, Cloaked One."
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!
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