Wednesday, February 25, 2015

When the hot-shot debut author sits in the next chair

I've set up events for dozens of authors over the past year -- Rick Riordan, Amanda Palmer, Cary Elwes, George Clinton, Bobby Orr -- but next week will be a new one: we're launching An Exaggerated Murder by Josh Cook, a debut novelist who also happens to occupy the desk next to mine here in the PSB office. (There are a few minor differences. For instance, Bobby Orr was not looking over my shoulder when I pondered how many copies to order.)

Josh and I work well together, but we don't exactly have similar literary tastes. (You may have seen copies of The Martian around the store labeled "the only 2014 book Sarah and Josh both liked." It's not much of an exaggeration.) James Joyce, Laurie R. King. Oulipo, longform journalism. You get the idea.

Which is why I am so glad I can tell you that An Exaggerated Murder gets to claim that title for 2015. It's fantastic. You will love it. And if you start reading every clever bit out loud (trust me, it's tempting) you're going to get hoarse.

The literary world has been reaching the same conclusion: The first review, in Kirkus, was a starred one. It's on the March Indie Next List.

Book launches are always special events for the authors, but this time we're all excited. Josh has been part of Porter Square Books since the beginning, and we're looking forward to celebrating with him. Everyone's been taking part, designing posters, creating displays, making plans for Tuesday. (Though I did veto the suggestion of an all-you-can-drink vodka bar. Thematically appropriate, but no.)

I hope you'll join us for this one.

Author Breakfast Series at the Charles Hotel


What is more fun than spending a morning having breakfast at the Charles Hotel with a famous author and hobnobbing about books, writing, and life? Last year we started this breakfast series in partnership with the Charles (at Henrietta’s Table) and enjoyed the company of Ann Patchett, Jared Diamond, and Peter Yarrow and Noel (Paul) Stookey, of Peter, Paul & Mary. Ask anyone who got to attend those events: they were amazing -- a chance to converse in an intimate setting with brilliant, wonderful, insightful people who happen to have written books that we love. For 2015 we’re kicking off the series with two terrific authors from Maine, Tracy Kidder (March 13) and Lily King (April 8).

Tracy Kidder first shot to prominence more than 30 years ago with Soul of a New Machine, a penetrating portrayal of the race to develop a new generation of computer at Data General Corporation in the 1970s. The book won him a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award and put him on the map as one of our most accomplished and literate non-fiction authors. You may be familiar with House, his book about a couple having their house built; Old Friends, a portrayal of two older men in a nursing home; Mountains Beyond Mountains, a magnificent biography of physician/anthropologist Paul Farmer; or Strength in What Remains, about an ordinary man who arrives in the US and tries to make a life for himself after surviving the Rwandan genocide. A couple of years ago Tracy went in a new direction, writing a book about writing, Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction. It proudly sits on our shelves in section 555 (“On Writing”) alongside such classics as Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Stephen King’s On Writing.

Tracy doesn’t have a new book out -- he’s just coming to schmooze. Come to talk with him about your favorite of his books, or pick up one you haven’t read yet and come with questions.

Lily King published three novels between 1999 and 2010, and they were lauded with accolades such as a New York Times Notable Book award, Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year, New York Times Editors Choice, Publishers Weekly Best Novel of the Year, the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Maine Fiction Award. Even with all that, she might still have been unknown to you until last year and the publication of Euphoria. This, her fourth novel, was the winner of the 2014 New England Book Award for Fiction and the 2014 Kirkus Prize for Fiction, one of the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books, TIME's Top 10 Fiction Books, Oprah’s 15 Must-Reads, NPR Best Books of 2014 and (cross your fingers -- winner to be announced next month) finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award. And that’s not even close to a complete list. Need we say more?

Back in April of last year, some of us were fortunate enough to be invited to a pre-publication dinner with Lily and read an advance copy of the book. She is a delight. We hatched a plot of getting Lily to Cambridge (where she lived before moving to Maine a bunch of years ago) and decided to do it in conjunction with the launch of the Euphoria paperback. So here’s your big chance. You will thank us.

Both of these events are limited in attendance, so sign up soon while there’s still space. (Tickets: Tracy Kidder and Lily King.) We have plenty of books in the bookstore, but we will also have both authors’ titles on sale at the breakfasts themselves. We hope we’ll see you there.

David

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Winter and Spring Events for Young Readers!


We’d like to say that PSB has a super sophisticated big-data driven method for scheduling author events, but really, we just respond to publishers and request the authors we like or think would do a great job. Sometimes patterns emerge in that somewhat chaotic process and this winter and early spring a pattern of fantastic events for young readers has emerged. So here’s what all you young readers and fans of writing for young readers can look forward to.

Friday, January 23, 7 pm YA: Kate Axelrod & Wendy Wunder, The Law of Loving Others and The Museum of Intangible Things

Two local novelists share their newest books about family, growing up, and making sense of the world.

The Law of Loving OthersKate Axelrod was born and raised in New York City. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Oberlin College and a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University. She has written for Nerve.com, Salon and various other publications. She lives in Brooklyn and works as an advocate in the criminal justice system. This is her first novel. Margo Rabb, author of Cures for Heartbreak, says “The Law of Loving Others is a poignant, powerful, and insightful novel about love, loss, and growing up. Kate Axelrod has written a wise and wonderful debut.”

Wendy Wunder is the author of The Probability of Miracles, which was called "beautiful" in a starred review from Kirkus and a "graceful balance of comedy and tragedy" by Publishers Weekly. When she's not writing or spending time with her family, she teaches yoga in Boston. Alexandra Coutts, author of Tumble and Fall says this “The Museum of Intangible Things is the best kind of joyride: exhilarating and hilarious and full of heart. A must-read for anyone who has ever had - or longed for - a true best friend.”


Perfect for: Fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, Stephanie Perkins, and contemporary YA.

Thursday, January 29, 7 pm PICTURE BOOK: Mary Lundquist, Cat & Bunny 

Two costumed children star in this debut picture book from a local artist.

From the heartwarming text to the adorable illustrations of little kids dressed as animals, there's so much to love about Mary Lundquist's debut picture book, Cat & Bunny. Cat and Bunny. Bunny and Cat. It's always been just the two of them -- daydreaming, having adventures, playing their special game. Until the day someone else asks, "Can I play?" Mary Lundquist captures all the charm and magic of first friendship in her winning debut picture book.

Mary Lundquist grew up in Massachusetts and is the youngest of seven children. She graduated with a BFA from Mass College of Art and Design in Boston in 2008 and moved with her husband to England for three years. They now live with their son Calvin in Los Angeles where they enjoy the endless sunshine and visit the beach almost every week.

Perfect for: Preschool and early elementary readers—and anyone who likes dressing up.

Monday, February 9, 7 pm MG: N. Griffin, Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11

When the classroom hamster disappears, Smashie is on the case! (Even though she’s not a fan of hamster feet.)

N. Griffin is the author of The Whole Stupid Way We Are, for which she was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Flying Start Authors of 2013. She received her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives outside Boston. Publisher’s Weekly says this, “Griffin uses humor to tackle issues most children grapple with at some point, and Hindley’s loose b&w sketches play up the madcap energy at Rebecca Lee Crumpler Elementary School. Smashie’s ... positive energy and determination are impressive. Readers will be learning and laughing heartily as Smashie dons her "Investigator Suit" and uses "thinking power" to try to prove herself.”

Perfect for: Elementary school readers who enjoy The World According to Humphrey and Sideways Stories from Wayside School.

Friday, February 13, 7 pm YA: Gareth Hinds, Macbeth

Our favorite graphic novel creator is back with his take on the Scottish play.

Shakespeare's classic story of dark ambitions, madness, and murder springs to life in a masterful new graphic novel by Gareth Hinds.

Set against the moody backdrop of eleventh-century Scotland, Gareth Hinds’s captivating, richly illustrated interpretation takes readers into the claustrophobic mind of a man driven mad by ambition. An evil seed takes root in the mind of Macbeth, a general in the king’s army, when three witches tell him he will one day be king. At the urging of his wife, he resolves to take the throne by the most direct path: a dagger in the heart of King Duncan. But "blood will have blood," and when others grow suspicious of his sudden rise to power, is Macbeth prepared to commit more murders to keep the crown?

Gareth Hinds is the acclaimed creator of the graphic novels The Odyssey, Beowulf, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and King Lear. He lives near Washington, D.C.

Perfect for: Shakespeareans, comics fans, anyone who has to read the play for high school English.



Tuesday, February 17, 7 pm YA: MarcyKate Connolly, Monstrous

A YA novel from a local author who turns fairy tales into something more.

The city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace, and Bryre's inhabitants live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark. Yet night is the only time that Kymera can enter this dangerous city, for she must not be seen by humans. Her father says they would not understand her wings, the bolts in her neck, or her spiky tail—they would kill her. They would not understand that she was created for a purpose: to rescue the girls of Bryre. Despite her caution, a boy named Ren sees Kym and begins to leave a perfect red rose for her every evening. As they become friends, Kym learns that Ren knows about the missing girls, the wizard, and the evil magic that haunts Bryre. And what he knows will change Kym's life. Reminiscent of Frankenstein and the tales of the Brothers Grimm, this debut novel by MarcyKate Connolly stands out as a compelling, original story that has the feel of a classic.

MarcyKate Connolly is an author and arts administrator living in New England with her husband and pugs.

Perfect for: Upper-elementary and middle school readers, fans of Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy series, and monster aficionados.

Friday, February 27, 7pm PICTURE BOOK: Matt Tavares, Growing Up Pedro

A new picture book biography just in time to celebrate Pedro Martinez’s election to the Hall of Fame!

Before Pedro Martínez pitched the Red Sox to a World Series championship, before he was named to the All-Star team eight times, before he won the Cy Young three times, he was a kid from a place called Manoguayabo in the Dominican Republic. Pedro loved baseball more than anything, and his older brother Ramon was the best pitcher he’d ever seen. He’d dream of the day he and his brother could play together in the major leagues—and here, Matt Tavares tells the story of how that dream came true. In a fitting homage to a modern day baseball star, the acclaimed author-illustrator examines both Pedro Martínez’s improbable rise to the top of his game and the power that comes from the deep bond between brothers.

Matt Tavares is the author-illustrator of Henry Aaron's Dream, There Goes Ted Williams, and Becoming Babe Ruth as well as Zachary's Ball, Oliver’s Game, and Mudball. He is also the illustrator of Doreen Rappaport's Lady Liberty and Alicia Potter’s Jubilee!, among others. Matt Tavares lives in Ogunquit, Maine.

Perfect for: Baseball fans of all ages who enjoy great illustrations.


Saturday, March 14, 7 pm YA/BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: Camille DeAngelis, Bones & All 

A girl with a tendency to devour people goes looking for the father she never knew.

Maren Yearly is a young woman who wants the same things we all do. She wants to be someone people admire and respect. She wants to be loved. But her secret, shameful needs have forced her into exile. She hates herself for the bad thing she does, for what it’s done to her family and her sense of identity; for how it dictates her place in the world and how people see her--how they judge her. She didn’t choose to be this way.

Because Maren Yearly doesn’t just break hearts, she devours them. Ever since her mother found Penny Wilson’s eardrum in her mouth when Maren was just two years old, she knew life would never be normal for either of them. Love may come in many shapes and sizes, but for Maren, it always ends the same—with her hiding the evidence and her mother packing up the car.

Camille DeAngelis is the author of the novels Mary Modern and Petty Magic and a first-edition guidebook, Moon Ireland. A graduate of NYU and the National University of Ireland, Galway, Camille currently lives in Boston.

Perfect for: YA paranormal fans who like Laini Taylor, Lauren Oliver, and Alaya Dawn Johnson.

Friday, March 27, 7 pm MG: Jeanne Birdsall, The Penderwicks in Spring

The Penderwick sisters return for the fourth book in the series with Batty, now in fifth grade, keeping the family in line. (Really, we can’t say enough about this staff favorite!)

Filled with all the heart, hilarity, and charm that has come to define this beloved clan, The Penderwicks in Spring is about fun and family and friends (and dogs), and what happens when you bring what's hidden into the bright light of the spring sun.

When Jeanne Birdsall was young, she promised herself she’d be a writer someday—so that she could write books for children to discover and enjoy, just as she did at her local library. She is the author of The Penderwicks, which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, and The Penderwicks at Point Mouette.

Perfect for: Elementary and middle school readers who enjoy the classics, from All-of-a-Kind Family to The Moffats.

Sunday March 29, 5 pm PICTURE BOOK: Mariam Gates, Good Night Yoga

Try out some bedtime yoga exercises and learn how to make the end of your day relaxing.

For kids in early to middle childhood -- and the lucky people who have to get them to bed -- Good Night Yoga is both a bedtime story and a series of simple poses for following the natural world as it comes to rest at day's end.

Join us for combination reading and demonstration of yoga at its most soothing.

Mariam Gates is the founder of the Kid Power Yoga Program. Although she has left us for the West Coast, she spent many years teaching in Boston, and served as the director of Citizen Schools.

Perfect for: Preschool and elementary children (and their parents), from yoga novices to the pros.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Pairings

We love pairing gift items with books here at PSB, and this year we have some fun ideas:

1) Literary Onesies: Because they're never too young to be exposed to such classics as Make Way for Ducklings, Where the Wild Things Are and The Hungry Caterpillar. We stock these in 12 month sizing and prices range from $20 - $22.

 

2) Litographs Tattoos: For rebellious readers who want to wear their favorite books, these temporary tattoos feature lines from Peter Pan, Pride & Prejudice, Walden and more. Each package comes with a set of 2 tattoos for $5.
 




3) Book Lover Mugs: These new mugs from Seltzer are inspiring and sassy, and perfect for any reader in your life. Choose from 3 styles (our favorite is "Reading is Fun & Mental"); each is $12.


Along with these items, we also carry reading journals, book lights, totes and pouches --even literary bandaids! And don't forget we're offering Free Local Holiday Shipping this year to make your shopping easier. Season's Readings!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Folio Society Raffle


Wizard of Oz
As you might have seen in Scout Cambridge and the Boston Globe, the lavishly illustrated and designed Folio Society editions of classic books like Wuthering Heights (introduced by Patti Smith), Little House on the Prairie (introduced by Jane Gardam), Pride and Prejudice (introduced by Sebastian Faulks) and The Wizard of Oz (introduced by Maria Tatar) make wonderful gifts. And we also know that signed copies make wonderful gifts. Folio Society books are incredibly high quality editions that are beautifully and uniquely made, and Porter Square Books is the only bookstore in the Boston area that carries them. We have dozens of titles.
The Princess and the Goblin

Starting now when you purchase any Folio Society edition at Porter Square Books, you will receive a free raffle ticket for a chance to win either a Folio Society Engagement Calendar, an edition of The Princess and the Goblin, signed by Maria Tatar (who wrote the introduction), or an edition of The Wizard of Oz, signed by Maria Tatar (who wrote the introduction to that one as well).

But wait, there’s more! If you buy two Folio Society Editions, you receive three raffle tickets and if you buy three or more Folio Society Editions you receive five raffle tickets. The winner (one prize per person and the winner must be able to pick up the prize at the store) will be drawn and contacted on Sunday December 22nd. So getting a wonderful gift for a loved one gives you a chance to win a wonderful prize for yourself.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What Happens When You Shop during Indies First at Porter Square Books

Indies First is a nationwide event that coincides with Small Business Saturday, where authors spend the day as booksellers in their favorite bookstores. It started with Sherman Alexie who was looking for a way to give back to the stores that do so much for so many authors and it quickly became a national event celebrating the particular value locally owned independent bookstores bring to their communities. So what will happen if you choose to shop at Porter Square Books on Indies First, Saturday November 29? Well, you will:

Support Your Local Community
The data are unequivocal; shopping at locally owned businesses greatly benefits the local economy. Through salaries, taxes, business spending, and charitable giving, more of the money you spend locally gets recirculated back into your community. Even the value of your house goes up. So along with getting whatever you buy, your local tax dollars also buy you better funded schools, safer roads, and a stronger economy for your home.

Participate in a National Movement
There is a lot to love about the internet. Who doesn’t appreciate being able to buy something while in their pajamas or in the middle of the night every now and then? And social media has allowed people to make connections with each other in ways that were never possible before. But, as Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer write in their Indies First open letter, “There’s nothing like the human, organic serendipity of an independent bookshop, where people who read and love books share their love with others.” Indies First is not about rejecting the digital world (PSB has a website and lots of fun on social media) but about celebrating the experiences that can only happen face-to-face, stranger-to-stranger, reader-to-reader, and, at least on this day, reader-to-writer.

Avoid the Stress of Mall & Big Box Shopping
Will it be busy at Porter Square Books on Indies First/Small Business Saturday? I certainly hope so. Will there be the chaotic rushing about as shoppers wrestle their gift lists into submission? Sure. But no matter how busy it gets in the store, someone will always be willing to take their time with you. If we need to spend fifteen minutes helping you find historical fiction or decide which dystopian trilogy is the right dystopian trilogy or anything, we will spend that time with you. And maybe you will have to wait in line for awhile to check out, but even that’s not so bad. It gives you a moment to breathe. And you could always talk to the folks around you about books.

Get Book Recommendations from People Who Live for the Written Word
On Indies First at PSB, you will actually be able to get recommendations from someone who wrote the book on comics and graphic novels. And an author with expertise in picture books, and one of the great movers and shakers of mystery and crime writing in New England, and the author of one of the most critically acclaimed debuts of 2014, and an author who writes for teens, middle grade, and picture books. And that’s not even counting the two MFAs in Children's Literature, Co-chair of The New England Children's Booksellers Advisory Council, librarian, newly minted novelist, and Gary The Most Interesting Bookseller in the World, who will be working that day. In many ways, Indies First is about shopping, just like Small Business Saturday is about shopping, just like pretty much every day between November 28th and December 24th is about shopping, but at PSB, on Indies First, you’ll be shopping in an ongoing celebration of the written word.

You Get Books
Oh yeah, and, on top of everything else, you've bought books to share and/or to read. Can’t beat that at all.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Prep 2014


We're firm believers here --well most of us anyway!--that it's never too soon to start planning for the winter holidays. Whether you're looking for gift wrap and candles, or just decoration inspiration, we've got great stuff this year.



Boxed cards galore: We carry Unicef, Hanukkah, Boston-themed notes, and everything in-between. Looking for just one card for that special someone? We've got a varied selection of funny and beautiful holiday cards in singles also.


 
Ornaments for your tree, garland, and gift packages. This year we have pine cone birds, felt ice skate pairs, newsprint birdhouses and glittered woodland acorns just to name a few.





  Advent calendars continue to be one of our most popular items. We have many different types of regular and oversized calendars (one of our favorites features kissing hedgehogs!).


And finally, we've got a wonderful selection of Hanukkah goodies: boxed notes, candles, gift wrap and yes, even latke servers!




So stop by and visit us today for your holiday supply needs. (And don't forget about our Free Holiday Shipping service to Cambridge & Somerville.) Happy Holidays from PSB!




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