Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bookseller Taste Exchange: Josh & Sarah Part 1

We have a pretty wide range of taste in books here at Porter Square Books. None of us intentionally restrict ourselves to one genre or another, but, as with all things, we settle into patterns and fall into ruts. So Sarah had an idea to help expand our horizons a little bit; she’ll read a work of experimental fiction Josh suggests, and Josh’ll read a work of romance Sarah suggests. Then we’ll share our reactions to our trips to unfamiliar reading territory.

Josh Suggests: The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell. There are lots of different ways to experiment with storytelling and, admittedly, some are more obtuse than others, requiring some prior knowledge, or at least some experience in cracking your brain open in different ways. In a way, though, you have to learn how to read every book you read. Experimental (innovative, post-modernist, weird, whatever you want to call it) literature just brings that process to the foreground. The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell is a “novel” entirely of questions. It feels a little gimmicky, but there is real substance in the questions. The book took a powerful turn for me when I started trying to answer some of the questions. Like the Proust Questionnaire on steroids you can learn a lot about yourself by answering Powell’s questions.

Sarah Suggests: Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. Stay with me here. Yes, it was published for teen readers, and yes, the pursuit of romance is at its core. But it also plays around with structure: It's epistolary, almost -- but not quite. And Rennison has some fun with language, too, letting her narrator develop a vocabulary that's almost as outlandish as what Kevin Barry does in City of Bohane. (Okay, not quite that level, but the odds that you're going to pick up some of Georgia's catchphrases are pretty good.) And also -- it's incredibly funny. And sometimes that's what you need from a book.

Check back to see what they think of the other’s suggestion.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Downton Abbey Fan? We've Got Some Books For You

So you're getting ready for the big season finale on Sunday but you know you'll need some Downton to tide you over until Season 4. Where to start?

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle, by the Countess of Carnarvon, is the story of the woman whose story Julian Fellowes used as the basis of the hit TV show.

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era documents the third season of the show. Get up to date here!

If you want to go back to the very beginning, get the complete scoop with Downton Abbey Script Book Season 1.

For the story behind the story, Margaret Powell's Below Stairs is her real-life memoir of life in service, which inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs," "Downton Abbey"'s progenitor in the annals of the upper classes.

The Butler's Guide to Running the Home and Other Graces, by Stanley Ager and Fiona St. Aubyn will give you all of Carson's tips and tricks!

Intrigued by all of Mrs. Pattmore's delicious-looking dishes? Check out The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook. You can try your own scones, roasts and more.

To Marry an English Lord, by Gail MacColl and Carol MCD Wallace will give you the real historical backstory behind marriages like Cora and Robert's.

For World War 1 history, Peter Englund's The Beauty and The Sorrow  offers a detailed and personal history of the Great War as seen through the eyes of people from all walks of life.

Or maybe you'd like some fiction set in the Downton era. I'd recommend Richard Mason's delightful and racy The History of a Pleasure Seeker, or Sadie Jones's The Uninvited Guests. Also consider: Nancy Mitford, P.G. Wodehouse and even Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.

Or just ask a bookseller for a recommendation and we'll do our best to help you!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


When you come into the store, look to your right and you'll see an endcap filled with our steampunk books.

Some highlights:
Steampunk Fashion, by Samuel Ratcliffe.

The Bookman Histories, by Lavie Tidhar, whose most recent book Osama is making waves throughout the SF community.

The Mammoth Book of Steampunk, by Sean Wallace, a great anthology featuring loads of terrific writers.
The Difference Engine, by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.

And more!

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