Porter Square Books Staff Picks: June 2022

Porter Square Books: Boston Edition, located on the first floor of GrubStreet's Center for Creative Writing, is open and ready to fulfill all of your book-browsing desires! Staff Picks are 20% off, so you can add to your TBR pile guilt-free. Whether you want to read about a romance between recluse and alchemist, an all-Asian heist novel, or a young woman discovering her own genius, PSB has a pick for you. We're located on the southeast side of 50 Liberty, facing the Marina and the ICA. Come visit!


Sistersong by Lucy Holland

Lucy Holland captures the heart of an iconic folk ballad while weaving in the depth these things often lack. Reminiscent of classics like The King of Elfland’s Daughter, this book is mournful and beautiful and will stick in your head long after the last page. I know I’ll revisit it again and again throughout the years. — Katherine

A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft

Perfect for fans of The Night Circus and Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse, A Far Wilder Magic tells the story of Margaret Welty, the competent recluse who keeps things just barely under control while her famous mother is away, and Weston Winters, a poor alchemist looking for a teacher, as they team up to win an unwinnable hunt that is both of their last chance. Romantic and sharp and transportive, you won't want to miss out on this fantastic novel. — Katherine

Private Label by Kelly Yang

Kelly Yang's Private Label is a brilliant contemplation of what becomes of dreams once disaster strikes. Following two Chinese American teenagers who seem to be from entirely different universes—assured fashion designer Serene and new kid on the block Lian—Yang weaves a gripping YA tale that ultimately discusses how worlds can fall apart and slowly be put back together again with the help of unlikely friendships (and maybe something more). — Cindy

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

Portrait of a Thief is the heist novel with a marvelous and dynamic all-Asian cast that will make you laugh and cry, with stakes that will keep your hands (pleasantly) sweating and your heart racing an unsteady beat. Don't believe me? Weike Wang, author of Chemistry, calls it a "slick, dazzling" read. — Cindy

Junji Ito's Cat Diary by Junji Ito

Junji Ito is one of the foremost names in horror comics—well-known titles include Tomie and The Enigma of Amigara Faultand his horror chops make this nonfiction account of his life with housecats even weirder and funnier. Ideal for the cat-and-horror-lover in your life! — Piera

Way of the Hive by Jay Hosler

I read this in its original iteration, Clan Apis, in probably 2006 when I was 10 and Very Scared Of Bees. I am not exaggerating when I say it changed my relationship to bees entirely—I went from fear and mistrust to awe, appreciation, and curiosity. Jay Hosler's approach to what is essentially an explanation of What Bees Are is funny, interesting, and moving, and his artwork is top-tier. — Piera

Ordinary Monsters by J. M. Miro

Ordinary Monsters will satisfy any cravings for a fantasy with a sweeping and complex voice, similar to that of Phillip Pullman, Deborah Harkness, and Susanna Clarke. Suitable for both young and older audiences, the story follows two children with magical abilties who are being hunted by a man made of smoke. It's 1882 in England, and when a detective is recruited to escort them to the mysterious Institute where they'll be safe, all three begin a journey that carries them from London, to Meiji-era Tokyo, and finally to the Institute's eerie estate in Edinburgh. As secrets within the Institute are revealed, the children begin to discover the truth of why they have the abilities that they do, what's really stalking them, and that the worst monsters sometimes bring the sweetest gifts. — Engel

My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth

A story perfect for STEM enthusiasts, My Mechanical Romance follows Bel, a high school student too anxious to give her future the attention that everyone thinks it deserves. When she shows a natural talent for engineering, Bel is coerced into joining her school's robotics club. All the boys on the team ignore her--except for Mateo, the captain. Mateo thinks that Bel can be a good thing for the team, but they struggle to see eye-to-eye. As they spend more time together, they realize that they've not only improved the club, but also grown as individuals. Heart warming, funny, and loaded with the wit that the author is known for (she's more recognizable as her pseudonym Olivie Blake), this is a fun way to kick off the summer. — Engel

Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett

—Lauren, GrubStreet 

(This pick is discounted in Porter Square Books: Boston Edition exclusively.)

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