The Local Book Stores Keeping Us Well Read During Covid-19

porter square booksPhoto by Jess Benjamin

Finding it hard to read right now? You’re not alone. While summer is on the visible horizon, those beach reads may feel a little less fun when we can’t, you know, go to the beach. Two months and counting into the COVID-19 shutdown, book lovers and seasonal readers alike are finding it more and more challenging to fill those long, empty hours with a good book. 

As neuroscientist and psychologist Oliver J. Robinson states, “We are trying to solve an uncertainty that is unresolvable.” Anxiety primarily spurs from a problem waiting to be solved; solving that problem is what calms your anxiety. But in the face of the novel coronavirus, many of us are facing a myriad of challenges.

Read Books not Clickbait

In this kind of climate, it makes sense that reading falls by the wayside. That TBR stack on the bed stand may feel like the last thing you want to dig into at the end of a long day. But books can also be a great way to calm us down, to take us, if only for a moment, somewhere else when we are stuck inside and stuck at home. 

So, how do we get back to it? We can’t browse the shelves right now, but we can still support these neighborhood institutions through online orders, curbside pickup and delivery. They’re still here for us; here’s how we can keep showing up for them.   

New Times, Same Great Stores

Harvard Bookstore, 1256 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA

Try their new Ask a Bookseller! for a list of personalized recommendations, visit their page or shop with them directly at to support them at a safe distance. Check out their upcoming virtual events, including a chat with Vincent Brown, author of Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War.

Porter Square Books, 25 White St, Cambridge, MA

Porter Square Books Staff Picks are some of the most reliable consumer advice on this side of the Charles for a quick recommendation. Have little ones at home? Check out their Kids & Teens section for age-appropriate staff picks and more fun activities. Visit their website to find out the best way to order, including curbside pickup and flat rate shipping. 

Raven Used Books, 23 Church St, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA

In good times, Raven offers that magical opportunity to wander through the stacks and emerge with rare finds and affordable favorites. (Ask Scout about our Foccault collection!) While they are not currently open for pickup or delivery, they have started a GoFundMe. As the staff notes: “We realize it is better to ask for help then go down without a fight.” If you’re in the position to do so, consider lending them a hand.