Category Archives: Gift Guides

…before it is washed to the see

Going Home Books for the Holidays

Day Three

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” With words by one of the most admired songwriters of all time (Bob Dylan) and illustrations by a Caldecott Honor medalist  (Jon J. Muth), this powerful and timely picture book will be treasured by adults and children alike.

This beautiful edition includes a CD of Dylan’s original 1963 recording, plus a special note by renowned music columnist Greil Marcus, putting the song in historical context.

For the big kids and the little adults in your life.

It’s ‘Take Your Child to a Bookstore’ Day.

Take your child to a bookstore!

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making dinner with the world’s best chef

Going Home Books for the Holidays

Day Two

The Family Meal is the first home cooking cookbook by the world’s greatest chef, Ferran Adria. It features nearly 100 delicious recipes by Ferran Adria that anyone can prepare, inspired by the dishes eaten every day by the staff at his legendary restaurant El Bulli, awarded World’s Best Restaurant five times.

The recipes are easy-to-prepare and meant for family dining at home. From Roast Chicken with Potato Straws, Sea Bass Baked in Salt and Mexican-style Slow-Cooked Pork to White Chocolate Cake and Baked Apples with Whipped Cream, there is a wide selection of everyday classics for every night of the week. The cookbook is also the first by such a renowned chef to ensure that the dishes are affordable and the ingredients are widely available at the local supermarket.

With step-by-step photographs of each meal at every stage! No wondering which shade of red is the right shade of red, what a pinch looks like, how burned is burned or how small is “small”!

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from the handaxe to the credit card

Going Home Books for the Holidays

Day One

When did people first start to wear jewelry or play music? When were cows domesticated and why do we feed their milk to our children? Where were the first cities and what made them succeed? Who invented math-or came up with money?

The history of humanity is a history of invention and innovation, as we have continually created new items to use, to admire, or to leave our mark on the world. In this original and thought-provoking book, Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, has selected one hundred man-made artifacts, each of which gives us an intimate glimpse of an unexpected turning point in human civilization. A History of the World in 100 Objects stretches back two million years and covers the globe. From the very first hand axe to the ubiquitous credit card, each item has a story to tell; together they relate the larger history of mankind-revealing who we are by looking at what we have made.

The perfect gift for all the humans in your life!

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Series Business

It is nearly impossible and decidedly quite expensive to read every literary magazine, publication and book that interests you in a given year. There is simply not enough time, no matter how dedicated or wealthy you may be. With this in mind, (and, of course, as a way to bestow honor, as well,) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been publishing The Best American Series since 1915. They began that year with The Best American Short Stories. The series now includes everything from Poetry to Sports Writing and, added most recently, Nonrequired Reading and Comics.

Each series has its own editor who culls from the previous year’s best writing in his or her genre and each year a guest editor narrows down the list for the rest of us to enjoy. The beauty of this system is that it ensures variety, can never lead to stagnation and each year’s guest editor, whose opinions, world views and tastes differ from those of the previous year’s, is able to put together an anthology which stands alone and is uniquely of its time.

Some of this year’s guest editors:

Geraldine Brooks, Kevin Young, Mary Roach, Edwidge Danticat, Alison Bechdel, Sloane Crosley, Harlan Coben 

We have the entire series in stock today and don’t plan on running out of enthusiasm for it. So come in and let us infect you!


Next up, one of the best ideas for anything… ever!                                                                                                                                                                                    

“The Seven Deadly Sins have sliced up the dictionary and taken what’s theirs. No one vice is too greedy as each volume prides itself on having more than 500 entries. Word lovers will lust after these richly packaged volumes–and once you’ve collected all seven, you’ll be the envy of all your friends.”

And there’re always these, some of the most beautiful book covers in the history of book covers… and they happen to bind some of the best written pages in the history of written pages:

[We’d also like to remind you that we hold the secret to you becoming more beloved than Santa this holiday season. Sign a loved one (any age!) up for our Book of the Month Club and for the next year they will receive a new book each month in keeping with their interests and tastes [contact us for details].

Give a sweater and you’ll only be remembered in winter. Give the gift that keeps on giving and you’ll be remembered forever. Seriously.]

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…brown paper packages tied up with strings…

…these are a few of our favorite NEW things…

Come sing with us!


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Happy Dads

Tomorrow is your father’s day. Make him happy. Make him smile. Distract him with wonderful gifts for a while. And then sit down and talk about your feelings, we all know dad loves major emotional peelings. Tell him you love him, because of and despite, tell him he’ll always be your only true knight, that there’s nothing you’d like more than to fly again with him a big and bright  kite.

Happy Father’s Day.

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Celebrating Mother’s Day

It could be argued we’ve overdone it this year.

Portrait of a Bookstore is overflowing with precious gifts for mom. Whatever kind of woman the person you call Mother is, there is something on our shelves for her.

This year, if you’re on Foursquare and you come in to say hello with your mom, whether it’s just you and mom or you and your ten siblings and mom, each person gets 10% off whatever they buy.

So… this could be mom’s Christmas and if you’re not her favorite kid, you will be.

Happy Mother’s Day

(here’s to your favorite person in the world)

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What are you waiting for?

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It Counts Only When You Say it on Valentine’s Day



Express yourself … with a little help from your friends…

at Portrait of a Bookstore…




We’re open 10AM to 10PM daily, we gift wrap and we can help you compose love letters. For a small fee, we’ll also accompany you on the guitar and sing back up while you serenade in the moonlight.


Here’s a love poem, written by Matthew Rohrer, called Epithalamium

In the middle garden is the secret wedding,
that hides always under the other one
and under the shiny things of the other one. Under a tree
one hand reaches through the grainy dusk toward another.
Two right hands. The ring is a weed that will surely die.

There is no one else for miles,
and even those people far away are deaf and blind.
There is no one to bless this.
There are the dark trees, and just beyond the trees.

Happy Valentine’s Day


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The lovely young woman was almost in tears as she recounted how she and her mother had bought the same ring when her mother was visiting from the East coast and, as time passed, the rings they wore every day would remind them of each other.  Now she had lost her ring and could we possibly get her another one? Following this was her description while I tried to draw the ring from her description. Needless to say, this exercise starts with drawing a circle and then listening further.
“It was sterling silver and had these sort of winding leaves, with a sparkly stone…”
“Clear or colored stone?”
“Clear like a diamond but surrounded by other stones not quite as sparkly but not colored either.”
“Sounds like marcasite.” And she is shown similar marcasite at which she nods hopefully. More sketching ensues until a drawing is shown to the woman.
“Yes, that’s it!  Do you think you can order it?”
“We will definitely call and see if it is still available to order.”
Happy ending. The ring came in and it was the right one and the customer was elated and had her sentimental ring replaced… and her mother never knew she lost the first one.

There are so many ring memories… A couple approached the counter a few years ago and began joking about the “engagement-looking” rings. The joking turned to a serious discussion about the meaning of rings and the sometimes heavy implications that go along with the gift of one.  Before they left the store he had bought her a promise ring and she had chosen one for him as well.  They were officially engaged to become engaged and I felt like an old-fashioned matchmaker for no reason other than I sold the rings and was privy to their entire conversation, which had taken place in front of me at the counter.  From joke to no-joke, it was an important event for this couple.

Another couple chose rings one evening and said vows to one another in front of the counter.  I stood there with moist eyes (weddings always make me tear up,) and acted as witness to their ceremony.  They still come into the bookstore and seem to be happily wed.  And then there was the time an older woman was looking at rings with a young man I assumed to be her son.  She left to go to the ladies room and he handed me a ring, credit card, and said “Can you gift wrap it before she gets back?”  I rushed to get it done before she returned.  When I handed him the package I remarked that I hoped his mother appreciates what a thoughtful son she has.  He looked daggers at me and replied huffily, “That’s my wife, not my mother!”  That cured me of making any assumptions ever again!

You might not expect to see a such a large selection of rings on the counter of a bookstore, but there they are in all their glorious bling-y sparkle.  Our history with rings goes back about eleven years and started with a few sterling silver Claddagh rings and grew steadily each year, incorporating men’s spinner rings, or “worry rings” as I like to call them, antique-looking 1920’s-style art deco rings, contemporary hip-glam styles and many unusual animal themed rings.  I know women who have worn the same ring on the same finger for decades — and not necessarily a wedding ring, mind you. There’s something about the ring that is different from all other kinds of jewelry… the wearer gets to enjoy the sight of them as often as others do and they are worn on fingers that are always flying around, doing the things of life. It’s a daily reminder, a talisman, something small of beauty, a milestone marker– a ring can be so much more than just a ring. That’s why, in the end, it’s not so unusual to have so many of them in a bookstore.


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