Half Price Books presents the Half Price Blog featuring book reviews, music and movie reviews, trivia and randomness about things we love. That means a whole lot of fiction, nonfiction, music, movies, games, and collectibles… including rare and out-of-print literary treasures.
 
Meet all our Blog Authors & Contributors »

Authors
Becky
Potluck-genius, insomniac-procrastinator and crafting-whiz. Inventor of the “Hey that’s my Boots!” CEO Paper Doll, the HPB Snuggie, braille t-shirt and Tacky BW Holiday Sweater.
Emily
PR maven, news junkie, baseball fanatic, late-night talk show watcher, frequent restaurant diner and former VH-1 reality show addict.
Jim
Film buff and wanna-be chef. Who's up for dinner and a movie?! Crouching Tiger stir-fry or Godfather spaghetti and a bottle of vino. Please, no talking or texting during the movie.
 
Meredith
Donned in an apron, baking pies and other tempting treats – there's nothing desperate about this housewife. Loves travel, the great outdoors, classic films, indie music and non-fiction.
Steve
The Buy Guy is a quarter-century-plus employee expert on all things books & music; his favorite buy involved hundreds of old theology books from the Mount St. Michael Convent hilltop library in Spokane, Washington.
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Wednesday
Aug262015

Books Authors Read with Priya Krishna

Unsurprisingly, I read a lot of books about food. But I also love memoirs. And children’s books. And, strangely enough, accessible tomes on international politics.

On the Noodle Road by Jen Lin-Liu 

I love carbohydrates in all forms, and this is a book of back-to-back vivid descriptions of said carbohydrates in many varied, delicious forms. This book is about one woman’s journey through China, Central Asia and Italy to learn the origins of the noodle. However, by the end of the book, I didn’t really care where the noodle came from. I just wanted to eat noodles. The book is entertaining and accessible, and Jen Lin-Liu elevates these humble noodle dishes from all across the world with her really rich sense of storytelling. Expect to eat a bowl of noodles after every reading session.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is awkward and cool and rocks at Scrabble. Even more than her really profound analyses of feminist representations in media and entertainment, my favorite parts of this book are when she trash talks her Scrabble competitors. I hope one day to meet Roxane Gay over Scrabble and discuss her thoughts on feminist representations in Disney Channel Original Movies.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

One of New Year’s resolutions was to identify people that inspired me and email them to talk about how they became the awesome people that they are. I don’t have Amy Poehler’s email address, so instead I treat Yes, Please as an elaborate and long conversation I had with Amy Poehler over tea. She’s a fiercely-smart writer who wants to do everything and sacrifice nothing and she’s killing it. I love reading about her children, her work life, and her awkward teen years. #LongLiveLeslieKnope

World Out of Balance by Stephen G Brooks and William Curti Wohlforth

I did debate in high school, majored in government in college, and I often find international politics EQUALLY as interesting as food. In fact, my original career plans included joining the foreign service and authoring several papers on world politics.  I have read this book maybe 20 times. It was co-written by my college major advisor, who is one of the most brilliant minds in international relations and had killer braces when I first took one of his classes. If you want to read an accessible book about government that won’t bore you to tears and also be able speak intelligently about the United States’ place in the international system, World Out of Balance is a winner. I have kept my edition of the book since high school. 

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

I LOVE CHILDREN’S BOOKS. Like children’s movies, the plot is always so seemingly straightforward yet rife with meaning. This is a book about a really, really cute kid who loves to hug everything—mailboxes, cars, animals—he even has a checklist. It is about the simple things in life that make all the difference, and it is also about inclusivity! He hugs a porcupine! And a snake! And a hydrant! Have you bought this book yet?!?   

Priya Krishna is the author of the cookbook Ultimate Dining Hall Hack.

You may visit her online or follow her on Twitter @PKgourmet.

Monday
Aug242015

Peace, Love & Sixties Rock Posters from Family Dog Productions (Rarest of Rare Collectibles

Half Price Books recently acquired a rare collection of posters that were produced by Family Dog Productions for San Francisco and Denver rock concerts in the late sixties. Most are first issues, all in exceptional condition.

During this year of Grateful Dead’s half-century-mark celebrations, these psychedelic concert posters will take any old hippie back almost fifty years ago when they were used to promote the shows that started it all. Imagine having been there in San Francisco, watching this upstart outfit, The Dead, come on and do their musical thing following trippy opening act Quicksilver Messenger Service. For those many who were not in San Francisco in the ‘60s or were not yet inhabitants of Planet Earth—or for those who were there but don’t remember being there—the iconic posters from those shows will evoke the mood of the time. You can hang up an Avalon Ballroom concert poster of, say, The Doors, and stare at it while you play their Strange Days LP, and bring it all back. Pretty groovy!

Chet Helms’ production company Family Dog put on weekly rock shows and other events starting in April of 1966. The shows featured the many rock bands that were blossoming in the San Francisco area (as well as rock, blues, and pop acts from other areas), accompanied by Helms’ innovative light shows.

The posters in this collection are selections from the 147 posters in the numbered series that advertised Family Dog shows from 1966 to 1968. Most of the shows took place at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. There are also numbered posters for shows produced by Family Dog in Denver. They are in Very Good to Near Mint condition, with no pinholes, tape, or other blemishes.

The Family Dog Numbered Series includes many of the top bands and artists who played those venues during those years, including:

  • The Doors (multiple show posters, including one also featuring Captain Beefheart)
  • Janis Joplin, with Big Brother and the Holding Company (several shows, with Bo Diddley, Canned Heat, and others)
  • Jefferson Airplane
  • Grateful Dead
  • Pink Floyd, Spirit, Chuck Berry, Van Morrison, and many other notable artists

Several of the most prominent innovative illustrators of the time and place are represented, including Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, and Victor Moscoso.

This is truly a one-of-a-kind collection that showcases, with provocative designs and stunning colors, the music that represented the “flower power” that was San Francisco Rock of the late sixties. These original posters will send you on a trip back to a time when the music was loud and the artwork was louder!

Rarely-Known Trivia

Janis’s Debut—After Chet Helms recruited her to join Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis Joplin traveled from Texas to make her San Francisco debut at the Avalon.
Avalon Revisited—The Avalon Ballroom closed in 1968, but an attempt to revive it as a concert venue was undertaken between 2003 and 2006.
From the Dead to Born-Again—Illustrator Rick Griffin, who created art for Grateful Dead albums and Zap Comix, became a born-again Christian in 1970 and redirected his artistic efforts to religious projects.

HPB is a great place to buy and sell all kinds of collectibles, not only from the nineteen-sixties but from the eighteen-sixties, or from any other time and place. First editions, magazines, records, sheet music—you name it, we’ve seen it in our Collectibles sections.

––

Steve is Staffing & Development Manager (aka the "Buy Guy") at Half Price Books Corporate.

Friday
Aug212015

What Happens to all Those Books?

Recently, a photo was posted on our Half Price Books Facebook page from a customer expressing concern over a number of books placed in a recycling container outside our Half Price Books store in Appleton, WI. We respect and value our customers and would like to address this concern by providing more information on the lifecycle of the books, music and movies that come through our stores, as well as how we are committed to helping our communities and the environment.

Half Price Books buys thousands of books, music and movies in our stores from customers on a daily basis. We also receive shipments of new bestsellers and other merchandise coming through the doors each day. Add all this to the fact that our stores have a limited amount of space on the sales floor and in the backroom.

As a convenience to our customers, we accept all the items they bring in to sell and we try to make the best use of them. A number of the books sold back to us are former bestsellers that were produced at a high volume and, as these books age, sometimes supply outweighs demand. There is often an excess of these items in our stores and on our shelves.

We know that there are countless charitable organizations that can use this excess inventory. That’s why in 2012, we started our Million Book Donation Project, through which we have donated at least one million books each year to worthwhile causes, classrooms, libraries and more. Each of our 120+ stores nationwide makes donating books a priority. As mentioned in a related news article, our Appleton store recently donated more than 1,500 books to the Appleton Public Library to help expand their Reach Out and Read program. But because we have a limited staff who is dedicated to in-store operations most of the day, we cannot make these donations happen without you. Volunteers seeking donations must make the request and be able to arrange for pick-up in order for us to put the most books in the hands of those in need. In some cases, the books we receive are simply too outdated or worn to be resold or even donated. These include but are not limited to things like maps, atlases, technology books and sometimes textbooks. Other books are torn, missing pages, too dirty, have broken spines or have simply been in an unfit environment before they make their way to us. We have seen many books that outwardly look to be in good condition, but upon further investigation have water damage, bugs, or other unhygienic issues. 

Being kind to the environment has always been an important part of our business philosophy. To this day, we encourage our employees, business partners, suppliers and customers to work together to continuously find innovative ways to foster the efficient use of natural resources. Recycling resources is part of our daily business, and this extends beyond the items we sell. At Half Price Books, we have always believed that "Books should fill our lives, not our land."

We thank you for your genuine concern and we are glad that customers are talking about this subject. It raises the issue of the tremendous amount of books sold to us in each store daily and the disparate number of donation requests in the Appleton area as well as nationwide. If you know of a nonprofit organization or school in your area in need of books, we encourage you to submit a Donation Request Form online at hpb.com/donationrequests.

Monday
Aug172015

Class of 2016: Best School-Themed TV Shows

It’s officially the time of year which parents love, children dread and teachers…nervously anticipate. That’s right—it’s back-to-school season. Whether you’re rushing to buy the perfect protractor or you’re soaking up every last moment of glorious summer freedom, like it or not, in the next few weeks, life is going to change. Here at HPB HQ, back to school gets us thinking of all the great schools we’ve seen on screens big and small over the years. While we’ve covered school days in film on one occasion or another, I thought it would be worth looking at some of the best TV series set in the world of education. It’s hard to rank them all, so instead I went with the classic “superlative” approach. Enjoy!

Most Likely to Star on Broadway: Glee

The students of William McKinley High School went through a lot in 6 seasons with a smile on their face and a song in their hearts. Say what you want about this show’s rocky run, but I’ll never forget when I heard the New Directions take on Don’t Stop Believin’ for the first time.

Cutest Couple: Saved By the Bell

From Zack and Kelly to Jessie and Slater to…okay, not Lisa and Screech, SBTB had a lot to say about teenage love. This was the school show of the early ‘90s. Who can forget the epic fashions, the kids’ strange relationship with Mr. Belding, and, of course, caffeine pills?

Favorite Teacher: Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper

As the child of an educator and a school registrar, I was one of those kids who liked most of the teachers, hence why HWMC was one of my faves. From Mark Curry (what happened to him?) to Nell Carter (gone too soon!), an excellent cast brought plenty of laughs to this fun show.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug142015

Hey, Mr. President, read these books next!

ABC News reported yesterday that President Obama has packed an armful of books for a two-week vacation with his family in Martha's Vineyard. Here are the six books he selected!

  

There are some great choices on his summer reading list, including award-winning fiction and non-fiction but what happens when any booklover finishes the last book on the TBR list? You ask, "What should I read next?" We've got the answer. If you enjoyed these selections, here's a list of HPB Staff Picks to get you started on your next book.

If you liked All That Is by James Salter, then try: 1) The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford, 2) Babylon Revisited: And Other Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 3) Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian, 4) The Master by Colm Toibin and 5) The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes.

If you liked All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, then try: 1) A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon by Anthony Mara, 2) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, 3) The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah, 4) The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Phillip Sendker and 5) City of Thieves by David Benioff.

If you liked The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, then try: 1) Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change by Elizabeth Kolbert, 2) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, 3) Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik, 4) Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond and 5) Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

If you liked The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, then try: 1) The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol, 2) The Son by Phillip Meyer, 3) Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, 4) A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer duBois and 5) Transatlantic by Colum McCann.

If you liked Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, then try: 1) Just Mercy by Bruan Stevenson, 2) Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, 3) Men We Reaped: A Memior by Jesmyn Ward, 4) The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates and 5) 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup.

If you liked Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow, then try: 1) Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham, 2) 1776 by David McCullough, 3) Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis, 4) John Adams by David McCullough and 5) Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Happy vacationing, Mr. President! And to the rest of you booklovers out there, let us know what books are left on your summer reading list.