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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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The Sweet Sixteen: Matching Up Basketball Movie Classics

It’s the end of March, folks, which means that Spring has sprung, we’ve all worn our green and March Madness is in full swing. Since we’re down to 16 contenders, I thought I’d match up some of the best basketball-themed movies. Which are your favorites?

90s Faves

Eddie (1996)—Limo driver Eddie (Whoopi Goldberg) wins a contest to coach the New York Knicks, whipping the team back into shape before their owner moves them to St. Louis!



White Men Can’t Jump (1992)—Hustlers Billy (Woody Harrelson) and Sidney (Wesley Snipes) band together and take to the court in Los Angeles, with laughs along the way.




The Thinkers

Finding Forrester (2000)—Basketball player and brilliant student Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown) befriends reclusive author William Forrester (Sean Connery), helping Jamal pursue his true dream of writing.



O (2001)­­—A modern take on Shakespeare’s Othello, O tells the store of the basketball prodigy Odin (Mekhi Phifer) and jealous coach’s son Hugo (Josh Hartnett), leading to a tragic conclusion.



Coach Spotlights

Sunset Park (1996)—Phyllis Saroka (Rhea Perlman) is the white, female coach of an all-black high school boys’ basketball team. More than just a coach, Saroka inspires the team to greatness.



Coach Carter (2005)—Samuel L. Jackson stars as Ken Carter, who imposes a behavior-based contract on his basketball team. When the team breaks the contract, they are benched—all of them.



Love Stories

Love & Basketball (2000)—Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps star in this hoops-themed romance about two life-long friends who navigate the twists and turns of love while also building pro careers.



Just Wright (2010)—Queen Latifah portrays physical therapist Leslie Wright, who begins to treat NBA star Scott McKnight (Common). When Leslie begins to fall for her patient, what will she do?



Shaq vs. Michael

Space Jam (1996)This ‘90s classic pits Michael Jordan and our favorite Looney Tunes characters against a pack of aliens and NBA starts in a basketball showdown to ensure their freedom.



Blue Chips (1994)Shaquille O’Neal makes his acting debut in this classic story about a coach who is forced to break the rules of recruiting to keep his school competitive.




Kid Faves

Air Bud (1997)—Young Josh Framm (Kevin Zegers) befriends a stray dog named Buddy with a unique ability to play basketball. Buddy helps Josh embrace his own basketball talent and overcome the odds.



Like Mike (2002)—A legendary pair of basketball shoes and a bit of supernatural intervention leads orphan Calvin (Shad Moss a.k.a. Lil Bow Wow) all the way to the NBA.




Family Dynamics

Above the Rim (1994)—Kyle Lee Watson is a promising basketball star whose relationship with brothers Birdie (Tupac Shakur), a drug dealer, and Shep, a former hoops star, could be his downfall.



He Got Game (1998)—Spike Lee’s classic tells the story of Jesus Shuttlesworth, whose budding basketball career is overshadowed by his father, Jake (Denzel Washington), who is in prison.



Championship Classics

Hoosiers (1986)—One of the greatest basketball (and sports) movies of all time, Hoosiers is based on the true story of a high school team in Indiana that overcame the odds to make the state finals.



Glory Road (2006)—Coach Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) leads the 1966 Texas Western University basketball team, the first all-black starting line up, to the NCAA championship.




Honorable Mentions: Teen Wolf (1985), The Basketball Diaries (1995), The 6th Man (1997), Semi-Pro (2008)

That’s a whole lotta hoops! Did I miss any of your favorite basketball classics?

Looking for more great matchups? Cast your vote in our Tournament of Fandoms today!


Jason is Email Marketing Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow him on Twitter @jasonapermenter.


St. Pat-a-Palooza: 10 Writers or Characters Named Patrick or Patricia 

This St. Patrick’s day, we thought we’d give St. Patrick some support. So here’s a team of modern-day Patrick and Patricias to fill out his team. From the Patron Saint of Nose Jobs to the High Priest of 60s Mod Men, we hope these authors, actors, and fictional characters will entertain and delight you.

Patrick Süskind: Patron Saint of Nose Jobs

If you've ever eaten a transcendent meal, sipped wine that made you swoon, or smelled a perfume that sent you straight to heaven, this book is for you. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is the story of an infant abandoned in the filth of an 18th century fish market in Paris. Off to a very rocky start, he survives, and as he grows up, develops the most acute sense of smell in the world. What follows is a lot of robbing things of their aromatic souls and a stern cautionary message about obsession. The story is unique, the character development is exceptional, and the pace is fast. Take note: the movie is nowhere near as good as the book - it's impossible to convey all the smelly hijinks on-screen.  Want another truly unique tale? Try Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle, the story of Sean Phillips, a burn victim who creates roleplaying games that guide players through intricately imagined post-apocalyptic worlds. For some fans, his imaginary world blurs with reality, and as the players make their choices, we travel back in time to the choices Sean made that resulted in his disfigurement.  Mystery, the life choices we make, injury, and recovery are all here in a dark, complicated tapestry. This one may haunt you.

Patrick Bateman: Icon of Cultural Fail

 Is he a greed-filled psychopathic killer, or just an unreliable, hallucinating, self-aggrandizing narrator? American Psycho is a controversial book – even banned in some countries – yet it continues to show up on Top 10 lists. Its themes are greed, status-obsession, loss of empathy and various other reptilian behaviors at the individual and cultural level. Choose with care: do you really want to read about a deranged killer singing "The Greatest Love of All" while wielding an industrial staple gun? The New York Times called the film "a mean and lean horror comedy classic," and all other things aside, Christian Bale’s performance as Bateman is chilling. Too graphic? I wouldn’t say that Dexter is a kinder, gentler psychopath, but at least he limits his killing to those who deserve it. Mostly. If you might enjoy Really Really Evil people getting their vigilante comeuppance, and want a deeper look into the life and mind of a psycho, this is for you.

Patrick Rothfuss: Torch Bearer for the Long Haulers

Because for some folks, the first volume is just a prologue. If you’re seeking long-haul transport to another world, Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles is a gorgeous, dark and immersive trilogy that will do the trick. Kvothe, the main character, is occasionally a bit of a Mary Sue..."I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me," but you have to forgive him: he has mad skills, and his story is extraordinary.  Other escapist-fantasy sets we love: Tolkien, The Fionavar Tapestry, The Deepness Trilogy,  Imajica (two volumes but with a page count of three),  All Souls Trilogy, Bio of a Space Tyrant, The Chronicles of Amber, and The Culture Series.  Short on time? Get an entire trilogy's worth of content in one volume with Charles Stross' Accelerando.

Patrick Crawley: Spirit-Brother of the Redshirts

Who remembers Downton Abbey’s Patrick Crawley from season 1, who sank with the Titanic instead of marrying Lady Mary? True to redshirt form, he only gets a brief cameo here so that we can recommend Julian Fellowes' Past Imperfect. This book invokes the crumbling British aristocracy in the mid-20th century at a very personal level; you'll feel as if you're part of the events taking place. It’s full of subtle intrigue and spans generations. Highly recommended for those who enjoy the genre! Seeking similar but different? Readers who like British class clashes will also enjoy Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley mysteries - elaborate whodunits unraveled by an earl who works alongside the common folks on the police force. Start with A Great Deliverance or watch the series. If you've had your fill of stuffy British manners, consider a high-octane blood-soaked slashy action flick, starring poor, dead Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) - The Guest.  Leave the lights on for this one!

Patricia Highsmith: Guardian Angel of Persecuted Love

1952 was the year Alan Turing was arrested and jailed for being gay. As whispers of a homosexual underground in the State Department caused The Lavender Scare and the Veteran’s Administration was denying benefits due to sexual orientation, Patricia Highsmith wrote The Price of Salt, the first gay novel with a happy ending. The claustrophobia and repressive attitudes of the 1950s are present here, but are counterbalanced beautifully by the lyrical first love of a young woman in New York City. It's smoldering and hypnotic, and the writing is a cultural observer's delight: “It reminded her of the conversations at tables, on sofas, with people whose words seemed to hover over dead, unstirrable things, who never touched a string that played.” Highsmith wrote many psychological thrillers, and her novel Strangers on a Train became a Hitchcock classic. Too quaint? Risk culture shock by fast-forwarding 30 years later to Don Juan in the Village by Jane DeLynn – a time capsule of the early 1990s NYC gay scene in its own right.

Patrick Macnee: High Priest of 1960s Mod Men

You may be cool, but you'll never be John Steed cool. Watch this mod, mad British classic, and don't miss the episode titled The House That Jack Built, which features a giant computerized psychedelic mousetrap designed to drive Emma Peel insane.  Macnee's memoir, The Avengers - The Inside Story is also a lot of fun. Want more? Here’s another British mod espionage series, and another Patrick. In The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan, plays a retired secret agent who's abducted and taken to what looks like an idyllic village, but is really a bizarre Orwellian prison. As each escape attempt is thwarted by a belligerent, undulating weather balloon called Rover; things get weirder and weirder till the surprising conclusion. Who is number one? And what drugs were involved in the making of this very British pop-cultural product?

Patrick Stewart: Patron Saint of Making It So

Patrick Stewart owns those three words now – there’s no point in anyone else saying them anymore, ever. In addition to snatching the Sexiest Bald Guy Ever Award away from Yul Brynner's 30-years-dead but still-hot hands, Stewart is known for becoming a flute virtuoso, betraying humanity to the Borg then saving us from assimilation, training aspiring young mutants and defying the time travel paradox in The X-Men Trilogy, and reciting Shakespeare like a boss. If your Star Trek TNG and X-Men collections are already complete, the Patrick Stewart biography contains some surprises and is worth a read. Been there, done that? Looking for an edgier intergalactic bald guy, perhaps with some mutant Eyeshine and a little more Brown-Chicken-Brown-Cow? Riddick books or movies might be the hero you need.

Patrick Modiano: Patron Saint of Meaning-Seekers

In Suspended Sentences, a collection of three novellas that won a Nobel literature prize, Modiano sends us floating down gentle streams that blend memory and imagination. Through stories of lost loves, abandoned children, mentors and parents, empty apartments and shuttered old hotels, Modiano’s characters slowly tantalize us with small, glittering glimpses of their lives. You can feel his characters striving to discover and form meaning from the mysteries of their pasts. Time blurs, identities blur, and reality, it seems, is more elusive than you think. The writing is delicate and detached, as memories from the past often are, but the stories are deeply haunting. Want another tantalizing story steeped in history? All the Light We Cannot See, a story about a blind girl and a soldier whose paths cross during World War II, a priceless blue diamond and the horrors of war with 38 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list, this one’s an intricate, suspenseful read.

Patrick "Kitten" Braden: Hope-bringer for Hearts of Glass

Breakfast on Pluto is a surreal coming-of-age story about outsiders, loyalty and individualism. Patrick's a foundling, abandoned on the doorstep of a church in a small village in Ireland. Against a backdrop of escalating political violence, the child matures into a gentle but saucy trans woman and sets out to find her mother.  Too fragile for this world - a modern-day Blanche DuBois - it looks as if the world is going to chew her up and spit her out, but the kindness of strangers, luck and staying true to herself may save the day.  You might weep for humanity, yet it's enchanting and funny, too. Happily, the movie by the director of Oscar-winning The Crying Game is every bit as good as the book, and Cillian Murphy's performance is exceptional. Too gauzy and surreal? Boys Don't Cry is a nonfiction story in this same vein, albeit with a darker ending. 

Patrick Swayze: Squadron Commander of the 80s Retro Movement

Sure, we could dismiss Patrick Swayze because he was voted Sexiest Man Alive way back in 1991, but then we'd miss his gorgeous dance moves in Dirty Dancing, his slick, smarmy role as a pedophiliac motivational speaker in Donnie Darko and his just plain awesome Bodhisattva-surfer-bank robber character in Point Break. This man had range, and I'm not just talking about his fouetté jeté. Put on your retro goggles, set your disco ball to stun, unbutton your lamé shirt to your navel and enjoy. Want extra retro credit? Grab some Bee Gees or Thriller on vintage vinyl and tighten up those dance moves. Stay alive out there.




Pam is the General Manager of HPB.com.


2015 Tournament of Fandoms: Honorable Mentions

March Madness is sweeping the country, and Half Price Books is celebrating by holding a Tournament of Fandoms. We searched for the best literary, pop culture and personality driven fandoms out there.  There are a lot of fandoms, and we only had sixty-four slots to fill, so as decisions were made and fandoms began to get cut, many tears were shed, and many battles waged before finally arriving at the final bracket.  Then, as the fandoms (and tears) fell, a lone voice of reason said, “Why don’t we mention some of these other fandoms on the blog?” and there was great rejoicing.

So here are our honorable mention fandoms:

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Local Store Events Round-Up: March 2015

Looking for something to do at your favorite book store? Check out these fun happenings at Half Price Books stores across the country during the month of March!


2015 HPB Tournament of Fandoms!

Calling all fandoms! Now is the time to show where your loyalties lie. From March 17 to April 6, 64 fandoms that celebrate YOU and HPB culture - from Rock Stars vs. Book Stars to Pop Culture vs. Print - will battle head-to-head over six rounds to determine who will come out on top of: The Tournament of Fandoms. Your votes decide. May the best fans win!


Phoenix – Camelback

First Sunday Storytime

Pack up your half-pint readers and come to your Camelback HPB for Storytime Sundays. Sit down and enjoy a good tale with us at 1 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month. All young readers and listeners are welcome! See you March 1!

Kerrigan Rhea Book Signing

Meet local author Kerrigan Rhea on Saturday, March 28, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at your Camelback HPB. Kerrigan will sell and sign the paranormal mystery Justice Again. Books will be sold independently by the author while supplies last.



Professor Scott Dodson Book Signing

Meet local professor and editor Scott Dodson on Saturday, March 21, from 2 to 3 p.m. at your Kress Building/Arts District HPB in Berkeley. Professor Dodson will sell, sign and discuss his book The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which chronicles the remarkable achievements Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made as a lawyer, professor and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Books will be sold independently by the author while supplies last.

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The Truth Behind Dr. Seuss

In his book Happy Birthday to You, Dr. Seuss wrote the lines “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”  How relevant do those words seem when you relate them to the man himself? No other writer has been able to express his own individuality as well as Dr. Seuss, and on his birthday today, what better way to celebrate than exposing some of the You-ness behind his books. Here are some interesting facts about Dr. Seuss.

  • And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street, the first children’s book Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated was rejected 27 times before finally being published by a friend in 1937.  
  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go was Dr. Seuss’ final book, published in 1990.
  • Dr. Seuss never had children and didn’t interact well with them.  His wife Audrey once said he was afraid of them.  Seuss told people, “You have children. I’ll entertain them.”  
  • Dr. Seuss admitted that the character of The Grinch was based on himself.
  • Although Boris Karloff provided the voice of The Grinch in the Seuss-sanctioned cartoon, Thurl Ravenscroft, AKA Tony the Tiger, was the one who sang the song You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch. When Seuss learned that Ravenscroft did not receive credit on screen, he wrote to several newspaper columnists to tell them who had sung the song.
  • Dr. Seuss was one of the first children’s writers to insert political and social themes into his works.  The Lorax was about how humans are destroying nature, Yertle the Turtle was a representation of Hitler and The Butter Battle Book was a reference to the Cold War.
  • The Lorax used to contain the line “I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie,” but 14 years after the book was published, Seuss was contacted by the Ohio Sea Grant Program, who told him how the conditions had improved and implored him to take the line out.  Seuss agreed and the line has not appeared in any editions since then.
  • Despite the political nature of Yertle the Turtle, the only thing the publisher disputed was Mack’s burp, for no one had ever burped in a children’s book before, and they weren’t sure how the public would receive it.  In the end, Mack kept his burp.
  • After reading a 1954 report published in Life magazine about illiteracy among school children, a textbook editor commissioned Seuss to write a book which would appeal to children learning to read.  Acknowledging that the Dick and Jane primers were “insanely boring,” Seuss took the challenge, and using only the 250 word vocabulary provided to him by the editor, wrote The Cat in the Hat.
  • Seuss was never one to back down from a challenge.  One time his editor bet him that he couldn’t write a book using only 50 individual words.  So Seuss picked up his pen and wrote Green Eggs and Ham, which has 50 individual words exactly.
  • Anyone who has ever read Dr. Seuss knows that he invented many different words, but did you know that he invented the word “nerd?”  It appeared in his book If I Ran a Zoo, published in 1950.  A “nerd” was one of the more interesting animals the main character would bring to the zoo if he were in charge.  The accompanying illustration showed a grumpy Seussean creature with unruly hair, sideburns and a black T-shirt.
  • Dr. Seuss wrote more than 48 books, delighting young and old alike by combining the ridiculous with the logical, and he won a special Pulitzer citation for “his contribution over nearly half a century to the education and enjoyment of America’s children and their parents.”

Yes, it is true, Dr. Seuss. No one is Youer than You!

Dr. Seuss’ You-ness hasn’t come to an end either.  Dr. Seuss’ books are still making a difference in the lives of children today, plus, four new Dr. Seuss stories are set to be released in the fall. A study revealed the rhyming and alliterative properties of Dr. Seuss books did improve certain aspects of phonemic awareness in children 3-7 years old, as well as initial sound fluency.  In older children oral reading fluency and nonsense word fluency were increased.  Perhaps that is why for the past 18 years, the National Education Association (NEA) has chosen Dr. Seuss’ birthday as Read Across America Day.  This year, the NEA has chosen the Seuss classic Oh, The Places You’ll Go as the book to read.   

Share the love of reading by donating your favorite Dr. Seuss book, or any other new or gently-used children’s book to the Half Pint Library Book Drive.

As Dr. Seuss said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”


Julie is Traffic Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.