10 Movies to NOT Celebrate Valentine’s Day With

I’ve got nothing against Valentine’s Day, but most of us have had a February 14th where the last thing we wanted to do is celebrate this holiday. Hollywood knows this and offers some counter-programming each year for people who need anything but a romantic comedy or family drama or cute talking animals.

With that in mind, here are ten movies designed to help you avoid Valentine’s Day. We’re talking action, horror and camp films. The movies on this list were all playing in theaters on Valentine’s Day in the years listed. They most likely helped someone enjoy that year’s holiday a little more. I hope you enjoy them as well. Oh, and keep in mind that some of these films are for mature audiences only!

1) John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980)

The Fog is the cinematic equivalent of a ghost story being told around the campfire, and what a ghost story it is. While often viewed as a minor classic next to Halloween and The Thing, this is still John Carpenter working at the height of his powers – with atmospheric locations, great character actors, and a synthesizer film score that shouldn’t work but totally does.

It’s also notable for being the least misanthropic of Carpenter’s horror films, featuring a group of ordinary, small-town people who pull together once things start going bump in the night. If you like horror movies and haven’t seen The Fog, track it down immediately.

2) Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Despite being released in the summer of 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark still came in 6th at the box office on Valentine’s Day weekend in 1982. In fact, it was playing in almost as many theaters as that weekend’s new releases.

What else is there to say about Raiders of the Lost Ark? It’s the best – possibly the greatest adventure movie ever made. Even though I enjoy all the Indiana Jones films (Crystal Skull isn’t that bad), there’s no denying Steven Spielberg captured lightning in a bottle with Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s thrilling, scary and subversive in a way its sequels never quite manage.

3) Over the Top (1987)

Creed is a reminder that Sylvester Stallone can be utterly fantastic in the right role. It’s no surprise that he’s up for so many acting awards. Stallone’s always been a great performer. He’s just, well, not always so hot at picking great movies to be in.

Take Over the Top, for example. It’s basically the Rocky formula with arm wrestling subbing in for boxing. And arm wrestling is just the tip of the crazy iceberg that is this movie. If you’re a fan of Stallone as the underdog getting in the ring to take on a cartoonish supervillain of an opponent, Over the Top may be for you.

4) Tango & Cash (1990)

Stallone again. What can I say? The guy entertains me.

Tango & Cash is ridiculous and ridiculously amazing. It’s a film where no one seemed to agree on what movie they were making, which led to Tango & Cash coming off more like a parody of action films and their tropes. It’s a movie that felt dated and out-of-touch even in 1990, but it’s terrific entertainment if you go into it with a “How did this get made?” attitude.

And Kurt Russell is in it. That man is a national treasure.

5) The Quick and the Dead (1995)

While nowhere near as ridiculous as Tango & Cash, The Quick and the Dead is still pretty out there. It’s a mostly forgotten film from a time when Hollywood wasn’t really making westerns. For those unfamiliar with the plot, Sharon Stone plays a mysterious stranger who rides into town to take part in a to-the-death quick-draw tournament run by Gene Hackman (who would be twirling a moustache if he had one).

It’s a film full of frantic action and crazy camerawork. While certainly a fun watch on its own terms, the most notable thing about the movie is all the before-they-were-famous talent involved – including director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man) plus actors Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio.

6) Pulp Fiction (1995)

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another surprise hit that’s more surprising than Pulp Fiction. Like Raiders of the Lost Ark, there’s little left to say about this one – except it’s a cultural landmark for a reason. While Quentin Tarantino has grown considerably as a writer and director, he’s never had more fun making a movie. It shows in every frame of this film.

And while we’re avoiding romantic movies for this article, Pulp Fiction technically does feature two characters going on a date. I think we can all agree it didn’t end well.

7) Galaxy Quest (2000)

Galaxy Quest is on a lot people’s minds at the moment due to the recent passing of Alan Rickman, who we lost far too soon. The above clip proves just how great he was. He’s one of the best things in a movie that gets as close to perfection as humanly possible.

Incredibly funny, clever and sweet, it’s a film way ahead of its time. I’m glad it now gets the respect it deserves. I don’t know how they did it – but Galaxy Quest somehow both sends up and extols Star Trek and its fans, proving that you can love something by poking fun at it.

8) Brotherhood of the Wolf (2002)

Please answer the following question: Brotherhood of the Wolf is a ____

  1. Foreign film
  2. Period drama
  3. Political thriller
  4. Love story
  5. Monster movie
  6. Martial arts movie
  7. All of the above

If you chose “7”, you are correct. Brotherhood is a crazy genre mash-up that never feels stitched together. I won’t say anymore in the interest of not spoiling its surprises. If you don’t mind subtitles, you are in for one heck of a movie.

9) Coraline (2009)

I wanted to include at least one family movie on this list. While not suitable for very young viewers, Coraline is an absolute delight for anyone else. Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s young adult novel, the story follows a young girl who moves to a new town and finds a secret doorway that leads to a macabre world that mirrors her own. Needless to say, the inhabitants of said macabre world do not have Coraline’s best interests at heart.

Like last year’s Inside Out, it taps into the alienation any child/teen goes through when moving to a new place just as they were finding themselves. Coraline features an excellent protagonist and supporting characters – and while not too scary, it’s just scary enough for kids and adults to enjoy together.

10) The Book of Eli (2010)

A lot of critics accused The Book of Eli, an apocalyptic action movie, of having nothing new to say. Whether that’s true or not, it’s made so well that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Everyone’s working at 100% here – especially Denzel Washington, who is fantastic as always.

The Book of Eli doesn’t land with the same impact as, say, Mad Max: Fury Road – but it’s a welcome addition to a genre that’s currently having a resurgence at the moment. The two films together make an excellent double-feature.

So, what movies will you be watching this weekend?

Jeremy is Customer Service Specialist at HPB Corporate


Charles Darwin—A Natural Selection for Today (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. His works continue to be among the most influential and important scientific works, from his popular account of The Voyage of the Beagle in 1839, through the seminal scientific work On the Origin of Species (1859), to the 1871 continuation of his exploration of evolution, The Descent of Man.

To celebrate Darwin’s 207th birthday, we’re proud to offer a Very Good copy of the first edition/ first issue of The Descent of Man.

darwin 2 vols

The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex by Charles Darwin
London, John Murray, 1871.

First edition, first issue, of the Darwin classic. Two volumes. The first issue, in the original publisher’s green cloth binding, is scarce. Advertisements in both volumes dated January 1871. Bookplate and owner signature. Light foxing. (price on request)

This very special treasure was brought to our Flagship store in Dallas. Buyer Rachel, one of the lucky people who got to evaluate the book, was thrilled. “It was very exciting. We checked our resources to see whether it had all the first-issue points. It did!”

Darwin Fun Facts

EvolutionThe Descent of Man contains, on page two of the first volume, the first appearance of the word “evolution” in any of Darwin’s works.

The first edition was published in two volumes, despite the fact that Darwin saw the book’s two parts as one continuous work.

The HMS Beagle’s expedition, during which Darwin began developing his ideas about evolution, lasted nearly five years, but Darwin spent over three years of that time on land, conducting research.

darwin title page

And, for another science classic, we also offer:

The DNA Story: A Documentary History of Gene Cloning (W.H. Freeman, 1983, First Edition), signed by co-author (with John Tooze) and DNA co-discoverer James D. Watson. In Very Good condition: $350. Also available at our Flagship store in Dallas.

dna story 1

If you’re interested in either of these books, let the Buy Guy know!

Love in the Stacks: A Bookstore Romance

Many a Half Price Books employee has found love in the stacks while working at our little bookstore chain over the years. Our founders, Ken Gjemre and Pat Anderson were a couple when they founded Half Price Books in a converted laundromat in Dallas way back in 1972. Pat’s daughter and current HPB CEO, Sharon Anderson Wright, even met her husband, Ken, while working at HPB.

You’ll find book-loving couples across the chain, so in honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s meet some of our bibliomaniac booklovers from Austin!

 John and Maggie


How Their Love Story Began: Continue reading

Books Can Take You Places (Off the Beaten Path) : New Orleans


In 2016, Half Price Books encourages you to travel the world through books, music and movies. This year’s HPB Calendar is full of recommendations for every booklover, audiophile and movie buff. Unfortunately, we could only feature 12 different cities in our calendar, and there are so many more places with rich literary and musical heritages available for you to visit.

With Mardi Gras on the horizon, the Big Easy seems to be the most logical travel destination. Known as the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans has inspired several writers and playwrights, from William Faulkner to Tennessee Williams, and its wide avenues and stately architecture creates a rich backdrop to mystery, romance and horror stories alike. In fact, the Bourbon Orleans Hotel appears in many of Anne Rice’s vampire novels, as well as books by Isabel Allende and George Washington Cable.

HOW TO GET THERE Continue reading

Books Can Take You Places: San Francisco

Half Price Books encourages you to travel more in 2016. Not the kind of travel that involves airplanes, passports and hotels, but the easier, more affordable kind — where you open a great book and let it take you somewhere.

SFThroughout 2016 we’ll share about the world’s great destinations, along with our recommendations for the books, movies and music that will help you get there.

Last month, we took a trip to Paris, France. This month’s stop is San Francisco, California.

Freedom of expression has always been celebrated in the City by the Bay. Even before the midcentury flowering of the Beat Generation, the counterculture movement and Haight-Ashbury, the area was known for attracting literary non-conformists like Mark Twain. Residents like Amy Tan and Michael Chabon keep San Francisco’s creative spirit alive today.

San Fran Continue reading

HPB Book Club: Interview with a Magician

BookClub-logoFor the next few months, we’ll be reading Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Grab a copy at your local HPB and participate in the discussion on the HPB Facebook page through February and March. The Magicians has been adapted into a Syfy TV series. Our very own Assistant Buyer at Half Price Books, Kristen B., knows lead actor Jason Ralph in The Magicians TV series had the chance to ask him a few questions about his experience with the show so far.

When Jason Ralph moved to McKinney, Texas in middle school, he was a quiet kid. He barely spoke, but he would always get my notebook back for me when another classmate would steal it. Therefore, we became instant friends. As we both grew older and moved on to high school, Jason started to come out of his shell and we both became involved in high school theatre. Once Jason started acting on stage, it was clear that he was destined for greatness. With his good looks, charming charisma, and heart of gold, he was the guy that every girl wanted. Throughout the years we have stayed in touch, even when he went on stage as Peter in Peter and the Starcatcher on Broadway.

KristenAndFriend Continue reading

Local Store Events Round-Up: February 2016


Arizona California Illinois Indiana Iowa Kentucky Minnesota Missouri Ohio Oklahoma Pennsylvania Texas Washington Wisconsin


Booklover’s Weekend
If you’re on the HPB Email List, check your email inbox by February 12 for a special offer! If you’re not on the list, it’s not too late to get in on this sweetheart deal! Sign up online or in store today and you’ll get your own store coupon to use during Booklover’s Weekend — Friday, February 12 through Monday, February 15 — at any Half Price Books retail location. See coupon for redemption details. Not valid online nor at Half Price Books Outlet.


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!



Rehana Daud Book Signing
Meet author Rehana Daud on Saturday, February 27, from 2 to 4 p.m. at your Dublin HPB. Rehana will read excerpts from, sell and sign her novel, The Journey. Books will be sold independently by the author while supplies last. Continue reading

Opinions Wanted! Join the HPB Booklovers Survey Club

PrintCalling all booklovers! HPB customers like you are pretty smart in our book. So we’d like to pick your brain. You’re invited to join our Booklovers Survey Club. We’ll occasionally send a quick survey via email with questions about your shopping experiences, preferences and opinions. From what types of books you like to how our stores can be better, we want your help. We figure we can improve the most by learning from the people we value the most. What’s in it for you? Well, let’s look a little closer.

First of all, you’ll feel rewarded at the end of the day because you’ve helped your favorite local bookstore plan for the future. Awesome, right?

But wait…there’s more! We’ll also send along select content from our fan-favorite HPB Calendar. The theme for 2016 is “Books Can Take You Places.” Pack your bags; we’re headed around the world.


Last, but certainly not least, we’ll send you additional coupons and special offers. Who doesn’t like savings? You’ll gain access to special deals and ways to save in our stores. Score!

Does this sound right up your alley? Are you ready to tell us your ideas? Then sign up for the Booklovers Survey Club here…and get to surveying!

Jason is the Email Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.


North Texas Tornado Relief: How Our Customers Helped Meet the Needs of Tornado Survivors

Through the generosity of our dedicated customers and some additional big-hearted citizens who wanted to donate, Half Price Books was able to collect more than 10,000 toiletry items for the survivors of the recent North Texas tornadoes! What too many families in areas just north and south of the city of Dallas experienced was a devastating mass of twelve tornadoes that tore through homes and across neighborhoods, sadly taking lives in the process.


The communities of Garland and Rowlett were hit the hardest, and, subsequently, several Red Cross Shelters were established and companies across North Texas volunteered to collect needed items. The evening after the tornadoes hit, our Garland store management team reached out to the Garland police and let them know we would help, in whatever way we could. On Monday, our Dallas corporate office, in partnership with the American Red Cross of North Texas, announced that DFW area Half Price Books stores would accept donations to the Red Cross. As a tangible way to meet the needs of the tornado survivors, we embarked upon a DFW Toiletry Donation Drive to provide toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap and other immediate needs.

The Red Cross let us know on Tuesday, December 29, they had several shelters with many children that were bored and asked if we had books we could donate – do we have books? YES! The boxes were packed to the top of the truck with more than 500 books, stacked, loaded and delivered to the Red Cross Headquarters by a Half Price Books team by the next day. Before we left the building, a Red Cross representative said those children’s books were already en route to the shelters! Now that was amazingly efficient!


Left to right: Michael (HPB), Ashley (Red Cross), Brady (HPB), Angela (Red Cross)

We continued the Toiletry Donation Drive through that week until Friday, January 1. To say that our customers, employees and the citizens of DFW area were generous is an understatement. Our Flagship store in Dallas collected more than 3,000 of the much-needed items, including some dog food and blankets, too! In addition, our19 other stores in the DFW area collected another 7,000 items! When the call went out, everyone responded with abundance!


Donation delivery site with HPB truck driver, Marvin (in orange vest) and church’s volunteers.

The closing chapter of our donation drive was finding an organization to distribute the donations we collected – in the process, we discovered a cool website called recovers.org, where the needs of a recovering community are listed and those who want to donate can be matched with each other. After searching for the Garland area, we found an organization that needed our toiletry items. Our corporate distribution staff quickly sorted and boxed up the 10,000 items into categories like toothbrushes and shampoo; the four shrink-wrapped pallets with 25 boxes each were then delivered to The Central Park Church of God in Garland on Friday, January 10 – on the day the director said they literally were running out of toiletries! It is because of our thoughtful and community minded customers, employees and fellow citizens of DFW that these donations got into the hands of those in need, just in time! If you donated, we wanted you to know – you met a huge need in a mighty way!


HPB employees sorted over 10,000 items!