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.
 
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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
Jun172015

Long Reads for the Longest day of the Year

For those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice falls on June 21 this year. That means Sunday will be, well… sun day. The proverbial “longest day of the year.” Actually, it’s 24 hours just like other days, but it’ll have the most daylight. Here at HPB World Headquarters in Dallas, we’ll have a whopping 14 hours, 18 minutes and 47 seconds of sun.

If you’re a reader who hates spending money on electricity—or a blog writer desperate for a timely topic—that means 14.3 hours of absolutely free reading light. To take full advantage of it, we suggest skipping the Sunday paper and diving into the longest book you can find. You might not finish it all on June 21, but hey, you only lose one second of daylight on June 22.

Here are some long reads for those long sunny days.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (1996)
This 1,000+ page postmodern novel has 388 endnotes, some of which have their own footnotes. Its themes include addiction, tennis, suicide, advertising and Quebec separatism. Fortunately, it’s a joy to read Wallace’s prose, and it’s easy to see why this book made him a star in the literary world.

Endnote: Jason Segel stars as Wallace in The End of the Tour, a film out later this summer about the promotional tour for Infinite Jest.

Footnote to the endnote: the late author’s family did not cooperate in the making of the film.
 

The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro
includes The Path to Power (1982), Means of Ascent (1990), Master of the Senate (2002) and The Passage of Power (2012).
Caro’s masterful multi-volume biography of LBJ contains four books so far, most of which would qualify for this list on their own. Johnson, a highly skilled but deeply flawed politician, is one of our most fascinating presidents, and Caro’s work reads more like a novel despite its level of meticulously-researched detail. The fifth and final book is forthcoming. (Robert Caro, if you’re reading this, get off the Internet and get busy writing!)

 


Underworld by Don DeLillo (1997)

DeLillo’s sprawling non-linear novel spans several decades in postwar America and finds his characters reacting to several historical events. A New York Times reviewer called it “a dazzling, phosphorescent work of art.” The book’s riveting prologue—chronicling Bobby Thomson’s historic home run that won the New York Giants the National League pennant in 1951—is worth the price of admission alone.

 

 

 

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
Published in the author’s native France between 1913 and 1927, this novel in seven volumes (and 4,000 pages) helped usher in the modern era. The highly influential and massive work tells the life story of the narrator, with his everyday experiences—most famously dipping a cookie into a cup of tea—evoking recollections of the past. Current-day novelist Michael Chabon has cited it as his favorite book. Bonus points for tackling this one in the original French.

 

 


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
This international bestseller tells the story of Theo Decker, a New York teenager whose life is forever changed when his mother is killed in a terrorist attack at the Metropolitan Museum. This page turner (and there are 800 of them) is a moving and mesmerizing story of loss and survival. While some critics complained about the book’s length, it went on to win the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

 

 

 

 

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
The musical is a big deal. The movie was a big deal. The book is big, too—655,478 words on a couple thousand pages. This French historical novel was first published in 1862 and has been hailed as one of the best novels of the 19th century. In Hugo’s words, the book constitutes “a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life, from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God.”

 



1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
The title of this ambitious novel, first published in Japan in three volumes in 2009 and 2010, refers both to the year 1984, when the story takes place, and to George Orwell’s 1984. Set in a fictionalized Tokyo, the stories of two main characters—a woman and a man—converge over the course of the book. Murakami employs surreal elements, alternate realities, down-the-rabbit-hole digressions, and frequent references to Western composers and musicians as he explores complex themes including murder, violence, cult religion and, ultimately, the triumph of love.

Lest this blog post end up in a blog post about long blog posts, I’ll stop there. What are some of your favorite long reads?

--
Mark is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow him online here.

Tuesday
Jun162015

Five Awesome Fathers of Literature

Father's Day is almost here, and I happened to be the only father in the room when blog assignments were handed out for the month. From 19th century England to the post-apocalypse, here are just a handful of the most awesome fathers in literature.

Atticus Finch - To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Everybody knows that Atticus Finch is one of literature’s greatest fathers, which is probably why Harper Lee is waiting until after Father's Day to release Go Set a Watchman. She doesn't want all the other fathers out there to feel bad about their own shortcomings. (Go Set a Watchman will be available July 14 at your neighborhood Half Price Books location.)

Strengths: Kind, patient, the moral compass of Maycomb
Weaknesses: NONE

Bob Cratchit - A Christmas Carol

Bob Cratchit
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Bob Cratchit’s a dad just trying to make the best of a bad situation. Pity LinkedIn wasn’t around in the 1800s. Luckily for him though, he hits a big pay day after years of suffering the miserly Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Turkey AND health care for Tiny Tim? CHA-CHING!

Strengths: Hard worker, loyal
Weaknesses: A pushover, too loyal

Nameless father - The Road

Nameless father
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Most modern fathers, myself included, spend an inordinate amount of time planning how to protect their family in a post-apocalyptic world. Luckily for me, there’s an REI across the street. The unnamed father in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road takes his son on a roadtrip he'll never forget, filled with foraging for food, murderous thugs and unspeakably atrocious horrors.

Strengths: Great survival instincts, protective
Weaknesses: Always coughing up blood

Mr. Bennet - Pride and Prejudice

Mr. Bennet
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Fictional or not, being the father of five daughters is no easy task. He loves his daughters but it’s his sharp sarcasm that bonds him with Elizabeth, which is something I can relate to. My daughters are only two, but we’re bonded by a very similar sense of humor.

Strengths: Loving, witty
Weaknesses: Withdrawn when it comes to “chick issues”

Jack Torrance - The Shining

Jack Torrance
The Shining by Stephen King

A quick Google search of the word “awesome” reveals that the definition also includes “inspiring apprehension or fear.” So by that definition, Jack Torrance is awesome.

Strengths: Good with a sledgehammer (or an axe if you prefer the movie)
Weaknesses: Alcoholism, that whole “trying to murder his family” thing

--

JD is a Web Designer/Developer at Half Price Books Corporate. 
You may follow him on Twitter at @jdtatum.

Thursday
Jun112015

Feed Your Brain Presents: Summer Reading for High School Students

Typically, high school students are required to read at least one book during the summer, either of their own choice or from a school approved reading list.  At Half Price Books, we believe you should be rewarded for reading those books. So, we have expanded our Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program to include all high school students.  All students have to do is read one book a month during June and July and visit the Feed Your Brain page to submit a review of their book. Then, readers can print out the review and bring it into their favorite HPB store in order to claim their Bookworm Bucks ($5 off their next purchase).

We believe that reading should be enjoyable and fun for everyone.  So here are some of our reading recommendations and ways you can turn required reading into fun for the whole family.

Family Book Club

Having a family book club is a great way to get your kids to read that book they are required to read by their school.  Also, it helps parents to understand what type of books their teens are reading. To discuss the book, include fun questions like “If this book was made into a movie, who would you cast in it and why?” or “Would you want to visit the place in which this book is set? Why or why not?”

Some great family book clubs would be:

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
This book is on a lot of school summer reading lists for all high school grades, and it is a good book to discuss with your kids.

To Kill a Mockingbird
, by Harper Lee
Again, this book is on a lot of school summer reading lists, and a new book by Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman, will be released on July 14.  Plus, HPB will be reading this book for our Book Club during the months of June and July.

Your local HPB has many other recommendations for book club books.

Books: Read the Movie Nights

So many great books have been turned into movies.  Why not use this fact to get teens interested in reading?  Have them choose a book that has been made into a movie and then, after they are finished reading it, watch the movie. You can have some great discussions about what in the movie was different from the book.

        

Some great movie night books would be:
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Paper Towns, by John Green (in theaters July 24)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews (in theaters June 12)

And the list goes on…

Pick up a Feed Your Brain bookmark the next time you are in Half Price Books for more reading recommendations.

Want some great ideas for younger readers? Take a look at our picks.

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

Thursday
Jun042015

Feed Your Brain Presents: Summer Reading for 8th Grade and Under

Did you know that most students lose about two months worth of knowledge during their summer break?  According to a research study on reading, all it takes is 15 minutes a day of independent reading to help curb this loss.  That is why Half Price Books created our Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program, where kids 8th Grade and under can earn Bookworm Bucks by reading just 15 minutes a day.  Still, the question remains: how can you get your kid reading this summer?  Here are some tips on how to make reading fun for you and your child.

Preschool:
According to the National Commission on Reading, the single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school. Having a parent or another caring person read aloud helps children learn listening skills, vocabulary and language skills as well as develop imagination, creativity and a sense of security, knowing that their parent feels they are a worthwhile pereson.  Here are some great books to read aloud to your preschooler:

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
There is a reason this book has been around for 60 years. And after you read it, you can grab some crayons and go on an adventure of your own.

Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss
When reading this book aloud, it warns you to “Take it slowly. This book is dangerous.”  However, both you and your child will laugh as you trip over your tongue reading tongue twisters in true Dr. Seuss fashion.

Grades K-2:
As your child learns to read, try to pair books with activities you can do together.  Here are some books that lend themselves to more fun family time.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
This is one of my 2nd graders favorite books, but I think it’s because we always make cookies after we read it.  Another good cooking book to read is…

Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth
This story was first published in London in 1808, so there are several renditions.  I chose this one because I love the illustrations.  Still, making soup (even stone soup) after reading the book is a fun thing for you to do with your child.

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
When the story is all about imagination, what can’t you do after reading it?  You can bounce, bounce, bounce around the house (or outside would be even better). You can make a sword out of cardboard and aluminum, put on a cap and mask, give yourselves Spanish names and look for adventure in your own backyard. You can make “Holy Guacamole,” some rice and beans and have a fiesta. You can make a piñata, or simply have a siesta. The sky is the limit with this book.

Grades 3-5:
Now that they are reading all on their own, you have to find books that are in their interest level. Here are some suggestions in categories your child might be interested in.

If they like humor…
Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce
Snot Stew by Bill Wallace

 
If they like animals…
The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
Dog Called Kitty by Bill Wallace


If they like science…
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
100 Most Dangerous Things on the Planet by Anna Claybourne


If they like comic books…
Sidekicks by Dan Santat
The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz


If they like sports…
Tackling Dad by Elizabeth Levy
King of the Mound by Wes Tooke
STAT: Home Court by Amar’e Stoudemire


Grades 6-8:

We encourage parents to read the books their children are reading so they can converse with them about the books. So, why not have a family book club during the summer where you get together once a week or month to discuss a book you are all reading?

Book club recommendation...
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
This book can also lend itself to going on a trip to a holocaust museum or the symphony.  It's great for kids who like music.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Getting your kids interested in a series is a great way to keep them reading, and if your kids like magic, this series about a self proclaimed villain might be right up their alley.

Pick up a Feed Your Brain bookmark the next time you are in Half Price Books for more reading recommendations, and don’t forget to grab a Feed Your Brain Reading Log, so that your kids can earn Bookworm Bucks this summer.

Also, we have extended our program to include high schoolers.  To learn more about the high school portion of our program, visit the Feed Your Brain home page.

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

Monday
Jun012015

Local Store Events Round-Up: June 2015

Local Store Events Round-Up: June 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 June!

ALL STORES

Summer Reading Program
Research shows that children who do not continue reading through the summer can lose a month or more of progress made during the school year. To help keep appetites up for reading, Half Price Books is hosting the FEED YOUR BRAIN® Summer Reading Program Monday, June 1 - Friday, July 31, 2015. Kids preschool through high school age can earn $5 HPB Bookworm Bucks as a reward for reading over the summer. Pick up a reading log at your local HPB today.

Biggest Storytime of the Summer
Join us in store on Sunday, June 7 at 2 p.m. as we kick off our FEED YOUR BRAIN® Summer Reading Program. Kids of all ages are invited for the Biggest Storytime of the Summer, as we celebrate reading and family literacy with this nationwide read-in event.

 

Click to read more ...