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 »

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.
PR maven, news junkie, baseball fanatic, late-night talk show watcher, frequent restaurant diner and former VH-1 reality show addict.
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.
Music enthusiast and all around acceptable person. Take it or leave it, JD will say things about music that you'll either love, hate, or feel indifferent about.
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.
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.
Search the Blog

Follow HPB


If you Liked This is Where I Leave You, then you might also like…

If you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading or perhaps just finished, This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper. Before reading this book for the HPB Book Club, I had never read any books by Jonathan Tropper, but now I can’t wait to look up his other books. Tropper has a fun way of looking at difficult situations that makes you laugh in spite of yourself. This is Where I Leave You is about a man whose life is falling apart and who is forced to reconnect with his estranged family, burying old hurts and finding out surprising secrets.  Ultimately, the main character must decide what he truly wants out of life and what kind of man he wants to be. Of course, the serious side of the book is buried behind Shiva chairs, fire alarms, baby monitors, and flaming testicles. And, if you like to read about serious topics surrounded by humor, here are a few other books you may like:


Truth in Advertising, by John Kenney; Domestic Violets, by Matthew Norman; The Financial Lives of Poets, by Jess Walter; If Jack’s in Love, by Stephen Wetta; Someone Could Get Hurt, by Drew Magary


And of course, some other books by Jonathan Tropper:

One Last Thing Before I Go;  How To Talk to a Widower;  Plan B;  The Book of Joe;  Everything Changes

The movie version of This is Where I Leave You, starring Jason Bateman and Tina Faye will be in theaters September 19.  And if you want to chat with fellow HPB Book Clubbers, visit hpb.com/bookclub/fb and join the conversation about This is Where I Leave You between now and the end of September.

So, what book are you going to read next?


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


75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz

On August 25, 1939, the movie The Wizard of Oz, arguably one of the most watched movies of all time, first graced the silver screen. This movie gave us lines like “There’s no place like home,” “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” and “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” as well as  wonderful songs like “If I Only Had a Brain” and “Over the Rainbow.”  Almost everyone you meet will have seen this movie at least once in his or her life, but as much as we enjoy this classic film, it wasn’t  easy to make. In the words of the Tin Man, Jack Haley: “It was work!”

Here are a few facts about The Wizard of Oz that prove Haley’s point and show the dedication of the artists and staff who made this piece of movie history possible.

  • When filming first started, actress Judy Garland’s Dorothy wore a blonde wig and heavy, “baby-doll” makeup, but when George Cukor was hired as director, he got rid of the wig and most of the makeup and told her to be herself.  However, she still had to wear a painful, corset-style device around her torso to make her appear flat-chested and much younger.
  • During one take, as the Wicked Witch was leaving Munchkinland, a burst of fire appeared on the platform where the witch was to disappear in a cloud of smoke.  The witch’s makeup heated up, causing actress Margaret Hamilton to suffer from second- and third-degree burns on her hands and face.
  • The woven pattern on the rubber prosthetic that made up part of the Scarecrow’s face makeup left lines on actor Ray Bolger’s face.  Those lines remained on his face for more than a year after the movie was completed.
  • The Tin Man suit was so stiff that actor Jack Haley had to lean against a board to rest because he couldn’t sit down.
  • The Cowardly Lion’s costume was made from a real lion skin and weighed 90 pounds.  Combined with the arc lights that lighted the set, actor Bert Lahr would sweat so much that the costume would be soaked by the end of the day, and two people would spend all night drying out the costume so it could be used the next day.
  • Even poor Toto, whose name was actually Terry, suffered during shooting when one of the witch’s guards stepped on him.  He had to have a double play his part for two weeks while he recovered.

Other interesting facts about the movie:

  • In the song “If I Only Had a Heart,” the voice of the girl who says “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?” is the voice of Adriana Caselotti, who voiced Snow White in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
  • The song “Over the Rainbow” was almost cut from the movie because the Kansas scene seemed too long.
  • The Horses of a Different Color were colored with Jell-O crystals, and their scenes had to be shot quickly, before the horses started licking the Jell-O off their bodies.
  • Looking for a coat for Professor Marvel, the wardrobe department bought an entire rack of coats from a second-hand store. One day actor Frank Morgan was on set and stuck his hand into one of the pockets of the coat they had chosen and found a label indicating the coat had been made for L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz.  After filming, the coat was presented to Mrs. Baum who had verified that the coat had been her late husband’s.

If you would like to learn more about the movie The Wizard of Oz, stop by your local Half Price Books and look for books like The Making of the Wizard of Oz, by Aljean Harmetz, The Wizardry of Oz, by Jay Scarfone and Down the Yellow Brick Road, by Doug McClelland.  Also, look for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum to read the original story, which has a much spunkier Dorothy, and many more adventures than what you see on the screen.

And, as always, Happy Reading!


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



And the Emmy Goes To… HPB Previews the 2014 Emmy Awards

Roll out the red carpet, folks…it’s Emmy time!

Whether you’ve patiently followed your favorite shows all season long or a boring summer has led to some serious Netflix binge-watching, come Monday, August 25th, televisions across America will be tuned to NBC, ready to see who gets TV’s top honors at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Seth Meyers.

Yes, you read that right. The Emmys are on Monday this year, and in August. Why, you ask? Three words: Sunday. Night. Football. Well, and the MTV Video Music Awards are on Sunday, August 24th—the Emmys’ typical time slot. No need to break the social-sphere and have everything on one night! So, with a unique new date, the Emmy train rolls on. This year’s crop of nominees is truly superb. Here at HPB, we’re big TV buffs, so here are some of our standout performances this year. Maybe they’ll walk away with some hardware!

Matthew McConaughey as Rust Cohle (True Detective): The McConaissance continued this year with HBO’s eerie drama that was anything but a typical detective whodunnit. McConaughey’s performance as the tortured, introspective Rust Cohle was simply a tour de force. From his Oscar-winning role in Dallas Buyers Club to now, for McConaughey, things are definitely more than “alright, alright, alright.”


Orange Is The New Black: Netflix’s reinvention of TV consumption has continued with the wildly-successful OITNB. With its unique mixture of dark themes and comedic elements and a female-dominated cast, the series simply demands attention and respect. With 12 nominations in total, there will likely be some statues in the ladies’ future. Could it possibly even dethrone Modern Family and win Outstanding Comedy Series?


Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer (Veep): If the name Anna Chlumsky doesn’t ring a bell right away, think back to My Girl. Yes, little Vada Sultenfuss is all grown up and part of a crack team that assists the Vice President of the United States, specifically as Chief of Staff. Chlumsky’s sharp wit and understated but spot-on physicality completes an already strong cast and makes Veep a can’t-miss favorite.


Fargo: Fans of the Coen brothers’ 1996 Oscar-winning feature film will not be disappointed by this year's TV reinterpretation. Capturing all the bleakness of the original film’s setting along with its gosh-darn Midwestern charm, Fargo the series makes a strong case for its 12 nominations. Features stellar performances from Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks and newcomer Allison Tolman.  

It’s definitely been an incredible year for TV fans. These are just a few of this year’s best performances. What was your favorite thing to watch this year? Who do you want to see win on Emmy night?

To check out all of this year’s nominees, visit www.emmys.com


Jason is Email Marketing Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.

You can follow him on Twitter at @jasonapermenter.



Meet our #MeMyShelfandI Winner, Natalie! 


Thank you to all our booklovers who entered our #MeMyShelfandI Giveaway. We asked and you delivered! There were thousands of entries filled with amazing shelves and we truly enjoyed hearing all of the great stories behind your collections. Alas, there could only be one randomly selected winner of this giveaway. Without further ado, please meet and join us in congratulating the winner, Natalie! - Sam

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m 18 years old and I’ll be going to Cornell University next year, most likely majoring in English. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been dancing ballet and reading books. I’m also a Disney fanatic—I wrote my admissions essay about Disneyland!

I have a blog that I started to document my freshman year, and one of my recent posts covered the books I brought home from the HPB clearance sale (14 books for $20?! AWESOME).

2. Tell us about your collection.

My books range from my pre-teen years to today, so there’s a huge variety. I’ve sold plenty back to Half Price, but have still kept many books I read years ago.

3. What's your favorite Half Price Books location?

Definitely the HPB by White Rock Lake in Dallas (The Flagship). It’s HUGE! The first time I went, I panicked because I wouldn’t have enough time to go through the entire fiction section before closing (definitely a daylong affair). Kind of far from my house, but well worth the drive.

4. What's your favorite book, author, or genre? Why?

I don’t have one single favorite book, but The Joy Luck Club, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Jane Eyreand These Things Hidden are among my favorites. I like books that have a little bit of mystery, succinct and powerful writing, and the ability to change the way you think about other people. As far as authors go, I also don’t have a favorite but I tend to read a lot of Barbara Kingsolver and Bill Bryson. In general, I read a variety of realistic fiction, non-fiction, memoir, and biography, but I’m always looking to expand my horizons. 

5. What book are you currently reading?

I just started reading The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan.

6. What are the next 3 books on your reading list?

My current to-read tally is 121 and the list isn’t prioritized, but I think I’ll read Slaughterhouse Five, The Big Sleep, and either Illumination Night or Room next.

7. What's the best part about your shelf?

I like how I’ve organized my shelf. My main shelf is general/miscellaneous, my end table is school-assigned reading (so my younger siblings can find required books easily), and my floor/dresser is for books I have yet to read.

8. What's the last thing you bought at Half Price Books?

My last haul consisted of Slaughterhouse Five, The Age of Innocence, Pride and Prejudice, The Imperfectionists, and On the Road.

9. Where is your favorite place to read?

I like reading on my balcony and basically anywhere I can, but when given the chance, I love reading on the beach (as long as I’m in the shade).

10. Do you have any books recommendations?

I just finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I absolutely loved it! I’d definitely recommend that one as well as Me Before You, Quiet, and Atonement.

11. Anything else you would like to add about….anything?

Half Price Books is great. It gives me hope that printed books will be here for a long time and I’m so glad that there are others committed to keeping them around. Also, I post about books and movies on my blog, Natalie in Collegeland, including books I’ve bought at HPB. I have a Goodreads account too, if anybody’s interested in reading some of the many reviews I’ve written. 



Books Authors Read with Julie Murphy

Awesome YA author Julie Murphy and some of her awesome author friends stopped by our Dallas Flagship store back in July as part of the Mighty Mississippi Book Blast tour – it was a packed house! We asked Julie to share with us some of her favorite reads in another edition of “Books Authors Read.” (And don’t forget to look for Julie’s book, Side Effects May Vary!) – Emily

I think the best writers are eclectic readers. I love pulling inspiration from all kinds of books to make my own sort of patchwork signature. It takes a lot for me to fall in love with a book, and when I do, I am absolutely evangelical about it. Without further ado, these are the books I just can’t shut up about:

1. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King – My favorite thing about this book is the way it’s pieced together. We know Vera’s best friend, Charlie, is dead, but the mystery of his death is unraveled slowly as we learn about their loaded past. Every relationship in the book is so layered and authentic. Not to mention that I’m a sucker for multiple narrations. This one’s got Vera, Charlie, Vera’s dad, and even the town Pagoda telling different sides of the story.

2. Life by Committee by Corey Ann HayduLife by Committee is one of my favorite books of the year. It’s so different from anything out there with a main character that makes real mistakes. Not to mention the idea of this secret online group serving and guiding your every decision is fresh and relevant. Go for the concept. Stay for the deft character development.

3. One Day by David Nicholls – This is a book I could read over and over again. The story stretches over twenty years, visiting the two protagonists on July 15th of every year. I’m not usually a fan of long timelines, but the structure of the novel keeps me reading every time. Not to mention that the chemistry between the two characters is so tragically perfect. Think Andie and Duckie from Pretty in Pink!  

4. Election by Tom Perrotta – Tom Perrotta is all over the place right now with his HBO adaptation of The Leftovers. I’m a huge fan of the book and am enjoying the show so far, but if you’ve never read any Perrotta, you’ve got to start with Election! It is dark (and I mean dark) comedy at its finest. I’d be remiss to mention Perrotta without saying that his body of work has been a huge inspiration for me. Note: The film adaptation of election starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon is completely worthy—after reading the book first, of course!

5. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – If this book doesn’t squeeze a few tears from you, I’ll be left wondering if real human blood runs through your veins. Me Before You is one of those books you can’t talk too much about without giving anything away, so I’ll just say that this unlikely friendship isn’t one I’ll soon forget.

6. Stiff by Mary Roach – I’ve always had a morbid curiosity concerning the anatomy of death. In Stiff, Mary Roach dares to ask the questions we all wonder but are too timid to investigate. I love how this book addresses such a complex and touchy subject in simple and humorous terms without being irreverent. A must read for everyone, but especially for those former cemetery obsessed goth geeks and fans of Six Feet Under—my people!

7. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu – Like I’ve already said, multiple narrators are a total sweet spot, but this one has the added benefit of a rich southern setting and Mathieu’s crisp prose. Each narrator offers a different version of what happened on the night Alice supposedly slept with two boys, one of which was killed in a car accident soon after. Everyone thinks they know the truth, except, in the end, it’s the reader who’s left with all the puzzle pieces and the actual truth about Alice.


Julie Murphy is the author of Side Effects May Vary.

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