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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Friday
Jul242015

An Afternoon at the Paper Towns Tour

The Paper Towns Tour made a stop in our hometown of Dallas last week, and thanks to our friends at the Penguin Young Readers Group, I got to attend!

People waited in line ALL DAY in the hot Texas sun for the opportunity to get inside and hear from their favorite author, John Green.

Look at all the people! To see an author! My faith in humanity is restored.

The festivities were hosted by Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn, the YouTube duo Just Between Us.

Allison and Gaby introduced Saint Motel, whose song, "My Type," is on the Paper Towns soundtrack.

 

And then it was the moment everyone had been waiting for… John Green!

As you can tell from this video, people LOST THEIR MINDS. (And rightly so, he’s great!)

 

 

After talking to the crowd for a bit, John informed everyone we were going to get to see twenty minutes of the movie! I have no pictures of this because I’m pretty sure I would have been taken straight to jail if I had tried.

Following the movie clip (if you can call twenty minutes of something a clip), stars of the movie Nat Wolff and Halston Sage joined John on stage to take questions from the crowd. Cara Delevingne had been at the other Paper Towns Tour stops but didn’t make it to Dallas because she had to make an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that night. (Which seems like a pretty great reason to miss something.)

 

After the event was over, we got the opportunity to head backstage and meet John, Nat and Halston, who were all lovely and delightful people.

So what I’m trying to say with all of this is John Green is awesome, Paper Towns the book is awesome and Paper Towns the movie looks to be awesome. If you haven’t read the book, we have SIGNED copies at our Dallas Flagship location right now. Stop by or give them a call to get one before they are gone. And go see Paper Towns the movie today!


Thursday
Jul232015

Long-Lost Wartime Illustrations by Dr. Seuss (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Like another long-lost literary classic published earlier this month (Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee), the new What Pet Should I Get? was written in the late '50s by an author loved by millions of all ages –– Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known by his fans as Dr. Seuss. We will have copies of this Dr. Seuss discovery in HPB stores when it’s released to the public on July 28. But we wanted to take this opportunity to show-and-tell about a real Dr. Seuss World War II-era treasure, This Is Ann. This booklet was a wartime publication of the U.S. Government Printing Office and was illustrated by Dr. Seuss.

RAREST OF RARE COLLECTIBLES

This Is Ann: She’s Dying to Meet You, by Dr. Seuss
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943

This 38-page pamphlet was issued to U.S. soldiers during World War II to warn them of the threat of “Ann”—the anopheles mosquito that carried malaria. Many were distributed but few have survived. It’s especially rare to find a complete copy in Very Good condition like this one. The text was written by kids’ book author and illustrator Munro Leaf, who is best known for his children’s classic The Story of Ferdinand.

Our Flagship store in Dallas recently got hold of this rare gem, and they are asking $750 for it. If you’re interested in buying this rarest of rare collectible, visit HPB.com/buyguy and contact me, the HPB Buy Guy.

RARELY-KNOWN TRIVIA

Here are a few little-known facts about Dr. Seuss:

No credit for This is Ann — Dr. Seuss was Captain Theodore Geisel at the time he co-created This Is Ann, so neither he nor author Leaf, who was also serving in the military, received credit in the pamphlet.

Bestseller lists across decades — Only a few authors have ever topped the both New York Times Fiction and Nonfiction Bestseller Lists. The last Dr. Seuss book published during his lifetime, Oh! The Places You’ll Go!, topped the Fiction list in 1990.

Not a fan of Dick & Jane — Dr Seuss said that The Cat in the Hat was “the book I'm proudest of because it had something to do with the death of the Dick and Jane primers.”

––

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

Monday
Jul132015

Embrace Your Geekness: HPB Reviews Armada by Ernest Cline

Personal disclaimer: I was an elementary and middle school aged kid during that golden decade we call the '80s. This was a time when girls and boys played arcade games, watched a lot of cartoons and played with the same toys. We ate sugary cereal, wore Mork from Ork suspenders, feathered our hair and (seriously) were all considered really cool.

Which brings me to Ernest Cline.

I read his first bestseller, Ready Player One, earlier this spring when I heard all the buzz about the upcoming release, Armada. It was everything I loved about mid-'80s cinema, games, music and culture, and I decided that if Ernie Cline is writing it, I am on board.

Cline’s second novel, Armada, comes out tomorrow, and it hopes to answer the age-old question, what if your video game obsession is training you to LITERALLY save the world? In the near-future, teenager Zack Lightman, a gaming aficionado who just wants to graduate high school, soon realizes that he and other elite gamers might hold the keys to saving the planet against alien forces.

Armada reads like every '80s video game geek adventure movie, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. It lacks a bit of the "wow" factor after the ingenious. Ready Player One, but it is no less adventuresome. Cline truly is an encyclopedia of video-gaming culture, not to mention his reaches into the depths of '80s kid’s cinema. Just like with RPO, you can practically see the movie playing while you read. He also strategically places a complete ready-for-mixtape playlist headlined by Queen’s "One Vision". BTW, Warner Bros. purchased the rights to Ready Player One and some unknown named Steven Spielberg, will direct. Universal Pictures grabbed the rights to Armada all the way back in December.

The thirty and forty-year old set who hung out at arcades and rushed to theaters to watch any movie with “Star”, “War”,“Games” or “Fighter” in the title will feel whisked back into their local mall movie theater at the over-the-top action, righteous references to all-things-'80s once in again in Cline’s newest book. It’s a great read for teens (with some language warnings) who are really into gaming and retro-culture and they will be screaming for the movie releases in the next couple of years. Expect a lot of fan art and fan fiction to evolve, because that’s what the kids do these days, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some video game spin-offs as well. We’ll be hearing a lot more from Ernie Cline in the future, and if you are lucky enough to be in the area, you can catch him in Richardson, Texas as Half Price Books and Alamo Drafthouse partner to present An Evening with Ernie Cline Monday, July 27, at 7 p.m.

Look for copies of Armada iat your favorite Half Price Books with our specially-priced brand new releases and hot bestsellers!

Saturday
Jul112015

14 Things You Should Know About Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

As we anxiously await the release of Harper Lee’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman, we shouldn’t forget that 55 years ago on July 11th, Harper Lee’s first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published. While critics may not have raved about the book when it first came out, the novel, published right before the peak of the American civil rights movement, became a phenomenal success, selling more than fifteen million copies and winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. It was then made into a movie shortly afterward in 1962. Since the book was published, To Kill a Mockingbird has topped must-read book lists, and the movie version of the book ranks 25th on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) list of Greatest American Movies of All Time. 

I have gathered 14 interesting facts about Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, (both the book and the movie). I wonder how many you will already know and how many will be new to you.

  1. The author Nelle Harper Lee and Truman Capote were next-door neighbors in their hometown of Monroeville, AL. The character of Dill is said to be based on Capote.

  2. Lee said she identified with Jane Austen, because she wanted to challenge social norms and customs.

  3. Lee’s mother’s maiden name was Finch.

  4. A man named Son Boulware lived down the road from Lee and Capote and used to hide presents for them in the trees around his house.

  5. Atticus was loosely based on Lee’s father, who retired from the practice of criminal law after defending a group of black men who were accused of murder.  He lost the case, turning his attention to reporting the news instead.

  6. The book that Scout tells her father about, The Gray Ghost, was a real children’s book by Robert F. Schulkers—part of a series of adventure titles in the 1920s that Lee read when she was young.

  7. Lee is an honorary member of the Alabama Bar on the basis that in creating Atticus, she created an exemplary lawyer.

  8. Go Set a Watchman was written before To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee’s editor was so intrigued by a flashback in Go Set a Watchman that encouraged her to write a book from the child’s point of view.

  9. To Kill a Mockingbird is Clark Kent’s favorite movie in the Superman Comics.

  10. Gregory Peck won his first and only Academy Award in 1963 for his role as Atticus Finch.

  11. To prepare for the role of Boo Radley, Robert Duvall spent six weeks out of the sun so he would look like someone who had spent most of his life indoors.

  12. After the film was completed, Lee gave Gregory Peck her father’s watch, because she said he reminded her so much of her father. Peck wore this to the Academy Awards.

  13. Brock Peters, the actor who portrayed Tom Robinson, delivered Peck’s eulogy on the day of his funeral, June 16, 2003.

  14. Peck’s grandson Harper Peck Voll is named after Harper Lee.  

So, how many of these facts did you already know?

The HPB Book Club is currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird.  If you would like to chat with fellow HPB Book Clubbers, visit hpb.com/bookclub/fb and join the conversation.

Plus, look for Go Set A Watchman at your local Half Price Books on July 14!

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

Friday
Jul102015

Rare & Collectible Editions of To Kill a Mockingbird

Interest in the classic Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird has not waned over the fifty-five years since its initial publication. And it’s sure to spike with today's release of her long-tucked-away second book, Go Set a Watchman.

We’ve seen very few first editions of To Kill a Mockingbird at our stores over the years, but we’ve bought and sold thousands of copies of various paperback and hardback editions, and a few of them are collectible.

Of the book’s many fans, few are willing and able to spend the $15 grand or so it would take to buy a true first edition, but the first’s priciness make some other editions collectible—while much more affordable.

PAST
Recently, one of our stores bought three copies, from the estate of a book dealer, of the 35th Anniversary Edition of Mockingbird, all signed by Harper Lee. They were “only” $1,000 each. The store sold all three copies in one day!

PRESENT
Later printings of the first edition are not the Holy Grail of Harper Lee, but close enough to it to have value. Here’s a 17th printing, available at the Dallas Flagship store for $250.


The slipcased 2006 edition is another affordable but special edition of the book. This copy is priced $70 at our Arlington Lincoln Square store.


Even the earliest book club editions of this treasure have some collectible value. This book club edition features a photo of the author, taken by her childhood pal Truman Capote. Lee requested that the photo be removed from later editions.

So, if you want to own a copy of this classic book to go with your brand new copy of Go Set a Watchman, you can pay the big bucks and get a first edition, you can buy a nice, clean paperback reading copy for a few bucks or you can settle for something in between that will grace your bookshelves. Any way you go, you’ll own a piece of American literary history that will be loved for generations to come.

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