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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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 ...

Friday
May292015

Texas Strong: Flood Waters in San Marcos & Surrounding Areas

UPDATE: As of July 2, 2015 

Our re-opening weekend was fantastic! We were so happy to see so many of our neighbors once again. With a percentage of our sales from the weekend combined with customer contributions through our coin-box donation program across the country so far, we are pleased to announce that $2,928 will be donated to the United Way of Hays County's flood relief efforts. 

We are still getting more donations in and will update the totals here. Thank you for your generosity!

UPDATE: As of June 25, 2015

WE ARE EXCITED TO BE OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Thanks to the San Marcos and surrounding communities for all your kind words and support. 

UPDATE: As of June 23, 2015 

Let’s start a new chapter! The remodeling work was harder than we planned. Once our hard-working staff removed all the flooring and books, we experienced some obstacles before we could restock the store. This delayed our anticipated re-opening date a bit, but we are happy to report that we will be open for business once again on Thursday, June 25. We hope you can stop by, check out the restoration and say hello!

Because there’s still more rebuilding to be done within our community, we’re donating 10% of our sales from June 26 through 28 to the United Way of Hays County.

UPDATE: As of May 29, 2015

As you may know, Half Price Books was founded in Texas. We have 40 stores in Texas alone and the recent spring storms have pounded the state with record-breaking rainfall, flooding, and other severe weather. It has taken its toll on many communities throughout the state, including the small picturesque towns of Wimberley and San Marcos that skirt the Blanco River. Our heart goes out to all the families and businesses affected.

Those in the area who are familiar with our local store in San Marcos have asked about us. We are thankful that our employees are safe and although the store has suffered damage, will be just fine too. We wanted to post something to keep everyone updated on what’s happening as we work towards getting things back on track.

On May 24, three to six inches of mud and flood water saturated our San Marcos Half Price Books store.

The water has since receded, and cleanup and restoration has begun. More than two thousand gallons of water and mud were pumped out of the store Sunday night into Monday.

Soon after the flood, the United Way and many first responders set up a help station in our shopping center parking lot.

By Wednesday, our employees were able to return to the store and are working hard to salvage, clean and sanitize what they can. Contractors are working 12 hours a day to replace sheet rock and restore flooring.

We hope to reopen as soon as possible, but anticipate it being mid-June. We will update this post with how things are progressing, so please check back here for any new developments on the San Marcos store.

Our thoughts go out to those who have suffered damage and lost loved ones. Hays County residents have shown remarkable resilience through their efforts to assist their neighbors and community. If you would like to help, we encourage you to do so if you are able, many organizations are accepting donations including:

United Way of Hays County: To make a donation directly to the Flood Disaster Recovery Fund, text FLOODS to 41444 or give at www.unitedwayhaysco.org/give

American Red Cross: Visit Redcross.org, call/text 800-733-2767 make a financial donations or volunteer for cleanup assistance.

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