All Things Printed & Recorded: Children’s Books–Adventures in Wonder

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For May, we’ve stepped through the looking-glass to learn about the history and development of children’s literature.

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TIMELINE
1658  Orbis Pictus, the first children’s textbook with pictures, is published.
1744  John Newbery releases A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, considered the first children’s book.
1942  The Poky Little Puppy is among the first 12 Little Golden Book titles.
1963  Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are raises the level of artistry in children’s picture books.

Alice vintage bookDID YOU KNOW?

  • Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published in 1865, was a watershed in children’s literature. Its emphasis on fantasy and childlike imagination was a departure from earlier works for kids, which were largely educational and reality-based.
  • Competition with the Soviets fueled US efforts to create more engaging books for young readers. One result was the Beginner Books imprint, founded in 1957 by Phyllis Cerf, Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and Helen Geisel.
  • Released in 1942 and still in print today, Seventeenth Summer by Maurine Daly, is often cited as the first modern young adult (YA) book.

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Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book The History of Children’s Books in 100 Books, Roderick Cave and Sara Ayad
book Children’s Literature: An Illustrated History, Peter Hunt, ed.
book 100 Great Children’s Picturebooks, Martin Salisbury
book John Newbery: Father of Children’s Literature, Shirley Graham
book 75 Years of Little Golden Books, 1942-2017: A Commemorative Set of 12 Best Loved Books
book The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
book Theodor Geisel: A Portrait of the Man Who Became Dr. Seuss, Donald Pease
book Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, Bruce Handy
slate_film-512 Miss Potter
slate_film-512 Finding Neverland

What Reader Type Are You? New Spring Reading Recs Matchmaker!

At Half Price Books, we know that all readers are different. Some scale the top of the bestseller list; others gravitate to rare tomes no one else has heard of (the dustier, the better). But what all readers share is a passion for books that isn’t easily satisfied. To discover which archetype, you are — and get some expert recs on the books you should read this Spring — take a look at our bookish guide to the best in bibliophiles!

THE HUNGRY, HUNGRY BOOKWORM

You’ve got at least five volumes on your bedside table and a mile-long literary wish list. Able to balance three (or more) reads at once, you never discriminate between fiction, non-fiction or biography—it’s all good. Their only quandary is, what to devour next? Our suggestions for the next page-turner await!

Circe by Madeline Miller – A modern twist on Greek mythology, the story of the goddess of magic is one of the most anticipated books of 2018. This historical fiction hits shelves April 10, 2018.

Calypso by David Sedaris – The notable humorist delivers again with a beach read about a beach house, plus essays on middle age and mortality. On sale May 29, 2018.

circe calypso

THE SLOW-SIMMER & SAVORER

You’re not afraid to pick up a book that’s 500 pages (or more). You gravitate to doorstop-sized nonfiction you’ll ponder and pour over for months and months. Never in a real hurry to finish – your motto is “quality, not quantity,” and a long, slow read satisfies you like no other. If this sounds familiar, check out these substantial histories and lofty fiction and nonfiction:

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker – Bill Gates’ “new favorite book,” this assessment of the modern human condition helps illustrate how humans can flourish with the help of reason and science.

The Overstory by Richard Powers – This magnificent literary fiction from a National Book Award-winning author tops out at 512 pages. It’s a passionate novel about activism and nature. On sale April 3, 2018.

enlightenment-now overstory

THE BOOK COVER CRITIC

You’re distracted by bright and shiny graphics and curious titles. Elegant books are stylishly stacked on your coffee table, and great novels with eye-catching covers sit on your color-coded bookshelves. You know that style often leads to substance, and you’ll take a chance on an unknown author because “the cover is just so cool.” Discover some vibrant volumes ready to pop off the shelves and into your cart this spring!

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer – A striking, colorful cover might catch your eye. But inside you’ll find a charming novel about ambition, power and mentorship. On sale April 3, 2018.

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman – Another piece of fiction that’s riding the trend of vibrant type-driven cover designs – This heartbreaking novel about family and loyalty just hit shelves on March 20, 2018.

female-persuasion italian-teacher

THE WATERCOOLER READER

If it’s the next [insert bestseller name], then you’re already three chapters in. You may not go for an obscure novella, but if the film rights were sold it’s on your shelf and your TBR list. Most likely to join a book club, you hate to miss on the next big thing, which is why these blockbuster bestsellers are what you’ve got your eye on this season:

Tangerine by Christine Mangan – Described by author Joyce Carol Oates, “As if Donna Tartt, Gillian Flynn, and Patricia Highsmith had collaborated on a screenplay to be filmed by Hitchcock.” This tightly-wound debut is already slated to be a movie with Scarlett Johannson. Just arrived March 27, 2018.

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy – A book about a group of Brooklyn moms going to desperate lengths to find a missing child, this novel will soon be a major motion picture starring “Scandal” lead Kerry Washington. On sale May 1, 2018.

tangerine perfect-mother

THE BOOK BINGER

Books are a little bit like potato chips — you can’t stop at just one! You love to explore alternate universes, and there’s no better way to do that than with a series. If it isn’t a trilogy, it isn’t worth starting, and you’ll often go right back to the beginning of a series for a full re-read before signing on to something new. If you haven’t yet discovered these classics, get ready to dive in!

The 17th Suspect (Women’s Murder Club) by James Patterson – Let the suspense continue with this 17th in the Women’s Murder Club series. With bestselling author James Patterson, these are always riveting and binge-worthy. On sale April 30, 2018.

Dark in Death (Book 46) by J.D. Robb – If you’re not already hooked, you’ve got 45 books to read first to get caught up on this series. This suspenseful, crime fiction novel and the entire In Death series is sure to please your ravenous appetite.

womens-murder-club-17 dark-in-death1

THE ARMCHAIR PHILOSOPHER

First to get into a debate, you like to know about the issues and headline news of the day. Political and social nonfiction are your favorite food for thought, and you’re likely to loan your copies out afterwards to friends and family so they stay informed, too. Here’s what’s worth talking about for spring:

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership by James Comey – Seventh director of the FBI, James Comey, shares his never-before-told stories about his career in American government, covering topics of leadership and ethics. On sale April 17, 2018.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil de Grasse Tyson – Arm yourself for cocktail parties with these witty, digestible bits about cosmology, the big bang and black holes. This book has remained on the bestseller list since its release – and for good reason.

higher-loyalty astrophysics-for-people-in-a-hurry

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Kendall Morgan is a freelance copywriter at HPB Corporate. You can follow her on Twitter at @kinklek.

Tree-mendous Books, Movies and Music

Arbor Day is April 27, so we’re going out on a limb to highlight a few of our favorite trees in literature, film and even music. There’s no shortage of choices, given that humans have coexisted with and been fascinated by trees—sometimes even worshiping them—for all of history.

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The Radley oak tree in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Trees loom large in Harper Lee’s beloved 1960 novel, so it’s no surprise that most editions of the book feature a tree on the cover. Trees, after all, are where mockingbirds hang out. And, as Atticus Finch tells us, “it’s a sin” to kill a mockingbird because all they do is make music for us to enjoy. Furthermore, a tree plays an important role in the plot, as the mysterious recluse Boo Radley uses the knothole of a neighborhood oak tree as a place to leave small gifts for the Finch children, Scout and Jem.

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Ready Player One & What’s Next for Ernest Cline Fans

Editor’s Note: By now any serious movie buff has already seen the movie adaptation of Ready Player One, which hit theaters in March. At Half Price Books, we love movies too. But since we’re booklovin’ nerds at the core, we would like you encourage you to “READ THE MOVIE” – If you haven’t yet, pick up a copy of the book and discover all the action-packed stuff they couldn’t fit into the 2 hour and 20 minute film. While you’re at it, join the HPB Book Club as we re-read this genre-busting, Easter-egg-filled novel by Ernest Cline.

If you’ve already read the book and watched the flick, then keep reading here! This staff review is just for you! Let’s turn it over to Becky embracing her geekiness as she talks about Ernest Cline, Ready Player One and his more recently-released novel, Armada.

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.readyplayer1

Which brings me to Ernest Cline.

I read his first bestseller, Ready Player One, when I heard all the buzz about 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.

“The grown-up’s Harry Potter… the mystery and fantasy in this novel weaves itself in the most delightful way, and the details that make up Mr. Cline’s world are simply astounding. Ready Player One has it all.” — Huffington Post

Cline’s second novel, Armada, 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.

“Nerd-gasmic… Armada is another science fiction tale with a Comic-Con’s worth of pop-culture shout-outs.” — Rolling Stone

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.”

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 Armada. It’s a great read for teens (with some language warnings for parents) 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.

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Photo of Ernest Cline, courtesy of Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ. CC BY-SA 2.0

I imagine we’ll be hearing a lot more from Ernie Cline in the future. According to sources, there’s a yet-untitled Ready Player One sequel in the works and the acclaimed Steven Spielberg will direct it too.

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

Becky is Marketing Communications Manager at Half Price Books Corporate. You can follow her on Twitter at @bexican75.

2001: A Reevaluation Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey is a masterpiece. But here’s the thing: masterpieces aren’t for everyone.

As the resident sci-fi nerd around here, I was asked to write something about 2001 for its 50th anniversary on April 2. At first, I had no idea what to say. I’ve always had an appreciation for the film, but I’ve never liked it. For me, it’s a painfully slow movie–all brains and no heart.

I also had trouble remembering anything but its most iconic moments; I’ve only seen it once or twice–and the last time was at least a decade ago. So here’s what I decided to do: I’d watch it again and take notes throughout. I was curious to see how my opinions changed (if at all) through the course of watching it. Were the boring parts still boring? Would I care for any of the characters this time? Would I know what the hell was going on?

This isn’t intended as an MST3K riff or anything–though you can tell where my attention started to wander. If you’re interested, there’s a time marker for my notes so you can play along at home. So without further ado, here’s my odyssey of revisiting 2001.

[0:21] Black screen and dissonant music. Stanley Kubrick knew how to put you on edge.

[1:24] Fun fact: if you start this movie with the sound off and play Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, they don’t sync up whatsoever.

2001 GIF-downsized_large.gif

[2:33] And the dawn of the fast-forward button.

[4:13] I won’t skip the apes part…I won’t skip the apes part…

[7:38] Forgot there were two tribes of apes at odds with each other.

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Money, Money, Money: 10 Books That Help Kids Learn Early

During tax season, we often find ourselves crunching numbers and thinking about our savings. If you’re a parent or grandparent, or even a spectacular aunt or uncle, seize this moment to talk to the littles in your life about money.

Preschool is the time to introduce the basic concepts of earning, spending, budgeting and saving. Ages 3-6 is not too early to lay a foundation of frugal thinking before your kid’s elementary school teacher beats you to it. Most states teach some lessons on personal finance in the classroom during K-12, but you can get a jumpstart on these valuable lessons by incorporating these whimsical children’s books into storytime at home.

161103_GAL_Books_BunnyMoneyBunny Money by Rosemary Wells – This picture book for 3 to 6-year-olds, part of the bestselling Max and Ruby series, teaches a lesson in budgeting. These two bunnies have saved up money for Grandma’s birthday gift, but they stumble along the way when they get thirsty and hungry and their savings are spent.

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If You Liked The Tournament of Mysteries, You Might Also Like…

I am a total book nerd, and I love lists. So, when I was told Half Price Books was having a Tournament of Mysteries as part of Mystery Madness, I set out to read all the books on the bracket, in order to vote for the right book with each pairing. Now that I have read all the mystery books in the tournament, I solve the mystery of what I’m going to read next. Here’s a list of similar books for myself and other book nerds like me who never want Mystery Madness to end.

SherlockIf you liked Sherlock Holmes: The Novels, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:

AndThenThereWereNoneIf you liked And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie:

NameOfTheRoseIf you liked The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco:

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Behind the Book: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Editor’s Note from Kristen Beverly, HPB Buyer:

I was on a phone call with booksellers from across the country when someone said, “Have any of you read The Astonishing Color of After? I just read the first 50 pages and it’s phenomenal. You haaave to read it!” So, I went home that night, picked it up and thus began my love affair with this book. I was so enraptured by Emily X.R. Pan’s writing that I read the entire thing in two mind-blowing days. The story starts out with the main character’s mother appearing to her as a red bird. I had the opportunity to meet Emily earlier this year at a bookseller’s conference. The first thing I asked her was, “Where exactly did the inspiration for that red bird come from?” Apparently, I’m not the only one who wondered. Here’s the scoop from Emily herself – the story behind the book.

astonishing-cover-debut-novelPeople like to ask me why the mother in my story turns into a bird. “Why this giant red bird, of all things?”

It’s a tricky question for me to answer, because I’m not totally certain of it myself. But I’ll try to make my best guess. To do that, I first need to tell you a bit about my story development process:

It’s like I’m sitting in a boat, out in the middle of the ocean, scanning the surface of the sea for pieces of wreckage that drift past. Those pieces might be characters, concepts, settings, plot twists — any tiny component of a story that has flitted into my consciousness at some point and then decided to stay.

That ocean is my brain. And sometimes it takes years for me to realize that a few specific pieces that have been floating around totally separately could actually come together in the most perfect and interesting way — and that’s when I finally sit down and begin writing the story.

So back to that bird. I’d always known that I wanted to write a story of a person transforming into a bird. I wasn’t sure of the circumstances. I just knew: At some point a human being was going to become a bird.

I started writing The Astonishing Color of After back in 2010. It had a different title, and a different cast of characters, and it definitely had no bird. I tried rewriting that story many different ways, in many different voices and even in different age categories. And it was literally years later that it occurred to me that instead of having the mother die by pneumonia and just be plain old dead…she could turn into a bird.

Not long after I started toying with that idea in my head, I lost my aunt to suicide. I couldn’t stop thinking about her death and its impact on my family. I couldn’t stop thinking about how easily that could’ve been my own mother, who struggles with many of the same things my aunt battled.

A long time after that, I sat down to rewrite the novel from scratch yet again, and the opening pages poured out. I knew that this was the story I had been trying to puzzle together all along.

At first, I couldn’t figure out the importance of the red bird. But later I realized why she was so crucial in this story. My Buddhist family taught me that after death comes a transition—whether that’s reincarnation, or a journey to a different place, or something else. That transition might take up to 49 days, and the spirit of the person might stay near us before the transition occurs. So the bird, I realized, was my way of clearly visualizing a spirit being stuck in that limbo.

When the book begins, the bird is still here in our human world, still tangible. She seems like she’s free. But she’s not. She’s waiting. The bird’s freedom comes only when the main character, her daughter Leigh, has figured out some very important things.

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emily-xr-pan-headshot-swatch

Emily X.R. Pan is a debut young adult author who currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @exrpan. Her debut YA novel The Astonishing Color of After is available in Half Price Books stores and online at HPB.com while supplies last.

 

All Things Printed & Recorded: Revolutions in Recorded Sound

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For April, weve got some groovy info on the history of sound recording. 

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DID YOU KNOW?

  • Thomas Edison’s phonograph, using a rotating cylinder wrapped in tinfoil, was the first machine to play back recorded sound. The first recording was Edison himself reciting the opening lines to “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
  • Columbia Records introduced the 12-inch, 331/3 rpm long play record in 1948. Lighter and less brittle than its predecessors, the vinyl LP would come to dominate the recorded music market. Musicians took advantage of the LP’s extended playing time to create album-length artistic statements.

Sgt Pepper and Thriller

TIMELINE
1877  Thomas Edison invents the phonograph.
1889  Emile Berliner’s gramophone, which uses discs instead of cylinders, debuts.
1949  RCA Victor introduces the 45 rpm single a year after Columbia debuts its 331/3 LP.
1957  Stereo records appear.
2007  Vinyl, long considered obsolete, resurges in popularity.

old victrola

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

slate_film-512 High Fidelity
book Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting, Eilon Paz
book Vinyl: The Analogue Record in the Digital Age, Dominik Bartmanski & Ian Woodward book The Vinyl Detective: The Run-Out Groove, Andrew Cartmel
book Sound Recording: The Life Story of a Technology, David L. Morton, Jr.
book Chasing Sound: Technology, Culture and the Art of Studio Recording from Edison to the LP, Susan Schmidt Horning
book Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music, Greg Milner
book Old Records Never Die: One Mans Quest for His Vinyl and His Past, Eric Spitznagel

If You Liked Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, You Might Also Like…

midnight at the bright ideas bookstoreWhen I found out the HPB Book Club would be reading Matthew Sullivan’s dark and twisty debut mystery novel, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, as part of our Mystery Madness promotion, I was thrilled. I mean, mystery is my favorite genre. Add the fact that the mystery takes place in a bookstore and all the clues come from books, and you have a book that every bibliophile will love.

When bookseller, Lydia Smith discovers the body of one of her favorite patrons dangling at the end of a rope in the Western History section and finds a picture of herself as a 10 year-old girl in his pocket, the memories of being the sole surviving victim of a killer known as the Hammerman come flooding back, and she realizes that she can’t hide from her past forever. Sullivan expertly pieces the past and present together like a puzzle, and the finished product may surprise you.

If you liked Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, here are a few other books you might like.

A Bed of Scorpions, by Judith Flanders
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
Booked to Die, by John Dunning
The Body in the Library, by Agatha Christie
The Club Dumas, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
The Bookman’s Tale, by Charlie Lovett
The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
Quiet Neighbors, by Catriona McPherson
Unsolicited, by Julie Kaewert
Death’s Autograph, by Marianne Macdonald

I’ve already pulled Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and The Eyre Affair from the shelves of my local HPB, but I think I may have to go back for a copy of The Club Dumas. What will your next read be?

Want to get in on the conversation? Join the HPB Book Club at hpb.com/bookclub.