All Things Printed & Recorded: Puzzles Rise to the Challenge

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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 March, we’ve exercised our brain to bring you some fascinating info about puzzles.

TIMELINE
1760s  Londoner John Spilsbury creates early wooden jigsaw puzzles.
c.1900 A jigsaw puzzle craze sweeps the US.
1920s  Jigsaw puzzles become an inexpensive Depression-era pastime.
1932  Jig of the Week, a weekly 25¢ puzzle, is a hit on newsstands.
2011  The world’s largest jigsaw puzzle, with 551,232 pieces, is assembled in Vietnam.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • A 1514 engraving by Albrecht Dürer featured a “magic square,” a distant ancestor to sudoku and other number-based puzzles.
  • Jigsaw puzzles emerged in the 18th century when maps were mounted on wood and cut into pieces along national borders. Known as dissected maps, they were used to teach geography to children.dissected map.png
  • In the early 20th century, the high cost of wooden jigsaw puzzles put them out of reach of average consumers, but they became a staple of the high-society party scene.
  • The first known published crossword puzzle appeared December 21, 1913, in the New York World. By the 1920s they were carried in most US newspapers.

DISCOVER MORE
book The Jigsaw Puzzle: Piecing Together a History, Anne D. William
book The History and Craft of Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles: From Historical Source Instructions to Modern Tools and Techniques, Carrie Franzwa
book Crossworld: One Man’s Journey Into America’s Crossword Obsession, Marc Romano
book A Clue for The Puzzle Lady, Parnell Hall
book The New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzles: 50 Sunday Puzzles from the Pages of The New York Times, Will Shortz, ed.
book Sudoku Mania, Book 1
clapperboard Wordplay

Mystery Books That Are Book Mysteries

Most mysteries still feature private eyes and cops, but people from all sorts of professions are getting into the sleuthing act: priests, hockey players, hair stylists—and quite a few from the world of books. Writers, of course, are readers, and they love hanging out in bookstores and libraries and thinking, “What a wonderful setting for an unsolvable murder!”

Below I have gathered a few mystery books I’ve enjoyed that are also book mysteries. Check them out and let us know of any of your favorite book-mystery mystery books we didn’t include.

Booked to Die
John Dunning, 1992
Booked to Die was the first of five books in Dunning’s series featuring detective Cliff Janeway, who also just happens to be a book collector and bookstore owner. The series is set in Dunning’s hometown of Denver, where he has worked as a newspaper reporter and owned the Old Algonquin Bookstore, which specialized in second-hand and rare books. There’s a lot of collectible-book knowledge and lore in this series—enough that we have often recommended Booked to Die to HPB’s pricers.

booked to die

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Meet the Bibliomaniac: Steve Leach a.k.a. The Buy Guy

You may already recognize this friendly face! In this edition of Meet the Bibliomaniac, get to know Steve Leach, the HPB Buy Guy. He’s got some great stories to share from his 32 years in the book biz. Take it away, Steve!

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Name: Steve Leach | Job Title: Buy Guy | Store Location: Corporate Offices, Dallas

When did you join the team?
I was hired as a bookseller back in 1985, when the Flagship was located on Mockingbird Lane in Dallas, Texas.

As Buy Guy, what’s an average day like for you?
I’m lucky enough to be able to say there aren’t many “average days.” Most days include answering customers’ and employees’ questions about buying. Some days, I’m helping store people identify, evaluate and promote their collectibles; other days I’m helping train employees, and I occasionally get to talk to customers about books, collectibles and the treasure hunt that is HPB.

How did you become the HPB Buy Guy?
When I started at the Flagship store, I was given the LP section because I had a music background. Boots, now the CEO, was at that time the assistant manager of the store, and her specialty was handling collectibles. I expressed interest and was allowed into that magical world.

What got you interested in collectibles and rare books?
I was a lifelong avid reader with no experience in pricing collectibles; however, I became quickly immersed in it, because, then as now, the Flagship store was full of wonderful, weird and rare stuff to process.

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A Celebration of the Quiet Beatle

The extremely talented lead guitarist of the Beatles, George Harrison, would have turned 75 this year on February 25. Although he passed away in 2001, Harrison’s legacy continues to thrive. George was the youngest of the Beatles, and was often referred to as “the quiet Beatle” since he wasn’t as boisterous as Paul or John. His talent for playing guitar, singing and composing music made him a legendary contributor to the music scene and how “classic rock” is viewed today. His appreciation of the Indian classic style and focus on universal love would stay with him throughout his lifetime. In honor of this rock god’s (and my personal favorite Beatle) birthday, here are some of the more well-known songs he composed.

“Don’t Bother Me”
This song was featured on the second Beatles album, With the Beatles. It was released in the U.K. on November 22, 1963 and a year later in the states. It was George’s first official Beatles song. He wrote it while he was sick in bed at a hotel room. He considered it an exercise in whether or not he could actually write a song.  The Beatles never performed the song live or at any of their BBC sessions, but it sparked Harrison’s desire to compose future songs.  The melancholy lyrics weren’t standard Beatles style, but they would eventually became a characteristic of a George Harrison song.

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Let’s do the Time Loop Again

February 2 is Groundhog Day, so you’ll find me doing the same thing I do every Groundhog Day, watching the movie Groundhog Day, because Groundhog Day just isn’t Groundhog Day without watching Groundhog Day. (That sentence was brought to you by the people who bet me I couldn’t use “Groundhog Day” six times in a sentence.) Truth is, I have always loved stories that have time loops in them. As someone who constantly gets things wrong, the idea that someone could live the same day over and over again until they get things right appeals to me. Here’s a list of my top five books and movies about people who get stuck in some sort of time loop.

Groundhog Day—Of course we have to start this list with Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. The movie never explains how weatherman Phil Connors gets stuck in a time loop, having to relive February 2 over and over again, but I think the groundhog had something to do with it.

Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver—In this debut YA novel, Sam Kingston wakes up the morning after dying in a car accident, fated to relive the day she dies over and over again. Like in Groundhog Day, the story is about redemption and the reason for the time loop is not given, but it sure makes a great story. This book was turned into a movie in 2017, starring Zoey Deutch.

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All Things Printed & Recorded: Readers Flip for Magazines

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 February, we’re covering a product that’s been a mainstay at HPB since we first opened: magazines.

3 Magazines.pngTIMELINE

1731  The Gentleman’s Magazine debuts in England. Its publisher invents the word “magazine” based on the Arabic word “makhazin,” meaning storehouse.
1741  Early American magazines include Ben Franklin’s General Magazine.
1842  The Illustrated London News is the first magazine with illustrations.
1898  Ladies’ Home Journal becomes the first US magazine to have one million subscribers.
1923  Time ushers in the weekly news magazine
1944  Seventeen, the first magazine targeted to teens, debuts.
2015  Approximately 7,300 different magazine titles are published in the United States.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • In the 19th and 20th centuries, American magazines spread trends nationwide and helped create a shared pop culture.
  • Around 1900, popular magazines like McClure’s began publishing pieces by reform-minded investigative journalists. Known as muckrakers, these writers aimed to expose corruption in business and government.

McClures.pngDISCOVER MORE

book Life: The Classic Collection
book Memos: The Vogue Years, Diana Vreeland
book Covering the ‘60s: George Lois – The Esquire Era, George Lois
book Muckrakers: How Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, And Lincoln Steffens Helped Expose Scandal, Inspire Reform, And Invent Investigative Journalism, Ann Bausum & Daniel Schorr
book How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time, Marisa Meltzer
slate_film-512 The Devil Wears Prada
slate_film-512 Funny Face

Meet the Bibliomaniac: Gella Spencer

In this month’s edition of Meet the Bibliomaniac, we introduce you to Gella from our South Houston District. Take it away, Gella!


Gella faceName: Gella Spencer
Job Title: District Inventory Manager
Store Location: South Houston District

When did you join the team?
I joined the HPB team in the summer of 2002. I was the first non-transferring employee hired at the Humble, Texas location while it was still being outfitted from a lighting store into a bookstore. I thought it would be a short-term summer gig, as I figured out what I wanted to be when I “grew up”… and here I am in my sixteenth year.

As a District Inventory Manager (DIM), what’s an average day like for you?
Any given day in my role as a DIM, consists of three main responsibilities: working behind my laptop, working alongside my Store Inventory Manager (SIMs) or working on a specialized task. An average day behind the screen can include: checking reports, placing/verifying vendor orders, troubleshooting and basically providing aide to my team’s various needs. On days where I work alongside my SIMs, we can be merchandising, creating décor for an upcoming display, updating store signage, or any other task that offers aide to my SIMs. Specialized tasks can include conducting inventory, aiding in Comicpalooza/vendor participation, redesigning the flow of a section/area or participating in one of the taskforces/committees I am on.

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Adventures Worth Telling: A Book Nerd’s Look at Appreciate a Dragon Day

“Always remember, it’s simply not an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” –Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance

January 16 is Appreciate a Dragon Day, and what better way to celebrate than to look at some of our favorite dragons in literature?

beowulfThe Dragon that Slays Beowulf
The epic poem Beowulf is one of the oldest surviving and most important works of Old English literature. It is certainly one of the most important works in regards to dragons, as Beowulf was the first piece of English literature to represent a fire-breathing dragon as we think of them today. This unnamed dragon is the third monster that Beowulf faces and is the monster that deals him the wound that costs him his life. The dragon is slain by Beowulf’s distant cousin Wiglaf, who Beowulf names as his heir as he lays dying.

Smaug

Smaug

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The greedy, wicked worm from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit is probably the most well-known dragon in the world. Described as “the greatest of the dragons of his day,” Smaug attacked against King Thrór without warning and engulfed the dwarf king’s mountain in flames, causing the dwarves to flee. Smaug then moved in, taking the dwarves’ riches for himself and resided in the mountain for 150 years, until a meddlesome wizard and a band of dwarves elicited the help of a simple hobbit to take back the mountain. For more about this dragon and what brought about the quest to recapture the mountain, read Appendix A from The Return of the King and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales.

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All Things Printed & Recorded: The Printing Press Helps the World Get Bookish

This year in our HPB calendar (you got one, right?) we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we sell in our stores.

For January, we’re taking a look at the development of books and printing. A good place to start, huh?

Gutenberg circleDID YOU KNOW?

  • Books were costly and relatively rare before the innovations of Johannes Gutenberg. In 1439 he developed a system of printing—using movable type and a wooden press—that was quickly adopted throughout Europe and beyond, leading to increased production of books and the spread of knowledge to the masses.
  • Movable type, where individual characters are used to create words imprinted on a page, existed as early as 1045 in China. Gutenberg was the first to make type using metal, using an alloy of lead, tin and antimony.
  • Mental Floss calculated that, throughout history, about 134,000,000 unique book titles have been published.

TIMELINE

2nd cent. BCE  In India, texts written on palm leaves are bound with twine between two boards.
antique book1st cent. The codex appears. With folded pages bound on one side between two hard covers, codices are portable, easy to use and presage the modern book.
1455  Gutenberg completes his 42-line Bible, printing 180 copies.
1810  The steam-powered printing press leads to greater speed and efficiency.
1843  Book production flourishes thanks to the steam-powered rotary press.

DISCOVER MORE

book The Gutenberg Revolution: How Printing Changed the Course of History, John Man
book Gutenberg’s Apprentice: A Novel, Alix Christie
book Five Hundred Years of Printing, S.H. Steinberg & John Trevitt
book Type: The Secret History of Letters, Simon Loxley
music-note-21 Gutenberg! The Musical, Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording
clapperboard The Book of Eli
clapperboard The Book Thief

Collectible Conversations: The History of Dallas in the 50s & 60s Through Books

For the December presentation in our monthly Collectible Conversations series at the HPB Flagship in Dallas, we welcome Dallas historian Bob Reitz. Reitz will discuss his growing up in Dallas in the 50s and 60s using books as his reference points. Bob gave an earlier Collectible Conversations talk specifically about his life in bookstores and his 37 books about bookstores from his collection.

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We asked Bob to give us a little preview of his upcoming talk.

When did you first feel that Dallas in the 50s and 60s was a special place and time?
In January of 1954, my father’s insurance company transferred him to Dallas from upstate New York. We had a new house built in the Casa View section of northeast Dallas. Cotton fields were being plowed under to create homes for newly returned servicemen beginning to start families after World War II. I started first grade and finished high school living in the same house. I still have a small group of friends from these times. Growing up, it seemed normal to have new movie houses, drive-ins, libraries, swimming pools and a thriving downtown. I never realized as a kid what we had in these unique and special times.

I’ve always thought that besides your family, your neighborhood makes the biggest difference in your life. I didn’t grow up smelling salt water from the ocean or seeing snow-covered mountains on the horizon. I grew up on the rolling blackland prairies in a large urban city straddling the Trinity River.

I know you own many books on the subject. Is there one that may best encapsulate the era for, say, a 20-year-old reader from Milwaukee?
Probably the most thoughtful book about this era in Dallas is by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright (who graduated from Dallas’s Woodrow Wilson High School). The cover of his book In the New World:  Growing Up with America from the Sixties to the Eighties (1989) reads: “It’s both a story of one man’s coming of age in 1960s Dallas and a provocative account of the end of American innocence, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights era.”

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