Meet the Bibliomaniac: Greg Lamer

For most HPB Bibliomaniacs, books are a way of life. And for Greg, that extends to printing, publishing and promoting the literacy scene in Lexington, KY. In this edition of Meet the Bibliomaniac, Greg shares more about his non-profit work, engaging with the community and some of his bookish favorites.

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When did you join the team?
October of 2002 at HPB Olathe, Kansas

What is your favorite part about working at HPB?
I like the “what’s next” philosophy of our bookstores. There is always something new to try or old to change. I like seeing how different people and personalities approach the same problem and manage to come out with often very different, but sufficient results. If you want something to change, or if you want to try something new, it has been my experience that the opportunity is there as long as you do your homework.

What are you reading right now?
On and off I am reading like 10 books… the one I have committed the most time to is City Poet by Brad Gooch. It’s about Frank O’Hara’s life.

What is your all-time favorite book, movie or album? 
For me, this question is really hard. I don’t think I have settled on my “all-time favorite” anything because there are always new things to read, watch or listen to. If we freeze time and I had to pick right this instant, I would say my favorite book is City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City by Greg Girard. My favorite movie is The Normal Heart and my favorite album is No Shape by Perfume Genius. But these will change by the time you publish this.

 

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Behind the Book: A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Editor’s Note: From first-time author Fatima Farheen Mirza comes a book that is beautifully written and emotional, a book that you will adore from the moment you begin the first page until you close the cover at last. A Place for Us handles one of the biggest desires in life—the desire to belong. This is the story of Rafiq and Layla, an immigrant couple in California, and their children, as they seek to reconcile their non-Western values with those of modern America. A Place for Us breaks open the family dynamic and examines what it truly means to belong. It was also the HPB Book Club pick for June and July. We had a chance to catch up with Fatima Farheen Mirza, who describes her writing process below.a-place-for-us

Days before I was to submit the final draft of the novel—after all the major editing had been done and I was only reading to find mistakes—there was one sentence I added toward the very end, and writing it into the margin moved me to tears, despite how insignificant the line seemed: “Layla pointing out the leaves when the wind makes them all wave at once.”

It arrived in a paragraph written in Rafiq’s perspective. Rafiq and Layla have been married for decades, and it is their family that the novel centers around. The passage is written from the furthest point of time in the novel, when Rafiq is in his late sixties and looking back on his life to understand what kind of a father he was. In the passage, he is reflecting on the sights in his life that he will never tire of: his wife tying her hair up into a bun, his daughter whistling when she was younger, and, in the case of the sentence, Layla pointing out the leaves on trees when the two took their evening walks together. Continue reading

Behind the Book: All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Editor’s note: Colleen Hoover is a prolific author who delivers every emotion on the spectrum in one beautiful package. Her latest novel, All Your Perfects, is a heartaching and heartbreaking look at a marriage put to the test. This novel is a masterpiece of love that weaves in the pain of life with its beauty. The intense, emotional and beautifully poignant story is everything you never knew you needed from a romance. We asked Colleen to provide us with her insights on her writing. Read more about it below.

 ALL YOUR PERFECTS_9781501171598All Your Perfects is my thirteenth full-length romance novel, but this is the first time I’ve written about an actual married couple. I tend to gravitate toward new romances, first loves, and the exploration of characters in their formative years. I assumed I would always stick to that, but when I got the idea for All Your Perfects I knew I’d be making a departure from my previous work.

The idea initially came to me because of something my sister and brother-in-law did at their wedding. They each wrote a love letter to the other and then placed the unread love letters in a box. They locked the box during their wedding and vowed only to open it and read the letters on their tenth anniversary. I forgot about the box and the letters until they reached their tenth anniversary a couple of years ago. My sister said they celebrated by reading each other’s love letters they had locked in the box ten years before.

I thought the idea of the love letters was such a great idea and wanted to incorporate it into a novel somehow. In order to do that, though, I’d have to write about a married couple, which is what sets this book apart from a lot of my others.  Continue reading

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Blog: The Best Sharks (and Other Large Sea Creatures) in Books, Movies and TV

jawsAh, summer. The time of year when the sun is out, the temperatures rise and the beach is calling. But just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… SHARKS!

If you’re anything like me (or definitely my brother), Steven Spielberg’s classic Jaws, based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name, kept you out of the ocean for many years. Even the classic Universal Studios ride was enough to produce nightmares!

There’s something about a massive sea creature with sharp teeth and those eyes that strikes just the right amount of terror in unsuspecting swimmers worldwide. As Discovery Channel celebrates Shark Week, its annual programming block of all things shark-y, we’ve rounded up some of the greatest Great Whites (plus other sharks and large sea creatures) found in books, movies and more.

Old ManClassic Fiction
These epic quests pit man versus beast on the open water.

  1. Moby Dick
  2. The Old Man and the Sea
  3. Meg

indianapolisTrue Stories
Sometimes true events are more chilling than fiction.

  1. Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man
  2. Open Water
  3. Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board

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Behind the Book: Eat Cake. Be Brave. by Melissa Radke

 

Editor’s Note: Eat Cake. Be Brave. is the kind of book that captures your attention and refuses to let go. Written by a woman who is intimately relatable, incredibly hilarious and at times introspective to the point that you wonder if you ARE Melissa Radke, this book will stick to your insides like cake. You will laugh, you will cry and you will be hooked to the raw power that is Melissa’s uniquely funny voice. Her brilliant storytelling makes Eat Cake. Be Brave. into a gut-wrenchingly beautiful and hilarious debut you are sure to enjoy.  We had the opportunity to catch up with her recently and ask her some questions about her debut book. Check out her answers below. 

Everyone who has read your book so far has called it intimately relatable. You reach people on a genuine level. Why do you think that is?
I don’t know. That’s a stupid question, move on to the next one. NO! I’m kidding! But see? I talk to people like I’m their sister or their best friend or their crazy aunt. I don’t filter a lot of what I say and I think that feels relatable to people, especially women. No one likes the unfiltered person who slices people with their words and abrasiveness, but we all want that friend who says what we’re thinking and puts words to our thoughts. And I think I do that for them. I also think I look like them – and dress like them – and holler at my kids like them, so they get me.

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Photo Credit: Kylie White

Your Southern roots are a big part of who you are – from your sweet Texan twang to your Tennessee detour to your small town charm. Do you feel like the gentility and hospitality of the South has played a big role in shaping you and your book? Why or why not?
Oh, yes. And I’m proud of that. But it took me a while to say that and mean it and to appreciate where I’m from. When I first started writing, I felt like I needed to be so different, so much more enlightened and fancy. But I couldn’t! I tried, believe me, I tried. But how do I write in a way that is not true to who I am? I spent too many years living my life that way and it got me nowhere. So. I decided to tell the stories I grew up hearing, write the way I talk and not cry over spilt (sweet) tea.

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Die Hard on a…:Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Die Hard.

Die Hard is the best. 30 years later, no action movie has topped it – at least at doing great action and being an even better movie between the action scenes. If you haven’t seen it in a while, it won’t disappoint.

But say you’ve seen Die Hard a million times. Or you’re waiting to watch it at Christmas. (And to end the debate before it begins, Facebook readers, I’m not saying Die Hard is a Christmas movie – just that it can be if you want it.) With that in mind, I’ve put together some movies and TV shows that made no secret about ripping it off.

This list may not include the best imitators, though possibly the most interesting ones. And why these movies? Because pretty good movies are still, you know, pretty good.Die Hard

Die Hard 2 (1990)
One of the first imitators to not top Die Hard was Die Hard 2. It’s basically a remake with the setting moved to an airport during a blizzard. The similarities and callbacks are a bit much, and Bruce Willis goes from being a counterpoint to the ‘80s action hero to being yet another action hero.

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Smart Patriotic Sounds for July 4

Independence Day is fast upon us, and if you’re like me, that means you’re planning what patriotic American music to play at your cookout or family gathering. I mean, I’m not literally doing a cookout, because I live in Texas and it’s a bazillion degrees out. But I do enjoy making a good themed playlist.

Problem is, you likely don’t own much patriotic music. Besides Sousa marches, the national anthem, songs people think are the national anthem and that one Lee Greenwood tune…what even is patriotic music?

You could take the easy route and play any American music. (For that matter, you could take the super easy route and play literally any music, and no one at your cookout or indoor air conditioned food-eating event would bat an eye, but I’m writing an important blog post here, so don’t do that!) Sure, any American music would do, but this being HPB and all, let’s dig deeper in the crates and find some music that celebrates America, but perhaps not in the obvious flag-waving ways. Continue reading

Resolution Renewal: Half a Year, Half a Year, Half a Year Gone!

July 1 marks the midyear checkpoint for New Year’s Resolutions. It’s time to take stock of what you’ve accomplished and what you need to do to accomplish even more. Every year, I resolve to read a certain number of books, and I know I’m not alone because through the Half Price Books Resolve to Read program more than 60,000 people (including me) resolved to read more! However, of the 50 books I resolved to read, I’ve only read 16. Needless to say, I have some work to do, and here are a few ideas I’ve had about how I’m going to check this resolution off as done.

Book Club LogoJoin a Book Club. Being in a community of readers who are all reading the same book, and knowing that a discussion will take place, will push me to read the book so that I will be able to participate. Did you know you could join the HPB Book Club online, which is a great way to be part of a book club for people who are too busy or uncomfortable in group settings?

Track your progress. I am a list maker, and one of my favorite things to do is to check something off my list. As I read a book, I can add it to the list or create a list of books I want to read and check them off as I have read them. Some websites will help your track your progress online. My favorite is Good Reads.

Lists

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If You Liked A Place for Us, You Might Also Like…

A Place for Us 2.jpgIf you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading (or perhaps just finished) A Place for Us, by Fatima Farheen Mirza, a heartbreaking story of family, identity and belonging. As all the members of an Indian-America Muslim family gather to celebrate the eldest daughter’s wedding, each family member looks back at crucial moments in their past as the three children have searched for the place they belong in the world, in their culture, in their faith and in their family. Mirza goes back and forth in time and from one perspective to another, letting the reader see the thoughts and feelings behind every circumstance and every consequence, showing how without understanding, even acts of love can turn into acts of betrayal. A Place for Us is the first title published under Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth.

If you liked A Place for Us, here are a few other books you might like:

 

All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin, I’ll Be Your Blue Sky, by Marisa de los Santos, How Hard, Can it Be, by Allison Pearson, Stay with Me, by Ayobami Adebayo, An American Mariage, by Tayari Jones

 

Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward, Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng, What We Lose, by Zinzi Clemmons, Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate, What We Were Promised, by Lucy Tan (coming out July 10, 2018)

So, what’s your next read?

Check out what we’re reading next. Join the HPB Book Club.

Collectible Conversations: Movie Posters of the ‘50s & ‘60s

When buyers at our Flagship store recently acquired more than 250 original movie posters, mostly from ‘50s and ‘60s films, they realized they were looking at some pretty special pop culture treasures.

Many of the posters were science fiction, including Night Creatures, The Return of the Fly, and Barbarella. But they ran the gamut of genres: spy movies, Three Stooges comedies, disasters, and more. The visual imagery on many of these posters is often stunning and, is in some cases, iconic.

Dallas South District Trainer Ben Jousan and I will be hosting a Collectible Conversations presentation on the evening of Thursday, June 28, in which we’ll show many of the posters and discuss the collecting of movie posters.

I asked Ben a few questions about the bounty of movie posters.

How often do stores see vintage movie posters come in?
We get the occasional bedroom fare with contemporary films or video games promo posters, but we don’t often see original one-sheet poster art for movies. We don’t always have a dedicated space on our sales floor to feature posters, but when we see such an amazing group of unique items, it forces us to rethink our layout on the floor to inform customers of our unique product mix and encourage them to sell these kinds of things to us!

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