The Inside Story: This Is Ann

In this blog series, HPB Buy Guy Steve Leach takes a closer look at the unique curiosities that we see in our stores.


Most fans of The Cat in the Hat and other characters created by Dr. Seuss are not aware of his wartime stint producing pamphlets and animated training films for director Frank Capra’s Signal Corps, but we’re happy to introduce you to Seuss’s mosquito Ann, whom he put to work in service of her country.

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Checking in with the Million Book Donation Project

Since we’re well into 2020 now (where does the time go?!), let’s check in on our 2020 Million Book Donation Project!

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In case you’ve forgotten, the Million Book Donation Project is exactly what it sounds like – Half Price Books makes a pledge to donate at least one million books to great non-profit organizations and schools across the country. Since we officially launched the program in 2012, we’ve donated more than 11 million books!

As of today, we’ve already donated 54,180 books across the country in 2020, including some to our friends at Eastside Elementary in Cleveland, TX.

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Need some books for your organization or school? Make a donation request and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Best of the Decade: 1920s

Editor’s Note: This year, our Half Price Books calendar once again features lists of books, movies and music. We’re heading into a new decade with a new focus…the past. Each month, we’ll share a list of events, inventions and, of course, books, movies and music, from every decade since the 1900s right here on the blog. Enjoy!


Something cool came along when jazz was introduced to the masses and the literary scene got a leg up from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Get a good look at the grandstanding books, music and movies from the decade that left dancers flapping in the wind…see what we did there? You guessed it. It’s the 1920s!

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Behind the Book: Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West

Editor’s Note: Kathleen West’s debut tackles the confusion, delusion and, yes, catastrophes often seen in the ecosystem of grade-school education. In this edition of Behind the Book, West lets us in on just how much of the storyline was influenced by her own life as a middle school teacher and what she would like readers to glean as they pour through the pages of her wry, cleverly observed offering.

What inspired you to write Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes?

The idea for the story came to me as I waited to find out whether my then-sixth grader had been cast in his middle school musical. I taught in the school he attended, and a colleague asked me if I planned to sneak up to the drama board and check to see if he’d gotten a part. Though I admit I was tempted, we agreed this was a terrible idea. What kind of parent would storm the bulletin board, pushing kids aside to read the list?

Obviously, I loved the idea of a character who would do just that. Julia means well, but she’s completely out of line. I’ve met moms like Julia lots of times, and I feel like I’ve (mostly) resisted being a mom like Julia lots of times.

As I started writing about Liston Heights, both from Julia’s and Isobel’s perspectives, I found myself obsessed with public criticism, which plays a big role in school communities. Everyone has been in school, and so everyone thinks they know how to define excellent teaching. And usually, when parents don’t agree with something they perceive to be happening in the classroom, the last person they’ll talk to about it is the teacher. So, instead of having a productive meeting with one parent who has questions, teachers end up having cryptic conversations about how “everyone” feels things are going badly. I really enjoyed exploring the consequences of behind-the-back complaining and gossiping, and the distrust and resentment it breeds between parents and teachers.

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29 Short Books to Read on Leap Day

2020 is a leap year, which means this February we get one extra day to read. If you’ve ever wanted to up your book reading from say, fifty a year to seventy-nine, then this list is just for you.

Here is a list of twenty-nine quick reads under 300 pages you can dive into on this extra day. They are a perfect mix of some old, some new, some blue, some yellow, some poetry, some self-help, some existential and everything in between.

So the real question is, how many of these can you knock out with your extra day?

1. The Alchemist  by Paulo Coelho

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The Inside Story: The Underground Railroad

In this blog series, HPB Buy Guy Steve Leach takes a closer look at the unique curiosities that we see in our stores.


9780345804327_5d023Critics and readers praised Colson Whitehead’s sixth novel, The Underground Railroad, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2017 and the National Book Award in 2016. Its fanciful reimagining of the historic escape route for runaway slaves revived popular interest in the subject.

Here’s a look at Reverend W.M. Mitchell’s Underground Railroad, published in England in 1860, among the most significant items we’ve ever acquired: a book written by a black minister about the slave rescue network during the time it was in operation, and the first book to use the term Underground Railroad in print. Continue reading

Blind Date with a Book

Some people ask, “Why bother with first dates? Why deal with the agonizing micro-decisions of just how much to reveal of yourself, scheduling the back-up emergency call in case the date goes poorly or the horrible awkward argument over who should pay for what?” Well, whether you’re a romantic who’s willing to put themselves out there or you’re hardcore not feeling it, books are always here for you to fall back on. Most times, you know what you’re getting with a book. We encourage you to enjoy some spontaneity in honor of the season of romance by taking a chance on these blind dates with great books!

HPB-F6ISO: Someone who’s looking for change!

Stuck in a rut? Looking for something to inspire you? Look no further! Find small changes that lead to big changes in this inspiring book that will revolutionize how you think about human behavior. No longer will you insist that change is hard, that change is all about willpower or that you have to stick to a plan. Looking for an uplifting way to change your life? Have a blind date with this charming fellow who will focus on your successes instead of your failures.

CLICK TO MEET YOUR BLIND DATE!

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Have Books, Will Travel – Through African-American History

There is something to be said about a community of people who have been able to endure enslavement, the centuries of inequitable treatment that followed and the derivative systemic racism that continues to exist. In spite of the odds, African Americans have managed to create a fascinating, and often coveted, culture heavily influenced by their unique American experience, all the while rooted in the land they were stolen from; a culture that has impacted the nation at every turn, from music to medicine, literature to legislature and all manner of areas in between. Make no mistake: African-American history, though set aside to be celebrated during the month of February each year, is American history.

In this edition of Have Books, Will Travel, we present books that capture that history; depicting what it means to endure the trial and triumph, pain and promise, heartache and hope that is commonly found in the stoic African-American experience.

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Best of the Decade: 1910s

Editor’s Note: This year, our Half Price Books calendar once again features lists of books, movies and music. We’re heading into a new decade with a new focus…the past. Each month, we’ll share a list of events, inventions and, of course, books, movies and music, from every decade since the 1900s right here on the blog. Enjoy!


Oreos arrived (arguably making cookie jars more interesting nationwide) and Uncle Sam asked for America’s best candidates to confront Germany as the U.S. entered World War I. This month, we’re taking a look at the events, books, music and movies that took America by storm in the 1910s.

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