Bust the Myth: Saving Big Money on Textbooks Can Be a Reality

It seems like finding the best deals on textbooks is like chasing a unicorn. You’ve heard there are good deals in some bedtime story your grandparents told you long ago, yet every back-to-school season, you’re left with the real story: a busted budget. We know that textbook shopping can be stressful and expensive. A study from the National Association of College Stores reports that students spent an average of $579 on required course materials during the 2016-2017 academic year. Fairy tale?! More like SCARY TALE, am I right?

We’re here to tell a different story, one with a little more happily-ever-after and a lot less I-can’t-even-afford-ramen!

Here are HPB.com‘s top tips to make any student’s book buying experience a better one this semester:

Shop early or beware. Procrastinate and you’ll just get eaten by the troll under the bridge, so they say. Demand is higher right before the semester starts and everyone is looking for the same book, which makes prices higher. Nab yours early to take advantage of some of the lowest prices — and beat that troll to the punch! Troll

Buy used if it’s within your power. Sometimes you can’t avoid it if your potions professor picked a brand new textbook or newer edition, but a used book will always be cheaper and sometimes filled with some other studious wizard’s helpful notes!
wizard.gif

Look for older editions. Rip Van Winkle was purported to say, “Old is the new-new!” He was probably talking about your textbooks. If the updates to newer editions are minimal from year-to-year, an older edition will likely save you some cash.
rip van winkle Continue reading

The Legacy of Ray Bradbury

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” – Ray Bradbury

The American author and Sci-Fi legend Ray Bradbury would have been 98 on August 22 of this year, and his absence is keenly felt. His career spanned seven decades and included subjects ranging from Martians to time-travelers to robots to dystopian futures. Bradbury’s contributions to literature have been far-reaching. Most notably, Bradbury’s mark on literature wasn’t the superficial glib of the pulp science fiction era but rather the focal point that helped transition science fiction from a trashy sidelined genre to the full-blown modern titan that it is today.  (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!)

Fahrenheit-451I first read Ray Bradbury’s work in school, as most younger folk have these days. I began, as most begin, with Fahrenheit 451. The internationally acclaimed novel is a true masterpiece, and it sparked my love for the genre in my early teens. The dystopic novel addresses a world threatened by censorship and detachment, where the obsession with technology and political correctness has become so absolute that books are banned. And what’s worse… no one seems to care. And thus the genius of Bradbury is revealed. Whereas previous science fiction novels (of the Pulp era) dealt with battling robots or extra-terrestrial life, Bradbury focuses on human foibles set in a futuristic world. His works prove, time and again, that human error will remain despite technological advances.

the-martian-chroniclesSimilarly, The Martian Chronicles is a melancholy series of overlapping stories about the colonization of Mars.  Humans are fleeing a troubled and devastated Earth, but like Bradbury’s other works, it’s about so much more than that. The Martian Chronicles are more than a superficial story of humans leaving Earth to colonize Mars, which perhaps would have been appropriate during the pulp era of Science Fiction. Instead, the series addresses issues with exploration, ambition, ownership and human desire. Many view it as an allegory of the colonization of the Americas. There is something simplistic in his approach, something wildly entertaining about his writing, that doesn’t alert you to the emotional impact until it’s far too late. Continue reading

This Husband and Wife Teacher Duo Spent Their Summer Vacation Touring HPB Stores and It’s the Cutest Thing EVER!

On Monday, July 2, 7th grade reading teacher Adriana Sifford and her husband 12th grade English teacher Jeff of Houston, TX set out to complete the ultimate booklover’s challenge…to visit every Half Price Books location in their area!

The idea was born when the couple decided to stop by HPB Rice Village after attending a summer workshop at a nearby university. Both had never been to the location and were eager to check it out.

“While there, Jeff turned to me and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do all nine locations in one day?’ And I said, ‘Challenge accepted!'” Adriana explained.

Challenge Accepted

The couple went home that night, laid out a list of requirements for each store visit, planned their route and set off for a day of bookish adventure. #TeachersOnSummerVacation

The first stop was HPB Clearlake.

Continue reading

Books: Read the Movie, Fall Edition

Fall movies kick off awards season, leading up to the Oscars in February. There is a very exciting list of movies coming out, and I am sure you want to get a jump on them by reading the novels they are based on. As part of the Books: Read the Movie series, here are five you should have on your reading list.

Crazy-Rich-Asians-Kevin-KwanCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
This book and film is about three rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his girlfriend to the wedding of the season. Crazy Rich Asians hits the big screen August 15.

Continue reading

Booklovers’ Choice: Favorite Books from HPB Bibliomaniacs Across the Country

I think every booklover will admit that one of the hardest questions to answer is “what is your favorite book?” Someone asked me that question not long ago, and I had read so many good books, trying to pick a favorite was almost heartbreaking. I finally said The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton because that was the first book that made me want to be a writer and touch people’s lives the way that book had touched mine. However, the question got me wondering what were some of my favorite booklovers favorite books? So much to their chagrin, I asked. And what better time to share their answers than on August 9, better known as Booklover’s Day?

Amanda B., Woodshoppe Manager, Dallas, TX
“I think I’ll have to go with Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. As I child I remember reading it and being fascinated by the depth and detail of the novel. It was the perfect mixture of horror, fantasy, suspense and Americana. As an adult, I think it is one of the most touching and nostalgic books I’ve ever read.”

Heidi H., Store Inventory Manager, Indianapolis, INLegacy of Ashes
“One of my favorite books of nonfiction is Legacy of Ashes: A History of the CIA by Tim Weiner. It may be one of our country’s most important tomes. At over 1,000 pages it took me over six months to read, mainly because I’m a slow reader, but the content was gripping and brought new meaning to the phrase ‘page-turner.’”

Jammie M., District Inventory Manager, Dallas, TXThe Hobbit
“My favorite book is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s the only book I’ve read multiple times. I like the world and the story. Plus, it was my mother’s favorite book, and I feel connected to her when I read it.”

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. FrankweilerDavid J., District Inventory Manager, Indianapolis, IN
I think the first book that caused me to fall in love with reading was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg because it intrigued my imagination and really got me into the world that the characters lived in. From that time on, books were a gateway into another world and into the lives and experiences of other people.

Continue reading

All Things Printed & Recorded: Video Games Come Into Play

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 August, it’s all fun and games—video games, to be exact.

Super Mario gamesTIMELINE
1940  A computer playing the traditional game Nim is displayed at the World’s Fair.
1958  A tennis game played using an analog computer and an oscilloscope is demonstrated at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
1962  Spacewar, the first computer-based video game, is invented by an MIT student.
1975  Atari partners with Sears to release its arcade game Pong for the home market.
1985  Nintendo’s NES revives an ailing American video game industry two years after its original release in Japan, where it was called Famicom.
1995  Sony releases PlayStation in the United States. When PlayStation 2 debuts in 2000, it becomes the dominant home console.
2001  Microsoft enters the market with Xbox and hit games like Halo. Xbox 360 would debut four years later.

Continue reading

Hot Days and Steamy Books

August days are known to be hot and steamy. Maybe that’s why August is Read-a-Romance Month. As the resident hopeless romantic (yes, I love happy endings and cry over Hallmark commercials), I was asked to make a few reading recommendations to heat up the month of August.

Brushing Up on the Classics:
pride and prejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Ah, the classic story of boy meets girl. Boy insults girl. Girl snubs boy. Boy saves girl’s sister. Girl gets insulted by boy’s family. Love. If you haven’t read it, where have you been for the last 200 years? You need to read this book. If you have read it, then you know how good it is. Maybe it’s time to read it again.

Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The beginnings may smack a little of Cinderella, as this orphan deals with life in a not-so-pleasant household, but no one could call her brooding love interest a prince charming. One thing you can say about the Brontë sisters: they love themselves a bad boy. If you want a new take on the Jane Eyre storyline, try My Plain Jane, by Cynthia Hand, Ashton Brodi and Jodi Meadows.

Going Old School (Books my grandmother read):
The India FanThe India Fan by Victoria Holt
Take the proud, rich boy from the local aristocracy and mix him up with the local vicar’s daughter who is hired to be governess to his sister’s children and throw them in the middle of India during the uprising against the East India Company. What do you expect to happen? A must read for any hopeless romantic.

Continue reading

Behind the Book: Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins

Editor’s Note: Kristan Higgins is the kind of author who likes to dance her way out of the box and into the creative space, simultaneously maintaining humor while addressing deep-rooted and uncomfortable issues. In Good Luck with That (on Sale August 7),  Kristan Higgins provides an emotional, compelling read that focuses on addressing the issues of body image, eating disorders and self-esteem. Her unique voice helps the story come to life, and we find ourselves rooting for these friends to truly develop their self-worth. That’s why it’s our Book Club pick for August and September!  We had a chance to catch up with Kristan recently, and she was kind enough to share her thoughts on these important issues. 

Why do you feel it is important to represent women of size in literature and other media? Where do you think we are still missing this perspective?Everyone deserves to be seen. Everyone has a story! So many times, women of size are presented as sidekick characters, or women who want to lose weight, or women who have absolutely no problems with being overweight—they’re content, healthy and confident (which of course, we want them to be). But I wanted to write a book that showed where most of us are—still struggling to like what we see, knowing on the one hand that our value comes from within, yet still fighting off those messages about looking a certain way.

This is the hardest perspective because it admits that guilty secret…a lot of us still care. It can be really hard to like our bodies in a society obsessed with beauty and size…and food! We’re given so many mixed messages, and the healthcare pros have a new theory about what or how to eat every half hour. We need to learn to take care of ourselves in all ways—mental, spiritual, physical. Once we get to that place—and it can be hard to get there—real self-acceptance and love begin, no matter what your size.

The fat acceptance and body positivity movements are great and incredibly needed, but it’s a process. When I look at fiction, most of the women of size are shown as “curvy,” not significantly overweight, and happy with their sizes. Which is lovely, if you’re one of them. But for those of us who struggle to like how we look, struggle with how much we weigh, struggle with food, there’s not much out there. Maybe that’s starting to change with characters like Kate from This Is Us and Renee in I Feel Pretty, but in general, women of size have been ignored or glossed over. I was tired of it. It made those struggles feel invisible.

9780451489395

Are there any storylines that you wrote into your characters that you struggled with? Perhaps because they were too personal or maybe too revealing?Sure. This was a very personal book. I’ve done every crappy eating habit the characters do, from starving myself to binge-eating (one dark night, I ate two pizzas, all by my lonesome, just like Emerson in the book). Like Georgia, I had a family member who constantly criticized my size. And like Marley, my family shows love by cooking really unhealthy food. But it felt so good to admit that, even through fictional characters—to talk about self-esteem and its link to size in a way that’s not filtered, that’s hard and honest and difficult and funny, too. My heart broke for Emerson, and while her story is tragic, it still deserves to be told. I was so proud of Georgia and Marley for tackling their issues. Their friendship is the kind we all deserve. Girl power, yo!

Continue reading

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.

IMG_1363

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.

 

Continue reading

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