10 Movies that Inspired Stranger Things

In an era where there are hundreds of new shows and movies to stream each month, it’s amazing we’re still talking about Stranger Things three months after it debuted on Netflix. There’s a good chance it may end up the biggest pop culture landmark of 2016. And I couldn’t be happier about that.

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Yes, it leans on the past a little too much, but Stranger Things isn’t just a remix of early ‘80s nostalgia. I don’t want to build the show up too much for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, except to say I think you’ll like what you find.

For those who have watched it and can’t wait for the second season, here is a list of movies that most likely inspired the show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers. They’ll help tide you over till next year, and most of them will fit perfectly into your rotation of scary movies. I hope you pick at least one of them to enjoy/laugh at/patiently sit through for your friend or spouse this Halloween season.

**Oh – and some minor spoilers for Stranger Things.** Continue reading

Local Store Events Round-Up: October 2016

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Arizona California Georgia Illinois Indiana Kentucky Minnesota Missouri Ohio Oklahoma Pennsylvania Texas Washington Wisconsin

ARIZONA

Phoenix – Camelback

First Sunday Storytime
Pack up your half-pint readers and come to your Camelback HPB for Storytime Sundays. Sit down and enjoy a good tale with us at 1 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month. All young readers and listeners are welcome!
CALIFORNIA

Citrus Heights

Storytime Sundays
Pack up your half-pint readers and come to your Citrus Heights HPB for Storytime Sundays. Sit down and enjoy a good tale with us at 2 p.m. every Sunday. All ages are welcome! Continue reading

Our 10 Favorite Lines from Sherlock the TV Series

Sherlock.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brought him to life in print, but of all actors that have brought him to life on screen; none have done so quite like Benedict Cumberbatch.  Sherlock makes a seamless transition to the 21st century with Cumberbatch at the helm, and it’s a character that you immediately identify and possibly empathize with; or, you are simply intrigued by his “high-functioning sociopath” behavior.

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I’m a proud member of the fandom that began in 2010, and one of the many that are anxiously awaiting the series’ return in 2017.  The previous seasons are a streaming repeat on my television at home, and tablet when I travel.  While we all patiently (or not so patiently) wait, I’d like to share some of my favorite quotes from the series.

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Why I Teach: 5 Books and Movies with Inspiring Educators

I’d like to introduce you all to Caitlyn! She’s a middle school teacher in North Texas (an amazing one at that) and a wonderful friend of mine. Check out her picks of books and movies that help her along her teaching journey.  Enjoy!  -Sam


I’m one of those brave individuals that has chosen [been called to] a career as a teacher. I didn’t sign on because I wanted to have my summers free (although it is a beautiful perk) and I certainly didn’t embark on this journey because I thought it’d be easy (because in fact, nothing could be further from the truth). But it is my joy and my privilege to impart some small bit of knowledge on a set of middle school students every year.

I find inspiration in almost everything, even this Starbucks I’m sitting in. I really like the seating arrangements in this space and I’m making notes – ha! The greatest source of inspiration for me comes from books and movies. They are my love language. After a difficult day, I know I can read a chapter or watch a few minutes of a favorite story and it’ll fill my sails for the next day.

These are five movies and books that have been a source of motivation and encouragement at some point in my career.

Dead Poets Society (starring Robin Williams)
O Captain! My Captain! If you’ve ever seen this gem, then you’re probably nodding your head in a very, Ahh…of course kind of way. Mr. Keating is one of the reasons I love poetry and why I find it essential to teach in a free kind of way – no right or wrong, but interpretation and feeling. This movie reminds me that each person has the right to explore their own identity – what brings them joy, inspires them and fulfills them. I teach Walt Whitman’s poem O Captain! My Captain to my 8th graders and I love showing them the clip from this movie with that iconic line. Mr. Keating encourages me to be a source of inspiration to my kiddos, showing them that they can make their lives extraordinary.

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” Continue reading

10 Most Recently Challenged Books

This week we celebrate Banned Books Awareness Week, which pays tribute to the freedom to read and draws attention to books that have been banned or challenged.  Though we’d like to imagine that the censorship of literature is a thing of the past, books get banned and challenged every year for various reasons.  Here is a list of ten of the most frequently challenged books in the last few years and the reasons they have been challenged.

1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green, was challenged because of offensive language and being sexually explicit.

2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James, was challenged for being poorly written and sexually explicit with concerns that “a group of teenagers will want to try it.”

3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, was challenged for homosexual content and being inaccurate.

4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin, was challenged for being “anti-family,” having offensive language and homosexual themes.

5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, was challenged for “profanity and atheism.” Continue reading

Banned Collectible Books (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Again this year, in honor of Banned Books Awareness Week, we present a couple of perennial reading-list favorites that have been censored and banned.

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
First Printing, Little, Brown & Co., 1951

In 2015, one of our two featured books during Banned Books Awareness Week was J.D. Salinger’s first book. That copy sold out of one of our Minnesota stores, and this year a Texas store has acquired another first edition in Very Good condition.

The Catcher in the Rye has remained a popular and critical favorite since it was published, appearing near the top of the “greatest American literature” lists of Time, Modern Library and many other listmakers. Many school districts and libraries have restricted or banned it for profanity, sexual references and for being “negative” and because it “undermines morality.”

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Books Can Take You Places: London

Already this year, we’ve taken a trip to 11 different cities and our journey around the world is far from over!  This month let’s londonexplore all that London, England has to offer.

I had my first visit to London when I was eight-years-old. I remember reading Michael Bond’s A Bear Called Paddington and so wanted to visit Paddington Train Station. Now as I prepare for my umpteenth trip to England, I have just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. I so want to visit the London Below. I just need to find the Floating Market.


With over 2,000 years of glorious history under its belt, London’s influence on the English language, world literature and Western culture in general is impossible to overstate. From Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens to Lennon, McCartney and Jagger, enough legends have lived and worked here to fill a few dozen double-decker sightseeing buses.

HOW TO GET THERE

music-note-21 Abbey Road, The Beatles • book Bleak House, Charles Dickens • slate_film-512 Blow Up slate_film-512 A Clockwork Orange book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling • book High Fidelity, Nick Hornby • book The Importance of Being Ernest, Oscar Wilde • music-note-21 The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society, The Kinks • music-note-21 London Calling, The Clash • slate_film-512 Mary Poppins book Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf • slate_film-512 Notting Hill music-note-21 Quadrophenia, The Who • music-note-21 (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis • book White Teeth, Zadie Smith Continue reading

It’s Time to Raise the Curtain…40 Years of the Muppet Show

If you’re like me, hearing the words “It’s time to play the music; it’s time to dim the lights” transports you to your childhood, when the week wasn’t complete without your weekly dose of the Muppets.  It’s hard to imagine that The Muppet Show turned 40 years old this year and harder to image that Jim Henson himself would have turned 80 this month.  So, to help celebrate these events, here are some interesting facts about the Muppets and their creator.

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  • Jim Henson had a passion for puppetry even when he was a child and TV Puppeteer Burr Tillstrom, from the show Kukla, Fran and Ollie was a major influence in his childhood.

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Books: Read the Movie, Fall Guide to Movies Based on Books

brtm_fall2016Fall movies mean Oscar films on the big screens. Get a jump on the awards season by reading the books of some really great movies hitting theaters soon.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Jacob begins to discover different worlds and times and finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The dangers and mysteries grow as Jacob gets to know the residents and learn their special powers. Tim Burton directs, which should be right up his alley with all the quirky characters. Miss Peregrine’s stars Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson and Judi Dench. Look for this film September 30.

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10 Classic LPs for Your Growing Vinyl Collection

The improbable resurgence of vinyl records began around 2007 and hasn’t slowed yet. In 2015, vinyl sales rose 32% to $416 million, their highest level since 1988, the year the format was overtaken by the compact disc. Why is vinyl being embraced by millennials and revisited by older types who sold their collections 20 years ago?

Sure, vinyl has a warm sound and a retro appeal, but there’s something else that makes it ideal for true music lovers: vinyl is wonderfully inconvenient. It forces you to interact with it—to lovingly take an LP out of its sleeve, put it on the turntable and flip it over 25 minutes later. And since skipping tracks is a pain, you’re more likely to listen to an album straight through, with the songs in the order the artist intended.

There’s also the satisfying physicality of records and sleeves, with big, beautiful artwork, liner notes, lyrics and credits, none of which you get with a digital download.

All of this makes vinyl perfect for those who crave a deeper listening experience and a stronger connection with the artists they enjoy.

If you’re looking to start or add to your vinyl collection, consider giving the ten classic albums below a spin. They’re undeniably great on any format, but they beg to be experienced on vinyl. Note: While lots of new music has been released on vinyl in recent years, for this list I’m focusing on the original era when the vinyl LP ruled.

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In the Wee Small Hours, Frank Sinatra (1955)
With a program of thematically connected songs about loneliness and lost romance, this record is often cited as one of the first-ever concept albums. Timeless tunes from the Great American Songbook, sparkling Nelson Riddle arrangements and Sinatra’s inimitable phrasing combine to create an intimacy and atmosphere perfect for late-night listening.

alovesupremeA Love Supreme, John Coltrane (1965)
Kind of Blue by Miles Davis may be “the one jazz album everyone should own,” but Coltrane’s masterwork is a more cohesive and emotional statement. The album is a four-part original suite born of Coltrane’s gratitude to God, but make no mistake—it’s not churchy or prim. On the contrary, this is deeply felt, deeply swinging, powerful music performed by Trane’s classic quartet, arguably the best band in jazz history. Supreme, sublime, essential music. Continue reading