Celebrity Library Mix + Match Game

Home libraries are a beautiful thing. Accredited Online Colleges published this post last week about 20 celebrities with stunning home libraries, so we thought it would be fun to work it into a game to kick off National Literacy Month! Match the library photo below with its celebrity owner. One person who correctly identifies the right owner + library combo will win a prize! Try and guess without peeking!



A. Rod Stewart B. Jimmy Page C. Mark Twain D. Nigella Lawson E. Oprah Winfrey

F. Woody Allen G. Ralph Lauren H. William Randolph Hearst I. Julianne Moore J. Karl Lagerfeld

K. Keith Richards L. Diane Keaton M. Jane Fonda N. Sting O. Brooke Astor

P. Aaron Spelling Q. Tory Burch R. Michael Jackson S. Agatha Christie T. Jimmy Stewart 


Gorgeous aren’t they?! Which one of these celebrity libraries are do you wish you could call your own? Winner will be randomly selected and announced here tomorrow (Friday, September 2). Put your answers in a comment below.

Good luck! — Meredith  


UPDATE: Congratulations to Veronica P for being our randomly selected winner who correctly paired the celebrities with their home libraries! Thanks to everyone who participated.

Q: What’s the difference between a cat and a compound sentence?

A: “A cat has paws at the end of its claws;

A comma has pause at the end of its clause.”

You didn’t think we were going to do a dog post and not follow it up with a cat post, did you? This adorable picture came through after our post about Zoe in the store:


His owner says, “Jack says there is nothing like curling up with a good book! Especially if it comes from Half Price Books.”

Hear, hear, Jack. Here are a couple more adorable cat + book combos, courtesy of The Berry:



More pictures available here. If you guys have any other fun picture combinations of your pets + books/music/movies/games, please send to besocial@hpb.com!

— Julie 

Fiction Friday: “Darkness, My Old Friend” Quintessential Thriller

Darkness, My Old Friend by Lisa Unger is the quintessential thriller novel. It has all of the necessary elements for the making of a thriller, including –
The Who:

  • The retired cop, who, of course, has a last name for a first name: Jones Cooper.
  • The difficult seventeen year old girl, Willow, who has just moved with her single mom to the rural town of Hollows from New York City.
  • The woman who became a psychic after a brutal car accident left her in a coma for six weeks, Eloise.
  • The creepy man, Michael Holt, who lost his mom at an early age. Even at thirteen years old he was bigger in stature than most men in their thirties.
  • The woman with the abusive husband, Paula Carr.

The What: One day while Willow is ditching school, she comes across Michael digging in the woods. Jones Cooper is hired to find out what happened to two missing women – one in the present and one in the past. Their stories start to intermingle after Eloise, the psychic, has some scary visions about the near future for Cooper.

When: Present Day

Where: The Hollows, a rural area that includes the dreaded creepy woods.
Why: To figure out what actually happened to Marla Holt, so many years ago.
This was definitely an interesting, flowing story that I could not put down. It was a quick read and an enjoyable one. At the beginning the stories seemed so disjointed, but they slowly start to intertwine into a fantastic surprise ending that brought the whole story together. Once Lisa Unger introduced the psychic, I became afraid that the story would turn cheesy, but it was quite the contrary. Unger did something I thought no one else could do– she made the psychic a real person and not cheesy at all.
It wasn’t until about half way through reading that I discovered that Darkness, My Old Friend is actually a follow up novel to Fragile, which I haven’t read. I’ve heard that it is good to read Fragile before reading the most recent novel, but it is not necessary. I do respect the fact that Unger has created a follow-up novel that can completely stand on its own.
Now, I leave you with one question today – why do most thriller novels have a cop/ex-cop with a last name for a first name? 🙂 Got any theories?

— Kristen B.

Top 24 Great Showdowns in Film History (An Abridged List)

If you all have not yet experienced the genius of Scott C., you are missing out. His “Great Showdowns” series (depicting defining moments of conflict in film history) is so fascinating and fun.  According to Scott’s website: “Since the beginning of time, there has been struggle. The epic clash of being against being. Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Triceratops. Giant Squid vs. the Sperm Whale. The Circle vs. the Square. The struggle is forever. It makes the world turn around. These are the struggles that make us stop what we are doing and sort of check things out . . .”

Below are some of my favorites (view the full website here— the fun is in trying to identify each film), but I will advise you to stay away until you have time to digest it all — because you just can’t. stop. scrolling. You’ve been warned.

Aaaand go:



The saddest part is that there doesn’t seem to be any way to actually order these awesome prints. All of Scott’s info is available on his website here, along with a plethora of other showdowns.

Can you guys name them all? First one to name all the movies correctly (in the correct order) wins a prize!

— Kristen D.

Top 8 Cheesy Romance Titles

Cheddar? Pepper Jack? Asiago? Roquefort? I’m talking cheese, and any HPB bookseller’s day can instantly brighten at the sight of a choice cheesy romance title. Not to poke fun at a genre we love to sell (and, let’s be honest, it sells really well) but there are some interesting titles out there. Here are just a few favorites our employees have enjoyed shelving these last few months– and for the record, I can neither confirm nor deny I have read these.

Popular title knock offs: The Devil Wears Tartan or Eat, Prey, Love? How about Forbidden or For Bedding?

Here are a couple from some of our favorite romance subgenres:

Paranormal: Touch a Dark Wolf; Dead Girls Are Easy

Western: Long Hard Ride; The Cowboy Wants a Baby

Historical: The Very Virile Viking; What a Duke Wants

Urban: Every Thug Needs A Lady; Shame On It All: A Novel


Or, use some of these formulas to create your own:

Option One:

(Tamed/Taken/Claimed) by the (Tycoon/Sheik/Argentine Billionaire/Savage)

Simple circle one from Choice A and one from choice B. Easy as pie.

Option Two:

Combine three or more of the following in any order.

Something about the man: (Sheik, Billionaire, Boss, Prince, Italian, Tycoon)


Something about the woman: (Secretary, Virgin, Mistress, Bride, Assistant, Pregnant)


Something about their relationship: (Taken, Bought, Marriage, Convenient, Arrangement, Price)


Title-naming gold: The Sheik’s Marriage Arrangement. The Tycoon’s Taken Secretary. Bought: The Billionaire’s Bride. The Italian’s Pregnant Virgin. The Boss’ Convenient Mistress. The Price of the Prince’s Assistant.

And, my own creation, which includes a tagline: Pick Up Day: The Trash Collector Meets the Aging Heiress


Is there a job opening for romance title creators? Call me! Loving to read romance has never been so fun…or cheesy!

Any romance subgenres we’ve left out? We were going to include Amish Romance (in fact, a few of us are planning on starting an Amish Romance Book Club soon — our first title is The Englisher) but as you can see, Amish Romance titles are a touch more  . . . proper than other romance subgenre counterparts.

Any other titles you have browsed lately that you find worth sharing?

— Becky

Top 5 Back-to-School Flicks

The summer break is almost over (sigh), which means kids are headed back to school. As we count down the days to fall TV season premieres and football season’s first Monday Night Football, let’s celebrate this entertainment limbo by throwing on a few choice back-to-school movies.

1. American Graffiti: Which begs the question,“Where were you in ‘62?” Although I wasn’t around in 1962, American Graffiti does remind me of dragging Grand Avenue on Friday and Saturday nights, listening to music and car hopping with friends. If a movie can transport you to a different time, this is a good trip to take; from the well waxed cars to the always busy Mel’s Drive-in, you will live out a night of cruising in the 60s. The film is directed by George Lucas, back before he got so wrapped up in Star Wars. Richard Dreyfuss stars as Curt, who is trying to decide whether to go off to college the next day with his best friend, Steve, played by Ron Howard. This is also one of those rare films where the music literally drives it along and probably could be considered a character as well. Even if you don’t see the film, grab the soundtrack and throw it on in your car for a road trip back to ‘62!

2. The Breakfast Club: A close second on my list, Breakfast Club is about five strangers with nothing in common, other than one very memorable Saturday together. Since I graduated in ’86, this movie falls right in my high school wheel-house — I can really relate to having friends that were a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Anyone of any age can relate to some, if not all, of these characters. What makes this movie great is that every character goes through some sort of transformation, and they are also each given their time to shine. Great movie– and by far the best of the “Brat Pack”; you could even make the argument that it is the movie of the 80s. Check out this original trailer from 1985, introducing the Breakfast Club members for the first time.

3. Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Who can forget, “Hey Bud, let’s party.” Cameron Crowe’s script still works as well today as it did in 1982. This is another high school movie with very distinct characters and very different personalities. It is hard to believe Sean Penn as the perfect stoner, always ready to party and deliver some of the most memorable lines in movie history, such as, “This is U.S. History; I see the globe right there.” The great cast included newcomers, at the time: Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz and Nicolas Cage. You know a movie has made an impression on a generation when there is at least one pair of Vans in every classroom. Check out the original trailer below.

4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “The question is, what aren’t we going to do?” is a line that perfectly captures the whole movie. Although the action technically took place out of school, every kid has sat in class and fantasized about what they could be doing, if only they didn’t have to be at school. And Chicago: what an awesome city to play hooky in. After an elaborate plan to skip school, Ferris, Sloane Cameron make it to a baseball game, the art museum and even the Sears Tower. John Hughes (who also directed The Breakfast Club) really has a knack of evoking the audience’s nostalgia for feeling young again. Just for kicks, here’s the clip of the famous “Twist and Shout” scene in the streets of Chicago.

5. Animal House: “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”  Because back to school means college too. And if there is a movie that defines college, it is Animal House. This National Lampoon comedy reintroduced things like toga parties and food fights, following a frat house through school, parties and eventual expulsion. John Belushi was perfect in what may have been his best role ever– although I am pretty partial to Jake from The Blues Brothers. You can’t have much more fun than Animal House unless you have 10,000 marbles. Here’s a clip from the food fight scene.

So many movies remind my of my childhood and school days for different reasons. What films remind you of going back to school? What would you add to my list? Good luck with the new school year!

Remember, no talking or texting during the feature presentation.

— Jim

After Couplehood & Babyhood, Paul Reiser takes on Familyhood

It’s been 15 years since Paul Reiser’s last publication, an absence which he explains in the preface of Familyhood (2011). In his latest work, Reiser digs into a handful of relatable life observations in this follow-up to his bestselling books Couplehood and Babyhood .

I fumbled through the first chapter until I sensed the Paul Reiser glib humor and tone with which I’m familiar from his work on the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning TV sit-com “Mad About You” (circa 1990s). Listen for the rhythm and the comedy starts rising to the surface of the page. In fact, I bet the audiobook version (recorded by Reiser himself) would roll off the mind more fluidly. If you’re at all in tune with his cadence, it will make the book more enjoyable. The chapters are short and easy to digest, so it’s a light and entertaining read for a quiet weekend or vacation.

In Familyhood, Reiser talks about his observations about marriage and raising a family and how it differs from the way he thought it would be.

“Among the abundant blessings we each enjoy for having married is that we live less like zoo animals than we otherwise would have. We have drapes, we have nice plates and spoons, and even things that serve no purpose but to just be there and make our homes look like homes.”

Despite trying to do things “differently than my parents did,” steering kids is much harder than Reiser imagined. Over time, parents on the whole counterbalance and overcorrect to the point that they eventually learn to lighten up and let go. That kids will “fly” on their own. “I have, with age, come to understand my parents’ side of things more clearly and now find the shoe entirely on the other foot,” Reiser says.

No one has the roadmap. Parenting, as Reiser puts it, is like baking a cake without the recipe – “you know what goes into the cake, but they don’t tell you how much or when it’s supposed to be dropped in.”

With the perspective of a stand-up comedian, Reiser commentates on life, zeroing in on the details which make a situation either comically absurd or profoundly significant. But don’t be surprised when you stumble across some of Reiser’s heartwarming confessions. Between some mocking passages about life’s ironies and an amusing, yet altogether-imaginary interlude with the GPS navigation lady, Reiser writes some genuine sentiments about being a dad. About watching his children discover new things, he tenderly wrote: “I’m saddened when they discover something about life that I wish weren’t so. It hurts me when I see them not trusting or believing someone — yet ironically, seeing them actually being trusting and believing breaks my heart too.”

His insights aren’t revolutionary, but his point of view is refreshing. Familyhood will likely be a welcomed reassurance for any hovering parent — an honest look in the mirror, perhaps, but also a reminder that you’re not alone.

Here’s to family! — Meredith


Couplehood (1995), which sold over 2 million copies and reached the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list for 31 weeks, is a candid look at a romance between a couple – fraught with their own idiosyncracies – and the joys and problems that come with marriage. It’s humorous but with a seriousness and sincerity underneath. There is one statement in the book that emcompasses the book’s underlying message: “Enjoy the small things in life, because the big things may never come.”

Babyhood (1998), which also became a New York Times bestseller, tells his comical perspective of being a first-time father. It won’t tell you how to have a healthy pregnancy or care for a newborn, but it will, in a painfully hilarious manner, capture the trauma of initiation into parenthood. In Reiser’s own words: “Those [other parenting] books give you essential information you can use in a life-threatening emergency. My book has some very amusing anecdotes about poop.”


Meredith is Associate Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

Top 31 (PG-13 Rated) College Experiences (In Which I Not-So-Subtlely Encourage You To Order Your Textbooks* from HPB.com)

(Disclaimer: The following is a list of college experiences compiled from the HPB Blog Team and is not meant to directly reflect my own college experience. Except for the brilliant & funny bits — those are all totally mine. Also, please prepare yourself for some nudges to buy your textbooks from HPB.)

1. Move to college town. Feel so excited you might puke on your shoes. Or your new pot-luck roommate’s shoes. Try hard not to.

2. Get your textbooks. Which you ordered from hpbmarketplace.com (of course). Cheer (quietly, because roommate is napping. Again.) Roommate did not order textbooks from hpbmarketplace.com. Start to suspect this regret may be adding to her depression (naturally).

3. Request change of residence. Because roommate had a nervous breakdown, which may or may not have been textbook-related (but obviously it was).

4. Two words: Ramen Noodles

5. Two more words: Spaghetti O’s

6. Write a check at the copy shop for $1.27. Which bounces.

7. Forage for snacks. Take zip top bags to the dorm cafeteria and stash to-go food secretly in your back pack.

8. Acquire the resolve to do well in college, graduate, and get a job that pays enough to not have to eat mustard packets for dinner. Until then, make some cash by selling your first semester textbooks to Half Price Books. Use windfall to upgrade mustard from French’s to Grey Poupon.

9. Get dumped by your girlfriend/boyfriend. Woe. Gloom. Despair. 

10. Visit the Home Laundromat. Take trunkfuls of dirty laundry home to visit Mom. Upload enough “fun” pictures to Facebook to make all your high school friends believe you’re having the time of your life. Ask Mom if it’s normal to feel like you’re not having the time of your life. Feel better when she lends you a poetry book on finding yourself. (Which she ordered– wait for it — from hpbmarketplace.com.)

11. Wipe tears, and try again. Play the field. Find a new girlfriend/boyfriend, or fall in love with being on your own. Joy. Glee. Euphoria.

12. Join the intramural badminton team. Design the uniforms, including monogrammed sweatbands.

13. Score some battle scars. Try out for the local roller derby league, only to show off your best bruises to your sorority sisters.

14. Get involved on campus. Make some friends. Pledge a fraternity/sorority/social group, and find yourself doing and saying things you never thought you’d do or say (for which you can make fun of yourself years later, with the rock solid friends who did and said those things with you.) Wear school colors. Sing school songs. Develop undying hatred for rival schools and their state’s inhabitants. 

15. See your favorite band in concert for the first time. Call home and hold up your cell phone for your brother, who’s introduced them to all his high school friends. Buy him a half-priced LP for his birthday.

16. Watch six movies in a row. Decide you’re going to film school.

17. Learn to play the guitar. Decide you’re dropping out of school (don’t, though.)

18. Arm-wrestle. Thumb-wrestle. Lip-wrestle. (Just don’t actually wrestle. Unless you’re on the wrestling team, of course. Or playing Twister.)

19. Travel or study abroad. Don’t watch the movie Taken first. Grow up by leaps and bounds.

20. Immediately upload Louvre and Big Ben pictures to Facebook. Remember that discussion with your mom over laundry freshman year. Find the same inspirational poetry book at your local Half Price Books and give it to one of your new freshman friends, whose life it changes. (Don’t ask us how. It just does.)

21. Sit in on a class you’re not taking because you heard the professor is that good (or, because you’re majoring in Petroleum Engineering but actually want to learn about Cultural Anthropology.) Find the material so fascinating you order the textbook for some light reading. Guess where from.

22. Change majors — because the textbook makes you realize that Petroleum Engineering is rubbish and Cultural Anthropology is your real passion in life. Order more textbooks. Come to terms with the fact that Petroleum Engineering would have actually made for better job prospects than Cultural Anthropology, but it’s cool, because you decide you’d like to do Teach for America/Grad school/Peace Corps upon graduation. Realize you need to start volunteering. And recycling. And applying.

23. Meanwhile, turn 21. Go out and celebrate. Try not to die.

24. Curse loudly. Because while you succeeded in not dying, you discover that your car has been towed.

25. Eat your feelings. By comforting yourself with pizza from a downtown street vendor at 2 a.m.

26. Make impulsive decisions. Feeling sorry for yourself morphs into wild abandon. Get a tattoo from a downtown shop at 2:15 a.m.

27. Regret those decisions. Sob into your pancakes at 3 a.m. Because now Tommy’s hungry. 

28. Realize the epic brilliance of “the fourth meal.” It heals all wounds. And tattoos are (mostly) removable.

29. Watch the sunrise. Pass out till it’s dark again. Boot. Rally.

30. Have an epiphany. Discover that red Solo cups are the key to everything fun in life.

31. Have an actual epiphany. Think often about Mom and her infinite laundry-scented-poetry-book wisdom. Learn (in a myriad ways) that maybe college is not “the best time of your life.” And that’s okay. Isn’t it better to believe that your best days are ahead?

*Seriously though, you should order your textbooks from us. If you shop HPB Marketplace online, you can save up to 90% off campus bookstore prices. You can impress mom and dad before the semester even starts. If you’re a procrastinator (like me), be sure to choose expedited shipping to make sure those textbooks arrive in time for class. You’ll thank me for it later. Cross my heart.

And in the meantime, what are (were) your best college experiences (even if they were the worst at the time?) 

– Kristen D.