What’s happening at your local HPB? January Events Round-Up

Hi gang –

Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays!  Have you thought about the New Year’s resolutions you’re going to make?  If you haven’t, perhaps you should consider spending more time at your favorite bookstore, Half Price Books.

Check out some of the fun things you can do at some of our locations this month.

Huebner Road – San Antonio

Storytime Sunday
Pack up your half-pint readers and come to the Huebner Road HPB the first Sunday of every month for Storytime Sunday at 2 p.m. Join our staff for a reading of one of our favorite children’s books, geared toward booklovers ages 2-8.

Beavercreek, OH; Kenwood Galleria – Cincinnati; Hamilton, OH, Mason, OH, Northgate – Cincinnati and Florence, KY

Vinyl Fridays
Join us for an LP shopping spree! Get 20% off all vinyl on Friday, January 27 from 7 to 9 p.m.  All LPs discounted each Friday night at Beavercreek, Kenwood Galleria, Hamilton, Mason and Northgate locations in Ohio and Florence in Kentucky the last Friday of every month until further notice.

Frisco, TX

Storytime Sundays with Jennifer Campbell
Looking for a diversion for the kids? Stop by the Frisco HPB at 1 p.m. each Sunday during January for a special storytime hour with Jennifer Campbell and her puppet, Princess Penelope the Dragon. You may have met Penelope before at the Frisco Public Library and now she’s making new friends at Half Price Books. Recommended for kids ages 3 to 10.

Courtesy of the Fairfield Echo Mason, OH; Kenwood Galleria- Cincinnati; Florence, KY

Dog Days at Half Price Books

Join us at HPB to take a bite out of reading. Load up the kids and bring them to Half Price Books where they can read a book to a loveable pet.  Presented in partnership with the Therapy Pets of Greater Cincinnati.

  • Sunday, Jan. 1, 2-3 p.m., George, the Labrador Retriever, Kenwood Galleria
  • Sunday, Jan. 8, 3-4 p.m., Bella the Pug, Mason
  • Saturday, Jan. 21, 3-4 p.m., Nico the Great Pyrenees, Florence
  • Sunday, Feb. 5, 2-3 p.m., Lexi the Collie-Lab, Kenwood Galleria

As always, be sure to check your local store’s webpage to see if anything has been added throughout the month.

 – Emily

Meryl Streep as Iron Lady: Oscar-Worthy?

With the release of Iron Lady (limited release tomorrow and wide release January 13), there is already a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding this film. The major question looming is, “Will this movie get Meryl Streep her third Best Actress Oscar– and her first since 1983 for Sophie’s Choice?”

In Iron Lady, the 62-year-old Oscar winner stars as the former British prime minister, who in 1979 became the first female to hold the position.

There have been many Best Actor and Actress awards given to actors for their roles playing real life characters. Here are my top five favorites.

1. Daniel Day-Lewis as Cristy Brown in My Left Foot (1989) – If I were to take all Best Actor and Actress winners and pick one, this might win above all. Daniel Day-Lewis is just that good as Christy Brown, who is born with crippling cerebral palsy and cast aside, believed to be mentally disabled. Thanks to his mother and his own self determination, he becomes a poet and author, all with his only usable appendage, his left foot.

2. Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen (2006) – Helen gives a very touching performance, as the year is 1997 and Princess Diana has just been killed in a car crash. Mirren’s performance perfectly depicts the royal family’s struggle with their loss, all while still trying to lead a country.

3. Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich in Erin Brockovich (2000) – In this great legal drama, Julia Roberts is perfect as a single unemployed mother who plays a pivotal role in a huge corporate case as a small-firm legal secretary.

4. Colin Firth as King George VI in The King’s Speech (2010) – England is on the verge of entering WWII and the king has just passed away. With the current heir wanting to go his own way, King Edward VIII gives way to King George II. The major problem, of course, is that King George has a speech impediment. Doing his best to work and overcome his deficiency, he delivers his speech and leads England into the war against Nazi Germany.

5. Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland (2006) – Forest Whitaker is perfect as the leader of Uganda, who after an assassination attempt, becomes more chaotic and paranoid, leaving his country in bloody ruins. A truly scary performance!

 I guess one can debate whether or not portraying a historical character is easier or more difficult than a completely fictional character. Yes, they may have more to pull from for inspiration, whether it be historical films or an interview with the real person. But it also means an actor can take fewer liberties in his or her performance. So, in my opinion, when portraying an historical figure, actors have a lot to live up to.

What’s your take on it? Who’s excited to see Meryl Streep in Iron Lady?

Just remember, no talking or texting during the movie.

— Jim

DJ K :: New Year’s Eve Playlists

Last year at this time, my friend Tara Wilson asked me to create a New Year’s Eve playlist for a party she was having at her house. It was so much fun I just couldn’t resist doing it again this year for our little HPB blog!

*GIANT DISCLAIMER* These are subjective playlists of songs I quite like, from my own music library. Apologies if you hate all 30+ songs — music tastes definitely differ from human to human. That being said, I’d love to hear from you guys in the comments about which songs you would have included, or takes on New Year’s Eve playlists you would make for your own parties.

Playlist One: “Cooler Than Me”

As in, I found out about these songs/bands from individuals or sources who are significantly cooler than me (e.g. our own JD, KXT Radio here in Dallas, and my friend Mandy, who incidentally is a huge HPB shopper and produces an awesome mixed CD each Christmas with her husband Victor.)


Playlist Two: “Classic Singalongs”

As in, the songs you know you love to karaoke/dance at weddings/belt at the top of your lungs in your car, even if you won’t admit it.


Playlist Three: “Dance Dance”

I imagine this is the list I’ll get the most abuse over. At some point you just gotta be true to yourself, no matter what the world has to say about Chris Brown and Britney. Oh, Britney.


As always, head on over to your local HPB to look through our vinyl and CD selections, and maybe even pick up a USB turntable for the New Year. So, which songs do you think I SHOULD have included for the best New Year’s Eve party ever?

— Kristen D.

Judging a Book by its Cover: The Best of 2011

Bookstores are eye candy. Art is on every shelf, in every nook and cranny. “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” or so the saying goes. I beg to differ. I do it all the time. And I’d venture to say you do too. Mere moments – that’s all it takes for you to react to the colors, typography and imagery. Good design can make the difference between you picking up the book and passing it by.

Here’s my round-up of 50 of the best book cover designs to hit the shelves in the past year. Some are New York Times bestsellers while some are lesser known titles. But all in all – between the reprinted classics and modern lit released in 2011 – there’s a wealth of eye-catching book cover designs. 



Which is your fave? What book did you read this year because the cover caught your eye?

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

The Hobbit Trailer

As if there weren’t enough excitement with all of the holiday movies coming out all at once, there is something else that just makes me giddy with anticipation. The new Hobbit trailer has been released! I admit, I couldn’t even wait to see it on the big screen, I had to watch it right away. Here it is just for you!

One word. WOW! With every Lord of the Rings films earning Best Picture nominations, and one win, I expect nothing less from this film. Only 359 days until The Hobbit hits the big screen. Anyone know when tickets go on sale?


— Jim

5 Non-Conventional Movies to Watch at Christmastime

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with eggnog, mistletoe and holiday cheer, here’s a list for you. It’s a cinch to make a list of your favorite holiday films, but here are some non-conventional movie choices for the season. Criteria #1: Must take place around Christmas time. That’s it. Although, it’s an added bonus if there’s a chase scene or explosives. Here are 5 picks to get you started.

Die Hard (1988) NYPD Cop John McClane is flying to LA to spend Christmas with his wife Holly. Arriving just before the start of the corporate Christmas party, John is freshening up in the bathroom when all you-know-what breaks loose! A group of thieves, believed to be terrorists, are out to rob a corporation, but the one thing they didn’t count on– the fly in the ointment, the monkey in the wrench– was McClane himself. It’s one big cat and mouse chase movie as Lt. John McClane tries to save Christmas for everyone.

Lethal Weapon (1987) Roger Murtaugh is about to retire from the LAPD just as he’s assigned a new partner, Martin Riggs, a man who has lost his wife and has suicidal tendencies. Murtaugh takes on the case of an old war buddy whose daughter was recently murdered. As they investigate, they discover the murder runs much deeper than anyone had imagined. A fun action-packed movie with plenty of laughs.

LA Confidential (1997) If you have not seen this film, it is a must see, nominated for 9 total Oscars including Kim Basinger’s supporting actress performance win. LA Confidential’s conflict starts early with things going awry at the Police station Christmas party. Two unlikely partners– brilliantly played by Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce– are paired together to investigate the Night Owl murder, during which they discover that the corruption has infiltrated their own police force. This fantastically written, well acted modern-day film noir movie should be seen at least a few times.

Batman Returns (1992) Batman Returns has its very cheesy moments, yet it does take place at Christmas time. A disfigured man, known as the Penguin, wants to become part of society again. He blackmails business man, Max Shrek, to help him with his task. Batman, not convinced by Penguin’s recent generosity, uncovers a plan to take control of the city and the main power plant. Selina Kyle, Catwoman, complicates things by developing feelings for Bruce Wayne, not knowing his alter-ego is Batman. Great comic fun!

Behind Enemy Lines (2001) Fighter pilot Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) is shot down while flying missions over Bosnia on Christmas morning. The chase is now on. Trying to elude the Bosnian army, Admiral Reigart (Gene Hackman) stays in communication with Burnett and together they work their way to a safe extraction point.

Can you name a few more? Do you have any favorite non-traditional movies you like to watch around the holidays?

Remember, no talking or texting during the feature presentation.

— Jim

Great gifts for lovers of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Looking for the perfect gift for the lover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy? Here are a few books published in the last year that can help fill that void and keep anyone reading way into the night.

The Informationist, Taylor Stephens   

Meet Vanessa “Michael” Munroe, a woman who was born to missionary parents in Africa and soon became the protégé of a gunrunner and his mercenary crew once she was old enough. Michael deals with information. You need information, she can find it – no matter what the cost. That is, until something sent her running. After building a new life and starting over, a Texas oil billionaire hires her to find his missing daughter. Michael agrees and starts to find some very deep, dark secrets. Can she eventually find out what happened to the billionaire’s daughter? She heads back to Africa to deal with her demons and find out.

The Keeper of Lost Causes, Jussi Adler-Olsen

After almost being killed in the line of duty, Carl Mørck, is “promoted” to a new department, called Department Q, which handles special investigations. He quickly discovers that he is the only one in the department and it’s not exactly a promotion. He acquires a stack of Copenhagen’s cold cases – ones that are so cold no one else can figure out. One of these cases catches his attention. A case of a missing politician, Merete Lynggaard, who vanished out of thin air five years earlier.  This novel flips back and forth between Mørck’s investigation and what actually happened to Merete.

The Hypnotist, Lars Kepler 

After a gruesome murder of a family, only one witness remains. A young boy, who himself was attacked with over a hundred times with a knife and lapsed into shock. Desperate and out of other leads,  Detective Inspector Joona Linna, enlists a hypnotist, Dr. Erik Maria Bark, to help see into the boy’s mind & get information to lead them to the killer. Dr. Bark had sworn in the past that he would never do that kind of work again, but he finally agrees. After he hypnotizes the boy, it triggers a very dangerous chain of events.

And don’t forget The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie with Daniel Craig as Blomkvist comes is in movies theatres tomorrow. Tickets to the movie is another great Christmas gift. Check your local theatre for show times or gift cards. Enjoy the trailer!


 — Kristen B.

Top Five HPB Gag Gifts

Holiday office parties! Even the Half Price Books headquarters are not immune to them. The tradition is simple–prizes are awarded. Competition is fierce. It is even rumored that some people stay up all night crafting the “perfect” tacky gift.

So what do you do when you are in a bind, searching for the perfect secret “holiday festive being” present? (Is it ok to say the S word?…ok Secret Santa present)


1. Have you thought about making up a funny song or poem or letter and sharing it with your giftee? Free plug for Blank Your Holiday!

2. What about a gift card? Admittedly I have bought gift cards for coworkers and friends just to reap the benefits. Free $5 for every $25? Gimme $100! Shopping done.

3. What about a cool calendar from their favorite bookstore? Just an idea I thought up!

4. Perhaps you are a novice loom-knitter and have crafted some endearing socks showcasing your company’s beloved mascot? Or maybe that was just me. Sigh.

5. Call in sick?

There are a million directions you can go, but here are the Top 5 office gifts we’ve seen at the HPB corporate gag gift exchange:

5. Diagnostic Toilet Seat– A sentimental favorite, this one’s been passed on to the newest employee each year for close to a decade. It comes with a handy color-guide to let you know what your problem is, based on the color of your “evacuation” — it’s never been used and in the original packaging, thankfully!

4. Family Heirloom Fruitcake– HPB stores have stocked these for the 2011 holiday gag-gift season. You are never required to actually eat it– and as a matter of fact you shouldn’t, since it’s a plastic fruitcake model.

3. Mug yourself…make a mug (or tshirt, or tote) with a goofy picture of yourself. Your Secret Santa will always remember you in conjunction with the 2011 holidays!

2. A funny book! What about The History of Farting, paperback edition- this small treasure of a book has been a top-seller at HPB for several years. We have added to the mix the equally hilarious Nose Picking for Pleasure. Just run into any HPB and ask your nearest Bibliomaniac to grab one of these for you. You will not be sorry! Your friends might be, but you will not.

1. Company logo snuggy! It’s as easy at 1-2-3:

            1- Buy 6 yards of fleece in the color of your company’s logo OR mascot character

            2- Stay up all night, not using a pattern and mess up three times. My personal suggestion is a six pack of beer and/or a pot of coffee. This is also an appropriate time to catch up on your DVR.

            3- Glue on hundreds of pom-pom balls to form your company’s logo.

So what’d you give for your gag-gift/white-elephant/Secret Santa gift this year?

 — Becky

Great Detectives in Film

With the holiday movie season being in full swing, one of the anticipated sequels is Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. To me Sherlock Holmes is probably the most popular detective in history, hands down. It made me wonder if there are any other detectives as popular. My guess is no, but here are some that make the top of the list as memorable detectives in film.

JJ Gittes, played by Jack Nicholson in Chinatown (1974) – One of Nicholson’s best characters in my opinion. He plays a detective that specializes in matrimonial cases. Hired by Ms. Mulwray to follow a suspicious husband. Things get dark and twisted as Gittes starts to suspect he is being set up finding the person who hired him wasn’t Ms. Mulwray at all. This movie contains a famous movie quote you may have heard before: “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.” A top notch detective film noir type of thriller! And a great 70s throwback flick to see Nicholson in his younger years.

Great Film Detective Trivia: Because this film was the first of a planned trilogy, Nicholson turned down all detective roles he was offered so that the only detective he played would be Jake Gittes.

Sam Spade, played by Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon (1941) – This film isn’t film noir like, this is film noir at its best. Things start going wrong for Sam Spade right away as his partner is killed on a case. Trying to clear his own name, he discovers a sinister plot to obtain the rare and valuable Maltese Falcon. It contains some great lines for Spade’s character too – “I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble” and “We didn’t exactly believe your story, Miss O’Shaughnessy. We believed your 200 dollars. I mean, you paid us more than if you had been telling us the truth, and enough more to make it all right.” A true must see classic! If you’ve never seen it before, I highly recommend it.

Great Film Detective Trivia: Word-for-word and scene-for-scene, Maltese Falcon is virtually the same as the original novel published in 1930.

Harry Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry (1971) – The roof-top killer Scorpio is loose in San Francisco and is demanding money or he will kill again. Just put Dirty Harry on the case. Known for his “dirty” attitude and blunt way of handling situations, Clint Eastwood created one of the more memorable police detectives in film history. Even if you have never seen the film or its sequels, it’s memorable lines proceed the character: “Go ahead, make my day.”

Great Film Detective Trivia: Warner Brothers orignially sought out Frank Sinatra to play the role of Callahan. When he turned it down, they offered it to Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen and Paul Newman.

Those are my favorite film detectives. What are some of your favorites? If you are headed to the theater to see the new Sherlock Holmes, be sure to pick up the first film, Sherlock Holmes (2009), on DVD or Blu-Ray at HPB and get up to speed on the adventure. And always remember, no talking or texting during the movies!

— Jim