Local Events Round-Up: March

Hi gang –

March brings us another exciting month of events at many of your local Half Price Books locations.  Check out what’s going on!

All Stores

Half Pint Library Book Drive

If you haven’t already, stop by any of our stores to donate a new or gently used children’s book for our 14th annual Half Pint Library Book Drive.  Your donation fosters opportunities for kids in need in your community. To spread the love of reading further, we will match each donation you make, book for book. As part of our Million Book Donation Project, we hope to make our 2012 Half Pint Library book drive the biggest yet. Drop off your donation now through Saturday, March 31.

Monroeville, PA

Locate the Leprechaun

During March, HPB in Monroeville has a leprechaun loose in our store! He could be hiding anywhere, as leprechauns do, so look carefully. When you find him, fill out a raffle ticket and you’ll be entered to win a pot-o-gold – a.k.a. a $25 HPB gift card. Winner will be selected at the end of March.

HPB at Steel City Con

Stop by our booth at Steel City Con – a toy, comic and childhood collectibles show – at the Monroeville Convention Center March 2-4. We will sell books, comics, toys and games. Sign up for our mailing list and receive a FREE gift. For more information visit http://www.steelcitycon.com.

Northwest Highway – Dallas

Dr. Seuss Birthday Weekend

Pack up your Fox in Socks and Cat in the Hat lovers and head over to HPB on Northwest Highway Saturday and Sunday, March 3 & 4 to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday! Each day at 1 p.m., we will remember Dr. Seuss with readings from his books and craft activities. No Green Eggs and Ham but there will be cupcakes!

Dallas-area Stores

Dr. Seuss Birthday Storytime

Many of our other Dallas-area stores will also have a special Dr. Seuss storytime.  Check out the locations and times below. 

Frisco, Texas

Celebrate Reading with Steve Ott of the Dallas Stars
Stop by our Preston Ridge HPB in Frisco on Sunday, March 18 from 2 to 3pm for a special storytime with Dallas Stars forward Steve Ott. Steve will read stories and talk with local kids about the importance of reading and literacy. Kids attending this free event will receive an autographed Steve Ott card while supplies last. We are sorry, but due to time constraints, Mr. Ott will not be giving additional autographs.

Mason, OH; Kenwood Galleria- Cincinnati; Hamilton, OH and 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, March 4, 1-2 p.m., Lexi the Collie-Lab, Kenwood Galleria
  • Sunday, March 4, 1-2 p.m., Potter, the Bearded Collie, Hamilton
  • Saturday, March 17, 3-4 p.m., Nico the Great Pyrenees, Florence
  • Sunday, March 25, 3-4 p.m., Bella the Pug, Mason

Edmond, Oklahoma

Edmond Area Spelling Bee

Let’s hear it for brain power! Join us at the HPB in Edmond on Wednesday, March 14 at 7 p.m. for a Spelling Bee. You could win a $50 HPB Gift Card. Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. Stop by to cheer on these brave spellers and enjoy refreshments and door prizes. Pre-registration is required. Forms can be picked up at the store and the deadline to register is Saturday, March 3. Open to 4th-12th grade students from local Edmond schools. 

Cedar Park, Texas

Book Signing with Betty Byron and Cassius Mullen
Join us Saturday, March 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. for a book signing with Betty Byron and Cassius Mullen. They’ll sign their book, Within the Walls of Santo Tomas, the story of a former army nurse and her experience at an internment camp during World War II.  Don’t miss this chance to buy an autographed copy of this book.

Humble, Texas

Tito Ortega

Acoustic Latin soul musician Tito Ortega will perform at the Humble store on Saturday, March 24 from 7 to 9 p.m.  You can pick up his CD while you’re there for $5.  Visit www.titoortega.com for more info.

Kenwood Galleria – Cincinnati, Ohio

 Mobile Adopt-A-Thon

Looking to add a new furry friend to your family? Join us at the HPB in Kenwood Galleria on Sunday, March 25 from noon to 3 p.m. for our 2nd Annual Mobile Adopt-A-Thon in association with the Cincinnati SPCA. Dogs will be $20 and the price includes vaccinations, microchip, spay/neuter, heartworm negative testing and Hamilton County dog tag. If available, kittens and rabbits will be $10. For kittens the price will include vaccinations, microchip, spay/neuter and feline leukemia negative testing. Rabbits will be vet checked and deemed in good health.

Ross Park Mall – Pittsburgh, PA

Record Night

Put on your boogie shoes and come to HPB at Ross Park Mall on Friday, March 30 from 7-11 p.m. for Record Night. Our manager will put on his DJ hat to spin live music, and we will be selling all $1 clearance LPs for 50¢. Sign up for our mailing list and be entered into a drawing to win a $20 HPB gift card during the event. Need not be present to win.

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Comic Books Sale
Whamo! That’s right! Stop by the Fort Wayne location every Thursday and save an additional 20% off all comic books in store. Sale at the Fort Wayne HPB location only. 

LP Day – Fridays
Join us each Friday for LP Day. All LPs will be 20% off, with some of your favorite songs being played on the turn-table.

Avon, Indiana

Retro Thursdays

Think it’s still cool to be old school? Stop by the HPB in Avon every Thursday from 5-9 p.m. and get 20% off all vinyl, cassettes, comics, graphic novels and manga. Offer good at this location only.

 

Castleton Commons – Indianapolis, Indiana

Vinyl Fridays
Join us for a LP shopping spree! Get 20% off all vinyl on Fridays at our Castleton Commons HPB.  Come back each week for new discoveries and savings! No exclusions. All LPs discounted each Friday at this location until further notice.

 South Arlington – Arlington, Texas

Retro Media Fridays

Get ready for a throwback! Join us at the Four Corners HPB in South Arlington every Friday night from 7-10 p.m. All retro media is 20% off – including LPs, cassette tapes, 8 tracks, VHS tapes and LaserDiscs.

Burleson, Texas

Tuesday Night Specials
Stop by our Burleson location each Tuesday night from 7 to 9 p.m. for discount specials. Great savings may include 20% off DVDs or 30% off fiction hardcovers. You won’t know what’s on sale until you visit. Tuesday Night Specials valid at this location only. Ask in store for details.

Mansfield, Texas

20% Off “Hump Day” Sale
Join us in Mansfield every Wednesday from 7-10 p.m. for a special 20% Off “Hump Day” Sale. Each week, we’ll feature a 20% discount on different categories of merchandise. Stop by today or call 682-518-7302 to find out what’s on sale this week! Hump Day Sale at Mansfield, Texas location only.

Beavercreek, OH; Kenwood Galleria – Cincinnati; Hamilton, OH and Northgate – Cincinnati

Vinyl Fridays
Join us for a LP shopping spree! Get 20% off all vinyl on Friday, March 30 from 7 to 9 p.m.  Come back the last Friday of each month for new discoveries and savings! All LPs discounted at Beavercreek, Kenwood Galleria, Hamilton and Northgate locations until further notice.

Storytime – Multiple Locations

Many of our stores have weekly or monthly storytimes.  Check out this month’s listings:

Huebner Road – San AntonioVisit Huebner Road 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.  See you March 4! 

Oklahoma City, OK  – Join us at the Penn Park HPB on March 21 from 2-3 p.m. for a special hour of fun springtime activities!  In addition to storytime, we’ll have a variety of fun springtime craft activities for the kiddos.

Mesquite, TX Pack up your kiddos and visit our store in Mesquite every Sunday for Storytime and Crafts. Sit down and enjoy a good tale and free activity with us from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Readers and arts-and-crafts lovers of all ages are welcome. Recurring each Sunday until further notice.

Rockwall, TX Visit us in Rockwall each Sunday at 3 p.m. for a fun story.  Stick around and get crafty with us with a new activity for kids each week. Storytime recommended for kids ranging from pre-schoolers to 5th graders.

Lincoln Square – Arlington, TX Join us at Lincoln Square every Sunday at 2 p.m. for a fun tale.  Recommended for kids ranging from infants to 6 years of age. Refreshments will be provided.

Burleson, TXPack up your little readers and join us at our Burleson location for a preschool storytime being held in conjunction with the Burleson Library. Sit down and enjoy a good tale with us at 11 a.m. every other Monday beginning March 5 and running through April 16. See store for details.

Humble, TX – Bring the kids for a children’s storytime every Wednesday from 10:30 to 11 a.m.  Snacks will be provided.  Recommended for kids ages 1 to 6. We’ll be reading Slugs in Love by Susan Pearson on March 7; Where’s My Mom by Julia Donaldson on March 14; Big Brown Bear Goes to Town by David McPhail on March 21; and The Old House by Pamela Duncan Edwards on March 28.

Corpus Christi, TX Pack up your half-pint readers and come to Moore Plaza for Storytime Sundays. We’ll share a tale from 2 to 3 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month. Recommended for kids ranging from pre-school to 4th grade.  See you March 11!

Hurstbourne – Louisville, KY Bring the kids the third Saturday of every month from 2 to 4 p.m. for story time. Join us for sing-alongs, coloring contests, story-telling and more.  See you March 17!

Parmer Crossing – Austin, Texas – Join us each Saturday, beginning March 17 for a special storytime and craft hour.  On March 17, we’ll read St. Patrick’s Day by Gail Gibbons and make shamrocks.  March 24, we’ll read Utterly Otterly Day by Mary Casanova and March 31, we’ll read The Last Polar Bear by Jean George.

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

Happy reading!

— Emily

Top Oscar Snubs

Well, I guess we have put this past year of movies to bed after the Academy Awards played themselves out. After 17 nominations, Meryl Streep finally got her third Oscar. Even though Streep won the Golden Globe and more recently a BAFTA awards for her performance in The Iron Lady, Viola Davis had started closing the gap on Streep’s frontrunner status, gaining momentum as a possible Oscar favorite after her SAG award win for her performance in The Help. Both lead acting categories seemed too close to call going in. George Clooney and Jean Dujardin were neck and neck as well, both of them splitting other awards the way Streep and Davis did. Although I wouldn’t really consider these big Oscar snubs, there certainly have been some in the past. Here are my top 3 Oscar snubs of all time.

Saving Private Ryan. I know I just got through suggesting you watch Shakespeare in Love for Valentine’s Day. Shakespeare in Love is a very good film, one I enjoy watching from time to time. But Shakespeare in Love was not near the film that Saving Private Ryan is. In my opinion, it is the best movie about WWII ever put on film. Spielberg won for best director, and probably won it in the first 20 minutes of the movie, during the Omaha beach landing sequence. WWII Veterans and most of America seem to think that Saving Private Ryan was the Best Picture that year.

Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List for Supporting Actor. Maybe this was a case of Schindler’s List taking home too many awards already and the Academy feeling like they needed to share the love with some other films. Fiennes lost to Tommy Lee Jones as Sam Gerard in The Fugitive. Sure, Jones gave a nice performance, but it was nothing compared to Fiennes playing the merciless nazi Amon Goeth– a truly scary performance that should have been honored.

All The President’s Men, Network or Taxi Driver. Heck, any of these three would make for a better Best Picture than Rocky. Especially Network, which gave us the line “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Network had an all-star cast with Robert Duvall, William Holden and Faye Dunaway, each of whom gave top performances, and Peter Finch, who posthumously won the Best Actor Oscar. Even Taxi Driver had the great Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro going for it. I guess at that point, Scorsese was out of favor with the Academy, so he was doomed to lose. What a great year for film, and what a disappointment to have Rocky taking home the prize.

There are so many upsets that have taken place over the years. Crash over Brokeback Mountain — although it was an upset, I think they got that one right. How Green Was My Valley over Citizen Kane. Ordinary People over Raging Bull, with another Scorsese film taking the hit. What are history’s biggest snubs or Oscar upsets, in your opinion? And please . . .  as always . . .

No talking or texting during the feature presentation.

-Jim

Top Movie Car Chases

Those close to me know that I am a big fan of movies, cooking, and — races! So you can imagine what February 26th will be like for me and my television: the Great American Race, the Daytona 500 and then, the 84th Academy Awards that night. Makes for a very busy day. Back to racing though: one of the most exciting things to see on film is a great car chase, especially ones before computer graphics, when they actually had someone driving and doing everything you saw. There are dozens of great car chases, but let’s kick off the racing season with my Top Three Car Chases: 

 1. Bullitt (1968) Two cars are used in this famous chase, a 1968 black Dodge Charger and a green 1968 Ford Mustang GT, piloted by Steve McQueen. McQueen actually started out as his own stunt driver, until he overshot a turn and smoked the tires — and suddenly McQueen’s days of doing his own driving were over. The shot, however, remains in the movie. How can you forget the high speed chase through the hillside streets of San Francisco. In my opinion, this is the best car chase ever.  

2. The French Connection (1971) The car in this scene is a 1971 Pontiac LeMans, driven by Best Actor winner Gene Hackman in his role as Popeye Doyle. Notice I said said “car,” singular–  for those who haven’t seen the movie, Detective Doyle is chasing not another car but an elevated train through the streets of Brooklyn. By crashing through fences, nearly hitting a woman and instead colliding with her stroller which –gasp!– ends up being full of garbage instead of a live baby, this is one fantastic chase scene. The French Connection won Best Picture, so first enjoy the chase scene, but then enjoy the entire movie. Here is director William Friedkin commenting on the chase scene.

3. The Blues Brothers (1980) Not all chase scenes are life and death. The Blues Brothers, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, have two great chases in this movie. The featured car, the Bluesmobile, is a retired 1974 Mount Prospect, and an Illinois Dodge Monaco patrol car. To me the more memorable chase is the first, which takes them through a local shopping mall, driving at break-neck speed while Akroyd and Belushi casually comment on the shops in the mall. Of course, the grand finale features an elaborate race to the Daley Center in Chicago. At the time of the film’s release, it boasted the highest number of cars ever destroyed in a feature film. Gotta like that.

Some of the other famous car chases I considered were Ronin, Smokey and the Bandit and Diamonds are Forever. So, when you feel the need for speed, what movies make it to your DVD player? 

Always remember…

No talking or texting during the feature presentation.

Jim

Donate a children’s book today! (Half Pint Library kicks off)

Have you heard that Half Price Books has committed to donating one million books to the community in 2012? One of the major ways we give the gift of reading each and every year is through our Half Pint Library Book Drive, and it’s that time again! 

The Half Price Books’ 2012 Half Pint Library Book Drive runs February 20-March 31, 2012. Drop off your new or gently used children’s books at any Half Price Books location. For every book donated, HPB will match it. Donations will benefit local nonprofit organizations in your community. For more information about how the book drive works, make sure to check out our FAQs.

2012 marks the 13th year of Half Pint Library program. With your help, we have provided more than two and a half million books and created hundreds of Half Pint Libraries across the nation. In 2011 alone, 313,840 books were donated to hundreds of nonprofit groups and schools in 16 states. Thank you for helping to share the love of reading with deserving children and their families. 

Hey, Teachers and Librarians! Interested in hosting your own Half Pint Library Drive at your school? Your school could win a $200 HPB Gift Card!

Enroll your school to host a Half Pint Library Book Drive March 19-23 for a chance to win an HPB Gift Card for your school or library. Registration is open now and closes March 9th.

Ready, set, go! 

 — Kate (and BW) 

Top Presidential Biographies

Presidents fascinate me — they always have, and I’m a sucker for just about any presidential biography, although I had to force my way through The Unknown President: The Administration of Millard Fillmore. These books can be an effective and entertaining way to learn American history– and from the perspective of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue no less. Besides putting on a frock coat, humming Hail to the Chief and reciting the oath of office from memory, what better way to celebrate Presidents Day than to pull a bio from the shelf and start reading? The following are ones I highly recommend:

Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and The War Years (1926 & 1939) by Carl Sandburg

This is presidential biography as literature, one to consider for your bucket list. Originally published in six volumes, Sandburg’s Lincoln is a leisurely telling of the great man’s story. Weaving prose and poetry with fact and myth, it is perhaps the most influential book about Lincoln, spawning many a theatrical production and movie.

The Ohio Gang: The World of Warren G. Harding (1983) Charles L. Mee

I can’t get enough of Warren G. Harding. His was the White House of which Alice Roosevelt said, “No rumor could have exceeded the reality.” The story is comic and tragic, a man whose gift for public speaking (“bloviating,” as he called it) propelled him to the Senate and then onto the White House — only to be overwhelmed by the job, let down by his friends and die in office before scandals within his administration became public. This book tells it all: the “smoke filled room” in Chicago from which he emerged as the Republican nominee for President; the poker games and bootleg whiskey upstairs at the White House; the mistresses; the love child, “Duchess”; the domineering First Lady; the scandals; the suicides– all presented in what the author describes as “historical entertainment.” I would add this book could be of special interest to fans of cable TV’s “Boardwalk Empire,” for which the Harding era is the backdrop.

Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman (1974) by Merle Miller

Imagine yourself sitting across from former President Truman, sharing “small libations” of bourbon and asking him questions: that is the premise of this oral biography. Conducted over hundreds of hours and several months in the early 1960’s, the interviews were intended for a TV special that never happened; instead, they were compiled for a book that became a popular sensation and helped to propel Truman from forgotten man into the top tier of presidential rankings. It helped that the book came out during the dark days of Watergate, and “plain speaking” Harry was a welcome contrast to Richard Nixon, whose White House tape recordings were to result in his own, more disturbing “oral biography.” Conveniently published after Truman’s death, it is believed the author did take some liberties with quotes, but the end result is still a great read and a compliment to the man.

President Kennedy: Profile of Power (1993) by Richard Reeves

There are many books about John Kennedy, but I recommend this one because it concerns itself only with his presidency: the decisions he had to make and how those decisions were made. It begins just after his election in November of 1960 and ends at his death in November of 1963. It is strictly job related, examining in chronological order his handling of the Bay of Pigs disaster, the Cuban missile crisis, civil rights unrest, and early preparations for his re-election bid at the end. Other books cover his personal life and assassination, but this one is a fascinating and objective look at how he conducted himself as President; it will leave you better informed.

All The President’s Men (1974) by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

In this digital age, I don’t believe such an important news story could unfold again so slowly, growing in intensity day-by-day the way the Watergate drama played out in the 1970s. From the early morning break-in at the Watergate complex in June of ’72 till Nixon’s resignation on August 8, 1974, there seemed to be a new revelation each day in the newspaper or on the nightly news, and at the forefront of the reporting were beat reporters for the Washington Post, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. This book, now classic, is their story of breaking the story, later to become an award winning movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford. While not a true biography of Richard Nixon, he is of course a central character– and even knowing how it ends (and that Mark Felt, #2 guy at the FBI, was “Deep Throat”), it is a gripping account of political intrigue and a scandal that continues to shape both politics and journalism.

Any presidential biographies I missed? Which of these books have you read, and what did you think?

Bill is Regional Manager at Half Price Books of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.

Meet the Bibliomaniac: Dayna Ingram

Half Price Books has thousands of interesting employees working at our stores across the country – bibliomaniacs who have tons of great talents besides their knowledge of books, movies, music and more.  We thought it would be fun to showcase some of them here on the blog!  Our first feature is Dayna Ingram, who not only is a shift leader at our Dublin location, she’s also an author.  She’ll host a book reading and signing of her newly published zombie/horror novella Eat Your Heart Out tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Dublin

Name: Dayna Ingram

Job Title: Shift Leader

When did you join the HPB team? It was actually my final co-op for Antioch College back in Ohio in 2008. I had to “live as an author,” which meant getting a job and writing…for college credit…JOKE’S ON THEM I ALREADY DO THIS! It was pretty great.

What is your favorite part about working at HPB? There are too many favorite parts. I’m gonna say my co-workers, they make it easy to want to go to work.

What is your all-time favorite book? This changes all the time, but right now it’s Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.

What inspired you to write Eat Your Heart Out? I needed something fun to write during National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org), and what’s more fun than zombies?

Do you have plans for any other books? I’m working on a dystopian novel called All Good Children, and I’m currently seeking an agent.

You’re donating a portion of the proceeds to ARF, Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation.   Tell us about your involvement with them and your love of animals. Friends of mine have adopted the best pets through their organization, and I just admire animal rescues so much. Our pet is a member of our family, and I wanted to acknowledge that in some way and give back.

To keep up with Dayna, visit her blog or follow her on twitter.

Thanks, Dayna! Good luck tomorrow!

— Emily

Dinner & A Movie: Valentine’s Day Edition

Okay, gents. Today is Valentine’s Day. If you don’t have any other plans for your special lady this evening, I’m here to rescue you. Being a movie buff and wannabe chef, I recommend dinner and a movie at home. It sure beats a three-hour wait at an average restaurant.

The DINNER
This is one of my favorite pasta standbys, taken from a cookbook on my shelf – In the Kitchen with Rosie by Rosie Daley. It is great prepared straight from the book and very versatile as far as tweaking it to what you like. Personally, I like to add a lot more garlic and basil, and then top it off with grilled shrimp or grilled chicken.

As for a wine recommendation to pair with this dish, I give you the first and most important rule: drink what you like. That carries more weight than any recommendations you receive about pairing wine with food. With that said, consider a Sauvignon Blanc. I prefer a recent find that was in Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Values, the Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

Viola’s Shrimp Pasta  |  Yields: 4 servings  |  Total Prep & Cook Time: 30 to 40 minutes

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup chopped tomato (1 medium tomato)
4 ounces dried spinach angel hair pasta
4 ounces dried semolina angel hair pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and maintain at a boil. Put the olive oil and garlic in a sauté pan and cook over medium heat, just until the garlic begins to brown. Remove the sauté pan from the heat and pour in the wine. Return it to the heat. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the wine has been reduced by half. Stir in the lemon juice and tomato. Remove the pan from the heat.

Place the pasta in the boiling water and cook to desired doneness, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drain the pasta and put it into a warm serving bowl. Add the basil, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper, along with the tomato mixture. Toss and plate with grilled shrimp (optional) on top and serve immediately.

The MOVIE
Being V-Day, you might score some points with your lady for suggesting some sort of love story, but it doesn’t have to be the cliché romantic comedies associated with Valentine’s Day. My selection: Shakespeare in Love (1998).

It’s a very smart, well-written story that has a little of everything and something for everybody. This film won Best Picture in ’98 and also got Gwyneth Paltrow an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Alongside Gwyneth, Shakespeare in Love stars Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth and supporting actress Oscar winner Judi Dench.

Now you are all set for dinner and a movie. Remember to bring flowers too and you will come out smelling like a rose! Salute! — Jim

Nine Decades of Love Songs

How does one choose one love song to represent an entire decade, when such a huge percentage of songs written every year are love songs? It’s an impossible task, so I’m approaching it very subjectively (who can be objective about love or love songs?), and I urge all of you lovebirds out there to let us know your all-time favorite songs of love.

1928: “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” (Jimmy McHugh-Dorothy Fields)–  Dorothy Fields, the most successful female songwriter on Tin Pan Alley, teamed up with Jimmy McHugh to create many popular standards, including “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “Exactly Like You.”

1937: “My Funny Valentine” (Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart)— Of course I had to pick this one, one of the most beautiful melodies in all of popular music, with the bonus of having a clever approach to lyrics.  It’s from the Rodgers & Hart musical Babes in Arms. The song is often recorded by male vocalists, including Sinatra and Bennett, but was written for a female character to sing to a man, Valentine “Val” LaMar.

 

1941: “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)” (Stept-Brown-Tobias) — OK, the song was written in 1939, but the lyrics were revised in 1941 to make it applicable to the soldiers of World War II and their sweethearts back home. Definitely a love song of its time, courtesy of The Andrews Sisters.

1951: “Hey, Good Lookin’” (Hank Williams)—“Only You.” “To the Aisle.” “Unchained Melody.”  “Love Me Tender.”  Overwhelmed by the hundreds of great love songs from the fifties doo-woppers and rockers, I went the other direction and grabbed a catchy number from the king of country & western, Hank Williams. Sing it to your honey on Valentine’s Day: “How’s about cookin’ somethin’ up with me?” Go on, do it!

1964: “Chapel of Love” (Barry-Greenwich-Spector)—The Dixie Cups had the number-one hit of this song about wedding day bliss. It may be appreciated a little differently now than it was in its day, but I say “Gimme a little kitsch for Valentine’s Day.”

1970: “Your Song” (Elton John)— A conversational, confessional love ballad, full of ingenuous earnestness, from the singer-songwriter soon to become a flamboyant, boa-slinging showman. It was played for swooning, swigging lovers in every bar and cocktail lounge throughout the seventies. It’s a really good song, though, and earns its presumptuous title.

1987: “The Way You Make Me Feel” (Michael Jackson) — Michael Jackson was the one musical artist that everyone in my family liked: my wife and I are fans going back to the Jackson 5; our four kids, now grown, still listen to him; and my three-year-old grandkid is trying to perfect the moonwalk. This ecstatic love song was only one of five #1 singles from the album Bad.

1992: “I Will Always Love You” (Dolly Parton)—Dolly wrote and recorded this song in the ‘70s, but Whitney Houston covered it for the movie The Bodyguard, and her reach-the-cheap-seats vocal made it a huge hit, a romantic torch song for the nineties.

Editor’s Note: Steve turned in this list a few weeks ago, before we heard news of Whitney’s passing. We thought her 1994 Grammy performance of “I Will Always Love You” was a timely inclusion; if you haven’t seen Jennifer Hudson’s tribute performance you can view parts of it in the clip below.

2007: “La Vie en Rose” (Edith Piaf-Lois Guglielmi)—OK, OK, the song was written in 1946 and back then became the signature song of its co-writer Edith Piaf. But the 2007 Piaf biopic starring Marion Cotillard revived interest in the beautiful love song, and people of all ages started singing it again.

So, what love song always gives you chills?  Which decade had the best love songs, in your opinion?

— Steve, aka The Buy Guy

Agorafabulous by Sara Benincasa

You may recognize comedian and now author Sara Benincasa from her videos, blog, CNN interviews and Sarah Palin impressions. Our friends over at WIlliam Morrow sent us an advance copy of her first-ever book, Agorafabulous: Dispatches from My Bedroom, which releases February 14. In it, Sara unveils her personal struggle with agoraphobia – that is to say, she has a fear of open spaces.

Pause for a sec and read that last sentence again. Now, can you imagine living with severe anxiety, panic attacks and the fear of having a panic attack every day of your life?

In Agorafabulous, Sara rather candidly admits to a number of everyday tasks that, for her, become anxiety-ridden — even a trip to the bathroom. In chapter one, she itemizes her level of fear in an abridged chart, outlining the degree with which she’s been afraid of things like taking the bus and having a wet head. There are some truly awkward moments in her self-described “freak outs” (but hey, we all have awkward moments, right?).

Although it uses the vehicle of comedy, her work addresses a serious topic. Her book reaches out to other people who suffer with mental illnesses and screams YOU’RE NOT ALONE!

“I subscribe to the notion that if you can laugh at the sh#!&est moments in your life, you can transcend them. And if other people can laugh at your awful sh*t as well, then I guess you can call yourself a comedian.”

~ Sara Benincasa

Her comedic storytelling is exuberant. And, make no mistake, Sara is blunt. Perhaps you don’t have a fear of leaving your bedroom, but you may find yourself relating to the vulnerable nature of her confessions and laughing aloud at her honest self-assessments. There’s something wildly bare and relatable about Sara’s writing, similar in voice to that of Tina Fey.

Sara now lives in the wide open spaces of New York City, where “most people are even crazier than I am.” There, she continues to perform her one-woman comedy show on stage. And rumor has it there’s already a film adaptation of Agorafabulous in the works.

Does Agorafabulous remind you of any other memoirs you’d recommend?

— Meredith

40 Sentimental Love Songs to Call Your Very Own

You may have a ballad that you belt it out loud in the shower. But there’s something special about a song that makes a couple remember the moment they first met, first kissed, or the day they said “I do.” Regardless of the age, that song becomes a sentimental favorite. As they say, “They’re playing our song.”

To help celebrate HPB’s 40 years of loving everything ever printed or recorded, we polled our employees about their favorite love songs. And so, without further ado, we’ll cue the music and present to you our list of 40 love songs to adopt as your own.

 

1. At Last by Etta James2. In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel 3. Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers4. Let’s Stay Together by Al Green5. God Only Knows by The Beach Boys 6. Fade Into You by Mazzy Star7. Colour My World by Chicago

8. Stand By Me by Ben E. King9. Make Someone Happy by Jimmy Durante 10. The Luckiest by Ben Folds Five11. The Book of Love by the Magnetic Fields12. I Will by The Beatles13. The Way You Look Tonight by Tony Bennett14. Everything I Do (I Do It For You) by Bryan Adams15. Your Song by Elton John

 

16. Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton – 17. Le Vie en Rose by Louis Armstrong – 18. Happy Together by The Turtles – 19. Sunday Kind of Love by Etta James – 20. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) by Otis Redding – 21. Crash into Me by the Dave Matthews Band – 22. Love, Me by Collin Raye – 23. Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins

24. I Got You, Babe by Sonny & Cher – 25. Lady by Kenny Rogers – 26. Let’s Do It by Ella Fitzgerald – 27. Sway by Dean Martin – 28. Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers – 29. When a Man Loves a Woman by Percy Sledge – 30. I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton – 31. Always & Forever by Heatwave

32. Tiny Dancer by Elton John – 33. That’s How Strong My Love Is by Otis Redding – 34. I Didn’t Know I was Looking for Love by Everything But the Girl – 35. Heaven by Warrant – 36. It’s Your Love by Tim McGraw & Faith Hill – 37. Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley – 38. Lady in Red by Chris De Burgh – 39. Catch the Wind by Donovan – 40. My Funny Valentine by Chet Baker

Tell us: What’s “your song” and who sings it?

— Julie