Santa’s Special Stash (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

‘Tis the season for mistletoe, eggnog, and fine editions of holiday classics. Our stores are well-stocked with holiday music, books, toys, and gifts of all kinds—and mixed right in are some yuletide treasures for the Christmas collector.

The words and pictures in our featured books can help you get in the spirit of the holidays as fast as Nat “King” Cole singing “The Christmas Song” or Burl Ives, as Sam the Snowman, narrating Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

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Becky’s Christmas Dream and Other Stories by Louisa M. Alcott, Olive Thorne, Laurie Loring, and Others
T.Y. Crowell, New York, undated.
A Very Good copy of this collection, with nice illustrated color pastedowns on its front and back panels and black and white illustrations throughout. There is no publication date noted; however, there is an inscription on the front-free endpaper: “To Gracie M. Eggert / From Mamma / May 1st, 1880.” There is some bumping at the corners, which has worn away the edges of the illustrations, and there is bumping and fraying to the top and bottom of the spine. $200.

It’s rare to see such an early edition of this collection that features a classic Louisa May Alcott Christmas tale.

LiberaceChristmas at Liberace’s
Columbia CL-589, 1954
The record and cover are in Very Good condition, with a small seam-split at the upper right-hand corner of the cover. $100.

Nothing says Christmas quite like the sparkling bling and tinkling ivories of the late, great Liberace, here captured on vinyl giving it his holiday best. This copy, bought at our Preston Road location in Dallas, features his signature and inscription, plus a neat drawing of his piano and candelabra.

CharlesDickensChristmas-2A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Chapman & Hall, London, 1843.
First Edition, second issue. Spine separating on front edge, two pages loose, expected foxing. $3,000.

In the 172 years since it was written, there has come along no greater Christmas story than Charles Dickens’ beloved morality tale of Bob Cratchit, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Tiny Tim. The popular story has remained in print constantly since Chapman & Hall published it, and has been filmed numerous times, featuring memorable Scrooges from Alastair Sim and George C. Scott to Scrooge McDuck and Patrick Stewart.

This is a flawed but generally beautiful copy of a holiday treasure, bought at our Clearwater Village store in Indianapolis. And, if you’re not quite ready to spend that much on your special gift, you could opt for this Charles Dickens Christmas Collector’s Edition, bought at our Fairfield Township location in Hamilton, Ohio. It’ll just run you forty dollars!

GarfieldSeason’s Eatings: A Very Merry Garfield Christmas by Jim Davis
Easton Press Signed Edition, 2003.
This special leather-bound collection is signed by Jim Davis and is in Fine condition, with a colorful illustration and bright gold lettering on the cover. $150.

This one is a modern classic, featuring the antics of Garfield and friends as depicted in Christmastime cartoon strips over the years.

More from Santa’s Bag

RHCOur Arlington Cooper Street store has a nice little assortment of holiday kids’ books: Raggedy Ann’s Merriest Christmas by Johnny Gruelle (Wonder Books, 1952), $10; The Chipmunk’s Merry Christmas by David Corwin (Golden Press “A” edition, 1959) $10; and Huckleberry Hound and the Christmas Sleigh by Pat Cherr (Golden Press “A” edition, 1960) $7.50.

A nice collection of Simpsons ornaments and decorations produced by Bradford Exchange and Hawthorne Village showed up at our store in Bedford, Texas. The ornaments are going for $10 each and the Christmas Village pieces range in price from $25 to $90. The plates are priced $10-$15.

Simpsons

Interested in finding out more about any of these treasures? Contact the Buy Guy: buyguy@hpb.com

Stocking Stuffers Under $10

Stocking stuffers don’t have to break the bank. At Half Price Books this holiday season, we’ve stocked our shelves with a bundle of stocking stuffers under $10. From Marvel and DC Comics and My Little Pony, to tea infusers, retro games and toys, book lights, literary sticky notes and 2016 pocket-sized planners, there’s so much to discover at HPB. Plus, we have a sleigh load of new and used books, music, movies, games and more so you can give lots of holiday joy this year and stay on budget. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

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Let us know what brilliant gift ideas you have and what JOY you discover in your local Half Price Books. Over the holidays, share your stocking stuffers with us by tagging @halfpricebooks or use the hashtag #HPBhaul.

Wishing you lots of holiday JOY!

– Half Price Books Blog Team

Just the Facts Charlie Brown: 50 Facts for the 50th Anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas

This year marks the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas. To mark the occasion, here are 50 factoids, tidbits, quotes or observations about the little holiday special that only a blockhead could dislike.

1. Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip began in 1950 and by the early 60s was a full-blown phenomenon. The 1962 book Happiness is a Warm Puppy was a New York Times bestseller, and Time magazine featured Schulz’s characters on its April 9, 1965 cover.

2. In 1963, producer Lee Mendelson started work on a TV documentary about Schulz and Peanuts. The film included brief animated scenes created by Bill Melendez and original music by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi. All the networks passed on it.

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A Blog for the Dogs: 15 Top Dogs in TV, Film & Literature

It’s no secret around HPB Corporate that I’m a dog-lover. And luckily, the company I work for is as well. If you didn’t know, most Half Price Books stores are dog-friendly, as is our corporate office. Those that follow the HPB Instagram may have already met Vader, the lovable German Shepherd who serves as our resident office dog. We also, on occasion, host Forrest the Frenchie:

Needless to say, there’s always a furry friend or two around these parts looking for a great new read. A short while ago, my doggy dreams came true as our Dallas Flagship store welcomed Crusoe, the Celebrity Dachshund for a book signing. A book signing for a dog, you say? People would come to such a thing?

You betcha! Around 250 people, plus lots (and I mean lots) of four-legged friends, packed the Flagship to meet Crusoe and get a paw-tographed copy of his debut book Crusoe, the Celebrity Dachshund: Adventures of the Wiener Dog Extraordinaire. If the name Crusoe doesn’t ring a bell, you may have seen some of his Youtube videos, which have spread across the Internet due to, well, the fact that they’re so stinking cute.

I was lucky enough to be one of those 250 people to meet Crusoe, along with my own doxie, Sophie. The line was long, but it was worth the wait, even if Soph looks terrified. She wasn’t, I promise!

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On the way home, Sophie and I decided to reminisce about some the best dog-gone canines in literature, film and TV. Here are just a few of our faves:

  1. Clifford, the Big Red Dog
  2. Wishbone
  3. Toto (from The Wizard of Oz)
  4. Shiloh
  5. Lassie
  6. Old Yeller
  7. Luath/Shadow (from The Incredible Journey/Homeward Bound)
  8. Eddie (from Frasier)
  9. Porkchop (from Doug)
  10. Stella (from Modern Family)
  11. Brian (from Family Guy)
  12. Gromit (from Wallace & Gromit)
  13. Odie (from Garfield)
  14. Snoopy (from Peanuts)
  15. Dug (from Up)

No bones about it, man’s best friend definitely makes a compelling character. Who are some of your favorite literary, cinematic or small-screen pups?

Preheat Your Oven: 6 Crowd-Pleasing Holiday Recipes

I love to bake, and the Holiday Season gives me the perfect excuse to be in the kitchen and bake a batch of cookies to take to work or a holiday party. I mean, what’s the point of baking if you’re not going to share? Below are some of my favorite holiday treats.

Pumpkin Bakes
To me, it’s not the holidays without pumpkin. So, I am always looking for good pumpkin recipes. However, most of my family doesn’t like pumpkin. (What is wrong with them?)

The winner for my whole family is Pumpkin Chip Cookies, which taste enough like Chocolate Chip Cookies to fool my father and my nephew. The pumpkin makes them extremely moist, so they remain gooey on the inside, and the subtle pumpkin flavor combined with the cinnamon gives these cookies a nice holiday zing.IMG_0032

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Booksgiving Day: Thankful for Reading with FREE Children’s Book and Storytime!

Kids, it’s time to gather ‘round for your favorite Half Price Books holiday. It’s our third annual celebration of BOOKSGIVING DAY!

Supporting literacy and providing books to families is key to our Half Price Books mission! Join us at your neighborhood Half Price Books location on Booksgiving Day, Saturday, Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. Every child who attends will receive a free book to take home and add to their library, or start a new one! *Limit one preselected book per child while supplies last.

If you aren’t a kid but want to participate, how about picking up a copy of your favorite kid’s book and sharing it with a special child in your life?

Let’s get a book to every child, in every home! BW, the Half Price Books Bookworm, and we’ll see you there!

The books donated on Booksgiving Day are part of Half Price Books Million Book Donation Project, which has donated more than 1.3 million books to non-profit organizations and schools in 2015.

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Give the Gift of Reading: 7 Books for Your Middle Grade Reader

Author Kate Hannigan and some of her awesome author friends stopped by our Dallas Flagship store in September as part of a Middle Grade Mania author panel. We asked Kate to share with us her gift recommendations for the holidays.

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Though I write for children, I do actually take a break and read grownup books: Girl Waits With Gun and Boy, Snow, Bird, to name a few recent titles. But I always find myself drawn back to the  middle-grade section at the bookstore. That’s because, of all genres, I believe middle-grade is where the heart is. It’s where young readers discover life’s truths for the first time: courage, loyalty, honesty. Here are some recommendations for great middle-grade reads to keep in mind this holiday season: Continue reading

4 Treasures for Young Readers of All Ages (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

November 10 is Young Readers Day, an opportunity to read a book to a child, to give a book to a child, and maybe to remember the books you loved as a child. A lot of collectors are drawn to the books they experienced as young readers. There’s a certain kind of magic those books hold throughout readers’ lifetimes. One of my own prized possessions is an early copy of Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hatches the Egg, a book I couldn’t get enough of as a child. My mom read it to me, and then I accomplished the feat of reading it on my own. As a parent, I read it to my own kids, and now they read it to theirs. A nice handed-down tradition.

In honor of Young Readers Day, we present a variety of special kids’ treasures our stores have acquired recently.

WrinkleInTimeA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (inscribed)
Farrar Straus Giroux, 1978, Thirty-seventh Printing
A Very Good+ book in a VG+ dust jacket that has very minor rubbing at top and bottom of spine. Inscribed by the author on front-free endpaper: “For Nancy—tesser with joy—Madeleine L’Engle.” $400.

There’s a wonderful Madeleine L’Engle quote that applies to A Wrinkle in Time and its follow-ups: “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” Madeleine L’Engle’s 1963 tale of the tesseract is truly one of the most-read, most-cherished young adult classics. It won the Newbery Prize and other awards, and has remained in print continuously since it was published. Four novels featuring the Murry family followed.

Readers and collectors love having a nice hardback edition of A Wrinkle in Time close-by. Even better is having a nice hardback copy in which the author has written the verb tesser. Continue reading

These 30 Days of November Are Your Best Friends: #NaNoWriMo Chat

I had never heard of National Novel Writing Month—NaNoWriMo for short—until it started happening in my house two years ago. That’s when my daughter, Harper, a high-school freshman back then, participated for the first time.

NaNoWriMo is an internet-based phenomenon where people of all ages write a novel during the month of November. The idea is not to achieve perfection or win a contest but to set a word-count goal and meet it in 30 days. Participants register on the site and submit their work at the end of the month for verification of length. There’s a “Young Writers” division for kids under 17, and when you combine that with the main program, nearly 400,000 people participated in 2014. Many of the resulting works end up as self-published books, while some have even been released by traditional publishers.

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Back to my kid. In 2013 she wound up with My Toxic Cure, an angsty teen drama that was self-published and has been read by 15 to 20 people to date. Harper is now an 11th-grader and is tackling NaNoWriMo for the third time. We recently chatted about it via email. (How else would two people who live in the same house chat?) Continue reading

Bond, James Bond: Top 5 Villians in Bond Films

OK, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars fans, move over and make way for the longest running film franchise there is…James Bond! The new Bond movie, SPECTRE, comes out this Friday, November 6, and is the 23rd official James Bond movie. As many Bond fans already know, SPECTRE is the organization of criminals in the first several bond movies, which just begs the question: Who are the best Bond villains ever? Here are my top 5.

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Le Chiffre
OK, some of you might disagree with me on this one. But, I have to give a nod to the new Bond films, and Le Chiffre played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, is a perfect foe for Bond in Casino Royale. Le Chiffre and Bond throw down at a marathon poker game reminiscent of the climactic gambling scenes in the Ian Flemming novels.

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Jaws
Probably the most memorable Bond villain of all time is from The Spy Who Loved Me. Richard Kiel’s Jaws was bigger than life and almost a comic book villain, with his huge stature and steel teeth. I would have ranked him higher, but he just had to come back and make a lackluster appearance in Moonraker and have a very contrived romance.

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Francisco Scaramanga
Who can forget The Man with the Golden Gun, Scaramanga, charmingly played by Christopher Lee. Lee was considered by his step-cousin, none other than Ian Fleming himself, to play Dr. No in the first Bond film, but Joseph Wiseman had already been cast. Lee made a great foe with his makeshift Golden Gun and classic pistol duel at the end of the film.

Gert Frobe plays Auric Goldfinger in

Auric Goldfinger
“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.” When you speak the most memorable line of any Bond villain, you have to make the list. Goldfinger was played by German actor Gert Fröbe, who ironically did not speak a word of english and had to be dubbed in after filming. Still, Fröbe gives a wonderful performance, and with a henchman like Oddjob, how can you not be one of Bond’s baddest villains?

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Ernst Stavro Blofeld
No matter how popular and iconic any Bond villain is, none can compare to the notorious leader of SPECTRE, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Played by many actors in different films, the most notable performances are given by Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Donald Pleasance in You Only Live Twice. Remembered for his iconic white cat, Blofeld will always be Bond’s ultimate villain.

Who are your favorite Bond villains? Enjoy SPECTRE this weekend.

Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.