Fifty years ago, on April 29, 1967, the world first heard the horn blasts and guitar twangs that mark the opening of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” What follows are two and a half remarkable minutes of pop music that would capture an era and define one of the preeminent voices of our time. What makes it so great? We’ll take a cue from the Queen of Soul and spell it out for you.
R – Re-Invention. While it became Aretha’s signature song, her recording of “Respect” was actually a cover. Otis Redding wrote and recorded it a couple of years earlier, and it was a decent-sized hit for him, especially on the R&B charts. But calling Franklin’s version a mere cover or remake is ridiculous. Aretha (whose nickname was “Re”) re-invented the song, re-imagined it, re-everythinged it and made it her own.
E – Essential. “Respect” is in the Grammy Hall of Fame and the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. Rolling Stone put it at number five on its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, saying, “Franklin wasn’t asking for anything. She sang from higher ground: a woman calling an end to the exhaustion and sacrifice of a raw deal with scorching sexual authority. In short, if you want some, you will earn it.” Continue reading
EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we’re celebrating the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ll find books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our list for May 2017!
Stuck on what to call your freshly-minted novel, song or screenplay? Want to give it instant gravitas? Do what countless creators have done: use a phrase from Shakespeare. Think about it — even Shakespeare’s titles came from Shakespeare.
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
Into Thin Air, John Krakauer
On Such a Full Sea, Chang-Rae Lee
The Winter of Our Discontent, John Steinbeck
MOVIES & TV
North By Northwest
The Quick and the Dead
The Sound and the Fury
…Nothing Like the Sun, Sting
Salad Days, Mac DeMarco
Sea Change, Beck
Sigh No More, Mumford and Sons
But that’s just the first act. Get thee to HPB.com/shakespeare for a much longer list.
In this month’s “Meet the Bibliomaniac” feature, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Bryan, assistant manager in the Austin-area. Since we’ve got comic books on the brain, let’s dive deeper into Bryan’s love of comics and learn more about him. Check out his Q&A below.
Name: Bryan Douglas
Job Title: Assistant Manager
Store Location: 104 Cedar Park
When did you join the HPB Team?
What is your favorite part about working at HPB?
Being surprised every day by the books I discover, either from seeing them in person or hearing about them from customers.
As an Assistant Manager, what’s an average day like for you?
My work days are a mix of getting to help customers directly and helping our staff to do the same. The leadership role is nice, because it gives me the feeling of helping even more people than the ones I interact with directly!
What’s the most interesting experience you’ve had since working here?
Finding two hundred dollars in cash hidden in a book called “The World’s Lost Wealth!” (This was at the Buy Counter, so we were able to get the money back to the customer!)
What got you interested in comic books?
I’ve always been interested in the multiple layers of meaning comics can provide. Certainly, prose fiction can do that, too… But somehow combining words and pictures in the comic book style seems to allow for a greater number of ideas to be distilled down to a smaller space! Continue reading
This Wednesday, April 26, is Administrative Professionals’ Day. Dating all the way back to the 1950s, the last week of April is a time to acknowledge the significant contributions of executive assistants, secretaries and other administrative roles. Anyone who has worked in an office, school or large organization knows that someone has to be the glue that holds all the moving parts together! So here are some of our favorite administrative professionals:
The Fearless Trailblazers
Doralee Rhodes (9 to 5)—In this classic comedy from 1980, Doralee isn’t afraid to stand up to her “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss. Attagirl, Doralee!
Joan Holloway (Mad Men)—Don’t mess with Joan. She runs a tight ship, managing her team of secretaries while advancing her career in a climate that’s less than conducive to women in power.
Tess McGill (Working Girl)—Tess proves that, sometimes in life, you have to visualize what you want and then take it. She’s never afraid to step up and make the most of an opportunity. Continue reading
The first Earth Day occurred 47 years ago on April 22, 1970! Earth Day was established by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who believed in taking care of the earth. For many people who care for the environment, Earth Day is an opportunity to join in a nationwide effort to protect our planet. If everyone did something, we could all contribute to saving our environment. Half Price Books fully believes in reducing and reusing, and we hope you do, too. As we get ready to celebrate Earth Day this year, read on to discover our top tips for going green!
One of the first things you can do to save energy is to switch out your old light bulbs. If every U.S. home swapped out one incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), we’d save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes each year! Another great way you can help save energy is by putting your computers to sleep. Activating “sleep mode” on just one computer can prevent roughly 300 lbs. of carbon dioxide emissions a year! Want to save even more energy? Unplug your electronics. When you’re not using your electronics or are done charging up your items, unplug them to conserve electricity.
At Half Price Books, saving energy is part of our day-to-day operations. We contract with green energy companies like Green Mountain Energy Company, which provides pollution-free wind energy for 31 of our stores and other facilities in Texas. We have also installed light- and heat-repellent window tints in our stores, which allows them to be eligible for energy code rebates. Continue reading
Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome Leanne to not one, but TWO of our Texas locations this week. She’ll stop by our Montrose location in Houston on Saturday, April 15 at 2 p.m. and our North Lamar location in Austin on Monday, April 17 at 7 p.m. to discuss her new book, The Keto Diet (April 11). Hope to see you there! In the meantime, we asked Leanne to share some of her favorite books with us in our Books Authors Read blog series – enjoy!
Surprisingly, I’m not much for books about food. You’d think with my line of work that I’d be into all of the hot nutrition topics, but it’s the exact opposite – when I have time to carve out of my day, the last thing I want to do is read about more food. I’m a sucker for an inspirational biography, self-help books,and short business boosting books that are guaranteed to light a fire in my entrepreneurial belly. Also, I have a soft place for apocalyptic and war novels.
The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein
I found Gabby’s work shortly after I quit my full-time gig and moved across the country with my husband (then boyfriend). I was eager for inspiration and a healthy dose of positivity when a colleague recommended Gabby’s book, Spirit Junkie. After reading, it set me on a path of looking at the world in a very different way, leading me to write my first self-published book, travel to New York to study photography and boost my confidence. I’ve read all of Gabby’s books and The Universe Has Your Back is by far my favorite. It was there for me as I finished my paperback, reminding me to stay present, positive, hopeful and grounded. I couldn’t have finished the last round of edits without her solid advice and guidance leading me through. Continue reading
It’s spring time and that means spring blockbusters on the big screens. Get the jump on some of the films hitting theaters in the near future by adding these to you reading list.
The Lost City of Z by David Grann
The Lost City of Z tells the incredible true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, played by Charlie Hunnam, who journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century and discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Also starring Robert Pattinson and Sienna Miller. Look for The Lost City of Z in theaters April 14.
Records are a great entertainment value. Most of Half Price Books used LPs are priced between $3 and $8, and we have thousands at $1-2 clearance prices. We also have great prices on our new vinyl.
But enough about great prices. Let’s talk variety: The wonders and oddities in every genre that a music-lover like me can find in a record bin are endlessly alluring. From R&B to C&W, from techno to disco, from doo-wop to bop, there’s a great world of music to be discovered and uncovered on vinyl, and all in endlessly fascinating packaging.
My vinyl playground is the Dallas Flagship store, and here’s a potpourri of records that recently captured my attention there. They’re all above our average LP price, but they’re all above-average records.
Prince – Fury
2006, Universal Records MCST 40462 (UK) picture disc
As we approach the anniversary of his untimely death, let’s start with the consummate genre transcender, Prince, who bridged R&B, pop, rock, funk, soul, dance and psychedelia to become one of the most influential (and enjoyable) artists in popular music history. “Fury” is a cut from Prince’s 3121 album, his comeback to the top ten of Billboard’s Albums chart.
Homer and Jethro Fracture Frank Loesser
1953, RCA Victor LPM 3112, 10”
You may well expect the show-tunes of Broadway songwriter Frank Loesser to be uncomfortable on the playlist of a comedy-bluegrass duo. Loesser himself wrote in the liner notes, “They have shot at my eight little targets with great humor and characteristic skill. I guess the joke’s on me but I love it.” This unlikely mash-up doesn’t disappoint. Homer & Jethro do their thing on “Once in Love with Amy,” “On a Slow Boat to China” and other Broadway classics. The songs seem quite at home in the novel setting.
The record and cover (and the music) have held up very well over the past 64 years—$20 Continue reading
Editor’s Note: We’ve been looking forward to the release of Omar El Akkad’s new book, American War (available April 4), so we were thrilled when he offered to share some of his favorite reads from the past year. Enjoy!
My reading list this year has been wildly varied, in large part because one of the chief perks of loitering on the outskirts of the publishing industry is the ability to swipe advance copies of upcoming novels. Having no self-discipline when it comes to such matters, I have, in the past few months, nabbed every book I could get my hands on.
These are ten of the most interesting books I’ve read this year. Some are older titles I stumbled on serendipitously, but most are either newly released or will be coming out soon.
Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad
Iran’s stunningly gifted poet died too young, at 32. But in her brief career she breathed life into the country’s modernist movement, eschewing a long tradition of poetic conservatism in favor of frank explorations of sexuality and powerful indictments of bureaucratic oppression. Sin is a beautiful cross-section of her work, and translator Sholeh Wolpe does an outstanding job of keeping the fire of the original text alight.
Ernest Hemingway: A Biography by Mary V. Dearborn
Regardless how you feel about Hemingway’s work, Mary Dearborn’s fascinating new biography is an enthralling chronicle of the writer’s life. The book presents an intimate, immensely well-researched portrait of a man who, capable of immense acts of literary and personal grandeur, eventually falls prey to his own myth-making. This book is set to hit shelves May 16.
Spoils by Brian Van Reet
Ironically, given the title of my debut novel, I honestly don’t like war stories that much – or at least not ones about contemporary wars. But Spoils is the rare exception. Set in Iraq and telling the dual stories of a captured U.S. soldier and a disillusioned jihadist, it’s a wondrously nuanced book. Van Reet offers none of the bang-bang breathlessness that so often accompanies contemporary descriptions of war. Instead, there is something deeply human here – a story concerned first and foremost with the souls of those who find themselves protagonists in history’s darkest chapters. This book is set to hit shelves April 18. Continue reading