Totally Random Lists: All the Colors of the Rainbow

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 June 2017!
June TypeWhen you’re painting your bedroom or dying your hair (for fashion reasons, of course, not vanity — you wouldn’t be that way), finding the exact right color is hard. With the list of colorful titles below, finding the right book, movie or music is easy.

BOOKS
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

June Visual crayonsMOVIES & TV
The Gold Rush
Orange is the New Black
The Red Balloon

MUSIC
Back to Black, Amy Winehouse
Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls
Kind of Blue, Miles Davis
Yellow Submarine, The Beatles

For more hues, shades and tints, check out our longer list of colorful titles at HPB.com/colors.

Do You Know Where Your Towel Is? May 25 is Towel Day.

If you know the answer to life, the universe and everything, if you learned to fly by aiming for the ground and missing and if you ever speculated why a bowl of petunias would think, “Oh no, not again…” while hurtling toward a planet, then you should celebrate Towel Day. Towel Day is an annual tribute to Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. On Towel Day, Adams’ fans are encouraged to carry a towel with them for the day. The more conspicuous the towel, the better.

If you have never read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you might ask, “Why a towel?”  Well, Adams explains the importance of towels in chapter 3 of the aforementioned book.

HitchikersGuide“A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. Continue reading

Books Authors Read with Craig Johnson

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Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome author Craig Johnson to our Northwest Highway location in Dallas on Wednesday, May 17 at 7p.m. to discuss his new novella, The Highwayman. We hope to see you there! In the meantime, we asked Craig to share some of his favorite books with us as part of our Books Authors Read blog series – enjoy!

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When asked to make a list of my top-ten books, I thought Westerns, and then I thought I better thin the herd a bit and decided to limit my list to modern Westerns with 20th century environs. That cut it quite a bit, but then I thought I’d narrow things down even more by only including authors I’ve actually met. Now some of these folks I’ve only met once, while others are downright friends. So, here we go…

The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry
I met Mr. McMurtry when he was given the True West Magazine life achievement award and stood aside, not wanting to bother him. After a while I noticed him standing around by himself at the buffet table and figured I might as well go over and say something nice. “I think The Last Picture Show is one of the finest novels ever written.”

He clutched my arm. “Thank you, but don’t leave.”

“Okay…”

“I just don’t want to have to talk about Lonesome Dove for a while.” Continue reading

Books Authors Read with Chelsea Mueller

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Editor’s Note: We were pleased to host Chelsea Mueller to our Dallas Flagship store on Saturday, May 13 to sign and discuss her debut novel, Borrowed Souls. We asked her to share some of her favorite reads with you as part of our Books Authors Read series – please enjoy!

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If I had written this list a couple years ago, every title would have been urban fantasy or paranormal romance. I like ‘em gritty, but I’ve found a new love in fantasy and sci-fi this last year that has rather dominated my recommendations list. Regardless of genre, I tend to favor books with a speedy plot and immersive worldbuilding and #kissingbooks are 100 percent welcome.

The Fifth SeasonThe Fifth Season (2016 Hugo Award Winner for Best Novel) and The Obelisk Gate (2017 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Novel) by N.K. Jemisin

I’m cheating a little by including two books as a single pick here, but once you finish the first you’ll dive headlong into the second. The Fifth Season was my most recommended book in the last year.

The Obelisk GateLove fantasy? Read The Fifth Season.
Love sci-fi? Read The Fifth Season.
Love twisted plots? Read The Fifth Season.
Basically, if you like to read, pick up this book.

Then immediately devour the sequel The Obelisk Gate, which is even more unputdownable (if that’s a thing). The prose and craft in these novels is top-notch, and the plot continued to fascinate me further with each page.

GhostlandGhostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey
I write gritty fantasy grounded in the real world. Ghostland is not fiction, at least not in the same sense of the teeming magic found in the Southwest that I write. This non-fiction title explores how ghost stories evolve over time and what those tales say about our shifting fears as a society. Ghostland doesn’t posit whether ghosts are real, but instead it focuses on what our perceptions of such phenomena say about who we are and what we believe. The ghost stories are pretty excellent, too. Continue reading

Biographies of Heroic Lives (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

It’s Biography Week, which is a good time to read about the life of someone exceptional, someone notable for doing something heroic. (I also thoroughly enjoy reading about the lives of drunk musicians, hideous parents and reprehensible scofflaws, but we’ll save those for another occasion.)

We feature three fine editions of books that contain the stories of people who inspired other people.

RosaParks
Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue with Today’s Youth by Rosa Parks
Lee & Low, 1996. First Edition, signed by Rosa Parks!

This is not, strictly speaking, a biography or memoir, but in her responses to questions from young people, Ms. Parks relates her experiences as a key figure in the civil rights movement from her initial 1955 bus protest on and how those experiences shaped her life. Her bold action taken on a bus in Montgomery not only inspired legions to join the civil rights movement, but it also continues to inspire Americans both young and old.

This book, signed and dated 11/24/96 by the great American icon, is priced at $250. Continue reading

Books Authors Read with Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle

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Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle to two of our locations in just a few weeks! They’ll stop by our Northwest Highway location in Dallas on Monday, May 8 at 7p.m. CST to discuss their new book, Driving Miss Norma. 90-year-old Norma Bauerschmidt was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2015. Instead of having a difficult procedure and following through with chemotherapy, she decided to hit the road with her son and daughter-in-law. Her adventures were chronicled by the pair through pictures and blog posts, and she became a Facebook phenomenon. Although she passed away in 2016, she taught us all that saying “Yes” to life is the best way to live. We hope to see you at the Dallas event! If you can’t make it to the Dallas location, Tim and Ramie will also stop by our Marietta location in the Atlanta, Georgia area on May 16 at 7 p.m. EST. In the meantime, we asked them to share some of their favorite books with us in our Books Authors Read blog series – enjoy!

Memoirs and books involving the end-of-life seem to be the recent themes of our collective reading.

Being Mortal Medicine and What Matters in the EndBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
This is the book that inspired us to take “Miss Norma” on the road with us instead of leaving her behind in a nursing home. In it, Dr. Gawande addresses the realities everyone must face as they near the end of their lives. As a result, our eyes were wide open and clear when the time came to help make transformative decisions for Norma.

Dr. Gawande points out that most decisions concerning our elderly population’s living situations are aimed at ensuring their safety, at the expense of dignity and autonomy. He says this is especially true when adult children are making these decisions for them, and certainly all nursing homes are geared toward that approach.

He further argues that it is not just the “quantity of life” but the “quality of life” that must be considered at end times. Modern medicine is too concerned about prolonging life at the expense of the patient’s total well-being. Not only did his words give us the gumption to take Norma places that we would have otherwise not thought of, but he also demonstrates the beauty of hospice care in the home, giving us the confidence to have Norma with us in the motor home until the very end.

“Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.”  — Atul Gawande Continue reading

O Captain! My Captain!

It’s May, and all movie fans know what that means…Summer Movie Blockbusters are on the way! There are so many films to look forward to. Spider-Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes, Alien: Covenant and of course Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk are all on my list to see, but one of the most anticipated is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. This will mark the return of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, a role that earned him an Oscar nomination in The Curse of the Black Pearl. This made me think of all the famous captains out there.

Keeping with HPB’s celebration of totally random lists, I have put together my Captain’s Log (Star Trek pun intended). Can you name everyone that made my Best Captains List?

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The Captain and Tennille
The Captain, Daryl Dragon, was a hit recording artist in the ‘70s with Cathryn Tennille. You might remember Love Will Keep Us Together.

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Captain Morgan
Sir Henry Morgan, a Welsh privateer of the Caribbean, is the mascot for Captain Morgan Rum. Their motto is “To life, love and loot.”

Continue reading

If You Liked Britt-Marie Was Here, You Might Also Like…

Britt Marie Was HereLast year, the HPB Book Club read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, which I considered to be the best book I read last year.  Needless to say, I was excited when I learned our April/May Book Club selection was Fredrik Backman’s Britt-Marie Was Here! While I don’t know yet if it will be the best book I read this year (as the year is far from over), I will say it’s the best book I’ve read so far this year. Backman’s ability to write a typically dislikable character into someone the reader not only likes but also can’t help but cheer for is masterful.  When you meet Britt-Marie in the unemployment office, her judgmental, prudish attitude makes you sympathize with the clearly astonished employment office worker, but as the book progresses and you learn more about Britt-Marie and how she became the way she is—as well as immerse yourself in the community of Borg, “of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it”—you can’t help but love Britt-Marie for all the things you disliked about her before.

If you, like me, loved Britt-Marie Was Here, here are a few other books you may also love: Continue reading

Books Authors Read with Ian Harding

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Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome Ian to our Flagship location in Dallas on Thursday, May 11 at 7 p.m. for a meet & greet in honor of his new book, Odd Birds. We hope to see you there! In the meantime, we asked Ian to share some of his favorite books with us as part of our Books Authors Read blog series – enjoy!


h is for hawk
H Is for Hawk
by Helen MacDonald

I blazed through this book, which is shocking considering it chronicles one woman’s attempt at overcoming grief by learning falconry with a goshawk. In some way it encouraged me to write Odd Birds, since Helen MacDonald uses the bird as a lens through which to view her life.


the tigers wife

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrecht
I canceled a very important audition so that I could finish this book. Obrecht is a mystery master in that she managed to weave personal history and folklore into the same tale, showing that the questions asked by an entire culture are often the same as the deep questions we ask ourselves.

Continue reading