There and Back Again: The Hobbit’s 80th Anniversary

5fe47-hobbit_cover“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” With this one sentence, J.R.R. Tolkien impacted my life (and many other lives) in a huge way. When I was a child, my dad would usually make up stories at bed time to get me to fall asleep. It was our routine. When he was running low on creativity, he would read to me. The Hobbit was the first book I ever remember him reading to me, and I loved it. It’s is my absolute favorite book in the world, and it is celebrating its 80th anniversary!

The Hobbit was published on September 21, 1937 and has been in print ever since. It was originally published by George Allen & Unwin in London to glowing reviews and has remained a beloved book through the decades. The book appeals to adults and children alike, as it combines wry humor and wit with an adventure story like no other. The Hobbit is the forerunner for The Lord of the Rings, the epic saga that is widely acknowledged as a classic. Though related to that epic story, The Hobbit is in a class of its own. For Hobbit lovers, this day is all about the quest of a homebody hobbit-turned-burglar and his companions. Although Bilbo begins the adventure a grumpy, immature hobbit, he gains a new level of maturity and wisdom as he completes different tasks in the adventure. This beloved classic has been adapted in the following ways:

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75 Years of Little Golden Books to Treasure: The Poky Little Puppy & Friends

Before the introduction of Little Golden Books in 1942, children’s books normally sold for $2 to $3 each. Given average rates of U.S. inflation, that’s about $28 to $42 in today’s dollars. Purchasing children’s books was a luxury for most families until George Duplaix came on the scene. As president of the Artists and Writers Guild, Duplaix approached Simon & Schuster Publishing and Western Printing to develop colorful children’s books that would be durable and affordable for most American families.

Among the first Little Golden Books released on October 1, 1942 was The Poky Little Puppy, sold for just a quarter. This – among other early titles in the Little Golden Books series like The Little Red Hen, Mother Goose, and more – has become an iconic representation of both Little Golden Books and children’s literature spanning across generations.

After only five months on the market, 1.5 million copies were sold. The Poky Little Puppy is among the best-selling books of all time with nearly 15 million copies sold. The delightful illustrations have reappeared on reprinted editions, home goods, toys and clothing items throughout the decades since.

The Poky Little Puppy  Ownership of Little Golden Books has changed several times over the years. It’s now published by Penguin Random House with new titles and licensed content from Disney, Sesame Street, Nickelodeon and more. Through it all, the books remain emblematic with a shiny golden spine and illustrated flyleaf pages where the owner can write his or her name inside.

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Share your Little Golden Book favorites and memories with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Tag @halfpricebooks and #Golden75.


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

So Glad We Had This Time Together: 50 Years of The Carol Burnett Show

Though I was a little too young to have seen the episodes when they first aired (September 11, 1967-March 29, 1978), The Carol Burnett Show was an integral part of my childhood. I remember running home from school, throwing my bag down and turning on the television because The Carol Burnett Show came on at 4p.m., and I didn’t want to miss it. Carol Burnett broke new ground when the show first aired, as the first woman television variety show host without the aid of a man counterpart. The Carol Burnett Show ran for 11 seasons, earned a handful of Emmys and even spawned a successful spin-off in the first-run syndication comedy sitcom Mama’s Family.  Now, as The Carol Burnett Show turns 50-years-old, what better way to celebrate than to share some interesting facts and hilarious clips from what I consider to be one of the best television shows of all time.

The Cast: When the show first aired, the cast consisted of Carol, Vicki Lawrence (an 18-year-old unknown), Harvey Korman (who had been a regular on the Danny Kaye Show) and Lyle Waggoner (who was the first centerfold in Playgirl magazine). When Lyle left, a frequent and popular guest star, Tim Conway joined the show. Tim’s constant ad-libbing may have annoyed some cast members, but it made him a favorite among audiences. Finally Harvey left the show in its 10th season and Dick Van Dyke was brought in for a few months. Unfortunately, Dick couldn’t replicate the chemistry that Harvey had with the audience, so his stint as a cast member was short lived. However, he is in my favorite blooper from The Carol Burnett Show, a family sketch that shows Tim at his ad-libbing best. You can see Dick Van Dyke on the arm of the couch by Mama.

The Look: All of the costumes on The Carol Burnett Show were created by designer Bob Mackie, who had to design 60 or more costumes a week for the sketch comedy show. His designs helped the actors create their characters. For example, Mrs. Wiggins was supposed to be an elderly woman but Mackie had something else in mind when he created her curvy outfit. When Carol tried it on, it was tight around the knees and baggy in the behind. She asked him to take it up, but he said no. She needed to stick her behind into it. So Carol did, creating Mrs. Wiggins characteristic walk. However Mackie’s most iconic design for Carol was the Scarlett O’Hara curtain dress for their parody sketch of Gone with the Wind. This dress can be found in the Smithsonian, and you can even buy a Barbie doll with the dress on.

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Life’s a Treasure Hunt…and so is Half Price Books!

Part of the beauty of shopping at Half Price Books is finding things you didn’t even know you needed…or existed! Golden Girls puzzle? Please and thank you… for being a friend! KFC promotional Christmas vinyl? Finger-licking YES! Star Trek Enterprise cordless phone? Beam me UP! (Yes, these are real items we’ve seen in our stores at one time or another…)

So when we set out to build our new website, the all-new HPB.com, we wanted to inject some of the “treasure hunt” factor that you get from a visit to your local HPB into the online shopping experience. Which is why we created “Quirky Tags.” Maybe you don’t know what to read, watch or listen to next, but you know what you’re feeling at the moment. Quirky Tags are curated lists of themed products that are hand-selected by our very own HPB bibliomaniacs. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! You can find Quirky Tags scattered throughout HPB.com, but in case you’re more of the “instant gratification” type, take a look at some of our favorites:

  1. Aliens Among Us – for when you need a… close encounter.
  2. Amazing Plot Twists – for when you just did not see that coming.
  3. Auld Lang Syne – for when it’s hard to say goodbye.
  4. Best Friends in Love – for when you have all the feels.
  5. Dysfunctional Families – for when you need to know you’re not the only one.
  6. Epic Quests – for when the journey is the reward, not the destination.
  7. Hair-Raisers & Spine-Tinglers – for when you’re scared silly.
  8. Retold Classics – for when you want a fresh take on an old favorite.
  9. Road Trip Musts – for when the road ahead lies in wait.
  10. Stranger Than Fiction – for when real life proves to be all too real.

These are just some of the gems you’ll find throughout the all-new HPB.com. Happy hunting… and stay quirky!

Jason is the Email Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.

From the Gridiron to the Big Screen

Are you ready for some fooootbaaaaallllll? (Sung in my best Hank Williams Jr. voice) Any good fan knows the NFL season kicks off the Thursday night after Labor Day, and the rest of the teams are in action on Sunday. Anyone who knows me at all knows I am a football fan, but they also know my passion for movies. That made me think of NFL football players who turned to acting. Ok, I want to start off right now by eliminating the ones that play extras on a football team, like Michael Irvin of the Dallas Cowboys and Bill Romanowski of the Denver Broncos in Longest Yard. I am also going to eliminate TV actors such as Fred Dryer of the Los Angeles Rams in the TV series Hunter. With the rules set, let’s see who we can come up with.

John Matuszak was the first overall pick in the 1973 NFL draft and a 2-time Super Bowl champion. He played for the Houston Oilers, Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. He starred with Ringo Starr and Dennis Quad in the 1980s comedy Caveman, where he played the clumsy villain, Tonda. He was probably remembered more for his role as Sloth in the kids adventure movie The Goonies, where he was seen wearing a Raiders T-shirt.
John Matuszak

Howie Long was a nine-time Pro Bowl defensive end for the Oakland Raiders was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2000. Long has many movies to his credit, with supporting roles in Broken Arrow and 3000 Miles to Graceland, but he was the lead star in the action movie Firestorm. He also had a role in Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, That Thing You Do, which can be seen in the extended cut of the Blu-Ray or DVD but was cut entirely from the feature release of the film.
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Celebrate Literacy with our Literacy Benefit Day on Sept 12!

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Happy National Literacy Month, everybody! If you’re a big reader like I am (and if you’ve stumbled across the Half Price Books blog, I bet you are), it’s hard to imagine not being able to read. However, there are millions of adults in the United States who cannot, and that puts their children at a greater risk of falling behind in school.

Not being able to read affects just about every aspect of your life – things you probably take for granted each day like helping your kids with their homework, or reading a pill bottle to make sure you’re taking the proper medication.

Luckily, there are countless wonderful organizations across the country doing wonderful work to teach both adults and children to read. We wanted to help those organizations out, so we are hosting our inaugural Literacy Benefit Day on Tuesday, Sept. 12!

On Literacy Benefit Day, we’ll donate 5% of our in-store sales to our partner literacy organizations across the country. We hope you’ll come visit your local Half Price Books that day to help out these wonderful organizations!

In the meantime, we encourage you to check out the organization in your community to learn more about their work and to see how to become involved.

Arizona
Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County

California
East Bay Children’s Book Project
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If You Liked Wonder, You Might Also Like…

If you’re part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading (or perhaps just finished) Wonder by R.J. Palacio, a touching middle-grade novel about Auggie Pullman, a young boy with a rare medical facial deformity as he struggles through his first year at a mainstream school. The kids that are kind enough to look past Auggie’s strange appearance discover a smart, funny kid who  is so much more than what he looks like. Palacio explores Auggie’s story from different points of view so that you learn not just how Auggie feels about a situation, but also his family and his friends. Through Wonder, Palacio weaves a tale of courage and kindness that sparked the Choose Kind Movement, where classrooms fight against bullying by signing a pledge to Choose Kind.

If you liked, Wonder, here are a few other books you might like.

Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine • Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli • Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper • Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan • Absolutely Almost, by Lisa Graff • Firegirl, by Tony Abbott • Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt • Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, by Jack Gantos • Lost in the Sun, by Lisa Graff • A Dog Called Homeless, by Sarah Lean • Because of Mr. Terupt, by Rob Buyea

Since one of my favorite things about Wonder was how the story was told through different perspectives, I think I’ll head to my local HPB to pick up a copy of Because of Mr. Terupt, as its story is also told through varying points-of-view. What will be your next read?

What to get in on the conversation? Join the HPB Book Club at hpb.com/bookclub.

A Working List of Labor Day Books

Labor Day is the day we celebrate and honor the contributions of the American Labor Movement but for many of us, Labor Day weekend signals the end of summer. We often celebrate Labor Day by grilling, swimming and relaxing with friends and family. Did you know, however,  that this holiday weekend has only been an official U.S. holiday since 1894? So while you enjoy your day off, check out these books about why this glorious Monday is a national holiday!

The Jungle_Upton SinclairThe Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Part of the labor movement’s biggest improvements came from the response to the writings of investigative journalists. Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle to expose the harsh working conditions for American factory workers, particularly women and children. The book did more than just that, however. It also revealed the horrific condition of American slaughterhouses. Meat production facilities had severe issues that could easily lead to contamination. The public’s outrage led to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act 1907 and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. While Sinclair unintentionally helped current Americans feel assured of the safe conditions of their foods, he was disappointed by the public’s response to his book. He had originally wanted to highlight the poor conditions of the workers, not the poor conditions of the food in the factories.

Death in Haymarket_James GreenDeath in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America by James Green
This book is a fascinating read! It is a study of the 1886 Haymarket bombing at a Chicago labor rally that killed several police officers. Occurring in the midst of the largest national strike Americans had ever seen, the bombing created mass hysteria and led to a sensational trial, which culminated in four controversial executions. The trial seized headlines across the country, created the nation’s first Red Scare and dealt a blow to the labor movement from which it would take decades to recover. In this book, James Green recounts the rise of the first great labor movement in the wake of the Civil War and brings to life the epic twenty-year battle for the eight-hour workday. He shows how the movement overcame numerous setbacks to orchestrate a series of strikes that swept the country in 1886, positioning the unions for a hard-won victory on the eve of the Haymarket tragedy. Blending a gripping narrative, outsized characters and a panoramic portrait of a major social movement, Death in the Haymarket is an important addition to the history of American capitalism and a moving story about the class tensions at the heart of Gilded Age America. Continue reading

Totally Random Lists: Go Long!

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 September 2017!

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Got some extra time on your hands? Need to work on your biceps? Try picking up one of these massively wordy books, epically epic movies or sprawlingly ambitious triple albums. Editor, schmeditor!

BOOKS
1Q84, Haruki Murakami
Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

MOVIES & TV
Cleopatra
Hamlet (1996)
Lawrence of Arabia
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

MUSIC
All Things Must Pass, George Harrison
Emancipation, Prince
The Epic, Kamasi Washington
Have One on Me, Joanna Newsom

Want to extend your To Be Read list? Time for an epic binge-watch? Check out our even longer list of lengthy titles at HPB.com/long.

Meet the Bibliomaniacs: The HPB Tyler Team

You asked, we listened. We’re beyond excited for the opening of our new store in Tyler, TX. In this edition of Meet the Bibliomaniacs, we would like to introduce you to the entire HPB Tyler team. Take it away, guys!

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What is your favorite part about working at HPB?

  • “Interacting with and serving our customers and setting up my staff to succeed.” ­– Joseph M. (Store Manager)
  • “My interactions with customers and employees.” – Cody T. (Asst. Store Manager)
  • “The customers and coworkers are my favorite part of working at HPB.” – Twila B. (Shift Leader)
  • “Being surrounded by the things I love.” – Curtis B. (Bookseller)
  • “Meeting new people.” – Natasha M. (Bookseller)
  • “Learning! Opportunities to learn about anything and everything are endless.” – Bree L. (Bookseller)
  • “Discovering fantastic books!” – Jeff G. (Bookseller)
  • “How much HPB understands and celebrates the individuality of its team members.” – Dana E. (Bookseller)
  • “I am a bibliophile, so my favorite part of being a team member is the books and officially becoming a bibliomaniac.” – Jennifer G. (Bookseller)

What is your all-time favorite book, movie or album?

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