The Completely Normal List of Absurd Books

Embrace the ridiculous and absurd today because on November 20th, it’s National Absurdity Day! On this holiday, we should rejoice in the illogical, unreasonable or nonsensical. Life has absurd moments, why shouldn’t we celebrate them? A wonderful way to do so is to incorporate the absurd in your literature collection. Read on to discover a completely normal list of definitively absurd books!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
charlieandthechocfactoryBoth this book and its sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, are rich in humor and the absurd. Dahl’s imagination runs wild as the story unfurls in a strange chocolate factory owned by an eccentric. These oddball fantasy novels include such strange events as a girl blowing up into a blueberry from sneaking forbidden chewing gum, children being carried away on rivers of chocolate, a group being launched into space in a great glass elevator and other bouts of madness. This story has a sweet lesson to get across, which is that children who try their hardest to be good and to avoid those common temptations (gluttony, greed, envy, etc.) will be rewarded.

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How Novel: A Writer’s Approach to November

November is one of my favorite months of the year for two very important reasons (and neither of them has anything to do with eating turkey). I love November because there is no better month than one that kicks off with a day celebrating authors and then challenges authors to write a novel all month long. That’s right November, 1 is National Author’s Day, a day set aside to “show appreciation to the men and women who have made American literature possible,” and then the entire month of November is National Novel Writing Month, the world’s largest writing challenge, where participants pledge to write 50,000 words in one month.

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The goal of National Novel Writing Month is to write a novel from start to finish in one month, which is  assumed to be about 50,000 words. Unfortunately, the last novel I finished writing was more than 100,000 words, but I still won the challenge of National Novel Writing Month by reaching the 50,000-word goal. In my opinion, what National Novel Writing Month does for writers is give us a goal to shoot for, and once we’ve reached that goal, we’ve invested so much time and energy in the project that we’re driven to finish.

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I had never heard of NaNoWriMo until about six years ago, and this year will only be my third time to participate. Of course, one of those years, I was struggling to complete a novel I had already started so I decided to use NaNoWriMo as my incentive to finish, which means I didn’t count my words or use the NaNoWriMo website to track my progress, but I did use the time and set my goal. The important thing was writing.

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If you are an aspiring novelist… if you believe you have a story in you… if you just don’t know where to start… I challenge you to write 50,000 words in November. The story you have to tell just may be the one someone else is dying to read.

And don’t forget about the most important part of writing:

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Find all your writing materials for NaNoWriMo, not to mention inspiring novels by great American writers, at your local Half Price Books. And good luck this November.

Julie is Traffic Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.

Five American Writers Who Served

On November 11, America will pause to honor all those who have served in its Armed Forces. Veterans Day as we know it was established in 1954, when Congress changed the name of Armistice Day and broadened its definition—what had been primarily a celebration of World War I vets was redefined as a day dedicated to all military veterans.

Here at HPB, we’re thankful for all who’ve donned the uniform to fight for our country. But being the bookish types we are, we thought it’d be interesting to consider a few of the great American writers who spent time in the military. Most of these authors wrote about their war experience, and it’s safe to say that all of them were shaped by it in profound ways. The writer Norman Mailer called it the worst experience of his life but also the most valuable.

Joseph Heller
HellerThe novelist of Catch-22 fame joined the U.S. Army Air Corps at age 19, shortly after America entered World War II. He was sent to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, and from there flew 60 combat missions as a B-25 bombardier. After the war, Heller went to college on the G.I. Bill and worked as an advertising copywriter before the publication of Catch-22 established him in the literary world. The satirical novel, published in 1961, is decidedly anti-war, but it has been used by the U.S. Air Force Academy to teach about the dangers of bureaucracy. Heller even appeared at the Academy in 1986 for a celebration of the book’s 25th anniversary.

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The 2018 HPB Calendar: Celebrating All Things Printed & Recorded

Each year during the holiday season, Half Price Books offers our best customers a year’s worth of book-loving excitement in the form of the Half Price Books Calendar. For 2018, we present (drumroll, please!) A Celebratory Compendium of All Things Printed & Recorded…& Played, Solved, Watched, Etc!IMG_0075

Available in stores November 1 for FREE with a $30 purchase (while supplies last), the 2018 HPB Calendar explores the history of printing and how media has been consumed over the years, along with random fun facts that are perfect for your next trivia night. We’ve been buying & selling everything in this calendar since 1972, so naturally it’s one of our favorite topics!

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Totally Random Lists: Eat, Drink and Be Merry

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 November 2017!

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Half Price Books isn’t a grocery store, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find tasty stuff on our shelves. This month we’re giving you a menu of nutritious & mouthwatering titles inspired by food and drink. Enjoy. Nov visual

BOOKS
The Hundred-Foot Journey, Richard C. Morais
Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
Sideways, Rex Pickett

MOVIES & TV
Chef
Julie & Julia
Ratatouille
Soul Food

MUSIC
Meat is Murder, The Smiths
Milk and Honey, John Lennon and Yoko Ono
The Spaghetti Incident, Guns N’ Roses
Whipped Cream & Other Delights, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

Hungry for more of our food-related favorites? Whet your appetite at HPB.com/eat.

Thrills and Chills: Reads for Fall

October is my favorite month, not only because it’s the true beginning of fall (I feel strongly enough about this that I will fight anyone who brings up that the equinox is in September!), but also because it’s the beginning of what I like to affectionately refer to as “creepy weather.” There’s something about fall and the approach of Halloween that bring both the cozy and spooky together, and I love to read a ton of mysteries and thrillers during this time.

Unfortunately, sometimes it can feel like this particular genre gets bogged down by a lot of work from dudes with names like James, Michael, John and Joe (no offense, guys), so I made it my personal mission to read thrillers from female authors this year. Here are several that were recently published that I think are worth checking out:

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The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
I happened to read B.A. Paris’ 2016 debut novel Behind Closed Doors this summer and was thoroughly horrified. So horrified, in fact, that I rushed to the bookstore to buy The Breakdown as soon as it was released in July. It wasn’t anything like Behind Closed Doors, but I liked it even more due to its heavy paranoia factor. Paris navigates various aspects of mental health—from anxiety to depression and dementia—and utilizes memory loss in a truly gripping way; to the point where every time I closed the book, I wondered if I was losing my mind along with the main character. Continue reading

The Island of Misfit Horror Sequels

Sequels are always a mixed bag – especially sequels to horror movies. Even if a horror movie doesn’t scare you, it should at least surprise you. And how do you get something that surprised you once to surprise you again?

I’ve selected some horror sequels that attempt – and mostly succeed – at being something other than just more of the same. Most of these movies aren’t the equal of the classics they’re based on, but they’re worth watching because they try to surprise you again. So if you’re looking for something new or different to watch this Halloween, I recommend giving these sequels a chance (or second chance).

So without further ado, I welcome you to <insert spooky voice here> the Island of Misfit Horror Sequels…

Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives
Well, we have to start with a Friday the 13th movie on Friday the 13th. I won’t lie, this series has never been my thing (sorry, Friday fans), but Jason Lives is a ton of fun.

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Why? The people who made it acknowledged how silly this series is and leaned into it. The end result is a charmingly self-aware horror-comedy that’s funny while still letting Jason do what he does to anyone who gets near Camp Crystal Lake. If this isn’t the best Friday movie, it’s right up there. Now let’s move on to something that takes itself more seriously…

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Bebop Birthdays: Monk and Dizzy Turn 100

You could say bebop was born in October 1917. It wasn’t until the 1940s that this complex form of modern jazz was played or heard, but that one autumn month 100 years ago was when two of bebop’s principal architects first came into the world.

Pianist Thelonious Monk and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie were born eleven days and 170 miles apart—Monk in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, on October 10, and Dizzy in Cheraw, South Carolina, on the 21st.Monk_and_Dizzy_together[1]

Along with Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and a few others, Monk and Gillespie would develop a revolutionary style of jazz that was more harmonically complex than the early jazz and swing that came before it. Initially dismissed by older musicians, bebop captured the imagination of younger players and profoundly impacted all jazz that came after it, establishing the DNA of the classic jazz of the 1950s and 60s. Both men were also known for their personalities and sense of style.

Let’s take a closer look at these two legends as we celebrate their centennials.

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