Smart Patriotic Sounds for July 4

Independence Day is fast upon us, and if you’re like me, that means you’re planning what patriotic American music to play at your cookout or family gathering. I mean, I’m not literally doing a cookout, because I live in Texas and it’s a bazillion degrees out. But I do enjoy making a good themed playlist.

Problem is, you likely don’t own much patriotic music. Besides Sousa marches, the national anthem, songs people think are the national anthem and that one Lee Greenwood tune…what even is patriotic music?

You could take the easy route and play any American music. (For that matter, you could take the super easy route and play literally any music, and no one at your cookout or indoor air conditioned food-eating event would bat an eye, but I’m writing an important blog post here, so don’t do that!) Sure, any American music would do, but this being HPB and all, let’s dig deeper in the crates and find some music that celebrates America, but perhaps not in the obvious flag-waving ways. Continue reading

Resolution Renewal: Half a Year, Half a Year, Half a Year Gone!

July 1 marks the midyear checkpoint for New Year’s Resolutions. It’s time to take stock of what you’ve accomplished and what you need to do to accomplish even more. Every year, I resolve to read a certain number of books, and I know I’m not alone because through the Half Price Books Resolve to Read program more than 60,000 people (including me) resolved to read more! However, of the 50 books I resolved to read, I’ve only read 16. Needless to say, I have some work to do, and here are a few ideas I’ve had about how I’m going to check this resolution off as done.

Book Club LogoJoin a Book Club. Being in a community of readers who are all reading the same book, and knowing that a discussion will take place, will push me to read the book so that I will be able to participate. Did you know you could join the HPB Book Club online, which is a great way to be part of a book club for people who are too busy or uncomfortable in group settings?

Track your progress. I am a list maker, and one of my favorite things to do is to check something off my list. As I read a book, I can add it to the list or create a list of books I want to read and check them off as I have read them. Some websites will help your track your progress online. My favorite is Good Reads.

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If You Liked A Place for Us, You Might Also Like…

A Place for Us 2.jpgIf you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading (or perhaps just finished) A Place for Us, by Fatima Farheen Mirza, a heartbreaking story of family, identity and belonging. As all the members of an Indian-America Muslim family gather to celebrate the eldest daughter’s wedding, each family member looks back at crucial moments in their past as the three children have searched for the place they belong in the world, in their culture, in their faith and in their family. Mirza goes back and forth in time and from one perspective to another, letting the reader see the thoughts and feelings behind every circumstance and every consequence, showing how without understanding, even acts of love can turn into acts of betrayal. A Place for Us is the first title published under Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth.

If you liked A Place for Us, here are a few other books you might like:

 

All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin, I’ll Be Your Blue Sky, by Marisa de los Santos, How Hard, Can it Be, by Allison Pearson, Stay with Me, by Ayobami Adebayo, An American Mariage, by Tayari Jones

 

Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward, Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng, What We Lose, by Zinzi Clemmons, Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate, What We Were Promised, by Lucy Tan (coming out July 10, 2018)

So, what’s your next read?

Check out what we’re reading next. Join the HPB Book Club.

Collectible Conversations: Movie Posters of the ‘50s & ‘60s

When buyers at our Flagship store recently acquired more than 250 original movie posters, mostly from ‘50s and ‘60s films, they realized they were looking at some pretty special pop culture treasures.

Many of the posters were science fiction, including Night Creatures, The Return of the Fly, and Barbarella. But they ran the gamut of genres: spy movies, Three Stooges comedies, disasters, and more. The visual imagery on many of these posters is often stunning and, is in some cases, iconic.

Dallas South District Trainer Ben Jousan and I will be hosting a Collectible Conversations presentation on the evening of Thursday, June 28, in which we’ll show many of the posters and discuss the collecting of movie posters.

I asked Ben a few questions about the bounty of movie posters.

How often do stores see vintage movie posters come in?
We get the occasional bedroom fare with contemporary films or video games promo posters, but we don’t often see original one-sheet poster art for movies. We don’t always have a dedicated space on our sales floor to feature posters, but when we see such an amazing group of unique items, it forces us to rethink our layout on the floor to inform customers of our unique product mix and encourage them to sell these kinds of things to us!

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Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program Check-In

fyb-thumbnailWe’re about halfway through our summer reading program, Feed Your Brain®! Summer is an important time for your little ones to keep reading and improving their language skills. Children who don’t read regularly during the summer may be in danger of the “summer slide,” a decline in their reading ability. This decline can have major repercussions as students get older and advance through the school system. But don’t fret! Avoiding the “summer slide” is easy. Just Feed Your Brain all summer long with fun and interesting books from Half Price Books!

Kids 14 & Under
Kids 14 and under can participate in the Feed Your Brain® program by picking up a reading log at your local Half Price Books or downloading a copy online. Children are encouraged to read at least 15 minutes each day. A parent reading to young children does count as part of reading at least 15 minutes each day. Once your child has read 300 minutes, stop by your local Half Price Books to turn in your completed log and earn $5 Bookworm Bucks in both June and July. You can then use these Bookworm Bucks to purchase even more books! We love seeing children reading and hope that this incentive program not only encourages them to read in the summer but also helps you create your own little library full of purchases from your local Half Price Books.

Teens
In recent years, we have expanded the Feed Your Brain® program to include teens (after all, why should kids have all the fun?)! For this portion of the program, we challenge teens to write and submit a review online about one of the books they read this summer. We’ll then email you a barcode to show at your local Half Price Books, which will earn you $5 Bookworm Bucks!

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All Things Printed & Recorded: Paperbacks – Judge Them By Their Cover

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For July, we’re going way back to cover the history of the paperback.

Penguin Waugh

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The modern paperback was born in 1935 with the hit debut of Penguin in the United Kingdom. Founder Allen Lane’s goal was to sell affordable, high-quality books to the masses in places like train stations. Their minimalistic, type-driven cover designs, color-coded by genre, became iconic.
  • Inexpensive paperbound books called dime novels were published in the US starting in 1860. Their British counterparts were called penny dreadfuls.
  • In 1939, Pocket Books launched in the US with 10 titles priced at 25¢ each. By comparison, a hardback might cost a few dollars. Pocket sold their books in subway stations, newsstands and drugstores, reaching new readers and forever changing the bookselling industry.
  • Soldier in circleSmall enough to fit in a uniform pocket, paperback books were carried by soldiers in World War II. One writer noted that “if the back trouser pocket bulged in that way,” it indicated that the soldier was a reader.

TIMELINE
17th cent.  Early softcover books are printed in Europe.
1935  Penguin publishes its first paperback, Ariel, a biography of Percy Shelley.
1938  The first US paperback, Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, is released by Pocket and sold at Macy’s as a test.
1950  Using the brand Gold Medal Books, Fawcett begins publishing original fiction in paperback, as opposed to reprinting titles originally released in hardback.
1960  Sales of paperbacks pass those of hardcover books.

stack of paperbacksWant to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book Reading the West: An Anthology of Dime Westerns, ed. Bill Brown
book Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover, by Paul Buckley, ed.
book Penguin By Design: A Cover Story, 1935–2005, by Phil Baines
book When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II, by Molly Guptill Manning
book Two-Bit Culture: The Paperbacking of America, by Kenneth Davis & Joann Giusto-Davis
book Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction, by Grady Hendrix
slate_film-512 Paperback Dreams , directed by Alex Beckstead

 

Meet the Bibliomaniac: Tony Warmus

June is Great Outdoors Month, which made us think of HPB Regional Manager, Tony Warmus. When he’s not overseeing stores in Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia and Missouri, Tony is outside hiking, skiing the Canadian Rockies or tending to his bee apiary. In this edition of Meet the Bibilomaniac, Tony shares his favorite books, movies, outdoor adventures and more. Take it away, Tony! 

hiking

When did you start working at HPB?
1991

What is your favorite part about working here?
The people I work with, some of whom I’ve known for over 20 years. That and the fact that I can always discover something new to read when I visit each of my stores.

What are you reading right now?
Well, I’m reading more than one book. It’s hard to have only one going at a time! For fiction, I’m currently reading a collection of short stories by Ottessa Moshfegh called Homesick for Another World. She was recommended by David Sedaris when we saw him give a reading at Butler University here in Indianapolis. To say her humor is obtuse is putting it mildly! I love the voice of her characters and the odd details she describes. I haven’t laughed out loud while reading a book in a quite a while. I’d highly recommend her book.

For nonfiction, I just picked up The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart. It’s basically about what the title says, and it’s full of so many interesting facts about earthworms that I can’t put it down. For example, did you know that after the glaciers retreated after the last ice age, the exposed ground would have remained free of earthworms for nearly 1.5 million years if it hadn’t been for the spread of agrarian culture around the world? I just think that’s incredible! It’s a very readable book. Amy Stewart also wrote The Drunken Botanist, another one of my favorites.

 

If you could write a book about yourself, what would the title be?
It would be one of those long titles, probably something like Pour Me Some Wine and I’ll Tell You My Tale. As that title may suggest, I’m fond of a good glass of wine, particularly during what I like to call my “attitude adjustment” hour between 5-6 p.m. every day.

What is your all-time favorite book, movie or album?
My all-time favorite book is The Direction of Time by physicist Hans Reichenbach. I guess that gives me away as being a bit of a nerd. That book is the classic work on the underlying nature of time, part philosophy and part advanced physics. Hans Reichenbach was the first scientist to help really clarify the notion that entropy ensures time moves in one direction, what we perceive as forward.

My all-time favorite movie would be Aliens, at least judging by the number of times I’ve re-watched it. That movie is good on so many levels, but I really love watching the transition of Ripley from meek, science consultant to confident leader of the surviving group of soldiers.

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Celebrating the Undiscovered: Inspiration for Aspiring Writers

Author and journalist Gene Fowler once said, “Writing is easy; all you do is sit, staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.” Novelist P.G. Wodehouse said, “I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit,” and author and sportswriter Red Smith said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” In other words, writers know that to create something out of nothing but a thought and put it down on paper in an engaging, exciting or maybe humorous way requires patience, commitment, sacrifice and pain.

So why do it? Because you must.

At Half Price Books, we celebrate not only the wonderful books that have already been published, but also those that are still waiting to be discovered, or written. How? Well, there are several ways.

Just getting started? We have journals, research materials, inspirational quotes, writing style guides (if that sort of thing interests you) and nice little nooks where you and your laptop can get lost for a while. I once startled an HPB employee while sitting in the floor of the fiction section, writing a murder mystery under the watchful eye of Ernest J. Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying. I though it apropos.

Stuck? We have writing prompts for those of you who need a jumpstart, not to mention the shelves and shelves of escapes and reboots just waiting to be discovered.

Ready to submit? We have guides to help find publishers and agents, as well as books about the publishing business and novel proposals. Don’t forget to look at the acknowledgements in your favorite books to see who published, edited and represented those authors.

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Need encouragement? Throughout the year, Half Price Books stores across the country hold writers workshops or (in November) National Novel Writing Month Write-ins, where you can sit and talk to other writers about the creative process and the struggles of writing. We’re also partnering this month with Scribbler, the only subscription box for novelists! The purpose of the box is to help writers improve their craft and reach their publishing goals. Subscribe to the June Scribbler box and get a special coupon from Half Price Books.

Kate 20Half Price Books is also proud to be the place where many talented writers and artists have started out. Did you know that the Newberry Award-winning novelist Kate DiCamillo once worked in our Coon Rapids, MN store? Check out other authors who have worked or still work for us in our “Meet the Bibliomaniac” series, Brian Douglas and Dayna Ingram.  (And maybe one day you’ll see my name there!)

So no matter what you write, where you write, how you write or what you need to write, Half Price Books has you covered.