Let’s do the Time Loop Again

February 2 is Groundhog Day, so you’ll find me doing the same thing I do every Groundhog Day, watching the movie Groundhog Day, because Groundhog Day just isn’t Groundhog Day without watching Groundhog Day. (That sentence was brought to you by the people who bet me I couldn’t use “Groundhog Day” six times in a sentence.) Truth is, I have always loved stories that have time loops in them. As someone who constantly gets things wrong, the idea that someone could live the same day over and over again until they get things right appeals to me. Here’s a list of my top five books and movies about people who get stuck in some sort of time loop.

Groundhog Day—Of course we have to start this list with Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. The movie never explains how weatherman Phil Connors gets stuck in a time loop, having to relive February 2 over and over again, but I think the groundhog had something to do with it.

Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver—In this debut YA novel, Sam Kingston wakes up the morning after dying in a car accident, fated to relive the day she dies over and over again. Like in Groundhog Day, the story is about redemption and the reason for the time loop is not given, but it sure makes a great story. This book was turned into a movie in 2017, starring Zoey Deutch.

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All Things Printed & Recorded: Readers Flip for Magazines

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 February, we’re covering a product that’s been a mainstay at HPB since we first opened: magazines.

3 Magazines.pngTIMELINE

1731  The Gentleman’s Magazine debuts in England. Its publisher invents the word “magazine” based on the Arabic word “makhazin,” meaning storehouse.
1741  Early American magazines include Ben Franklin’s General Magazine.
1842  The Illustrated London News is the first magazine with illustrations.
1898  Ladies’ Home Journal becomes the first US magazine to have one million subscribers.
1923  Time ushers in the weekly news magazine
1944  Seventeen, the first magazine targeted to teens, debuts.
2015  Approximately 7,300 different magazine titles are published in the United States.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • In the 19th and 20th centuries, American magazines spread trends nationwide and helped create a shared pop culture.
  • Around 1900, popular magazines like McClure’s began publishing pieces by reform-minded investigative journalists. Known as muckrakers, these writers aimed to expose corruption in business and government.

McClures.pngDISCOVER MORE

book Life: The Classic Collection
book Memos: The Vogue Years, Diana Vreeland
book Covering the ‘60s: George Lois – The Esquire Era, George Lois
book Muckrakers: How Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, And Lincoln Steffens Helped Expose Scandal, Inspire Reform, And Invent Investigative Journalism, Ann Bausum & Daniel Schorr
book How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time, Marisa Meltzer
slate_film-512 The Devil Wears Prada
slate_film-512 Funny Face

Meet the Bibliomaniac: Gella Spencer

In this month’s edition of Meet the Bibliomaniac, we introduce you to Gella from our South Houston District. Take it away, Gella!


Gella faceName: Gella Spencer
Job Title: District Inventory Manager
Store Location: South Houston District

When did you join the team?
I joined the HPB team in the summer of 2002. I was the first non-transferring employee hired at the Humble, Texas location while it was still being outfitted from a lighting store into a bookstore. I thought it would be a short-term summer gig, as I figured out what I wanted to be when I “grew up”… and here I am in my sixteenth year.

As a District Inventory Manager (DIM), what’s an average day like for you?
Any given day in my role as a DIM, consists of three main responsibilities: working behind my laptop, working alongside my Store Inventory Manager (SIMs) or working on a specialized task. An average day behind the screen can include: checking reports, placing/verifying vendor orders, troubleshooting and basically providing aide to my team’s various needs. On days where I work alongside my SIMs, we can be merchandising, creating décor for an upcoming display, updating store signage, or any other task that offers aide to my SIMs. Specialized tasks can include conducting inventory, aiding in Comicpalooza/vendor participation, redesigning the flow of a section/area or participating in one of the taskforces/committees I am on.

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Adventures Worth Telling: A Book Nerd’s Look at Appreciate a Dragon Day

“Always remember, it’s simply not an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” –Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance

January 16 is Appreciate a Dragon Day, and what better way to celebrate than to look at some of our favorite dragons in literature?

beowulfThe Dragon that Slays Beowulf
The epic poem Beowulf is one of the oldest surviving and most important works of Old English literature. It is certainly one of the most important works in regards to dragons, as Beowulf was the first piece of English literature to represent a fire-breathing dragon as we think of them today. This unnamed dragon is the third monster that Beowulf faces and is the monster that deals him the wound that costs him his life. The dragon is slain by Beowulf’s distant cousin Wiglaf, who Beowulf names as his heir as he lays dying.

Smaug

Smaug

Giphy

The greedy, wicked worm from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit is probably the most well-known dragon in the world. Described as “the greatest of the dragons of his day,” Smaug attacked against King Thrór without warning and engulfed the dwarf king’s mountain in flames, causing the dwarves to flee. Smaug then moved in, taking the dwarves’ riches for himself and resided in the mountain for 150 years, until a meddlesome wizard and a band of dwarves elicited the help of a simple hobbit to take back the mountain. For more about this dragon and what brought about the quest to recapture the mountain, read Appendix A from The Return of the King and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales.

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All Things Printed & Recorded: The Printing Press Helps the World Get Bookish

This year in our HPB calendar (you got one, right?) we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we sell in our stores.

For January, we’re taking a look at the development of books and printing. A good place to start, huh?

Gutenberg circleDID YOU KNOW?

  • Books were costly and relatively rare before the innovations of Johannes Gutenberg. In 1439 he developed a system of printing—using movable type and a wooden press—that was quickly adopted throughout Europe and beyond, leading to increased production of books and the spread of knowledge to the masses.
  • Movable type, where individual characters are used to create words imprinted on a page, existed as early as 1045 in China. Gutenberg was the first to make type using metal, using an alloy of lead, tin and antimony.
  • Mental Floss calculated that, throughout history, about 134,000,000 unique book titles have been published.

TIMELINE

2nd cent. BCE  In India, texts written on palm leaves are bound with twine between two boards.
antique book1st cent. The codex appears. With folded pages bound on one side between two hard covers, codices are portable, easy to use and presage the modern book.
1455  Gutenberg completes his 42-line Bible, printing 180 copies.
1810  The steam-powered printing press leads to greater speed and efficiency.
1843  Book production flourishes thanks to the steam-powered rotary press.

DISCOVER MORE

book The Gutenberg Revolution: How Printing Changed the Course of History, John Man
book Gutenberg’s Apprentice: A Novel, Alix Christie
book Five Hundred Years of Printing, S.H. Steinberg & John Trevitt
book Type: The Secret History of Letters, Simon Loxley
music-note-21 Gutenberg! The Musical, Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording
clapperboard The Book of Eli
clapperboard The Book Thief

Collectible Conversations: The History of Dallas in the 50s & 60s Through Books

For the December presentation in our monthly Collectible Conversations series at the HPB Flagship in Dallas, we welcome Dallas historian Bob Reitz. Reitz will discuss his growing up in Dallas in the 50s and 60s using books as his reference points. Bob gave an earlier Collectible Conversations talk specifically about his life in bookstores and his 37 books about bookstores from his collection.

Coll Conv 8 31 3

We asked Bob to give us a little preview of his upcoming talk.

When did you first feel that Dallas in the 50s and 60s was a special place and time?
In January of 1954, my father’s insurance company transferred him to Dallas from upstate New York. We had a new house built in the Casa View section of northeast Dallas. Cotton fields were being plowed under to create homes for newly returned servicemen beginning to start families after World War II. I started first grade and finished high school living in the same house. I still have a small group of friends from these times. Growing up, it seemed normal to have new movie houses, drive-ins, libraries, swimming pools and a thriving downtown. I never realized as a kid what we had in these unique and special times.

I’ve always thought that besides your family, your neighborhood makes the biggest difference in your life. I didn’t grow up smelling salt water from the ocean or seeing snow-covered mountains on the horizon. I grew up on the rolling blackland prairies in a large urban city straddling the Trinity River.

I know you own many books on the subject. Is there one that may best encapsulate the era for, say, a 20-year-old reader from Milwaukee?
Probably the most thoughtful book about this era in Dallas is by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright (who graduated from Dallas’s Woodrow Wilson High School). The cover of his book In the New World:  Growing Up with America from the Sixties to the Eighties (1989) reads: “It’s both a story of one man’s coming of age in 1960s Dallas and a provocative account of the end of American innocence, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights era.”

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Keto, Paleo…Where Do I Go? A Look at Popular Diets for the New Year

2018 is upon us, folks. After spending months over-indulging on holiday sweets and starchy side dishes (*guilty*), the New Year is an opportunity for a fresh start with healthier eating habits, a dedication to fitness and an overall change in lifestyle.

Okay, so where to start? If you’re new to the world of healthy eating, it can be a little intimidating. There’s a new crop of buzzwords and diets to research (many end in –o, it seems), and choosing the right one for your needs and objectives is a big decision.

At Half Price Books, we’ve seen first-hand the impact these diets can have through various author events at our stores around the country, and 2018 is shaping up to be another busy year of visits from even more healthy-eating authors! If you’re resolving to change how you eat in 2018, we’d like to help by taking a closer look at the latest diets, and we hope to see you at an HPB author event soon!

whole30The Whole30 Diet
Whole30’s 30-day plan calls for cutting out sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy and dairy. Instead, the focus should be on whole foods: meat, nuts, seeds, seafood, eggs, fruits and veggies. There’s no calorie counting or weigh-ins, and after you’re done, you can revisit the restricted foods as long as you pay close attention to the results.

Pick up a copy of Whole30 founder Melissa Hartwig’s Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook at your local Half Price Books or at HPB.com.

engine2The Engine 2 Diet
Created by former Texas firefighter Rip Esselstyn, the Engine 2 Diet also advocates for whole foods, with a “plant-strong” focus and the restriction of meat, fish, eggs, dairy and processed foods. Health benefits include weight loss, lower cholesterol and a reduced risk of disease, as Esselstyn saw among his Texas firefighting crew.

Stop by an HPB store or shop HPB.com to pick up a paperback copy of the Engine 2 Diet, as well as Esselstyn’s new Engine 2 Cookbook. In her review of Engine 2 Diet, HPB bibliomaniac Jennifer says “If a bunch of meat-loving Texans can walk this path, you can, too!

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NYE on TV: How our Favorite Shows Ring in the New Year

Well, folks, 2017 is finally about to draw to a close. As we prepare for what lies ahead in 2018, we first must celebrate New Year’s Eve. For some, it’s a time to kiss someone special at the stroke of midnight with blissful hope for the future. For others, it’s a time to turn in early and remind oneself that “well, there’s always next year.”

Regardless of how you’ll be ringing in 2018, take a moment with us to look back at some of our favorite New Year’s moments from TV, like we have done for Thanksgiving and Christmas. So let’s get started!

10…9…8…

Friends: The One With the Routine (1999: Season 6, Episode 10)

No NYE celebration is complete without “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” In this classic Friends episode, Ross and Monica go all out to ensure that they’ll be featured on the big broadcast, bringing back…“the routine,” a dance they did in school.

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An Adventure in Time and the Holidays

Doctor Who is all about change, about comings and goings. And few things mark the passage of time more than the holidays. Each year since the show relaunched in 2005, Who has done a Christmas special. These episodes tend to be big, dramatic and more than a little silly. They’ve also become the time each actor playing the Doctor bows out from the role. This year’s upcoming special is no different, with Peter Capaldi saying his farewells.

Now seems like a good time to look back and offer up my choices for the five best holiday specials. There were some difficult decisions here, but the five episodes selected highlight the many wonderful (and weird) aspects of Doctor Who.

The Time of the Doctor (2013)

An imperfect episode that gives Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor a fitting sendoff, The Time of the Doctor attempts to end a three-season story arc, tell a charming Christmas story and say goodbye to Smith in 60 minutes. It’s far too much for a single episode.

The premise, while confusing, is a good one. The Doctor is trapped on an alien world in a town called Christmas (a bit on the nose, yeah), which holds a secret that all of Who’s classic baddies want. Thanks to some sci-fi nonsense, a force field (mostly) keeps the monsters out, but it means the Doctor can never leave or tell a lie. The Doctor is forced to live out his own personal hell of putting down roots and living an honest life.

The Doctor resigns himself to fighting the last battle of what he believes is his last life. Of course, that doesn’t happen, but there are some surprises – and Matt Smith is particularly good throughout. Time works best when viewed immediately after the far better 50th anniversary special. Together, the two episodes celebrate the show’s history while setting up its future.

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Holiday Albums You Love—And Others You Should

Now that it’s December, it’s time to dust off those records that live in the back of your collection, the ones that only get played one month out of the year: Christmas albums. In this post, I’m taking a look at some of the albums on Billboard’s list of the ten top-selling holiday albums of all time. Chances are you own some of them, and maybe you can’t imagine Christmas without them. But the thing about traditions is, you have to add new ones from time to time. In that spirit, I’m offering some alternative holiday albums that might be less familiar and a little fresher to your ears.

Gigantic Bestseller:
ElvisElvis’ Christmas Album – Elvis Presley
Released in 1957, Presley’s first Christmas album—the top-selling record on Billboard’s list— features secular tunes on side one and sacred fare on side two, including a few non-Christmas gospel songs that had been previously released. The King is solemn on the religious tunes but loosens up for the secular stuff, including originals like “Santa Claus is Back in Town” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me).” Personally, I can’t stand Elvis’ version of “Blue Christmas,” but it’s here, too.

Alternate Choice:
James Brown’s Funky Christmas – James Brown
Let the King rest in heavenly peace this year and invite the Godfather of Soul over for Christmas instead. This compilation features tracks from the three holiday albums Brown recorded at the height of his funky powers between 1966 and 1970, including “Go Power at Christmas Time,” “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” and “Soulful Christmas.” Brown shows his socially-conscious side on tracks like “Let’s Unite the World at Christmas.”

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