Fictional Feasts

Last autumn, I had the pleasure of visiting family in England and staying with my cousin and her husband in their cozy 16th century home in a tiny East Sussex village not far from the town of Lewes.

On a chilly, clear evening after a full day of walking and exploring the area, my cousin prepared us a warm, delicious meal of daube and homemade bread accompanied by a glass of hearty red wine. Our dinner conversation started with “What is daube?” – a classic Provençal beef stew – and “Where did you get the recipe?” – from French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David. By the way, Virginia Woolf (who had a weekend home in Lewes and sadly drowned in the nearby River Ouse) wrote about ‘Boeuf en Daube’ in her 1927 novel To the Lighthouse.

“… an exquisite scent of olives and oil and juice rose from the great brown dish as Marthe, with a little flourish, took the cover off. The cook had spent three days over that dish. And she must take great care, Mrs. Ramsay thought, diving into the soft mass, to choose a specially tender piece for William Bankes. And she peered into the dish, with its shiny walls and its confusion of savoury brown and yellow meats and its bay leaves and its wine …” Continue reading

A Taste of Fall: Books and Beverages to Cozy up With

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from one of our special HPB contributors, Shelbi from The Nobby Life. Take it away, Shelbi! 


One of my favorite things about autumn (only one, mind you, because I have many favorite things about this season!) is the pairing of books and cozy beverages on crisp autumnal days. Whether the sun is out or it’s raining, I love finding a good spot by a big window and watching the vast sky meets the tops of the low Texas trees. With a warm beverage in one hand and a book in the other, I can’t think of anything that symbolizes autumn for me more than steaming cups and warming stories. I’ve paired a few of my favorites and I hope you will enjoy them!

Chai + a Good Mystery
Spicy & mellow, mysterious and engrossing, a steaming chai latte and Sherlock Holmes are a perfect pairing. In A Study in Scarlet, the first mystery in the detective series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes meets his faithful sidekick, Dr. Watson, and the two are called upon to investigate a mystery in a south London house revolving around a dead man whose contorted face is a twisted mask of horror. If you want some good, old-fashioned thrills relating to a tragic tale, this book is for you.

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Not Your Parents’ Monopoly: The New Generation of Board Games

When you think about board games, what comes to mind?  Games like Scrabble, Life, Clue, and if you had a hankering for games that take all day, maybe Risk?  Perhaps they were things you played as a kid on family nights, but today you would prefer to watch paint dry rather than sit through a three hour slog of Monopoly all while desperately hoping you’ll land on your greedy nephew’s Boardwalk hotel so you can declare bankruptcy and go do something – anything – else.

But what if I told you board game popularity is on the rise again?  In the last year alone sales grew by 28% in the US, and board games are a multi-billion dollar business worldwide.  What’s driving this growth?  Well, primarily a new, better generation of board games.  These new games drive enjoyment for all players throughout the entirety of the game.  Problems that make games less fun, such as the runaway winner problem in Monopoly, or the problem in Life that the game is mostly resolved by who gets more lucky spins, are generally problems of the past.  Imagine a game featuring even more depth of strategy and decision making than Risk but only taking an hour to play; the newer generation accomplishes this.

Not only are these games demonstrably better designed and more fun, but they also promote something our digital life just cannot duplicate: Real. Humans. Interacting.  This interaction promotes pro-social behavior.  Unlike online video games where particularly toxic behaviors can be hidden behind an anonymous username, board games require you to actually not be a jerk, unless you want to be confined to solitaire games forever.

At Half Price Books, we have embraced this new generation of games, and our selection features some of the most popular games available, all at 20% off their MSRP.  Here’s just a few of what we have to offer and why you must play them:

Catan
Catan is widely thought of as THE starting point for the revival of the board game industry.  Your role in the game is to build up settlements and cities on the newly discovered island of Catan and try to be the first to score ten points.   A relatively simple game that plays 2-4 players in about an hour, it features hallmarks of modern gaming like resource management, building structures and area map control, as well as a few classic mechanics like dice rolling and card trading.  If you want to see the roots of modern gaming and get a taste of what is out there, pick this one up. Or, if you have younger children, check out Catan Jr.
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10 Unforgettable, Quotable Lines from Casablanca

As Casablanca celebrates its 75th anniversary, there’s so much to acknowledge. Where shall I begin? The film score is among my favorites. Its dreadfully romantic – albeit a messy love triangle plot. It’s film noir cinematography style – the darkness and casting shadows – makes it both dramatic and iconic. And it’s among an enchanting collection of “movies within movies.” Yet, perhaps the best quality of the film is the screenplay.

Casablanca’s iconic moments and lines have become a part of our cultural vocabulary. Even people who have never seen the film might find themselves quoting it beccause its stellar writing has become woven into our contemporary vernacular. Don’t believe me? Take a gander at these 10 lines and watch the unforgettable scenes where they appear in the film.

Here’s looking at you kid.

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

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Give the Gift of Reading this Booksgiving Day!

Booksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, as it involves many of my favorite hobbies – spending time with family, watching football and wearing stretchy pants while eating lots of delicious food. ☺️

But reading is another way I love to spend time and Half Price Books has its own special holiday to celebrate reading on Saturday, Nov. 18 – Booksgiving Day!

2017 is the fifth year we’ve celebrated Booksgiving Day at Half Price Books with a special storytime at 2 p.m. local time. Every child who attends will receive a FREE children’s book to take home with them, while supplies last.

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Booksgiving Day: Independence, MO

In addition to the books we give away in store, we’ll also donate a book for every book sold on HPB.com on November 18  to rebuild libraries in schools and non-profit organizations in Hurricane Harvey-affected areas of Texas. All books given away are part of our Million Book Donation Project.

So whether it’s in store or online, we hope you’ll celebrate Booksgiving Day with us on Saturday, Nov. 18!

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.