Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from Reading Tolkien

March 25 is Tolkien Reading Day, a day dedicated to reading the works of the genius that is J.R.R. Tolkien. As I thought back on my previous readings of the epic adventure Lord of the Rings and, of course, my favorite Tolkien book, The Hobbit, I realized that everything I need to know in life, I learned from reading Tolkien.

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It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door…You step into the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. (The Fellowship of the Ring)—Any day can become an adventure. Continue reading

A Book Nerd’s Look at the Best Books of the Decade (2010-2019)

As 2019 comes to an end, “Best Books of the Decade” lists are bound to start popping up everywhere. This is ours; along with a list of the best books I’ve read this decade. Of course, as a used book store we also want to remind you that every book is new if you haven’t read it yet!

2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot—A nonfiction book and winner of the National Academies Communication Award (published 2/2/2010)

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  • Honorary mention: Room, by Emma Donahue (published 8/6/2010)
  • Best book I read in 2010: Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett (published in 1929)

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12 Humbugs for the Holidays

9781509825448_4c379As someone who loves to celebrate strange, but wonderful holidays, I was excited to come across a “holiday” dedicated to making you feel better by allowing you to voice your frustrations about the Holiday season. That’s right. December 21st is Humbug Day, when you can have 12 humbugs to vent your holiday frustrations.

The creators of this holiday also encourage the reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to learn more about the man that inspired this day, Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge. Of course, Scrooge only says “Humbug” nine times in the book, and only two of them include the interjection “Bah!” Still, if we’re given 12 humbugs on Humbug Day, I say we take them. So here are my 12 Humbugs for the Holidays.

Humbug 1—The décor that goes on sale before Halloween.

Humbug 2—The lights on your neighbor’s house that seem a bit extreme.

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Hangin’ With the Girls

There’s nothing like calling all your girlfriends and spending the day shopping, getting pampered at the spa and then closing down a restaurant just gabbing, unless it’s getting together at your house for wine snacks and a good movie. Now, I don’t normally need an excuse to get together with my friends, but knowing that August 1 is Girlfriends’ Day is an awfully good excuse to have some fun with the girls. So whether it’s your book club ladies, your crazy college sisters or just your BFF, Half Price Books has books, movies and music to help you celebrate with the girls.

Books to share with the girls:
The Group, by Mary McCarthy
Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
Waiting to Exhale, by Terry McMillan
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, by Fannie Flagg
Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell
Divine Serets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
How Should a Person Be, by Sheila Heti

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If You Liked Maid, You May Also Like…

If you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading (or perhaps just finished) Maid, by Stephanie Land, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Putting her dreams of college on hold to have a child, Land finds herself homeless and alone. Navigating government assistance and trying to find a way to provide for her daughter, she starts working for a cleaning service. As a maid, Land witnesses the lives of others while feeling invisible herself. This autobiography of Land’s struggle to provide a better life for her daughter, exposes the struggle of the working poor who long to find the American dream while living below the poverty line.

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If you (like me) liked Maid, here are a few other books you may like: Continue reading

Droppin’ Some Science, Son: Big Bang Coined 70 Years Ago

On March 28, 1949, the term “Big Bang” originated when British astronomer Fred Hoyle tried to describe a theory of how the universe came to be to the audience of BBC Radio’s “Third Programme.” The Big Bang theory states that the universe originated at a single point and expanded outward, and is the most popular theory of how the universe came to be. It’s so popular that it even had its own sitcom named after it (You didn’t think this blog was all about science did you?).

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The Best and Worst of Agatha Christie

With more than 60 novels and 14 short story collections, is it any wonder that Agatha Christie is the bestselling novelist of all time? Her works are ranked third in the world’s most published books, behind Shakespeare and the Bible, and they have been translated into at least 103 languages. However, with 66 novels and numerous short stories, not all of Mrs. Christie’s works are going to be favorites. Then again, one person’s favorite is another person’s least favorite, and sometimes for the same reasons. For example, the first time I read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, I literally threw the book across the room, vowing to never read another Agatha Christie book again, all because of the twist ending that makes other people count this story as their favorite. So here are some of the best and the worst (in my opinion) of Agatha Christie.

THE BEST
The Mysterious Affair at Styles: This is Christie’s first published novel and introduces the world to retired Belgian police detective Hercule Poirot, Inspector Japp and Arthur Hastings, who becomes the Watson to Hercule’s Holmes. This book is a great one to start with if you have yet to dip your toe into the Christie canon.
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And Then There Were None: One of my absolute favorite mystery books, which will keep you guessing until the end. Interesting Fact: First published in the U.K. in 1939, this book has had several different names, but since those were considered racially offensive (look them up if you dare!), the title was changed to And Then There Were None in January 1940.
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The A.B.C. Murders (or the Alphabet Murders): The victims in this book seem to be completely unrelated as Hercule Poirot and his good friend Arthur Hastings begin to investigate. This book doesn’t really follow Christie’s usual style, and so it is a good read if you are looking for something a little different.
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The Mousetrap: Yes, this is a play. In fact, it’s the longest-running play in history. The play is actually based on a short story by Christie, who asked that the story not be published as long as it ran as a play in the West End of London. The play was first performed in 1952, and the story has still not been published in the U.K. However, it was first published in the United States in a short story collection in 1950 under its original title Three Blind Mice.themousetrap

THE WORST
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: In regards to this book, I have been asked to say that “this bloggers opinion does not reflect the opinion of Half Price Books”… or in fact anyone else on the planet apparently. I’ll just say, be prepared to feel cheated.the-murder-of-roger-ackroyd

The Big Four: This is Christie’s first stab at writing espionage. In my opinion, she should have stuck with police detectives and little old ladies and left the spy work to Le Carré.thebigfour

Destination Unknown: Originally called So Many Steps to Death, this is another one of Christie’s spy novels, and it just seems bland, which may be why it is one of only four Christie novels never to be adapted into another kind of medium.destination unknown

Postern of Fate: This is the last novel that Christie wrote, and it is reported that she suffered from dementia during that time, so it’s not surprising that this book would be on the bottom of the Christie spectrum.postern of fate

Now, this is just a sampling of some of the best and the worst of Agatha Christie, or at least this blogger’s opinion about the best and worst of Agatha Christie. Of course, Agatha Christie’s legacy continues through Sophie Hannah’s Hercule Poirot novels, The Monogram Murders (2015), Closed Casket (2017) and The Mystery of Three Quarters (2018), not to mention the movie version of Christie’s novel Murder on the Orient Express that came out in 2017, starring  Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp and Judi Dench. Plus, And Then There Was None was voted best mystery by HPB customers in our Mystery Madness tournament this past March! So, I think it’s safe to say Agatha Christie is the queen of mystery and her books (even the worst ones) are worth the read. Check them out at your local HPB and HPB.com.

What’s your favorite (or least favorite) Agatha Christie novel?