All the Single Ladies: 10 Spunky Working Women from Books, TV and Film

August 4 is Single Working Women’s Day, and as a single working woman I want to celebrate by sharing some of the wisdom I have gleaned from my favorite single working women from books, movies and television

1. Bridget Jones, from Bridget Jones’s Diary—It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces. After you read it, check out the movie too.
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2. Jane Eyre, from Jane Eyre—Beware surly employers who keep their crazy wives locked up in their houses. (Movie)

3. Stephanie Plum, from Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series—Sometimes being lucky is better than being good. (Movie)

4. Liz Lemon, from 30 Rock—Say yes to love, yes to life, yes to staying in more…and working on your night cheese.
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A Book Nerd’s Look at the Modern Mass Market Paperback

To call me a book nerd would be like calling the Hulk green, so obvious that the statement is completely unnecessary. So, when I found out that July 30 was the day the modern paperback book was introduced, I wanted to know more.

First, let’s get some facts straight. July 30, 1935 was not the day the first paperback book was published. In France and Germany, paperback books were published in the 17th century, and James Fenimore Cooper wrote paperback book-like frontier stories back in 1823. Probably the first true mass-market paperback was Malaeska, by Ann S. Stephens, published in June 1860 by the pioneers of the Dime Novel or “penny dreadful.”

However, July 30, 1935 was the day Sir Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Publishing, published the first “respectable” paperback book, Ariel, by André Maurois. Ariel is a biography of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. The story behind the first Penguin paperback is that Mr. Lane, after a weekend in the country with Agatha Christie, was at the train station looking for something to read on his trip back to London, but couldn’t find anything except slick magazines and pulp fiction. His idea was to make quality fiction and nonfiction available in places like train stations for discerning readers who were traveling, and to make them just as affordable as a pack of cigarettes. Voila, the modern paperback was born.

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At first, booksellers were reluctant to buy Lane’s paperbacks, but when Woolworths placed a large order, the books sold so well that booksellers began to stock Lane’s books, making the name “Penguin” synonymous with paperbacks. Continue reading

If You Liked The Girls, You Might Also Like…

If you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading or perhaps just finished The Girls by Emma Cline, a clever, yet disturbing coming-of-age novel inspired by the murders committed by Charles Manson’s followers in 1969. In the novel, a strange encounter with an ex-boyfriend’s son leaves Evie Boyd looking back to the summer of 1969, the summer she met “the girls.” Told though multiple flashbacks, Cline describes how Evie obsession with one of “the girls” draws her into a cult and ultimately to one night of unthinkable violence. Cline’s spellbinding prose and psychological insight make this book hard to put down. If you also liked The Girls, here are a few other books you might like.

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson • Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman • How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub • Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

So, what’s your next read? Join the HPB Book Club at hpb.com/bookclub.

Julie is Traffic Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.

Who Am I? 12 Literary Character Riddles

Challenge yourself to correctly guess these riddles without looking below at the answers. Can you name them all?

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1. I am clever and engaging, but also rather shallow. To insure my inheritance, I pretend to court one girl while I’m secretly engaged to another. Who am I?

2.  I don’t get out much, but I watch everything, especially the two children that live down the street. I left gifts for them in an old tree and kill a man to save their lives. Who am I?

3. I will never back down from a fight, unless forced to in the home of my uncle. I killed a man in a street brawl. Later, I was killed by his best friend, who also happened to be my cousin’s secret husband. Who am I? Continue reading

Do You Know Where Your Towel Is? May 25 is Towel Day.

If you know the answer to life, the universe and everything, if you learned to fly by aiming for the ground and missing and if you ever speculated why a bowl of petunias would think, “Oh no, not again…” while hurtling toward a planet, then you should celebrate Towel Day. Towel Day is an annual tribute to Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. On Towel Day, Adams’ fans are encouraged to carry a towel with them for the day. The more conspicuous the towel, the better.

If you have never read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you might ask, “Why a towel?”  Well, Adams explains the importance of towels in chapter 3 of the aforementioned book.

HitchikersGuide“A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. Continue reading

If You Liked Britt-Marie Was Here, You Might Also Like…

Britt Marie Was HereLast year, the HPB Book Club read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, which I considered to be the best book I read last year.  Needless to say, I was excited when I learned our April/May Book Club selection was Fredrik Backman’s Britt-Marie Was Here! While I don’t know yet if it will be the best book I read this year (as the year is far from over), I will say it’s the best book I’ve read so far this year. Backman’s ability to write a typically dislikable character into someone the reader not only likes but also can’t help but cheer for is masterful.  When you meet Britt-Marie in the unemployment office, her judgmental, prudish attitude makes you sympathize with the clearly astonished employment office worker, but as the book progresses and you learn more about Britt-Marie and how she became the way she is—as well as immerse yourself in the community of Borg, “of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it”—you can’t help but love Britt-Marie for all the things you disliked about her before.

If you, like me, loved Britt-Marie Was Here, here are a few other books you may also love: Continue reading

Celebrating the 65th Anniversary of Singin’ in the Rain

If you ask me what my favorite musical is, my answer will be the 1952 MGM musical comedy Singin’ in the Rain. In 2007 the American Film Institute ranked this movie #5 in AFI’s 100 Greatest American Films of All Time, so I know I’m not alone. I don’t know if it’s Gene Kelly spinning in circles with an umbrella, Donald O’Connor flipping off walls, or Debbie Reynolds doing the hula during the “Good Morning” dance routine, but there is something about Singing in the Rain that captivates us and keeps us singing 65 years after its release. Here are some facts you may not know about one of America’s favorite musicals:

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Literary Heartbreakers…or Literally Heartbreaking?

I’m a sucker for a happy ending.  Unfortunately, some of my favorite literary characters don’t get that happy ending, whether it’s because they themselves are heartbreakers or because the story they have been written into is literally heartbreaking (sometimes, it’s a little bit of both).  But whether it’s the character or the author that breaks our heart, we have to admit they are impossible to forget.

Here are five heartbreakers and five heartbreaking stories that we can’t seem to quit.

Heartbreakers

prideandprejudice_19George Wickham from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—He may have all the appearance of goodness, but looks can be deceiving.

giphyRhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind—Heartbreaker or heartbroken? He may be a little of both, but he don’t give a damn.

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4 Things You May Not Know About Pride and Prejudice

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s most loved novel. With more than 20 million copies sold worldwide, this book has never been out of print since it was first published on January 28, 1813. Movies, mini-series, books and even a Broadway musical have been created based on the story.  So, there is no denying that most people have read, seen or at least know the basic storyline of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but here are a few interesting facts that you may not know about this classic piece of literature

1.) The original title of Pride and Prejudice was First Impressions. Pride and Prejudice, the title the novel was eventually published under, was in common usage during Austen’s day, being found in two important works of the late-1700s, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. More than likely, however Austen took the title from Fanny Burney’s novel Cecilia, in which that phrase is used three times in succession and in all caps.

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5 Fun Facts for Winnie-the-Pooh Day

“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. And then he feels that perhaps there isn’t. Anyhow here he is at the bottom, and ready to be introduced to you. Winnie-the-Pooh.”

                 –from Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne

January 18 is the birthday of A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie-the-Pooh, and is commonly known as Winnie-the-Pooh Day! What better way to celebrate Winnie-the-Pooh Day than to learn some new and interesting things about our favorite bear as well as look at some of the wonderful Pooh-isms that we love so much?

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“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

Do you know where Winnie-the-Pooh got his name?
As Milne explains in his introduction of Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin has a swan (or the swan had Christopher Robin) that he called Pooh. After the swan was gone, Christopher Robin went to the zoo and saw a bear named Winnipeg, or Winnie. So when Edward Bear needed a new name, Christopher Robin called him Winnie-the-Pooh. Continue reading