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

Resolve to Read: 105 Books You’ve Always Wanted to Read

105booksEvery year one of my New Year’s resolutions is to read a book I have always wanted to read but haven’t, whether it was a classic or just a few years old.  One year I read Brontë’s Wuthering Heights; another year I read Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, and just last year I read Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story. This year I’m Resolving to Read Dickens’ Great Expectations. However, I wondered what books other people were Resolving to Read in 2017. So, I asked our HPB bibliomaniacs what books they have always wanted to read that they are Resolving to Read this year. Here are their answers. Continue reading

New Reads with a Holiday Twist

When you think of holiday stories,certain must-read classics come to mind, such as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and more recently Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express. These are stories that make their way off my shelf and into my hands every holiday season.  However, sometimes I crave a new holiday story and go looking for touching, romantic or even mysterious holiday books to devour.  If you are looking for something new this holiday, here are a few suggestions of holiday-themed stories that have been published in the past few years.

whatlight-coverWhat Light, by Jay Asher—Released in 2016, this moving Young Adult novel follows the story of Sierra and Caleb. Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon and every year she has to pack up and move to California to sell trees in their Christmas tree lot. This Christmas she meets Caleb, a boy with a troubled past. This story is about finding forgiveness, redemption and love, and it just may break your heart.  This book is featured in our Holiday Gift Guide.

a-baxter-family-christmas-9781471143311_hrA Baxter Family Christmas, by Karen Kingsbury—Released in 2016, Kingsbury brought back the Baxter family for an all-new holiday story, as John Baxter invites the transplant recipient who now has his deceased daughter’s heart to share Christmas Eve dinner with the family, a dinner that just might change all of them. Continue reading

Books I Am Thankful For

I love books, but there are certain books that have had such an impact on my life that I couldn’t imagine the world without them.  Here is a list of five books for which I am truly thankful and the reasons why.

c67cf2f90ca165077b59c29f2c9ef7f5A Dog Called Kitty by Bill Wallace
I first read this book when I was in third grade. The book is about a young boy who is afraid of dogs until he meets a dog who answers to nothing but the word “kitty.”  A Dog Called Kitty is the first book that made me both laugh and cry.  I proceeded to loan it to all my friends.  I even read a portion of it over the phone to try to get one of them interested in reading it.  Now that I have a nephew in fourth grade, I have given him a copy to read and can only hope that he will love it as much as I did.

0446310786To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
No one will find it surprising that I first read this book for my high school freshman English class.  When we started reading it, I had just finished The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss. So when Scout’s teacher comments that she doesn’t understand how Hitler could treat Jews the way he does because they are such nice people, all the while the town she lives in is condemning Tom Robinson for a crime they know he didn’t commit just because he’s black, I became so upset with that character I threw the book across my room. Thus, To Kill a Mockingbird became the first book in which I acted out one of my favorite Dorothy Parker quotes, “This isn’t a book to be tossed aside lightly. It must be thrown with great force.”  It was the first book that I was forced to read in school that I actually enjoyed. Continue reading