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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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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There and Back Again: The Hobbit’s 80th Anniversary

5fe47-hobbit_cover“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” With this one sentence, J.R.R. Tolkien impacted my life (and many other lives) in a huge way. When I was a child, my dad would usually make up stories at bed time to get me to fall asleep. It was our routine. When he was running low on creativity, he would read to me. The Hobbit was the first book I ever remember him reading to me, and I loved it. It’s is my absolute favorite book in the world, and it is celebrating its 80th anniversary!

The Hobbit was published on September 21, 1937 and has been in print ever since. It was originally published by George Allen & Unwin in London to glowing reviews and has remained a beloved book through the decades. The book appeals to adults and children alike, as it combines wry humor and wit with an adventure story like no other. The Hobbit is the forerunner for The Lord of the Rings, the epic saga that is widely acknowledged as a classic. Though related to that epic story, The Hobbit is in a class of its own. For Hobbit lovers, this day is all about the quest of a homebody hobbit-turned-burglar and his companions. Although Bilbo begins the adventure a grumpy, immature hobbit, he gains a new level of maturity and wisdom as he completes different tasks in the adventure. This beloved classic has been adapted in the following ways:

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A Working List of Labor Day Books

Labor Day is the day we celebrate and honor the contributions of the American Labor Movement but for many of us, Labor Day weekend signals the end of summer. We often celebrate Labor Day by grilling, swimming and relaxing with friends and family. Did you know, however,  that this holiday weekend has only been an official U.S. holiday since 1894? So while you enjoy your day off, check out these books about why this glorious Monday is a national holiday!

The Jungle_Upton SinclairThe Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Part of the labor movement’s biggest improvements came from the response to the writings of investigative journalists. Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle to expose the harsh working conditions for American factory workers, particularly women and children. The book did more than just that, however. It also revealed the horrific condition of American slaughterhouses. Meat production facilities had severe issues that could easily lead to contamination. The public’s outrage led to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act 1907 and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. While Sinclair unintentionally helped current Americans feel assured of the safe conditions of their foods, he was disappointed by the public’s response to his book. He had originally wanted to highlight the poor conditions of the workers, not the poor conditions of the food in the factories.

Death in Haymarket_James GreenDeath in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America by James Green
This book is a fascinating read! It is a study of the 1886 Haymarket bombing at a Chicago labor rally that killed several police officers. Occurring in the midst of the largest national strike Americans had ever seen, the bombing created mass hysteria and led to a sensational trial, which culminated in four controversial executions. The trial seized headlines across the country, created the nation’s first Red Scare and dealt a blow to the labor movement from which it would take decades to recover. In this book, James Green recounts the rise of the first great labor movement in the wake of the Civil War and brings to life the epic twenty-year battle for the eight-hour workday. He shows how the movement overcame numerous setbacks to orchestrate a series of strikes that swept the country in 1886, positioning the unions for a hard-won victory on the eve of the Haymarket tragedy. Blending a gripping narrative, outsized characters and a panoramic portrait of a major social movement, Death in the Haymarket is an important addition to the history of American capitalism and a moving story about the class tensions at the heart of Gilded Age America. Continue reading

Stuck in the Middle: Celebrating the Best Middle Children in Books, Movies and TV

Hey there middle children of the world! August 12th is Middle Child Day, and we want to celebrate with you by listing some of our favorite middle children from books, movies and TV shows! That’s right middle siblings, you haven’t been forgotten. Read on to discover some of the funniest, strongest and sweetest middle children you’ll have the pleasure of getting to know!

Fred & George Weasley from the Harry Potter series
Of course we have to start the list with these two. Everyone’s favorite set of twins (and overall favorite Weasleys) are middle children who show us all how to rock the middle child role. Between stressing their mother out, playing pranks on their other siblings and bringing laughter into an occasionally-dark series, Fred and George are a perfect example of why middle children rock. As middle children, they are definitely scene stealers. Remember their final prank at Hogwarts? Yes, it fills us with fondness too.

weasley twins

Dawn Weiner from Welcome to the Dollhouse
The entire movie Welcome to the Dollhouse is based around that stereotypical middle child syndrome. But we appreciate what an awesome middle child Dawn Weiner is! This low budget, independently produced film speaks to the feelings of being a pre-teen outcast and is unfortunately relatable for many middle children. Dealing with issues with a wry humor, Dawn has become a cult favorite middle child who represents all of us exasperated with life in general.

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Books Authors Read with Ian Harding

HPB-BAR-IanHarding

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome Ian to our Flagship location in Dallas on Thursday, May 11 at 7 p.m. for a meet & greet in honor of his new book, Odd Birds. We hope to see you there! In the meantime, we asked Ian to share some of his favorite books with us as part of our Books Authors Read blog series – enjoy!


h is for hawk
H Is for Hawk
by Helen MacDonald

I blazed through this book, which is shocking considering it chronicles one woman’s attempt at overcoming grief by learning falconry with a goshawk. In some way it encouraged me to write Odd Birds, since Helen MacDonald uses the bird as a lens through which to view her life.


the tigers wife

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrecht
I canceled a very important audition so that I could finish this book. Obrecht is a mystery master in that she managed to weave personal history and folklore into the same tale, showing that the questions asked by an entire culture are often the same as the deep questions we ask ourselves.

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HPB’s Tips to Go Green for Earth Day

The first Earth Day occurred 47 years ago on April 22, 1970! Earth Day was established by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who believed in taking care of the earth. For many people who care for the environment, Earth Day is an opportunity to join in a nationwide effort to protect our planet. If everyone did something, we could all contribute to saving our environment. Half Price Books fully believes in reducing and reusing, and we hope you do, too. As we get ready to celebrate Earth Day this year, read on to discover our top tips for going green!

Save Energy
One of the first things you can do to save energy is to switch out your old light bulbs. If every U.S. home swapped out one incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), we’d save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes each year! Another great way you can help save energy is by putting your computers to sleep. Activating “sleep mode” on just one computer can prevent roughly 300 lbs. of carbon dioxide emissions a year! Want to save even more energy? Unplug your electronics. When you’re not using your electronics or are done charging up your items, unplug them to conserve electricity.

Save Energy

At Half Price Books, saving energy is part of our day-to-day operations. We contract with green energy companies like Green Mountain Energy Company, which provides pollution-free wind energy for 31 of our stores and other facilities in Texas. We have also installed light- and heat-repellent window tints in our stores, which allows them to be eligible for energy code rebates. Continue reading

Take a Break, Read a Book!: Your Spring Break Reading Guide

Disappear into a different world and enjoy your Spring Break reading these fantastic books!

Everyone is looking for something to do for Spring Break this year. Whether a vacation is in the works or not, the best way to take a break is to read a book! If you’re in the airport waiting on the arrival of a plane or sitting in the car trying to ignore a hotly debated directions dispute, reading a book is a great way to escape. Reading to the kids while traveling is a great way to distract them from the ennui of getting to the destination. Of course, if you’re not going anywhere for this particular Spring Break, reading a book is great way to get away without all the costs and hassles of real travel. Read on to discover our list of recently released books you can find online or at your local Half Price Books store that are perfect for Spring Break!

stranger-than-fanfictionStranger Than Fanfiction by Chris Colfer (Teen)
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Land of Stories series Chris Colfer comes this fantastic standalone novel that promises to be an engrossing read. The story is centered on Cash Carter, a young, world-famous lead actor of the hit television show Wiz Kids. Four fans jokingly invite Cash Carter on a cross-country road trip, which he shockingly accepts. The group are chased by paparazzi and hounded by reporters. It is the story of an unlikely crew taking off on a journey of a lifetime – but along the way they discover that the star they love has been keeping deep secrets. What they come to learn about the life of the mysterious person they thought they knew will teach them about the power of empathy and the unbreakable bond of true friendship.

the-beast-is-an-animalThe Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale (Teen)
This fantastic story is a hauntingly beautiful twisted fairytale. The main character, Alys, was seven when creatures called soul eaters came to her village. These soul eaters are twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly grew into something not quite human, something that needs to feed on souls to survive. Alys and all the children in her village were spared by the twins, but having lost their parents and elders, the children were sent to live in a neighboring village. Afraid of facing a similar fate, the villagers in the children’s adopted home created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters – and of the Beast they believe guides them – rules village life. But the Beast is not what they think he is. And neither is Alys. Continue reading