Behind the Book: Faerie Knitting by Alice Hoffman & Lisa Hoffman

Editor’s Note: Faerie Knitting melds two concepts—knitting and storytelling— into one incredible book. This magical combination comes from a pair of cousins, New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman and master knitter Lisa Hoffman. The two collaborated to create an entrancing collection of stories of love, loss, trust and perseverance, with magical knits accompanying each story. We had a chance to catch up with the pair recently. Below are their answers to our questions.

Faerie Knitting High Res Cover Final

Faerie Knitting is such an adorable, unique concept for a book. What inspired the two of you to team up and meld your talents into one incredible work?
Alice: We had always wanted to work on a project together and began this book by writing a column for Faerie Magazine. That was so much fun we decided to expand the collaboration into a book.
Lisa: When we discussed what we could do together, we realized that Alice’s love of and talent to write original fairy tales would be a perfect way to include knitting into short stories in a magical way.

How did you end up pairing the knits and stories? Did you match all of the knits to the stories or write the stories to match the knits?
Alice: We began by making a list of titles that inspired us both. In a way, the ideas for stories and knits were organically created together.
Lisa: Together we paired titles with possible knits. After Alice wrote the stories, I designed the knits choosing the fiber and colors from her descriptions.

Have either of you taken to wearing one of the patterns more than the other?
Lisa: I knit a “Blue Heron” Shawl that I wear and always get great compliments, and the “Seventh Sister” Capelet is a favorite for a light layer in spring and fall weather.

What do you think it is about fairy tales that enthralls readers?
Alice: There’s a deep, timeless truth in fairy tales that speak both to children and to adults. A reader can take the story at face value or can read at a psychological level.
Lisa: They stretch your imagination, taking you to a magical place where fantastic events can happen.

Which one of the fairy tales in Faerie Knitting is your favorite? Why?
Alice: “Blue Heron,” because it was our first collaboration.
Lisa: I love them all, but since I recently became a grandmother, I am drawn to “Thorn,” a story of a baby blanket with a protection charm.

The women in these fairytales seem to feel trapped before the knitted pieces give them a chance to escape. Do you think women feel trapped in today’s society?
Alice: It’s true, the women in these stories often knit themselves out of a bad situation and find strength in the garments and fates they create.
Lisa: I agree, and I am constantly amazed by the power and strength of women, individually and in groups, who rise up to accomplish great things when faced with difficult circumstances.

Any advice for beginning knitters? Or aspiring authors?
Alice: For both knitters and writers, the more you do it, the better the result will be. And of course, nothing is perfect. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
Lisa: I tell my students to keep trying new techniques without fear, learn something new with each project and enjoy the process.

Alice Hoffman.new.credit Deborah Feingold

Photo Credit: Deborah Feingold

Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The Marriage of OppositesPractical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on EarthThe Museum of Extraordinary Things and The Dovekeepers. Her short fiction and nonfiction works have appeared in the New York TimesBoston Globe MagazineKenyon ReviewRedbookArchitectural DigestGourmetSelf and others. Her novel Practical Magic was made into a major motion picture starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman; her young adult novel Aquamarine was made into a movie in 2006. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Copies of Faerie Knitting available at HPB.com and in Half Price Book stores while supplies last.

Lisa Hoffman_credit Alyssa Peek at PeekPhotography.com

Photo Credit: Alyssa Pee

Lisa Hoffman, a knitwear designer and knitting teacher, lives in New York City with her husband, Andrew. She has three grown children living near and far. Lisa Hoffman’s designs have been published in Vogue KnittingInterweave Knits and Knitwear Magazines. She has designed projects for Artyarns, Be Sweet, Blue Sky

What Reader Type Are You? New Spring Reading Recs Matchmaker!

At Half Price Books, we know that all readers are different. Some scale the top of the bestseller list; others gravitate to rare tomes no one else has heard of (the dustier, the better). But what all readers share is a passion for books that isn’t easily satisfied. To discover which archetype, you are — and get some expert recs on the books you should read this Spring — take a look at our bookish guide to the best in bibliophiles!

THE HUNGRY, HUNGRY BOOKWORM

You’ve got at least five volumes on your bedside table and a mile-long literary wish list. Able to balance three (or more) reads at once, you never discriminate between fiction, non-fiction or biography—it’s all good. Their only quandary is, what to devour next? Our suggestions for the next page-turner await!

Circe by Madeline Miller – A modern twist on Greek mythology, the story of the goddess of magic is one of the most anticipated books of 2018.

Calypso by David Sedaris – The notable humorist delivers again with a beach read about a beach house, plus essays on middle age and mortality. On sale May 29, 2018.

circe calypso

THE SLOW-SIMMER & SAVORER

You’re not afraid to pick up a book that’s 500 pages (or more). You gravitate to doorstop-sized nonfiction you’ll ponder and pour over for months and months. Never in a real hurry to finish – your motto is “quality, not quantity,” and a long, slow read satisfies you like no other. If this sounds familiar, check out these substantial histories and lofty fiction and nonfiction:

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker – Bill Gates’ “new favorite book,” this assessment of the modern human condition helps illustrate how humans can flourish with the help of reason and science.

The Overstory by Richard Powers – This magnificent literary fiction from a National Book Award-winning author tops out at 512 pages. It’s a passionate novel about activism and nature.

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THE BOOK COVER CRITIC

You’re distracted by bright and shiny graphics and curious titles. Elegant books are stylishly stacked on your coffee table, and great novels with eye-catching covers sit on your color-coded bookshelves. You know that style often leads to substance, and you’ll take a chance on an unknown author because “the cover is just so cool.” Discover some vibrant volumes ready to pop off the shelves and into your cart this spring!

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer – A striking, colorful cover might catch your eye. But inside you’ll find a charming novel about ambition, power and mentorship.

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman – Another piece of fiction that’s riding the trend of vibrant type-driven cover designs – This heartbreaking novel about family and loyalty just hit shelves.

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THE WATERCOOLER READER

If it’s the next [insert bestseller name], then you’re already three chapters in. You may not go for an obscure novella, but if the film rights were sold it’s on your shelf and your TBR list. Most likely to join a book club, you hate to miss on the next big thing, which is why these blockbuster bestsellers are what you’ve got your eye on this season:

Tangerine by Christine Mangan – Described by author Joyce Carol Oates, “As if Donna Tartt, Gillian Flynn, and Patricia Highsmith had collaborated on a screenplay to be filmed by Hitchcock.” This tightly-wound debut is already slated to be a movie with Scarlett Johannson.

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy – A book about a group of Brooklyn moms going to desperate lengths to find a missing child, this novel will soon be a major motion picture starring “Scandal” lead Kerry Washington.

tangerine perfect-mother

THE BOOK BINGER

Books are a little bit like potato chips — you can’t stop at just one! You love to explore alternate universes, and there’s no better way to do that than with a series. If it isn’t a trilogy, it isn’t worth starting, and you’ll often go right back to the beginning of a series for a full re-read before signing on to something new. If you haven’t yet discovered these classics, get ready to dive in!

The 17th Suspect (Women’s Murder Club) by James Patterson – Let the suspense continue with this 17th in the Women’s Murder Club series. With bestselling author James Patterson, these are always riveting and binge-worthy.

Dark in Death (Book 46) by J.D. Robb – If you’re not already hooked, you’ve got 45 books to read first to get caught up on this series. This suspenseful, crime fiction novel and the entire In Death series is sure to please your ravenous appetite.

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THE ARMCHAIR PHILOSOPHER

First to get into a debate, you like to know about the issues and headline news of the day. Political and social nonfiction are your favorite food for thought, and you’re likely to loan your copies out afterwards to friends and family so they stay informed, too. Here’s what’s worth talking about for spring:

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership by James Comey – Seventh director of the FBI, James Comey, shares his never-before-told stories about his career in American government, covering topics of leadership and ethics.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil de Grasse Tyson – Arm yourself for cocktail parties with these witty, digestible bits about cosmology, the big bang and black holes. This book has remained on the bestseller list since its release – and for good reason.

higher-loyalty astrophysics-for-people-in-a-hurry

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Kendall Morgan is a freelance copywriter at HPB Corporate. You can follow her on Twitter at @kinklek.

Ready Player One & What’s Next for Ernest Cline Fans

Editor’s Note: By now any serious movie buff has already seen the movie adaptation of Ready Player One, which hit theaters in March. At Half Price Books, we love movies too. But since we’re booklovin’ nerds at the core, we would like you encourage you to “READ THE MOVIE” – If you haven’t yet, pick up a copy of the book and discover all the action-packed stuff they couldn’t fit into the 2 hour and 20 minute film. While you’re at it, join the HPB Book Club as we re-read this genre-busting, Easter-egg-filled novel by Ernest Cline.

If you’ve already read the book and watched the flick, then keep reading here! This staff review is just for you! Let’s turn it over to Becky embracing her geekiness as she talks about Ernest Cline, Ready Player One and his more recently-released novel, Armada.

Personal disclaimer: I was an elementary and middle school aged kid during that golden decade we call the ’80s. This was a time when girls and boys played arcade games, watched a lot of cartoons and played with the same toys. We ate sugary cereal, wore Mork from Ork suspenders, feathered our hair and (seriously) were all considered really cool.readyplayer1

Which brings me to Ernest Cline.

I read his first bestseller, Ready Player One, when I heard all the buzz about Armada. It was everything I loved about mid-’80s cinema, games, music and culture, and I decided that if Ernie Cline is writing it, I am on board.

“The grown-up’s Harry Potter… the mystery and fantasy in this novel weaves itself in the most delightful way, and the details that make up Mr. Cline’s world are simply astounding. Ready Player One has it all.” — Huffington Post

Cline’s second novel, Armada, hopes to answer the age-old question, what if your video game obsession is training you to LITERALLY save the world? In the near-future, teenager Zack Lightman, a gaming aficionado who just wants to graduate high school, soon realizes that he and other elite gamers might hold the keys to saving the planet against alien forces.

“Nerd-gasmic… Armada is another science fiction tale with a Comic-Con’s worth of pop-culture shout-outs.” — Rolling Stone

Armada reads like every ’80s video game geek adventure movie, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. It lacks a bit of the “wow” factor after the ingenious. Ready Player One, but it is no less adventuresome. Cline truly is an encyclopedia of video-gaming culture, not to mention his reaches into the depths of ’80s kid’s cinema. Just like with RPO, you can practically see the movie playing while you read. He also strategically places a complete ready-for-mixtape playlist headlined by Queen’s “One Vision.”

The thirty and forty-year old set who hung out at arcades and rushed to theaters to watch any movie with “Star”, “War”,“Games” or “Fighter” in the title will feel whisked back into their local mall movie theater at the over-the-top action, righteous references to all-things-’80s once in again in Cline’s Armada. It’s a great read for teens (with some language warnings for parents) who are really into gaming and retro-culture and they will be screaming for the movie releases in the next couple of years. Expect a lot of fan art and fan fiction to evolve, because that’s what the kids do these days, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some video game spin-offs as well.

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Photo of Ernest Cline, courtesy of Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ. CC BY-SA 2.0

I imagine we’ll be hearing a lot more from Ernie Cline in the future. According to sources, there’s a yet-untitled Ready Player One sequel in the works and the acclaimed Steven Spielberg will direct it too.

Look for copies of Ready Player One and Armada at your favorite Half Price Books with our specially-priced brand new releases and hot bestsellers!

Becky is Marketing Communications Manager at Half Price Books Corporate. You can follow her on Twitter at @bexican75.

A Grown-up Who Grew Up With Harry Potter

I was a junior in college when the first Harry Potter book was released. Needless to say, the series was not on my radar then, and it remained stealthily outside those bounds until I began substitute teaching after college. That’s when I first saw 12 and 13-year old children toting around the same book.

I finally asked, “What are you all reading?”

I got the definitive answer, “Oh! YOU HAVE GOT TO READ THESE BOOKS!”

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64 Coming-of-Age Books for the Ages

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There’s just something about coming of age stories that I’ve always loved. They tend to be raw and honest, funny yet heartbreaking books. Everyone only “comes of age” once in their lifetime, so it’s fun to read others’ stories again and again. A couple of my personal favorites are Skippy Dies by Paul Murray and Winger by Andrew Smith.

We polled our booksellers across the country and below is a list of some of their favorites. What book would you add to this list?

  1. The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
  2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  3. Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami
  4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
  5. Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  7. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
  8. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
  9. The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides
  10. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card Continue reading

Experiencing Dead Wake: An Emergence into Nonfiction

If you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading, or perhaps just finished, Dead Wake by Erik Larson, which is the first nonfiction book we have chosen.  I am a fiction girl. In my experience, nonfiction books have always read like the boring textbooks I had to read in school, full of dry facts with nothing to activate the imagination.  Dead Wake has changed my opinion of nonfiction forever and left me longing to read more by Erik Larson. If you interested in hearing about the Lusitania, listen to Erik’s interview with THINK.

Perhaps, Larson’s book intrigued me because of the way Larson presents his information. He considers himself an “animator of history” as opposed to an historian.  He wants his writing to “create pictures in the minds of his readers,” just like they do in fiction.

If you enjoyed Dead Wake, here are a few other books by Erik Larson for you to check out:

So, what Erik Larson book will you read next?  I already have The Devil in the White City waiting on my bedside table, ready to be read.

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

Hey, Mr. President, read these books next!

ABC News reported yesterday that President Obama has packed an armful of books for a two-week vacation with his family in Martha’s Vineyard. Here are the six books he selected!

  

There are some great choices on his summer reading list, including award-winning fiction and non-fiction but what happens when any booklover finishes the last book on the TBR list? You ask, “What should I read next?” We’ve got the answer. If you enjoyed these selections, here’s a list of HPB Staff Picks to get you started on your next book.

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14 Things You Should Know About Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

As we anxiously await the release of Harper Lee’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman, we shouldn’t forget that 55 years ago on July 11th, Harper Lee’s first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published. While critics may not have raved about the book when it first came out, the novel, published right before the peak of the American civil rights movement, became a phenomenal success, selling more than fifteen million copies and winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. It was then made into a movie shortly afterward in 1962. Since the book was published, To Kill a Mockingbird has topped must-read book lists, and the movie version of the book ranks 25th on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) list of Greatest American Movies of All Time.

I have gathered 14 interesting facts about Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, (both the book and the movie). I wonder how many you will already know and how many will be new to you.

  1. The author Nelle Harper Lee and Truman Capote were next-door neighbors in their hometown of Monroeville, AL. The character of Dill is said to be based on Capote.
  2. Lee said she identified with Jane Austen, because she wanted to challenge social norms and customs.
  3. Lee’s mother’s maiden name was Finch.
  4. A man named Son Boulware lived down the road from Lee and Capote and used to hide presents for them in the trees around his house.
  5. Atticus was loosely based on Lee’s father, who retired from the practice of criminal law after defending a group of black men who were accused of murder.  He lost the case, turning his attention to reporting the news instead.
  6. The book that Scout tells her father about, The Gray Ghost, was a real children’s book by Robert F. Schulkers—part of a series of adventure titles in the 1920s that Lee read when she was young.
  7. Lee is an honorary member of the Alabama Bar on the basis that in creating Atticus, she created an exemplary lawyer.
  8. Go Set a Watchman was written before To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee’s editor was so intrigued by a flashback in Go Set a Watchman that encouraged her to write a book from the child’s point of view.
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird is Clark Kent’s favorite movie in the Superman Comics.
  10. Gregory Peck won his first and only Academy Award in 1963 for his role as Atticus Finch.
  11. To prepare for the role of Boo Radley, Robert Duvall spent six weeks out of the sun so he would look like someone who had spent most of his life indoors.
  12. After the film was completed, Lee gave Gregory Peck her father’s watch, because she said he reminded her so much of her father. Peck wore this to the Academy Awards.
  13. Brock Peters, the actor who portrayed Tom Robinson, delivered Peck’s eulogy on the day of his funeral, June 16, 2003.
  14. Peck’s grandson Harper Peck Voll is named after Harper Lee.

So, how many of these facts did you already know?

The HPB Book Club is currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird.  If you would like to chat with fellow HPB Book Clubbers, visit hpb.com/bookclub/fb and join the conversation.

Plus, look for Go Set A Watchman at your local Half Price Books on July 14!

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

Long Reads for the Longest Day of the Year

For those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice falls on June 21 this year. That means today will be, well… sun day. The proverbial “longest day of the year.” Actually, it’s 24 hours just like other days, but it’ll have the most daylight. Here at HPB World Headquarters in Dallas, we’ll have a whopping 14 hours, 18 minutes and 47 seconds of sun.

If you’re a reader who hates spending money on electricity—or a blog writer desperate for a timely topic—that means 14.3 hours of absolutely free reading light. To take full advantage of it, we suggest skipping the morning paper and diving into the longest book you can find. You might not finish it all on June 21, but hey, you only lose one second of daylight on June 22.

Here are some long reads for those long sunny days.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (1996)
This 1,000+ page postmodern novel has 388 endnotes, some of which have their own footnotes. Its themes include addiction, tennis, suicide, advertising and Quebec separatism. Fortunately, it’s a joy to read Wallace’s prose, and it’s easy to see why this book made him a star in the literary world.

Endnote: Jason Segel stars as Wallace in The End of the Tour, a film out later this summer about the promotional tour for Infinite Jest.

Footnote to the endnote: the late author’s family did not cooperate in the making of the film.

The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro
includes The Path to Power (1982), Means of Ascent (1990), Master of the Senate (2002) and The Passage of Power (2012).
Caro’s masterful multi-volume biography of LBJ contains four books so far, most of which would qualify for this list on their own. Johnson, a highly skilled but deeply flawed politician, is one of our most fascinating presidents, and Caro’s work reads more like a novel despite its level of meticulously-researched detail. The fifth and final book is forthcoming. (Robert Caro, if you’re reading this, get off the Internet and get busy writing!)

Underworld by Don DeLillo (1997)
DeLillo’s sprawling non-linear novel spans several decades in postwar America and finds his characters reacting to several historical events. A New York Times reviewer called it “a dazzling, phosphorescent work of art.” The book’s riveting prologue—chronicling Bobby Thomson’s historic home run that won the New York Giants the National League pennant in 1951—is worth the price of admission alone.

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
Published in the author’s native France between 1913 and 1927, this novel in seven volumes (and 4,000 pages) helped usher in the modern era. The highly influential and massive work tells the life story of the narrator, with his everyday experiences—most famously dipping a cookie into a cup of tea—evoking recollections of the past. Current-day novelist Michael Chabon has cited it as his favorite book. Bonus points for tackling this one in the original French.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
This international bestseller tells the story of Theo Decker, a New York teenager whose life is forever changed when his mother is killed in a terrorist attack at the Metropolitan Museum. This page turner (and there are 800 of them) is a moving and mesmerizing story of loss and survival. While some critics complained about the book’s length, it went on to win the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
The musical is a big deal. The movie was a big deal. The book is big, too—655,478 words on a couple thousand pages. This French historical novel was first published in 1862 and has been hailed as one of the best novels of the 19th century. In Hugo’s words, the book constitutes “a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life, from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God.”

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
The title of this ambitious novel, first published in Japan in three volumes in 2009 and 2010, refers both to the year 1984, when the story takes place, and to George Orwell’s 1984. Set in a fictionalized Tokyo, the stories of two main characters—a woman and a man—converge over the course of the book. Murakami employs surreal elements, alternate realities, down-the-rabbit-hole digressions, and frequent references to Western composers and musicians as he explores complex themes including murder, violence, cult religion and, ultimately, the triumph of love.

Lest this blog post end up in a blog post about long blog posts, I’ll stop there. What are some of your favorite long reads?


Mark is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow him online here.