All Things Printed & Recorded: Puzzles Rise to the Challenge

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This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores.

For March, we’ve exercised our brain to bring you some fascinating info about puzzles.

TIMELINE
1760s  Londoner John Spilsbury creates early wooden jigsaw puzzles.
c.1900 A jigsaw puzzle craze sweeps the US.
1920s  Jigsaw puzzles become an inexpensive Depression-era pastime.
1932  Jig of the Week, a weekly 25¢ puzzle, is a hit on newsstands.
2011  The world’s largest jigsaw puzzle, with 551,232 pieces, is assembled in Vietnam.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • A 1514 engraving by Albrecht Dürer featured a “magic square,” a distant ancestor to sudoku and other number-based puzzles.
  • Jigsaw puzzles emerged in the 18th century when maps were mounted on wood and cut into pieces along national borders. Known as dissected maps, they were used to teach geography to children.dissected map.png
  • In the early 20th century, the high cost of wooden jigsaw puzzles put them out of reach of average consumers, but they became a staple of the high-society party scene.
  • The first known published crossword puzzle appeared December 21, 1913, in the New York World. By the 1920s they were carried in most US newspapers.

DISCOVER MORE
book The Jigsaw Puzzle: Piecing Together a History, Anne D. William
book The History and Craft of Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles: From Historical Source Instructions to Modern Tools and Techniques, Carrie Franzwa
book Crossworld: One Man’s Journey Into America’s Crossword Obsession, Marc Romano
book A Clue for The Puzzle Lady, Parnell Hall
book The New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzles: 50 Sunday Puzzles from the Pages of The New York Times, Will Shortz, ed.
book Sudoku Mania, Book 1
clapperboard Wordplay

Mystery Books That Are Book Mysteries

Most mysteries still feature private eyes and cops, but people from all sorts of professions are getting into the sleuthing act: priests, hockey players, hair stylists—and quite a few from the world of books. Writers, of course, are readers, and they love hanging out in bookstores and libraries and thinking, “What a wonderful setting for an unsolvable murder!”

Below I have gathered a few mystery books I’ve enjoyed that are also book mysteries. Check them out and let us know of any of your favorite book-mystery mystery books we didn’t include.

Booked to Die
John Dunning, 1992
Booked to Die was the first of five books in Dunning’s series featuring detective Cliff Janeway, who also just happens to be a book collector and bookstore owner. The series is set in Dunning’s hometown of Denver, where he has worked as a newspaper reporter and owned the Old Algonquin Bookstore, which specialized in second-hand and rare books. There’s a lot of collectible-book knowledge and lore in this series—enough that we have often recommended Booked to Die to HPB’s pricers.

booked to die

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Let’s do the Time Loop Again

February 2 is Groundhog Day, so you’ll find me doing the same thing I do every Groundhog Day, watching the movie Groundhog Day, because Groundhog Day just isn’t Groundhog Day without watching Groundhog Day. (That sentence was brought to you by the people who bet me I couldn’t use “Groundhog Day” six times in a sentence.) Truth is, I have always loved stories that have time loops in them. As someone who constantly gets things wrong, the idea that someone could live the same day over and over again until they get things right appeals to me. Here’s a list of my top five books and movies about people who get stuck in some sort of time loop.

Groundhog Day—Of course we have to start this list with Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. The movie never explains how weatherman Phil Connors gets stuck in a time loop, having to relive February 2 over and over again, but I think the groundhog had something to do with it.

Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver—In this debut YA novel, Sam Kingston wakes up the morning after dying in a car accident, fated to relive the day she dies over and over again. Like in Groundhog Day, the story is about redemption and the reason for the time loop is not given, but it sure makes a great story. This book was turned into a movie in 2017, starring Zoey Deutch.

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All Things Printed & Recorded: Readers Flip for Magazines

This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores.

For February, we’re covering a product that’s been a mainstay at HPB since we first opened: magazines.

3 Magazines.pngTIMELINE

1731  The Gentleman’s Magazine debuts in England. Its publisher invents the word “magazine” based on the Arabic word “makhazin,” meaning storehouse.
1741  Early American magazines include Ben Franklin’s General Magazine.
1842  The Illustrated London News is the first magazine with illustrations.
1898  Ladies’ Home Journal becomes the first US magazine to have one million subscribers.
1923  Time ushers in the weekly news magazine
1944  Seventeen, the first magazine targeted to teens, debuts.
2015  Approximately 7,300 different magazine titles are published in the United States.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • In the 19th and 20th centuries, American magazines spread trends nationwide and helped create a shared pop culture.
  • Around 1900, popular magazines like McClure’s began publishing pieces by reform-minded investigative journalists. Known as muckrakers, these writers aimed to expose corruption in business and government.

McClures.pngDISCOVER MORE

book Life: The Classic Collection
book Memos: The Vogue Years, Diana Vreeland
book Covering the ‘60s: George Lois – The Esquire Era, George Lois
book Muckrakers: How Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, And Lincoln Steffens Helped Expose Scandal, Inspire Reform, And Invent Investigative Journalism, Ann Bausum & Daniel Schorr
book How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time, Marisa Meltzer
slate_film-512 The Devil Wears Prada
slate_film-512 Funny Face

Adventures Worth Telling: A Book Nerd’s Look at Appreciate a Dragon Day

“Always remember, it’s simply not an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” –Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance

January 16 is Appreciate a Dragon Day, and what better way to celebrate than to look at some of our favorite dragons in literature?

beowulfThe Dragon that Slays Beowulf
The epic poem Beowulf is one of the oldest surviving and most important works of Old English literature. It is certainly one of the most important works in regards to dragons, as Beowulf was the first piece of English literature to represent a fire-breathing dragon as we think of them today. This unnamed dragon is the third monster that Beowulf faces and is the monster that deals him the wound that costs him his life. The dragon is slain by Beowulf’s distant cousin Wiglaf, who Beowulf names as his heir as he lays dying.

Smaug

Smaug

Giphy

The greedy, wicked worm from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit is probably the most well-known dragon in the world. Described as “the greatest of the dragons of his day,” Smaug attacked against King Thrór without warning and engulfed the dwarf king’s mountain in flames, causing the dwarves to flee. Smaug then moved in, taking the dwarves’ riches for himself and resided in the mountain for 150 years, until a meddlesome wizard and a band of dwarves elicited the help of a simple hobbit to take back the mountain. For more about this dragon and what brought about the quest to recapture the mountain, read Appendix A from The Return of the King and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales.

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All Things Printed & Recorded: The Printing Press Helps the World Get Bookish

This year in our HPB calendar (you got one, right?) we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we sell in our stores.

For January, we’re taking a look at the development of books and printing. A good place to start, huh?

Gutenberg circleDID YOU KNOW?

  • Books were costly and relatively rare before the innovations of Johannes Gutenberg. In 1439 he developed a system of printing—using movable type and a wooden press—that was quickly adopted throughout Europe and beyond, leading to increased production of books and the spread of knowledge to the masses.
  • Movable type, where individual characters are used to create words imprinted on a page, existed as early as 1045 in China. Gutenberg was the first to make type using metal, using an alloy of lead, tin and antimony.
  • Mental Floss calculated that, throughout history, about 134,000,000 unique book titles have been published.

TIMELINE

2nd cent. BCE  In India, texts written on palm leaves are bound with twine between two boards.
antique book1st cent. The codex appears. With folded pages bound on one side between two hard covers, codices are portable, easy to use and presage the modern book.
1455  Gutenberg completes his 42-line Bible, printing 180 copies.
1810  The steam-powered printing press leads to greater speed and efficiency.
1843  Book production flourishes thanks to the steam-powered rotary press.

DISCOVER MORE

book The Gutenberg Revolution: How Printing Changed the Course of History, John Man
book Gutenberg’s Apprentice: A Novel, Alix Christie
book Five Hundred Years of Printing, S.H. Steinberg & John Trevitt
book Type: The Secret History of Letters, Simon Loxley
music-note-21 Gutenberg! The Musical, Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording
clapperboard The Book of Eli
clapperboard The Book Thief

Holiday Reads for the Not-So-Holiday Minded

Every Christmas, there are certain books that my family pulls off the bookshelf. They are absolute must-reads for Christmastime, like Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol or Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. However, occasionally between stealing the last can of Who Hash and God blessing everyone, I need to read something that will take me out of the holiday while still capturing the holiday spirit, if only for a moment. Here is a list of classic novels that includes the holidays, but are about so much more.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
This classic novel begins with a heartwarming Christmas scene, but it takes you through several seasons in the March girls’ lives as they face each blessing and trial together. The love and support the March girls give each other through the years illustrates the importance of family.
little women

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Totally Random Lists: Auld Lang Syne

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we celebrated the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ve found books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our final random list for December 2017!

Dec titleAs we bid adieu to another year, HPB would like to remind you that old acquaintances shouldn’t be forgot—unless they’re always posting offensive stuff on Facebook: Then forget ‘em! Did we mention we’re terrible at goodbyes? Here’s a list of titles related to endings & farewells.

BOOKSDec visual
Farewell, My Lovely, Raymond Chandler
The Garden of Happy Endings, Barbara O’Neal
This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
Three Weeks to Say Goodbye, C.J. Box

MOVIES & TV
Bye Bye Birdie
The Day After Tomorrow
The Long Goodbye
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

MUSIC
The End, Nico
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John
Leaving, Pet Shop Boys

Not ready to say goodbye just yet? Keep the story going at HPB.com/auld.

Fictional Feasts

Last autumn, I had the pleasure of visiting family in England and staying with my cousin and her husband in their cozy 16th century home in a tiny East Sussex village not far from the town of Lewes.

On a chilly, clear evening after a full day of walking and exploring the area, my cousin prepared us a warm, delicious meal of daube and homemade bread accompanied by a glass of hearty red wine. Our dinner conversation started with “What is daube?” – a classic Provençal beef stew – and “Where did you get the recipe?” – from French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David. By the way, Virginia Woolf (who had a weekend home in Lewes and sadly drowned in the nearby River Ouse) wrote about ‘Boeuf en Daube’ in her 1927 novel To the Lighthouse.

“… an exquisite scent of olives and oil and juice rose from the great brown dish as Marthe, with a little flourish, took the cover off. The cook had spent three days over that dish. And she must take great care, Mrs. Ramsay thought, diving into the soft mass, to choose a specially tender piece for William Bankes. And she peered into the dish, with its shiny walls and its confusion of savoury brown and yellow meats and its bay leaves and its wine …” Continue reading

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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