Behind the Book: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

Editor’s Note:
Social Creature is one of those broodingly beautiful pieces that catches you and keeps you till the very bitter end. The characters of Lavinia and Louise represent the dark glitz, glamour and destitution of New York City and their tangled friendship will keep readers enthralled. This decadent debut thriller is a refreshing take on the dark side of obsession. We recently had a moment to speak with Tara Isabella Burton to find out more about her writing process, background and upcoming works.

Social_Creature_CoverI feel like almost everyone knows a person like Lavinia – carefree, reckless and self-absorbed. Did you model her character after someone you know in real life?
Yes and no. I modeled Lavinia after a few different people I’d known in NYC – some that I knew well, some that I’d only met in passing. But I also very much wrote an autobiographical character. In real life, I tend to cover up a lot of my own anxieties by embracing performativity – whether it’s on social media, or dressing in an eye-catching vintage style, or being highly emotionally effusive. I wanted to explore a character that had a really big chasm between her external and internal self. I hope I’m less self-absorbed than Lavinia, certainly, but I think I share her (probably unhealthy!) coping methods of dealing with insecurity – and probably many of us do, to some extent.

There’s been a lot of talk that this book is The Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age. Are you a fan of Patricia Highsmith and her work?
Absolutely! I love those lush midcentury thrillers – Patricia Highsmith, Daphne Du Maurier – that create a heightened atmosphere through both setting and equally intense, complicated characters.

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Who’s Your (Favorite) Daddy?: HPB Spotlights the Best Dads in Books, TV and Film

A few years ago we took a closer look at some of the top mothers in books, TV and film. As Father’s Day approaches, it’s Dad’s turn! Here are some of the best, or at least most memorable, paternal roles we’ve come to love over the years.

LITERATURE
Atticus_FinchThe All-Time Classic Dad:
Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird
No list of fathers is complete without Atticus. He’s arguably one of the greatest role models in American literature.
Honorable Mentions: Pa Ingalls – Little House on the Prairie series, Arthur    Weasley – Harry Potter series

Mr._BennetThe Dad Who Puts His Kids First:
Mr. Bennet – Pride and Prejudice
Mr. Bennet isn’t the perfect father, but he comes through when it counts, backing Elizabeth’s decision not to marry Mr. Collins.
Honorable Mentions:  The Man – The Road, Bob Cratchit – A Christmas Carol

Ned_StarkThe Newcomer Dad:
Ned Stark – A Song of Ice and Fire series
Ned loves all his children, even Jon Snow, his illegitimate son. His sense of honor and duty rules every aspect of his being.
Honorable Mentions: Nate Pullman – Wonder, Thomas Schell – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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What’s on the Menu?: Serving up Books & Movies for National Waiters & Waitresses Day

Yes, people, National Waiters & Waitresses Day is a real thing. NWWD (I just invented this abbreviation) is May 21, a day to eat out and tip generously as we pay a little extra attention to the hard-working, often underpaid folks who serve us in restaurants. To celebrate, we’re serving up a a six-course meal of waitstaff-centric books, movies and more.

DRINKS:
Cheers
One of the greatest TV comedies of all time, Cheers (1982–1993), focuses on the employees and patrons of a Boston bar. Cheers.gifHere we encounter two common waitress tropes: Diane, played by Shelley Long, is highly educated and thinks waitressing is beneath her, but she takes the gig in a moment of desperation after being jilted by her fiancée. Then there’s Rhea Perlman’s Carla, the wisecracking, hardened “career” waitress who becomes Diane’s comic foil. The first couple of seasons are like a sitcom writing masterclass.

Sweetbitter

APPETIZER:
Sweetbitter
Waiting tables is a common job for college students or other young adults—a thing to do while waiting (sometimes in vain) to do something else. Stephanie Danler wrote Sweetbitter during grad school while she worked at NYC’s Union Square Café, and the novel takes an unflinching look at the glitzy but grueling world of an upscale Manhattan eatery. Based partly on the author’s real-life experiences, the book was a bestseller and literary sensation upon its 2016 publication. Danler told Vanity Fair: “I’ve seen so many women move to New York City, think that they’re going to get a temporary job in the restaurant industry, and then get sucked into that world.” Sweetbitter will also become a TV series on Starz!, premiering May 6.

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The Reading Road Trip: Explore Literary Landmarks Across the U.S.

The lazy days of summer are the perfect time to hit the road for new adventures. And for a bookish type, what better journey to plan than a drive to one of the great literary landmarks across the United States?

From memorial libraries to author hangouts to well-preserved homes, there are a myriad of fascinating stops to explore. Here are a few of our favorites:

Scott and Zelda FitzgeraldScott&ZeldaAirBNB.jpg
The only dedicated museum to the glamorous Jazz Age couple, this restored home in Montgomery, Alabama was the site of the longest residence for the Fitzgeralds, and the spot where Scott wrote Tender is the Night and Zelda penned Save Me the Waltz. Full of copies of F. Scott and Zelda’s letters to one another (plus a few snarky ones Scott sent to Hemingway), photographs and Zelda’s paintings, the Fitzgerald Museum stands as a testament to their doomed but passionate relationship. Bonus: you can even book a stay upstairs in a quaint Airbnb decorated with pillows stitched with Zelda’s quotes.

Gorey_House

Photo courtesy of James Edwards

Edward Gorey
Gothic author, illustrator and playwright Edward Gorey turned his 200-year-old Cape Cod home Elephant House into a cabinet of curiosities. Gorey collected everything from cheese graters to elephants, so you’ll find plenty of ephemera in the cottage along with his overflowing library and a fabulous gift shop. If you look closely, you might even discover 26 children who met their untimely ends based on his classic alphabet book The Gashlycrumb Tinies hidden away around the abode.

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All Things Printed & Recorded: Children’s Books–Adventures in Wonder

EDITOR’S NOTE: 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 May, we’ve stepped through the looking-glass to learn about the history and development of children’s literature.

PokyLittlePuppy.png

TIMELINE
1658  Orbis Pictus, the first children’s textbook with pictures, is published.
1744  John Newbery releases A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, considered the first children’s book.
1942  The Poky Little Puppy is among the first 12 Little Golden Book titles.
1963  Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are raises the level of artistry in children’s picture books.

Alice vintage bookDID YOU KNOW?

  • Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published in 1865, was a watershed in children’s literature. Its emphasis on fantasy and childlike imagination was a departure from earlier works for kids, which were largely educational and reality-based.
  • Competition with the Soviets fueled US efforts to create more engaging books for young readers. One result was the Beginner Books imprint, founded in 1957 by Phyllis Cerf, Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and Helen Geisel.
  • Released in 1942 and still in print today, Seventeenth Summer by Maurine Daly, is often cited as the first modern young adult (YA) book.

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Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book The History of Children’s Books in 100 Books, Roderick Cave and Sara Ayad
book Children’s Literature: An Illustrated History, Peter Hunt, ed.
book 100 Great Children’s Picturebooks, Martin Salisbury
book John Newbery: Father of Children’s Literature, Shirley Graham
book 75 Years of Little Golden Books, 1942-2017: A Commemorative Set of 12 Best Loved Books
book The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
book Theodor Geisel: A Portrait of the Man Who Became Dr. Seuss, Donald Pease
book Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, Bruce Handy
slate_film-512 Miss Potter
slate_film-512 Finding Neverland

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.

enlightenment-now overstory

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.

female-persuasion italian-teacher

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.

womens-murder-club-17 dark-in-death1

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.

Tree-mendous Books, Movies and Music

Arbor Day is April 27, so we’re going out on a limb to highlight a few of our favorite trees in literature, film and even music. There’s no shortage of choices, given that humans have coexisted with and been fascinated by trees—sometimes even worshiping them—for all of history.

To_Kill_a_Mockingbird
The Radley oak tree in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Trees loom large in Harper Lee’s beloved 1960 novel, so it’s no surprise that most editions of the book feature a tree on the cover. Trees, after all, are where mockingbirds hang out. And, as Atticus Finch tells us, “it’s a sin” to kill a mockingbird because all they do is make music for us to enjoy. Furthermore, a tree plays an important role in the plot, as the mysterious recluse Boo Radley uses the knothole of a neighborhood oak tree as a place to leave small gifts for the Finch children, Scout and Jem.

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If You Liked The Tournament of Mysteries, You Might Also Like…

I am a total book nerd, and I love lists. So, when I was told Half Price Books was having a Tournament of Mysteries as part of Mystery Madness, I set out to read all the books on the bracket, in order to vote for the right book with each pairing. Now that I have read all the mystery books in the tournament, I solve the mystery of what I’m going to read next. Here’s a list of similar books for myself and other book nerds like me who never want Mystery Madness to end.

SherlockIf you liked Sherlock Holmes: The Novels, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:

AndThenThereWereNoneIf you liked And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie:

NameOfTheRoseIf you liked The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco:

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Solve the Mystery: 6 Character Riddles

How well do you know your mysteries? Below are clues to six of my favorite mystery novel characters. I challenge you to solve them all without looking at the answers below!

Magnifying Glass.gif

1. A self-proclaimed hobo, I have no address, no credit cards and no cell phone. I don’t even have a middle name. What I do have is 13 years of military training, dozens of medals and nothing better to do with my time. Who am I?

2. My foppish, upper-class persona and classic good looks may have convinced some that I slept my way into the Yard, but my ability to hide a wealth of feeling behind my aristocratic mask has proven useful whether I’m interviewing a confessed murderer, dealing with my partner’s tortured past or watching the girl I love marry one of my closest friends. Who am I?

3. My motto is: it’s better to be lucky than good. And I need all the luck I can get with my ongoing financial disaster, two men who drive me crazy, a gun-toting grandma and a co-worker who would trade sexual favors for a bucket of chicken, not to mention the fact that my cars keep exploding. I need a Tastykake. Who am I?

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All Things Printed & Recorded: Puzzles Rise to the Challenge

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.

PuzzleMainVisualTIMELINE
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