All Things Printed & Recorded: Board games take a turn

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 November, we’ve got all the pieces in place for a look at the history of board games.

TIMELINE

2650 BCE  The Royal Game of Ur is played in Mesopotamia.playing checkers
1300 BCE  Two-player strategy game Ludus latrunculorum is played throughout the Roman Empire.
1822  The first American-made board game, Travellers Tour Through the United States, debuts.
1935  Monopoly is released. It would go on to become the biggest selling board game in US history.
1995  European strategy game The Settlers of Catan is released. It has since been translated into 30 languages and called “the board game of our time.”

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The Checkered Game of Life, released in 1860 by lithographer Milton Bradley, is known as America’s first popular parlor game and is the basis for the modern-day Game of Life.
  • Checkers, known as draughts in the UK, has been played in one form or another for centuries, having evolved from the early Middle Eastern game Alquerque.
  • The boot, thimble and wheelbarrow are among the Monopoly pieces to be discontinued in recent years.
  • The ancient Egyptian game Senet, which somewhat resembles Backgammon, dates to 3100 BCE and can be seen in this painting from the tomb of Queen Nefertari.

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book The Oxford History of Board Games, David Parlett
book The Games We Played: The Golden Age of Board & Table Games, Margaret Hofer
book The Master of Go, Kawabata
book It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan, Tristan Donovan
book The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, Mary Pilon
book The Player of Games, Iain Banks
book The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers, from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit, Philip Orbanes
slate_film-512 Searching for Bobby Fischer (movie)
slate_film-512 Clue (movie)
slate_film-512 Word Wars (movie)
slate_film-512 Jumanji (movie)

Fall Storytime Favorite: Toto’s Apple

We do a lot of reading in our house, which means I’m always on the hunt for our new favorite book. I recently discovered Toto’s Apple by Mathieu Lavoie at our local Half Price Books and instantly fell in love with Toto, a delightful little worm who devises a series of inventive problem solving measures to reach an apple high in a tree. Every time we read it I admire his tenaciousness, especially because he uses arts and crafts to overcome each of his obstacles — you’re a worm after our own hearts, Toto.

Every now and then we do a special storytime party, and I knew Toto would be the perfect book to kick off the first day of fall. It has it all – apples, trees, leaves, squirrels, birds – it’s basically fall bingo in picture book form. So I invited my daughters Jane (four) and Rose (two) to help me bake mini apple pies (with leaf crusts, their favorite part) which we devoured while we read the book, and afterward we made simple popsicle butterflies, just like Toto makes for himself in the book. It was fun and simple and made storytime just a little more magical. 

What’s your family’s favorite storytime book? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by Kristen Dickson from @tojaneandrose, a girl mom in Texas looking for that everyday magic.

Meet the Teachers: Highlighting Educators in the Community

Educators hold a special place in our hearts at Half Price Books. Earlier this year, we introduced you to a pair of teachers who are true HPB booklovers. Adriana and Jeffery Sifford visited every HPB in the Houston, TX area (there are nine for anyone who’s counting) in a single day and tweeted about their adventure along the way. In this Q&A, we get to know Adriana and Jeff, and discover more about their choice to pursue a career in education.

Why did you become an educator?
Adriana – When I was a reporter, I covered education and I loved going to teachers’ classrooms and watching them teach. Students were engaged, teachers were having fun. I watched how students were learning from the teachers, and I always wanted to be a part of that.
Jeffrey – This may sound so cliché, but to make a difference. I always enjoyed learning and that’s something I wanted to pass on.

A

What do teachers do when their kids are at lunch? Take selfies in the classroom! Looking good, Adriana.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Adriana – My favorite teacher was Ms. Martinez. She was my 9th grade English teacher. She was nice, patient and was there for us when we needed her. She was also my debate coach. She made learning fun!
Jeffrey – My favorite teacher was my 4th grade English teacher, Mrs. Zaskoda. She made reading come alive and I looked forward to going to her class every day. Continue reading

Behind the Book: The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

EDITORS NOTE: From debut author Imogen Hermes Gowar comes The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, an atmospheric historical fiction novel set in 18th century London. The elegant prose and magical realism transports you to a world of opulence and turmoil. Gowar’s rich visuals and detailed descriptions kept us reading and reading and reading! We had the opportunity to catch up with Imogen recently. Read on to discover her answers to our questions!

MermaidandMrsHancock.hc c

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock is such a unique story. Where did your inspiration come from? Was there something in particular that drew you to mermaids?
I’ve been interested in the supernatural since childhood, and that definitely includes mermaids. I was particularly compelled by the traditional mermaid myths: the idea that they had a dangerous, inexorable power as much rooted in melancholy and longing as in anything erotic.

I was also really interested in the way people thought of mermaids, as opposed to how they were displayed. The goblin-like counterfeit mermaid effigies that were popular in the eighteenth century and beyond didn’t bear a huge resemblance to the sexy damsels of popular imagination, but people were willing to be taken in by them nevertheless. While I was working at the British Museum I came across one of these fake mermaids—it’s made from a monkey’s torso stitched to a salmon’s tail—and it is oddly chilling. I could immediately imagine the sort of man who might want to acquire it: how he would bridge the gulf between how it looked and what he wished to believe. Continue reading

Let’s Talk About Literacy

September is National Literacy Month and a great time to think about the importance of reading in our lives.

Sadly, there are more than 36 million adults in this country that cannot read, write or do basic math above a third-grade level. And this affects almost every aspect of their lives – they can’t read to their children (which makes their kids more likely to have low literacy skills), job prospects are slim and they can’t read prescriptions or other healthcare information, which makes them more likely to have health problems. The list goes on and on.

Luckily, there are many wonderful organizations across the country working to make sure this won’t always be the case!

One of the organizations we support here in our hometown of Dallas is Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT). I’m a proud member of their board of directors – it’s wonderful to see the work they do with the community each day!

To support organizations like this, Half Price Books will host Literacy Benefit Day on Saturday, Sept. 8. We’ll donate 5% of our sales that day to literacy partners across the country – up to $20,000.

We’ve also designed some buttons with a purpose so you can show your support for literacy.

100% of the proceeds from the sale of these buttons will benefit our local literacy partners – available while supplies last.

So we hope you’ll stop by stores in September to help support these great organizations that are boosting the literacy skills of both kids and adults alike.

To find the literacy partner near you, check out our Literacy Month page.

#HPBgives: More Than 330,000 Kids’ Books Donated Nationwide

Another year of our Half Pint Library Book Drive and book giveaways has come and gone! This was the 19th year of our Half Pint Library Book Drive (part of our Million Book Donation Project), and I am pleased to announce we distributed 330,789 books to organizations across the country.

Thank you to all of our wonderful customers who donated books to the drive. We couldn’t have gotten so many books into the hands of kids who need them without you! Until next year, please enjoy these photos from some of our giveaways.

124


The book recipients and HPB staff pose for a photo before the book distribution begins at our Downers Grove, Illinois location.

Continue reading

It’s time to celebrate Booksgiving Day!

Attention kids and parents – it’s time to celebrate your favorite Half Price Books holiday, Booksgiving Day!

Now in its fourth year, we here at Half Price Books celebrate Booksgiving Day with a special storytime. BUT, the best part is, every child who attends will receive a FREE new children’s picture book to take home, while supplies last. (Who doesn’t love free books?!)

And this year, for every book purchased online at HPB.com on Booksgiving Day, we’ll donate a book to the nonprofit organization, Feed The Children. All books donated on Booksgiving Day are part of the Half Price Books Million Book Donation Project, which donated more than 1.6 million books to non-profit organizations and schools in 2015.

So stop by your local HPB on Saturday, November 19 at 2 p.m. local time to celebrate Booksgiving Day with your fellow booklovers, and don’t forget to shop online, too. Hope to see you there!

Check out photos from previous Booksgiving Day celebrations!

imag0979

HPB Independence 2015

Continue reading

Eating Books: How To and Why

April Fool’s Day is the biggest day of the year for caution, what with all the pranks your friends are surely concocting to surprise you. One steps lightly, takes their email with a grain of salt and checks toilets for plastic wrap on the First of April. But there’s more to this day than being exploited for your (really, my) gullible nature (I’ve fallen for a few pranks in my time). Do you know what else happens on this glorious day? A Texas tradition, that’s what! The Austin Edible Book Festival, you goose!

12764703_1163577176995032_9003573870044963327_o

Here’s How it Works:

Festival entrants participate by constructing a dish that is representative of a book title through puns or wordplay. These concoctions-often sculptural, sometimes literal, always engaging, are laid out to be admired and then voted on in a variety of categories, including Funniest, Most Appetizing, Least Appetizing, Best Construction and Best in Show. The winners get prizes, and then we eat everything. Or, at least in my experience, everything that didn’t win Least Appetizing. Some of my favorites from the last couple of years include “Gone Girl-ic Bread,” a loaf of garlic bread stabbed with a knife and drizzled with marinara sauce; “20,000 Big League Chews Under the Sea,” an aquarium filled with Swedish Fish and Big League Chew gum; “The Holy Bivalve,” a biblically-decorated cake shaped like a clam; and “Game of Scones,” a cookie chess board with mini scones for pieces. Perfection.

The first iteration of the festival came about in 2000, pioneered by art librarian and curator Judith A. Hoffberg and artist Béatrice Coron as way to celebrate the power of literature as a means to ingest culture and ideas. April 1st was chosen to honor the birthdate of French author and gourmet Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, whose La Physiologie du Goût was written as a witty meditation on the edible arts. The tradition was adopted in Austin by the University of Texas School of Information in 2003, and since 2014 has been hosted at Half Price Books on North Lamar.

AEBF2015crowd

It’s so much fun. People get really creative with their entries, and some of the puns at play are even more delicious than their edible manifestations. And if the joys of wordplay aren’t enough to get you pumped about this, the festival also kicks off a food drive to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas that runs throughout the entire month of April at HPB on North Lamar. You can eat weird stuff AND feel good about helping our community. Win-win!

So if you’re in the Austin area or are looking for a reason to visit, come be a part of this scrumptiously absurd event. You don’t have to sign up, just show up with your entry. We’ll know exactly why you’ve come into a book store with a fish in a kilt “Troutlander”, a temporarily-intelligent bowl of curry and bread “Cauliflowers for Algernaan”, or a seemingly ageless jar of Dijon mustard “The Picture of Dorian Grey Poupon”. We’ll save you a spot at the table during the first day of the best month you could hope to have. Welcome!

Zach Nash is the Community Outreach Specialist at Half Price Book North Lamar.

North Texas Tornado Relief: How Our Customers Helped Meet the Needs of Tornado Survivors

UPDATE: May 9, 2016

Small gestures add up to make a big difference

After the December 26, 2015 tornadoes hit North Texas, HPB’s Dallas-Fort Worth customers donated toiletry items, we contributed books to displaced families living in shelters.  In January, donation coin boxes in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Oklahoma City encouraged customer donations to the Red Cross.  Many customers donated by directly texting to the Red Cross while others dropped their donation into the coin boxes.  After the money was tallied, we presented the coin box donations to the North Texas Region of the American Red Cross.  Our customers contributed a few coins or dollar bills here and there, which ultimately became a donation of $6,413.45!  The Red Cross works to help those impacted by the North Texas tornadoes even now, four months later, and these contributions will go towards that work – it is awesome to see your donations making a difference in the lives of the North Texans who are still recovering and rebuilding their lives.

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” — Nelson Mandela

 

Tornado Relief

Representing Half Price Books at the check presentation in March was Dawn, Garland store manager, and Dave, North Dallas district manager.  In the center is Ashley from the Red Cross of North Texas.  The day after the tornadoes, the Garland store was first to reach out to the Garland Police and let them know HPB wanted to help. 

Through the generosity of our dedicated customers and some additional big-hearted citizens who wanted to donate, Half Price Books was able to collect more than 10,000 toiletry items for the survivors of the recent North Texas tornadoes! What too many families in areas just north and south of the city of Dallas experienced was a devastating mass of twelve tornadoes that tore through homes and across neighborhoods, sadly taking lives in the process.

FBWall-NTXTornadoRelief-Amplified

The communities of Garland and Rowlett were hit the hardest, and, subsequently, several Red Cross Shelters were established and companies across North Texas volunteered to collect needed items. The evening after the tornadoes hit, our Garland store management team reached out to the Garland police and let them know we would help, in whatever way we could. On Monday, our Dallas corporate office, in partnership with the American Red Cross of North Texas, announced that DFW area Half Price Books stores would accept donations to the Red Cross. As a tangible way to meet the needs of the tornado survivors, we embarked upon a DFW Toiletry Donation Drive to provide toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap and other immediate needs.

The Red Cross let us know on Tuesday, December 29, they had several shelters with many children that were bored and asked if we had books we could donate – do we have books? YES! The boxes were packed to the top of the truck with more than 500 books, stacked, loaded and delivered to the Red Cross Headquarters by a Half Price Books team by the next day. Before we left the building, a Red Cross representative said those children’s books were already en route to the shelters! Now that was amazingly efficient!

2

Left to right: Michael (HPB), Ashley (Red Cross), Brady (HPB), Angela (Red Cross)

We continued the Toiletry Donation Drive through that week until Friday, January 1. To say that our customers, employees and the citizens of DFW area were generous is an understatement. Our Flagship store in Dallas collected more than 3,000 of the much-needed items, including some dog food and blankets, too! In addition, our19 other stores in the DFW area collected another 7,000 items! When the call went out, everyone responded with abundance!

4

Donation delivery site with HPB truck driver, Marvin (in orange vest) and church’s volunteers.

The closing chapter of our donation drive was finding an organization to distribute the donations we collected – in the process, we discovered a cool website called recovers.org, where the needs of a recovering community are listed and those who want to donate can be matched with each other. After searching for the Garland area, we found an organization that needed our toiletry items. Our corporate distribution staff quickly sorted and boxed up the 10,000 items into categories like toothbrushes and shampoo; the four shrink-wrapped pallets with 25 boxes each were then delivered to The Central Park Church of God in Garland on Friday, January 10 – on the day the director said they literally were running out of toiletries! It is because of our thoughtful and community minded customers, employees and fellow citizens of DFW that these donations got into the hands of those in need, just in time! If you donated, we wanted you to know – you met a huge need in a mighty way!

3

HPB employees sorted over 10,000 items!