Vocabulary Booster: Convivial, Defenestrate & 5 Other Words I Learned From Books I Read This Year

October 16 is the birthday of American teacher and lexicographer, Noah Webster, which consequentially makes it Dictionary Day.  Now, I will admit that looking up words in the dictionary is a great way to improve your vocabulary. Unfortunately, the dictionary can make for some dry reading, which is why most of the words I’ve learned have come from novels I have read.  Sometimes I can figure them out from context clues, but others require some help from Mr. Webster.  Here is a list of words I have learned from reading.

Impunity | /imˈpyo͞onədē/ | noun
I learned this word from Edgar Alan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, which I remember reading in the 7th Mr. Webster would define impunity as “freedom from punishment, harm or loss.” Though, I wonder if we asked Montresor if he truly punished Fortunato with impunity what he would say.

Copse | /käps/ | noun
I’m embarrassed to say that I learned this word not that long ago when reading The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss. A co-worker told me it was their favorite book growing up, so I decided to read it.  I had seen the word in other books and glanced over it, always confusing it with the word corpse and so thought it meant a small graveyard.  However, Mr. Webster would define copse as “a thicket of small trees or shrubs,” which makes more sense, especially when I read it in Tami Hoag’s Cold Cold Heart later that same month. Continue reading

Best of 2015: HPB Staff Picks in Books, Movies & Music

As with any year, putting together a list of the best new releases is challenging because there is so much great work to recognize. This collection of HPB Staff Picks are the books, music and movies which inspired and entertained us in 2015. If you haven’t discovered these yet, we hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we did. Here they are, in no particular order:

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BOOKS // 1. Best Coloring Book (for Adults): Secret Garden Artist’s Edition by Johanna Basford / 2. Best LOL Biography: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling / 3.  Best Literary Fiction to Cry Your Eyes Out Over: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara / 4. Best Edge-of-Your-Seat Mystery: Memory Man by David Baldacci / 5. Best Unexpected, Recently-Published 1950s Novel: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee / 6. Best Finale to a Series: Winter by Marissa Meyer / 7. Best Finger-Licking Good Recipes: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime by Ree Drummond / 8. Best Controversy-Stirring Nonfiction: Missoula by Jon Krakauer / 9. Best Euphorically-Geeky, Shout-Out-to-the-80s Science Fiction: Armada by Ernest Cline / 10. Best Historical Novel: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah / 11. Best Children’s Picture Book Grown-Ups Will Enjoy Reading Again & Again: The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin / 12. Best Impactful Middle Grade Novel: Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan / 13. Best Brush-Up-On-Your-Manners Children’s Book: Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony (which technically was released on December 30, 2014 but we’re going to count it as a 2015 release) / 14. Best Pass-on-Your-Passion for Star Wars Graphic Novel: Vader’s Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown / 15. Best Ghost Story: Slade House by David Mitchell / 16. Best Inspirational, Red-White-and-Blue American History Biography: Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship and Sacrifice by Adam Makos / 17. Best Continuation of a Series by a New Author: The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz / 18. Best Revelatory and Culture-Questioning Memoir: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates / 19. Best Start of a New Series: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard / 20. Best Infectiously Happy Bio: Wildflower by Drew Barrymore / 22. Best Impassioned and Thought-Provoking Memoir: Spinster by Kate Bolick / 22. Best Movie Tie-in Edition: The Martian by Andy Weir / 23. Best Dystopian Fantasy: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi / 24. Best Steamy Romance Fiction: Country by Danielle Steel / 25. Best Adventure-of-a-Lifetime Story: The Explorer’s Guild by Kevin Costner and Jon Baird  //  MOVIES // 26. Best Based-on-Real-Events Film: Selma, starring David Oyelowo / 27. Best Music-Rich, Unorthodox Biographical Film: Love & Mercy, starring John Cusack / 28. Best Feel-All-the-Feels Animated Movie for All Ages: Inside Out by Disney Pixar / 29. Best Weirdly-Wonderful Dark Comedy: Birdman, starring Michael Keaton / 30. Best Action-Packed-Dialogue Movie: Steve Jobs, written by Aaron Sorkin // MUSIC // 31. Best Playful-Surprise Alternative Rock Album: Star Wars by Wilco / 32. Best Throwback-to-Soul Album: Coming Home by Leon Bridges / 33. Best New Album of Old Standards: Shadows in the Night by Bob Dylan / 34. Best Powerhouse Vocalist Album: 25 by Adele / 35. Best Hauntingly-Beautiful Indie Folk Album: Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens.

What are your favorites from 2015? Did we overlook the best new book you read in 2015? We’d love to hear about your Best List in the comments below. Here’s to another fantastic year of literature, music and films in 2016! Happy New Year, booklovers!

Meredith is Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate. You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

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.

Continue reading

Embrace Your Geekness: HPB Reviews Armada by Ernest Cline

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.

Which brings me to Ernest Cline.

I read his first bestseller, Ready Player One, earlier this spring when I heard all the buzz about the upcoming release, 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.

Cline’s second novel, Armada, comes out tomorrow, and it 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.

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”. BTW, Warner Bros. purchased the rights to Ready Player One and some unknown named Steven Spielberg, will direct. Universal Pictures grabbed the rights to Armada all the way back in December.

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 newest book. It’s a great read for teens (with some language warnings) 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. We’ll be hearing a lot more from Ernie Cline in the future, and if you are lucky enough to be in the area, you can catch him in Richardson, Texas as Half Price Books and Alamo Drafthouse partner to present An Evening with Ernie Cline Monday, July 27, at 7 p.m.

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

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.

Let’s get dirty! 27 Garden Inspired Books for Your Summer

Summer officially arrives this year at 6:51 AM EDT, on Saturday, June 21. If you are like me, this means an extra-long, delightfully sweaty day in the garden. Gardeners come from all walks of life and take joy in creating edible and/or ornamental gardens. And, when we are unable to be in the garden we daydream about it, here are a few suggested reads that will hopefully satisfy your desire and dreams of the garden.

Fiction 1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett • 2. The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman • Mysteries   3. Pushing Up Daisies by Rosemary Harris • 4. Garden of Secrets Past by Anthony Eglin • Poetry  5. Led By The Nose by Jenny Joseph • 6. Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver • Short Story Collection  7. The Garden of Reading edited by Michelle Slung • Nonfiction by Amy Stewart 8. From the Ground Up • 9. The Earth Moved • 10. Flower Confidential • 11. Wicked Plants • 12. Gilding the Lily • 13. Wicked Bugs • 14. The Drunken BotanistNonfiction by Christopher Lloyd 15. The Well-Tempered Garden • 16. Dear Friend and Gardener • 17. In My Garden • 18. The Adventurous GardenerMore Nonfiction  19. My Garden Book by Jamaica Kincaid • 20. The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean • 21. A Garden in Lucca by Paul Gervais • 22. The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf • 23. The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan • 24. The Tulip by Anna Pavord • 25. Bulb by Anna Pavord • 26. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver • 27. Potted History by Catherine Horwood

Susan is Creative Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.

Books Authors Read with Victoria Scott

We continue our “Books Authors Read” series with YA author Victoria Scott, who wrote The Dante Walker trilogy and recently held the launch party for her new book, Fire & Flood, at our Dallas Flagship store. Thanks, Victoria, for sharing some of your favorite books! — Emily 

My own work, while laced with fantasy, is often set in modern day, and in places we’re familiar with. So when I read, I like nothing better than to step into the opposite. I adore young adult books that whisk me away to another time and place, and make me forget I’m sipping coffee in Dallas. Here are five of my favorite books that did just that!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

This is quite possibly my most beloved series. It’s a story about a princess who flourishes as a queen. About an underdog who triumphs. About an ugly duckling who becomes beautiful in the right person’s eyes. And don’t get me started on the settings in this series—serene stretches of desert, uninhabited islands, the reckless sea. I tell everyone I know to read these books, and you should too!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

A book that takes place in outer space? Yes, please. I fell in love with Revis’s characters, but it was the wickedly beautiful stars, the crops growing under false lights, and the ship’s blueprint that truly swept me away. Every time I cracked open one of these books, I was no longer on earth. I was elsewhere, with Elder and Amy and a fleet of restless people bound for a world they may never reach. This pulse-pounding story is one you shouldn’t miss.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Every time I pick up this book, I want a glass of iced tea. This southern gothic horror takes place in an old, crumbling estate by the sea. As if that wasn’t enough to hook me, a strange, nerve-rattling guy rents the main character’s guest house. I spent the better part of a week equally terrified and attracted to this guy. Is he dangerous? Is he a gentleman? I’ll never tell. But I will say this, pour yourself a glass of the South’s syrup and settle in for a mystery unlike any you’ve ever read.

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan

Set in Paris in the late 1800s, this gothic story evokes a gloomy, foggy feel. I could practically feel the cobblestone streets beneath my heels, and the gargoyles watching my every move from the abbey eves. Morgan creates a romance in the city of love unlike any I’ve ever read. It’s part paranormal, part ball gowns and etiquette, part kick-butt fight scenes…and wholly entertaining. I can open one of Morgan’s books and within seconds that dark, dreary, enticing world falls over my shoulders once again.

Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman

This book took me on a journey to China, Angel Island, and finally, to America in the early 1920s. The main character, Jade Moon, born a Fire Horse, is one of my absolute favorite main characters. Her quest to have a voice among men takes her on a journey across the world, and I was enthralled every step of the way. I wept when she was sad, felt my blood boil when she was frustrated, and rejoiced when at last she found a makeshift home. I rarely reread books, but this is one I have no doubt will be enjoyed time and again. Go Jade!

Victoria Scott is the author of Dante Walker Trilogy and Fire & Flood Series

You may visit her online or follow her on Twitter at @VictoriaScottYA.

34 Swoon-Worthy Romance Novels

Falling in love has been a prominent theme in literature since people first started writing books.  In fact, most books will have a romantic component to them, no matter what genre they are. However, if you are looking for a little romance this Valentine’s Day, here are 34 book recommendations from our 3,000 Bibliomaniacs – ones they think are swoon-worthy.

1. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, 2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, 3. A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Devereux, 4. Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louis Rennison, 5. The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski, 6. Emma by Jane Austen, 7. Persuasion by Jane Austen, 8. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, 9. Bengal’s Heart by Lora Leigh, 10. Paradise by Judith McNaught, 11. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery, 12. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 13. The Search by Nora Roberts, 14. A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotsen, 15. Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, 16. The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodwiss, 17. The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, 18. At Swim Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill, 19. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, 20. The Black Opal by Victoria Holt, 21. The Invitation by Jude Devereux, 22. Dark Magic by Christine Feehan, 23. Calhoun by Diana Palmer, 24. Now You See Her by Linda Howard, 25. Men in Kilts by Katie MacAlister, 26. Dreams of Stardust by Lynn Kirland, 27. The Return of Rafe MacKade by Nora Roberts, 28. Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small, 29. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, 30. The Last Time I Was Me by Cathy Lamb, 31. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, 32. The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer, 33. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, 34. Forever Amber by Kathleen Windsor.

Did we miss your favorite romance novel?  What books have you fallen in love with?

— 

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

50 Fiction Books That Might Just Change Your Life

Is there a book that changed your life?

You may never forget the first “grown-up” book you read –– When a reader is at a pivotal age of adolescence, a coming-of-age story somehow can empower you to come into your own. Sometimes a work of fiction can teach you some truth about yourself. For some, a life-altering book might be the one that set you on a new course for the future, or helped you heal from your past.

From a poll of Half Price Books staff of Bibliomaniacs, here is list of 50 fiction books that just might change your life. Hopefully, you will find them as inspiring as we did.

One bookseller told us, “I am a first generation immigrant to America, and grew up with very little family. The Phantom Tollbooth, a tale about a lost boy, made me feel like I could fit, somewhere, even if it was only in the imagination of my own mind.”

 

LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel, 2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, 3. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 4. The Best American Short Stories by Tom Perrotta (editor), 5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

6. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, 7. The Last Leaf by O. Henry, 8. So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell, 9. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, 10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

11. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, 12. Atonement by Ian McEwan, 13. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, 14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, 15. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

16. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, 17. White Oleander by Janet Fitch, 18. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, 19. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, 20. Foster by Claire Keegan,

21. The Bluest Eye by Tony Morrison, 22. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy, 23. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, 24. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 25. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

26. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, 27. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, 28. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 29. Without Feathers by Woody Allen, 30. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

31. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, 32. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, 33. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, 34. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, 35. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

36. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, 37. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, 38. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, 39. Blindness by Jose Saramago, 40. The Giver by Lois Lowry

41. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, 42. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, 43. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, 44. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, 45. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster

46. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 47. 1984 by George Orwell, 48. On the Road by Jack Kerouac, 49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, 50. Little Big Man by Thomas Berger.

What book changed your life? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Meredith is Associate Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

Mission Accomplished: I Read 100 Books in 2013

Like many of you (50K of you, in fact), I resolved to read more in 2013. I challenged myself to read 100 books before the year’s end. And I can proudly say I did it!

Since I work for a bookstore and mingle with publishers year-round, I’m lucky enough to always have a good book on hand, including some advanced reader copies. Here’s a look at my 15 favorites among the 100 books I read in 2013, along with my ratings of each. The first 13 on my list earned themselves a 5-star rating. Keep reading to learn how you can enter to win a $100 HPB Gift Card.

1. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert,
2. The Son by Philipp Meyer,
3. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand,
4. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey,
5. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer,
6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple,
7. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard,
8. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell,
9. The Dinner by Herman Koch,
10. Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley,
11. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini,
12. On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee (January 7, 2014 release date),
13. Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan,
14. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (January 7, 2014 release date),
15. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

 

So now it’s your turn, booklovers. Join me! I’m making a resolution again for 2014 to keep on reading more! Tell us about your resolution (here) and enter for a chance to score a $100 HPB Gift Card.

HOW TO ENTER: Go to hpb.com/resolve and complete the entry form, including how many books you resolve to read in 2014. You must provide a valid email address so we can contact you if you’re the lucky winner. Limit one entry per person. Deadline to enter is Friday, January 31, 2014.* Just for kicks, tell us what books you’ll be reading this year in the comments below. Need some recommendations? Stop in your local store today and ask for help. Happy New Year!

*One randomly selected winner will be notified via email after January 31, 2014.

Kristen B. is Procurement Specialist at Half Price Books Distribution Center.
You can follow her on Twitter at @kbev302.