New Reads with a Holiday Twist

When you think of holiday stories,certain must-read classics come to mind, such as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and more recently Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express. These are stories that make their way off my shelf and into my hands every holiday season.  However, sometimes I crave a new holiday story and go looking for touching, romantic or even mysterious holiday books to devour.  If you are looking for something new this holiday, here are a few suggestions of holiday-themed stories that have been published in the past few years.

whatlight-coverWhat Light, by Jay Asher—Released in 2016, this moving Young Adult novel follows the story of Sierra and Caleb. Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon and every year she has to pack up and move to California to sell trees in their Christmas tree lot. This Christmas she meets Caleb, a boy with a troubled past. This story is about finding forgiveness, redemption and love, and it just may break your heart.  This book is featured in our Holiday Gift Guide.

a-baxter-family-christmas-9781471143311_hrA Baxter Family Christmas, by Karen Kingsbury—Released in 2016, Kingsbury brought back the Baxter family for an all-new holiday story, as John Baxter invites the transplant recipient who now has his deceased daughter’s heart to share Christmas Eve dinner with the family, a dinner that just might change all of them. Continue reading

50 Facts About How The Grinch Stole Christmas and The People Who Made It

It can’t be denied that the mid-1960s was the golden age of the animated TV Christmas special. You could deny it, but you’d be wrong. The stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer premiered in 1964, and A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted twelve months later. The next year, in 1966, How the Grinch Stole Christmas aired for the first time.

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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the animated Grinch, here are 50 facts about the classic TV special and the people who made it.

1. The Dr. Seuss book on which the special is based was published by Random House in 1957. It also appeared in an issue of Redbook magazine at the same time.

2. Dr. Seuss was the pen name of Theodor Geisel. His dozens of children’s books have spawned 11 TV specials, four feature films, four TV series and a stage musical. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984.

3. While attending Dartmouth College, Geisel got caught drinking gin with friends in his dorm room. As punishment, he was forced to stop all extracurricular activities, including writing for the school’s humor magazine. To surreptitiously keep writing for it, he began using the pen name Seuss. (Dartmouth gave him an honorary doctorate in 1956.)

4. His first book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected by anywhere from 20 to 43 publishers, depending on which time he told the story.

5. An early version of the Grinch character appeared in 1955 in a Seuss story called “The Hoobub and the Grinch.” Continue reading

Christmas Past Makes a Great Christmas Present

The literary work most associated with Christmas is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but, really, all of Charles Dickens’ works somehow seem to fit the holiday season, so we would like to take this opportunity to feature a very special array of British editions of Dickens’ novels, mostly first editions illustrated by Phiz, and a couple of other very special holiday collectible editions.1-thechimes

The Chimes
This 1905 J.M. Dent deluxe edition of the second of Dickens’ famous Christmas books is bound in vellum, with lovely decorative gilt to the spine and front board, showing holly, ivy and cherubs in an Art Nouveau style. Illustrated by Charles E. Brock. $225

2-nicholasnicklebyThe Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
First Edition, mixed issue. Chapman and Hall, 1839. Twentieth-century half morocco binding by Zaehnsdorf of London. $1,200 Continue reading

Stuff Your Stockings like Ol’ St. Nick

Could you imagine if your entire Christmas bounty fit into a wooden shoe? Americans tend to view stockings as a fun appetizer to the feast of Christmas presents that follow. But in some countries, the Christmas stocking or clog itself is the main event, staying true to the tradition’s origin.

This ritual is believed to trace back to the German legend of a rich man named Nicholas and a poor widower who couldn’t afford dowries for his three unwed daughters. Wanting to help, Nicholas tossed three bags of gold through an open window at night, which landed in the stockings drying on the fireplace. As the story spread, children began putting out their own stockings or clogs, filled with carrots and hay for Nicholas’ reindeer, waiting for him to replace their bribes with small gifts. Today in America, stockings have become bigger and the contents vary by family tradition — some stuffing them with whimsical toys, while others prefer practical gifts like tube socks.

This year my family will celebrate the season with our first-ever fireplace. And our new mantel is just begging for a row of cheerfully-knit stockings. So naturally, I’m on the prowl for excellent stocking stuffer gift ideas. If you’re on the hunt like me, you’ll appreciate this round up of pocket-sized gift ideas, perfectly suited for stockings for all ages. Best of all, you can find them all at Half Price Books and it won’t break the bank since there are countless gifts under $10. From always-in-style traditional gifts like journals, planners and stationery, to pop-culture hits like comic book figures, keychains, magnets and collectibles.

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What will you fill your stockings with this year?

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!

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HPB Independence 2015

Continue reading

Santa Claus at Half Price Books

HPB is full of excitement because Santa Claus is coming to the Flagship store in Dallas! In keeping with Christmastime traditions, Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick will be making appearances at the Half Price Books located at 5803 E. Northwest Hwy. in Dallas, Texas. Bring the whole family – Fido, too – for a memorable snapshot with Santa. Donations appreciated and will benefit the North Texas Food Bank.

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Santa’s appearance schedule:
Friday, Nov 25:  1-5 p.m.
Saturday, Nov 26:  1-5 p.m.
Sunday, Nov 27:  1-5 p.m.
Friday, Dec 2:  5-9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec 3:  1-5 p.m.
Sunday, Dec 4:  1-5 p.m.
Friday, Dec 9:  5-9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec 10:  1-5 p.m.
Sunday, Dec 11:  1-5 p.m.
Friday, Dec 16:  5-9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec 17:  1-5 p.m.
Sunday, Dec 18:  1-5 p.m.

We hope to see you at the HPB Flagship this holiday season! Be sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide.

 

10 Holiday Gifts for the Geek in Your Life

As an unofficial spokesperson for the geek community, let me be the first to apologize to anyone who doesn’t share in our particular hobbies or passions. Why? Because I know we can be hard to shop for around the holidays.

We usually know exactly what we want and when everything comes out. We pre-order things months in advance or wait in midnight lines on release day. Sometimes – but not always! – we can be a bit picky. It’s often hard to surprise us.

And who doesn’t want to surprise their nearest and dearest during the holidays with the perfect gift? If you’re still looking for one last present to go under the tree, and if you don’t know what a 20-sided dice is or why it’s important that Han shot first (and trust me, it’s important), then here are ten gift ideas for the special geek(s) in your life that you might find at your neighborhood Half Price Books.

Since The Force Awakens is finally here this week, we’ll start with some Star Wars picks.

1.  X-Wing Miniatures Game – Core Set (The Force Awakens Edition)
X-Wing is not only a great gift for Star Wars fans, it’s a perfect entry point for anyone interested in trying tabletop strategy games. The rules are easy to learn, and this set includes everything players need to recreate the exciting dogfights from the Star Wars movies.

It’s also a great gift for someone who already plays X-Wing, because this set includes new figures and rules inspired by The Force Awakens.

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2. Star Wars Crochet
To my knowledge, Jabba the Hutt has never been cuter.
Like the previous entry, this is an excellent starter set for your crafty geek. The kit provides patterns for 12 Star Wars characters and the materials to make Yoda and a Stormtrooper. If you crochet yourself, these figures would make wonderful stocking stuffers or ornaments for next year’s Christmas tree.

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3. Star Wars Fabrikations
These plush action figures would make an adorable addition to your Star Wars fan’s collection. Figures that may be available at your local store include Darth Vader, Boba Fett and Chewbacca. If you’re having trouble deciding which one to get for your Star Wars fan, here’s my advice: let the Wookiee win.

4. Star Trek Paper Model Kit
Don’t worry, we also have Star Trek fans covered. We have a variety of Star Trek items in our stores this year, but this model kit is my personal recommendation. It includes everything you need to recreate the voyages of the original U.S.S. Enterprise (*). It even includes LED lights and plays the Star Trek theme!

(*) Bad William Shatner impression not included.

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5. Munchkin: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
The original Munchkin is a wildly popular, fantasy-themed competitive card game. Munchkin is perfect for the whole family and has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek.

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Over the years, the makers of Munchkin have released individually-themed sets based on popular movies and characters. This stand-alone boxset, based on the wildly-beloved holiday film, is an ideal choice for both card game and Disney fans alike. It only takes minutes to learn the game’s rules and would make for an excellent family activity during the holidays.

6. Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition Starter Set
It’s hard to imagine that Dungeons and Dragons is over forty years-old now. This classic role-playing game – for many, a geek rite of passage – is as popular as ever. Last year, the entire game was completely overhauled with the aim to appeal to modern audiences.

Despite recent changes, the spirit of the classic game remains intact in this latest edition. This inexpensive beginner’s set is a great gift for anyone who wants to try role-playing games for the first time… or for parents who want to pass down this popular pastime to the next generation.

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7. 1001 Video Games to Play Before You Die
This reference book features a wealth of history and trivia about both classic and modern games. It’s a great gift for video game enthusiasts – especially if your particular enthusiast can’t always wait till the holidays for the latest game releases.

They will have a great time seeing how many of these games they played… and how many they have left to go. My total came to 300. I honestly thought that number was going to be higher. You win again, real life.

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8. Legend of Zelda Puzzles
No matter how much technology advances, there’s nothing quite like a good puzzle.
Most of our stores currently feature two 550-piece puzzles based on the perennial video game franchise, The Legend of Zelda. Like the previous recommendation, it’s a great outside-the-box choice to surprise your video game fan. It’s also a great family activity to share with them, especially if you don’t enjoy video games yourself.

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9. Minecraft Creeper
If your child plays video games at all, they probably play Minecraft. It’s an open-world, fantasy-themed construction game where players can build almost anything they can imagine. Young or old, few games have ever captured people’s imaginations quite like it.

Creepers are one of the most popular icons from this game. Minecraft fans will no doubt enjoy having this figure on their shelves or next to their computers as they work tirelessly on their latest epic creation.

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10. Goonies Coffee Mug
Goonies never say die! Many of them also enjoy warm beverages. Enough said.

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Jeremy is Customer Service Specialist at HPB Corporate

Everything You Need to Know About the Holiday Songs You’ve Heard a Thousand Times

Holiday music is everywhere these days—so many familiar songs that are played repeatedly right up until December 25th, but disappear on the 26th until the next November. Here are some tidbits about some of my favorite songs of the holidays, to be contemplated over eggnog and peppermint bark. Add a comment about your own favorite song and story to fill the number 12 spot.

1. White Christmas

Most holiday-music fans know that Bing Crosby’s recording of this song is the top-selling Christmas record of all time—and one of the top-selling singles of any genre or era. Many know that it was featured in the 1942 movie Holiday Inn and again in the movie White Christmas twelve years later. Some are aware that this Christmas standard was written by a Russian-Jewish immigrant, Irving Berlin. Not many know that Berlin had a vendetta against Elvis Presley’s 1957 recording of the song, which he felt represented all the evils and indignities of rock ‘n’ roll, and tried unsuccessfully to get it banned from the radio. Presley’s version was based on The Drifters’ rollicking doo-wop #2 R&B hit version of 1954, which was in turn based on The Ravens’ forties version.

2. Blue Christmas

And speaking of Elvis, how about his contribution to the holiday pop pantheon? One reliable bit of shtick at holiday parties is for someone to start up, in best over-the-top Elvis voice, “Ah’ll ha-have a-huh bla-ue Christmas without you.” Then, right on cue, everyone else jumps in with the soprano “ooh-ooh-wee-oo-ooh” obbligato. Presley had heard Millie Kirkham singing a high “ooh” part on a Ferlin Husky record and wanted her to do the same thing on “Blue Christmas.” Kirkham is quoted in Peter Guralnick’s Last Train to Memphis: “It was horrible. It was comical. It wasn’t supposed to be, but the longer it goes the funnier it gets.” Still true today—try it at your next holiday sing-along for some yuletide yuks! Continue reading

Santa’s Special Stash (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

‘Tis the season for mistletoe, eggnog, and fine editions of holiday classics. Our stores are well-stocked with holiday music, books, toys, and gifts of all kinds—and mixed right in are some yuletide treasures for the Christmas collector.

The words and pictures in our featured books can help you get in the spirit of the holidays as fast as Nat “King” Cole singing “The Christmas Song” or Burl Ives, as Sam the Snowman, narrating Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

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Becky’s Christmas Dream and Other Stories by Louisa M. Alcott, Olive Thorne, Laurie Loring, and Others
T.Y. Crowell, New York, undated.
A Very Good copy of this collection, with nice illustrated color pastedowns on its front and back panels and black and white illustrations throughout. There is no publication date noted; however, there is an inscription on the front-free endpaper: “To Gracie M. Eggert / From Mamma / May 1st, 1880.” There is some bumping at the corners, which has worn away the edges of the illustrations, and there is bumping and fraying to the top and bottom of the spine. $200.

It’s rare to see such an early edition of this collection that features a classic Louisa May Alcott Christmas tale.

LiberaceChristmas at Liberace’s
Columbia CL-589, 1954
The record and cover are in Very Good condition, with a small seam-split at the upper right-hand corner of the cover. $100.

Nothing says Christmas quite like the sparkling bling and tinkling ivories of the late, great Liberace, here captured on vinyl giving it his holiday best. This copy, bought at our Preston Road location in Dallas, features his signature and inscription, plus a neat drawing of his piano and candelabra.

CharlesDickensChristmas-2A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Chapman & Hall, London, 1843.
First Edition, second issue. Spine separating on front edge, two pages loose, expected foxing. $3,000.

In the 172 years since it was written, there has come along no greater Christmas story than Charles Dickens’ beloved morality tale of Bob Cratchit, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Tiny Tim. The popular story has remained in print constantly since Chapman & Hall published it, and has been filmed numerous times, featuring memorable Scrooges from Alastair Sim and George C. Scott to Scrooge McDuck and Patrick Stewart.

This is a flawed but generally beautiful copy of a holiday treasure, bought at our Clearwater Village store in Indianapolis. And, if you’re not quite ready to spend that much on your special gift, you could opt for this Charles Dickens Christmas Collector’s Edition, bought at our Fairfield Township location in Hamilton, Ohio. It’ll just run you forty dollars!

GarfieldSeason’s Eatings: A Very Merry Garfield Christmas by Jim Davis
Easton Press Signed Edition, 2003.
This special leather-bound collection is signed by Jim Davis and is in Fine condition, with a colorful illustration and bright gold lettering on the cover. $150.

This one is a modern classic, featuring the antics of Garfield and friends as depicted in Christmastime cartoon strips over the years.

More from Santa’s Bag

RHCOur Arlington Cooper Street store has a nice little assortment of holiday kids’ books: Raggedy Ann’s Merriest Christmas by Johnny Gruelle (Wonder Books, 1952), $10; The Chipmunk’s Merry Christmas by David Corwin (Golden Press “A” edition, 1959) $10; and Huckleberry Hound and the Christmas Sleigh by Pat Cherr (Golden Press “A” edition, 1960) $7.50.

A nice collection of Simpsons ornaments and decorations produced by Bradford Exchange and Hawthorne Village showed up at our store in Bedford, Texas. The ornaments are going for $10 each and the Christmas Village pieces range in price from $25 to $90. The plates are priced $10-$15.

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Interested in finding out more about any of these treasures? Contact the Buy Guy: buyguy@hpb.com

Stocking Stuffers Under $10

Stocking stuffers don’t have to break the bank. At Half Price Books this holiday season, we’ve stocked our shelves with a bundle of stocking stuffers under $10. From Marvel and DC Comics and My Little Pony, to tea infusers, retro games and toys, book lights, literary sticky notes and 2016 pocket-sized planners, there’s so much to discover at HPB. Plus, we have a sleigh load of new and used books, music, movies, games and more so you can give lots of holiday joy this year and stay on budget. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

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Let us know what brilliant gift ideas you have and what JOY you discover in your local Half Price Books. Over the holidays, share your stocking stuffers with us by tagging @halfpricebooks or use the hashtag #HPBhaul.

Wishing you lots of holiday JOY!

– Half Price Books Blog Team