Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from Reading Tolkien

March 25 is Tolkien Reading Day, a day dedicated to reading the works of the genius that is J.R.R. Tolkien. As I thought back on my previous readings of the epic adventure Lord of the Rings and, of course, my favorite Tolkien book, The Hobbit, I realized that everything I need to know in life, I learned from reading Tolkien.

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It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door…You step into the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. (The Fellowship of the Ring)—Any day can become an adventure. Continue reading

Behind the Book: The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Our March/April 2020 Book Club Pick is The Island of Sea Women, by New York Times bestselling author Lisa See. Few books can be called upon to so beautifully span decades and to delicately detail the relationship between two women who are inextricably linked. Lisa See provides us wiith a glimpse into the inspiration behind her latest novel  below.

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What made you want to write about haenyeo, Korean sea divers?
In many ways I feel that the haenyeo called to me. I was sitting in my doctor’s waiting room, leafing through magazines, when I came across a tiny article—just one paragraph and one small photo—about these remarkable women. I ripped it out of the magazine and took it home. I hung onto the article for eight years before I decided that now was the time to write about the haenyeo. They have a matrifocal society—a society focused on women. Historically, they were known to have the greatest ability of any human group on earth to withstand cold water. They hold their breath for two minutes and dive down sixty feet (deep enough to get the bends) to harvest seafood. They are the breadwinners in their families, while their husbands take care the children and do the cooking. In the past, women would retire at age fifty-five. Today, the youngest haenyeo is fifty-five. I was and am amazed by their bravery and persistence, as well as the camaraderie—sisterhood—that they share with each other. About five years ago, UNESCO gave the haenyeo the designation of an Intangible World Heritage Tradition and estimated the culture would be gone in about fifteen years. I felt I couldn’t wait five, ten, or fifteen years to interview women who were in their seventies, eighties, and nineties. Continue reading

Have Books, Will Travel: To The Future!

In celebration of the new year, as we find ourselves accepting the fact that we were all lied to about how prominent flying cars would be by now, we present a fantastical list of novels with plots based in galaxies far, far away… far, far into the future, with technological capabilities far, far cooler than what we could ever imagine. That’s right, just in time to take on 2020 with wide-eyed optimism, let’s travel to the future, booklovers!

 

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

9780141199344_69d15What better way to start a list about books having to do with a time beyond the present than with the author who coined the term “time machine” himself, H.G. Wells? In this aptly-titled novella, the narrator tells the story of a man simply referred to as the Time Traveller. And travel, he does. As far into the future as 802,701 A.D., where the London community he once knew has been reduced to a population of carefree, happy, childlike beings who seem to only be concerned about following their fruitarian diet and staying away from the dark. After wandering around, deducing, hypothesizing and doing whatever else it is that time-traveler scientist types do, he returns to the spot where he arrived to find that his time machine has gone missing…missing!

Turns out, those happy beings have a working class underbelly full of citizens who prefer to stay away from the light. We deduce that they might not be so comfortable with a strange, overly curious guy appearing out of nowhere and lurking about. We hypothesize that they just might try to kidnap him. Oh, and they could possibly be cannibals. Looks like the future is full of fun times all around according to good ol’ H.G.!

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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 @hellokristendickson, a girl mom in Texas looking for that everyday magic.

Resolution Renewal: Half a Year, Half a Year, Half a Year Gone!

July 1 marks the midyear checkpoint for New Year’s Resolutions. It’s time to take stock of what you’ve accomplished and what you need to do to accomplish even more. Every year, I resolve to read a certain number of books, and I know I’m not alone because through the Half Price Books Resolve to Read program more than 60,000 people (including me) resolved to read more! However, of the 50 books I resolved to read, I’ve only read 16. Needless to say, I have some work to do, and here are a few ideas I’ve had about how I’m going to check this resolution off as done.

Book Club LogoJoin a Book Club. Being in a community of readers who are all reading the same book, and knowing that a discussion will take place, will push me to read the book so that I will be able to participate. Did you know you could join the HPB Book Club online, which is a great way to be part of a book club for people who are too busy or uncomfortable in group settings?

Track your progress. I am a list maker, and one of my favorite things to do is to check something off my list. As I read a book, I can add it to the list or create a list of books I want to read and check them off as I have read them. Some websites will help your track your progress online. My favorite is Good Reads.

 

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Books I Am Thankful For

I love books, but there are certain books that have had such an impact on my life that I couldn’t imagine the world without them.  Here is a list of five books for which I am truly thankful and the reasons why.

c67cf2f90ca165077b59c29f2c9ef7f5A Dog Called Kitty by Bill Wallace
I first read this book when I was in third grade. The book is about a young boy who is afraid of dogs until he meets a dog who answers to nothing but the word “kitty.”  A Dog Called Kitty is the first book that made me both laugh and cry.  I proceeded to loan it to all my friends.  I even read a portion of it over the phone to try to get one of them interested in reading it.  Now that I have a nephew in fourth grade, I have given him a copy to read and can only hope that he will love it as much as I did.

0446310786To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
No one will find it surprising that I first read this book for my high school freshman English class.  When we started reading it, I had just finished The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss. So when Scout’s teacher comments that she doesn’t understand how Hitler could treat Jews the way he does because they are such nice people, all the while the town she lives in is condemning Tom Robinson for a crime they know he didn’t commit just because he’s black, I became so upset with that character I threw the book across my room. Thus, To Kill a Mockingbird became the first book in which I acted out one of my favorite Dorothy Parker quotes, “This isn’t a book to be tossed aside lightly. It must be thrown with great force.”  It was the first book that I was forced to read in school that I actually enjoyed. Continue reading

Why I Teach: 5 Books and Movies with Inspiring Educators

I’d like to introduce you all to Caitlyn! She’s a middle school teacher in North Texas (an amazing one at that) and a wonderful friend of mine. Check out her picks of books and movies that help her along her teaching journey.  Enjoy!  -Sam


I’m one of those brave individuals that has chosen [been called to] a career as a teacher. I didn’t sign on because I wanted to have my summers free (although it is a beautiful perk) and I certainly didn’t embark on this journey because I thought it’d be easy (because in fact, nothing could be further from the truth). But it is my joy and my privilege to impart some small bit of knowledge on a set of middle school students every year.

I find inspiration in almost everything, even this Starbucks I’m sitting in. I really like the seating arrangements in this space and I’m making notes – ha! The greatest source of inspiration for me comes from books and movies. They are my love language. After a difficult day, I know I can read a chapter or watch a few minutes of a favorite story and it’ll fill my sails for the next day.

These are five movies and books that have been a source of motivation and encouragement at some point in my career.

Dead Poets Society (starring Robin Williams)
O Captain! My Captain! If you’ve ever seen this gem, then you’re probably nodding your head in a very, Ahh…of course kind of way. Mr. Keating is one of the reasons I love poetry and why I find it essential to teach in a free kind of way – no right or wrong, but interpretation and feeling. This movie reminds me that each person has the right to explore their own identity – what brings them joy, inspires them and fulfills them. I teach Walt Whitman’s poem O Captain! My Captain to my 8th graders and I love showing them the clip from this movie with that iconic line. Mr. Keating encourages me to be a source of inspiration to my kiddos, showing them that they can make their lives extraordinary.

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” Continue reading

Words of Wisdom from Fathers in Film

Where would we all be without our Dads? They helped keep us on the right track and guided us through the difficulties in life.  Father’s Day is Sunday June 19, so you better have a great book, fishing lure or even a tie ready for him to say thank you for all he has done. You know he gave you lots of good advice. Being the resident movie buff, Father’s Day makes me think of all of the great advice we got from some of the best movie Dads on the silver screen. Here is some of their most memorable advice.

Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) in To Kill A Mockingbird

“If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Mac MacGuff (J.K. Simmons) in Juno

“Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.” Continue reading

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