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

A Booklover’s Guide to Reading Resolutions

Happy New Year! Put your best book forward and make yourself a better bibliomaniac with our Booklover’s Guide to Reading Resolutions.

Resolution 1: Read More

Make a pledge to read more this year. Now, this resolution may seem like a gimme, but it’s a great place to start. We’re challenging you to Resolve to Read More. Head over to hpb.com/resolve and tell us how many books you plan to read this year. Plus, you’ll be automatically entered to win a $100 HPB Gift Card. The deadline to enter is January 31.

Need a few recommendations? Here’s what some of your fellow HPB booklovers have already picked as their first reads of the year:

A Song of Ice and Fire Series (Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Yes, Please  by Amy Poehler, Gray Mountain by John Grisham, Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Burn/Hope to Die by James Patterson, Gone Girl/Dark Places/Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett, I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, If I Stay by Gayle Foreman, Mr. Mercedes/Revival by Stephen King, Prince Lestat by Anne Rice, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Escape by David Baldacci, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

Resolution 2: Join a Book Club

Experience the same book with fellow readers. Book clubs are a great place to share your thoughts, plus you might learn something you wouldn’t catch by just reading alone. Start your own or feel free to join us over at the bi-monthly HPB Book Club.

Resolution 3: Meet an Author

Why not meet the author behind your favorite story? It makes for a great memory and a great way to see another side of the book. Plus, get those burning questions answered straight from the source. Half Price Books hosts author events throughout the year at stores around the nation. Be sure to check out the HPB Local Store Events Round-Up to find out which authors are coming to your area.

Resolution 4: Improve Your Shelf

Grab those books that have been piled on the nightstand for months or sprawled around the house and take the time to organize your bookshelf. Display them proudly and add your own personal touches with bookends, keepsakes and other collectibles. These shelves below belong to actual HPB booklovers! Pretty cool, huh!? Check out our Pinterest board for more shelf and storage ideas.

Resolution 5: Find a new Reading Retreat

Some like to read at home in bed or on the couch, but wherever you’re reading, venture out and find some place new. Reading is a real treat, so why not enhance the experience with a special place to do it? Find a local coffee shop, a cozy bench at the park or create a reading nook of your very own at home. You’ll be surprised at how a change in scenery opens up the mind. These reading retreats make us want to curl up with a good book right away!

Hope these resolutions inspire you. Happy reading!

What reading resolutions are you making this year?

Sam is Public Relations Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.

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.

Resolve to Read More in the New Year

As we start a new year, we often find ourselves looking to the past. But as the last notes of “Auld Lang Syne” are sung, we look towards to future with hope, optimism and ambition. It’s a new begininng — 2013 is a chance to give up old vices or accomplish a new goal. Perhaps you’ve already made your New Year’s resolutions. But if not, we’ve got a great challenge for you, our fellow booklovers.

Research shows that Half Price Books customers (that’s you!) read more books than the average reader. In fact, HPB customers read an average of 37 books per year, compared to the 12 books by your bookloving-counterparts. (You guys rock!) So, in 2013, we’re kicking it up a notch by challenging you to RESOLVE to READ MORE. Join us! Make the pledge to read more this year and you’ll automatically be entered to win a $100 HPB Gift Card to fuel your year’s worth of reading.

HOW TO ENTER: Go to hpb.com/resolve and complete the entry form, including how many books you resolve to read in 2013. 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 Monday, January 14, 2013.*

GET STARTED: Got a stack on your nightstand or bookshelf already? Tell us what books you’ll be reading this year in the comments below. Need some recommendations? Download this list (PDF) of 250 titles suggested by our HPB Bibliomnaniacs or stop in your local store today and ask for help. Happy reading!

*One randomly selected winner will be notifed via email on or after Friday, January 18, 2013.

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

Holiday Cookie Swap

Stock-up on butter because it’s baking season! Here are a handful of our favorite sweet treats to share with your friends and family during the holiday season.

1 holiday confetti cake batter cookies / 2 ginger snap cookies with lemon cream cheese frosting
 3 chocolate mint oreo cookies / 4 thumbprint cream cheese cookies
5 chocolate gingerbread men / 6 sugar and spice snowflakes

 

Let’s put the “swap” in cookie swap – tweet or tag us on Instagram with pictures and recipes of your favorite holiday cookies. Also, make sure to check out these books for more cookie creations. — Stephanie

Stephanie is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate
You can follow her on Twitter at @saltpepperpress

Holiday Cocktails & Mocktails: 7 Recipes for Entertaining

From now till New Years Eve, there are several occasions to break out the cocktail shaker and raise your glass.  For all your holiday gatherings and entertaining, here are some festive recipes – 4 cocktails, 2 mocktails and a (spiked) punch – to bring your party good cheer.

Alexander Baby
4-5 ice cubes
2 measures dark rum
1 measure cremé de cacao
1/2 measure double cream
grated nutmeg

Put the ice cubes into a cocktail shaker and pour the rum, cremé de cacao and cream over the ice. Shake the drink then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Sprinkle grated nutmeg on top. Serves one.

– Recipe from All Shook Up: Party Drinks and Cocktails by Hamlyn

Christmas Punch
2 cups chilled pomegranate juice
1 cup chilled cranberry juice
8 oz. (1 cup) vodka
8 oz. (1 cup) Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur
1 cup chilled club soda
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 6 lemons)
1/2 cup simple syrup

Combine pomegranate and cranberry juice, vodka, Cointreau, club soda, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a punch bowl. Fill glasses with cranberries frozen in ice cubes, and serve. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.

– Recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine, December 2009.

Mulled Cranberry Sipper
32 oz. cranberry juice
2 qt. water
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 (5-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp. whole cloves

Bring all the above-listed ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard solids, stir in 1 cup of orange juice. Serve warm or cooler. Garnish with lemon rind twists. Makes about 3 1/2 quarts. Non-alcholic.

– Recipe from Southern Living magazine, November 2012.

Hot Dixie Chocolate
2 oz. bourbon
2 oz. good-quality semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup whole milk
2 tbs. heavy cream
1/2 tbps. vanilla
1 tsp. sugar

Finely chop the chocolate and set it aside. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the milk, heavy cream, vanilla and sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the milk is very hot but not boiling. Remove from heat, pour the milk mixture over the chocolate pieces in a bowl, and let stand for a minute or two or until the chocolate has melted. Add the bourbon, stirring well to combine. Serve steaming hot in a heat-resistant glass.

– Recipe from Cocktail Parties with a Twist: Drinks + Food + Style by Alexandria and Eliot Angle

Sweet -N- Sassy
powdered sugar
2 oz. white cranberry juice
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. raspberry syrup
3 raspberries for garnish

Rim a martini glass with powdered sugar and set aside. Pour juice and raspberry syrup into a mixing glass and shake. Strain into the martini glass. Garnish with raspberries on a skewer. Serves one. Non-alcholic. 

– Recipe from Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-to-Be by Natalie Bovis-Nelsen

Coffee Amaretto
hot black coffee
1/2 measure Amaretto di Saronno
1/2 measure Tia Maria or Kahlúa
whipped cream
amaretti biscuits, to serve

Put some very hot, black coffee into a mug or heatproof handled glass and add Amaretto and Tia Maria or Kahlúa. Stir well then spoon whipped cream on top. Serve with amaretti biscuits. Serves one.

– Recipe from All Shook Up: Party Drinks and Cocktails by Hamlyn

Sunset Tea
200 ml / 7 oz. freshly-brewed Indian tea
1/2 measure golden rum
1 measure Cointreau
2 measures fresh orange juice
orange slices stuck with three whole cloves
cinnamon sticks

Pour the tea into 2 heatproof glasses. Put the rum, Cointreau and orange juice into a small saucepan. Place it over a low heat and bring the mixture to just under a boiling point, stirring constantly. Pour immediately into the glasses with the tea. Garnish with a slice of orange stuck with 3 cloves and a cinnamon stick. Serves two.

– Recipe from All Shook Up: Party Drinks and Cocktails by Hamlyn

Next time you’re at your local HPB, check out the magazines and cookbooks for many more tempting recipes to take home and try.  Happy holidays!

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

Upcycle Book Paper Crafts for the Holidays

With the holidays just around the corner, we would like to share some ways to “upcycle” your old books (though in our hearts we want every book to live forever). And what better way to celebrate your old and beloved books than to reuse, regift and recycle them in new ways. From decorative wreaths to Christmas trees, here are several creative ways to turn the page and give a new life to your old books.

1 tree / 2 rose / 3 wreath / 4 stacked tree / 5 garland / 6 table runner

 

We would love to see how you reuse your old books – tweet us or a picture or tag us on Instagram. Also, make sure to check out these books for more upcycling inspiration. — Stephanie

Stephanie is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate
You can follow her on Twitter at @saltpepperpress