Holiday Albums You Love—And Others You Should

Now that it’s December, it’s time to dust off those records that live in the back of your collection, the ones that only get played one month out of the year: Christmas albums. In this post, I’m taking a look at some of the albums on Billboard’s list of the ten top-selling holiday albums of all time. Chances are you own some of them, and maybe you can’t imagine Christmas without them. But the thing about traditions is, you have to add new ones from time to time. In that spirit, I’m offering some alternative holiday albums that might be less familiar and a little fresher to your ears.

Gigantic Bestseller:
ElvisElvis’ Christmas Album – Elvis Presley
Released in 1957, Presley’s first Christmas album—the top-selling record on Billboard’s list— features secular tunes on side one and sacred fare on side two, including a few non-Christmas gospel songs that had been previously released. The King is solemn on the religious tunes but loosens up for the secular stuff, including originals like “Santa Claus is Back in Town” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me).” Personally, I can’t stand Elvis’ version of “Blue Christmas,” but it’s here, too.

Alternate Choice:
James Brown’s Funky Christmas – James Brown
Let the King rest in heavenly peace this year and invite the Godfather of Soul over for Christmas instead. This compilation features tracks from the three holiday albums Brown recorded at the height of his funky powers between 1966 and 1970, including “Go Power at Christmas Time,” “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” and “Soulful Christmas.” Brown shows his socially-conscious side on tracks like “Let’s Unite the World at Christmas.”

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Totally Random Lists: Auld Lang Syne

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we celebrated the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ve found books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our final random list for December 2017!

Dec titleAs we bid adieu to another year, HPB would like to remind you that old acquaintances shouldn’t be forgot—unless they’re always posting offensive stuff on Facebook: Then forget ‘em! Did we mention we’re terrible at goodbyes? Here’s a list of titles related to endings & farewells.

BOOKSDec visual
Farewell, My Lovely, Raymond Chandler
The Garden of Happy Endings, Barbara O’Neal
This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
Three Weeks to Say Goodbye, C.J. Box

MOVIES & TV
Bye Bye Birdie
The Day After Tomorrow
The Long Goodbye
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

MUSIC
The End, Nico
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John
Leaving, Pet Shop Boys

Not ready to say goodbye just yet? Keep the story going at HPB.com/auld.

Totally Random Lists: Eat, Drink and Be Merry

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we’re celebrating the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ll find books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our list for November 2017!

Nov title

Half Price Books isn’t a grocery store, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find tasty stuff on our shelves. This month we’re giving you a menu of nutritious & mouthwatering titles inspired by food and drink. Enjoy. Nov visual

BOOKS
The Hundred-Foot Journey, Richard C. Morais
Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
Sideways, Rex Pickett

MOVIES & TV
Chef
Julie & Julia
Ratatouille
Soul Food

MUSIC
Meat is Murder, The Smiths
Milk and Honey, John Lennon and Yoko Ono
The Spaghetti Incident, Guns N’ Roses
Whipped Cream & Other Delights, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

Hungry for more of our food-related favorites? Whet your appetite at HPB.com/eat.

Totally Random Lists: Reading Cats & Dogs

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we’re celebrating the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ll find books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our list for October 2017!

Oct title

If there is one thing dog people and cat people can agree on, it’s that the HPB 2017 Calendar of Totally Random Lists is a great place to find a list of books, movies & music featuring or inspired by dogs & cats.

BOOKS
The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss
Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog, John Grogan
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, T.S. Eliot
White Fang, Jack London

Oct visualMOVIES & TV
The Adventures of Milo and Otis
Lassie Come Home
Must Love Dogs
That Darn Cat!

MUSIC
Cats: Original London Cast Recording
Tha Doggfather, Snoop Dogg
Hounds of Love, Kate Bush
The Very Best of Cat Stevens

Fur more of these paw-sitively tail-wagging picks, check out HPB.com/cats.

Life’s a Treasure Hunt…and so is Half Price Books!

Part of the beauty of shopping at Half Price Books is finding things you didn’t even know you needed…or existed! Golden Girls puzzle? Please and thank you… for being a friend! KFC promotional Christmas vinyl? Finger-licking YES! Star Trek Enterprise cordless phone? Beam me UP! (Yes, these are real items we’ve seen in our stores at one time or another…)

So when we set out to build our new website, the all-new HPB.com, we wanted to inject some of the “treasure hunt” factor that you get from a visit to your local HPB into the online shopping experience. Which is why we created “Quirky Tags.” Maybe you don’t know what to read, watch or listen to next, but you know what you’re feeling at the moment. Quirky Tags are curated lists of themed products that are hand-selected by our very own HPB bibliomaniacs. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! You can find Quirky Tags scattered throughout HPB.com, but in case you’re more of the “instant gratification” type, take a look at some of our favorites:

  1. Aliens Among Us – for when you need a… close encounter.
  2. Amazing Plot Twists – for when you just did not see that coming.
  3. Auld Lang Syne – for when it’s hard to say goodbye.
  4. Best Friends in Love – for when you have all the feels.
  5. Dysfunctional Families – for when you need to know you’re not the only one.
  6. Epic Quests – for when the journey is the reward, not the destination.
  7. Hair-Raisers & Spine-Tinglers – for when you’re scared silly.
  8. Retold Classics – for when you want a fresh take on an old favorite.
  9. Road Trip Musts – for when the road ahead lies in wait.
  10. Stranger Than Fiction – for when real life proves to be all too real.

These are just some of the gems you’ll find throughout the all-new HPB.com. Happy hunting… and stay quirky!

Jason is the Email Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.

Totally Random Lists: Go Long!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we’re celebrating the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ll find books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our list for September 2017!

0826 DykesColor SEPT rev
Got some extra time on your hands? Need to work on your biceps? Try picking up one of these massively wordy books, epically epic movies or sprawlingly ambitious triple albums. Editor, schmeditor!

BOOKS
1Q84, Haruki Murakami
Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

MOVIES & TV
Cleopatra
Hamlet (1996)
Lawrence of Arabia
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

MUSIC
All Things Must Pass, George Harrison
Emancipation, Prince
The Epic, Kamasi Washington
Have One on Me, Joanna Newsom

Want to extend your To Be Read list? Time for an epic binge-watch? Check out our even longer list of lengthy titles at HPB.com/long.

Stuck in the Middle: Celebrating the Best Middle Children in Books, Movies and TV

Hey there middle children of the world! August 12th is Middle Child Day, and we want to celebrate with you by listing some of our favorite middle children from books, movies and TV shows! That’s right middle siblings, you haven’t been forgotten. Read on to discover some of the funniest, strongest and sweetest middle children you’ll have the pleasure of getting to know!

Fred & George Weasley from the Harry Potter series
Of course we have to start the list with these two. Everyone’s favorite set of twins (and overall favorite Weasleys) are middle children who show us all how to rock the middle child role. Between stressing their mother out, playing pranks on their other siblings and bringing laughter into an occasionally-dark series, Fred and George are a perfect example of why middle children rock. As middle children, they are definitely scene stealers. Remember their final prank at Hogwarts? Yes, it fills us with fondness too.

weasley twins

Dawn Weiner from Welcome to the Dollhouse
The entire movie Welcome to the Dollhouse is based around that stereotypical middle child syndrome. But we appreciate what an awesome middle child Dawn Weiner is! This low budget, independently produced film speaks to the feelings of being a pre-teen outcast and is unfortunately relatable for many middle children. Dealing with issues with a wry humor, Dawn has become a cult favorite middle child who represents all of us exasperated with life in general.

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Totally Random Lists: Going Places

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we’re celebrating the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ll find books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our list for August 2017!

Aug title

Pack your suitcase, put on your traveling pants and gas up the family truckster. At Half Price Books, we know getting there is half the fun, so we’re going on the road this month with a list of travel and transportation-related books, movies and tunes.

BOOKS
The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car, Ian Fleming
The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
The Road, Cormac McCarthy

Aug visualMOVIES & TV
Knight Rider
National Lampoon’s Vacation
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
The Polar Express

MUSIC
Blue Train, John Coltrane
Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Lucinda Williams
Come Fly With Me, Frank Sinatra
Sonic Highways, Foo Fighters

 

Not ready to come home just yet? Check out our longer list of road trip-inspired titles at HPB.com/going.

For HPB’s 45th Birthday: What Else? 45s!

In honor of Half Price Books turning 45, we feature some great 45 rpm singles from their heyday in the fifties, sixties and seventies. (Wait until 2050 for the birthday when we feature 78 rpm records.)

When are 45s gonna become cool again? Or so uncool that they’re hip? Who cares—we love 45s! They sound big and in-your-face, and we see so many rare, sublime and forgotten treasures come through our doors.

45s are cheap, too! Most are in the 50 cents-to-a-dollar range in our stores. Here are a few that are a little more special.

ElvisPresleyElvis Presley – “That’s All Right”/ “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
1976, RCA Victor 447-0601 promo in RCA sleeve MCST 40462 (UK) picture disc
Elvis recorded these songs in 1954 (the single’s label says 1955) at Sun Studio for his first single. Also available, a promo reissue of his 2nd single, “Good Rockin’ Tonight.”
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30 Film Score Favorites

Film score composers are masters of emotion. Movies become extraordinary when the music is not just a bed but most another character unto itself, creating a sometimes-subliminal experience for the audience tailored to the cues of the film. A good film score can resonate with you long after the credits roll.

This list of my favorites isn’t an attempt to be comprehensive, so you can be forewarned that the classically-obvious selections – like Star Wars (1977), brilliantly-composed by John Williams, the epic score for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, composed by Howard Shore and Titanic (1997), the romantic and haunting composition by James Horner – are not included. But I hope to open your eyes (and ears) to some movies you might not have thought of before and to suggest you take a close listen to the beauty of the score entwined with these films. Without further ado, here are my 30 film score favorites (in no particular order).

Casablanca (1942), score composed by Max Steiner, likely ranks on most any “best of” movie list I’ve ever made (like this one, and this one). Its score is ageless. I could listen to it over and over again. And, in fact, I have.

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