The 2017 Half Price Books Calendar of Totally Random Lists…and Coupons!

Each year during the holiday season, Half Price Books offers loyal customers a year’s worth of book-loving excitement in the form of the Half Price Books Calendar. For 2017, we’ve stepped up the fun factor with…The Calendar of Totally Random Lists!

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Available in stores now for FREE! with a $30 purchase while supplies last, The Calendar of Totally Random Lists is full of quirky inspiration to help you find your next great read, movie, music…whatever! Because, let’s be honest, half the fun of shopping at HPB is the randomness. You never know what you’ll find! My favorite list in the calendar? Well, Rabbits!, of course, a list of rabbit-themed books, movies and music. Let’s get it hoppin’! Continue reading

10 Reasons Books Make Better Companions than People

I live in a one-bedroom apartment and currently have six bookcases.  My main motivation for moving next year is that I have nowhere else to put another bookcase, and I’m running out of room.

via GIPHY

I have three books in my car at various stages of completion.  I walk down the hall to my office with my head stuck in a book (which bothers the legal department to no end, and they are constantly asking me to be careful).  Needless to say, Booklovers’ Day is a holiday I can get behind.  To celebrate Booklovers’ Day, which is August 9, I’ve decided to share ten reasons why books make better companions than people.

1. Books never judge you.  You can read them in sweatpants, without makeup, in a dirty apartment, eating peanut butter straight out of the jar, and they don’t care. Your mother, however, would be mortified.

2. Books don’t mind if you throw them across the room when you get mad at them.  If you throw people across the room, the police tend to be called and charges tend to be pressed.  It gets very awkward.


Source matineemoustache.tumblr.com

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Happy National Punctuation Day!

I’m sure everyone has seen the punctuation meme that points out the difference between “Let’s eat Grandma” and “Let’s eat, Grandma.” Or you’ve heard the joke where a panda walks into a restaurant, eats a sandwich, pulls out a gun and shoots his waiter before leaving, because according to the dictionary, a panda “eats, shoots and leaves.”  These examples prove that punctuation saves lives. Well, today is National Punctuation Day, a day to celebrate commas, periods, quotation marks, semicolons and ellipses.  

Recently, our office debated whether or not to use the Oxford comma on our website.  While most were ambivalent, one of my co-workers was adamantly opposed to using it, while another remarked that not using it “made her head explode.” Though we all hoped she was using hyperbole, we kept our distance for the rest of the day just in case. 

However, that got me thinking about what punctuation mistakes make my other co-workers’ heads explode.  So, I asked them, and here are their answers.

Jason—“Unnecessary quotation marks”

So is it chicken, or is it not chicken?  Maybe they just called it “chicken” and hoped no one would notice.

 

Emily–“Using apostrophes to make things plural.”

 

Apostrophes are used for possessives and contractions, not plurals.

 

Susan–“A complete lack of punctuation”

Or in other words, RUN!

 

So do you have any punctuation mistakes that make your head explode?

If you want to learn more about punctuation, visit the reference section of your local Half Price Books.

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

Tournament of Heroes – Sci-Fi Brackets

Presenting — our Top 32 Sci-Fi Heroes and Heroines!

ROW 1:  Ellen Ripley – Aliens, River Tam – FireFly, Seven of Nine – Star Trek: Voyager, Samos Aran, Metroid; ROW 2: Dana Scully – The X-Files, Lady Jessica – Dune, Kara”Starbuck” Thrace Battlestar Galactica, Katniss Everdeen The Hunger Games; ROW 3: Turanga Leela Futurama, LeelooThe Fifth Element, Princess Leia Star Wars, River Song Dr. Who; ROW 4: Sarah Connor The Terminator, Sydney Bristow- Alias, Trinity Matrix, Tris Prior- Divergent

 

ROW 1:  Captain James T. Kirk – Star Trek, Arthur Dent –  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Paul Atreides – Dune, Commander Adama – Battlestar Galactica; ROW 2: Rick Deckard – Blade Runner, Dr. Who Dr. Who, Goku Dragonball, Fox Mulder The X-Files; ROW 3: Korben Dallas The Fifth Element, Marty McFlyBack to the Future, Neo Matrix, Optimus Prime Transformers; ROW 4: Philip J. Fry Futurama, Captain Reynolds – FireFly, Captain Sheridan Babylon 5, Han SoloStar Wars

So tell us, who SHOULD we have included as a Sci-Fi Hero or Heroine? Of the ones who made the tournament, who do you have going to the Final Four? The championship?

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

Love Notes: Valentine’s Day Calligraphy Lessons

This Valentine’s Day, write your love a handwritten note. Calligraphy is a beautiful and elegant way to express your love for that special someone in your life. Stop by one of our stores and pick up one of our calligraphy books to master your penmanship and your sweets’ heart.

Tweet or tag us on Instagram with pictures of your handmade love notes. Also, make sure to check out these books for more calligraphy inspiration. — Stephanie

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

Top Ten Things Ben Franklin Gave the World

307 years ago, a man by the name of Benjamin Franklin was born.  Of all the founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin has always been my favorite.  Don’t get me wrong – the majority of them were all educated, some inventors, some with wisdom beyond their time that would last through centuries.  But, Benjamin Franklin, the son of a soap maker, he continues to affect our lives in ways that many of us don’t even realize.  Here are just a few ways:

Bifocals: Yes.  Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals, after becoming tired of having to change glasses for up close and far away.

“Remember that time is money” — Words said by Ben, that are still repeated today. Perhaps your boss has used those words today?

Electricity:  I didn’t put this at number one, only because of course electricity “existed” before Benjamin Franklin.  So he didn’t invent it, but it’s because of him that we began to understand it A LOT more. He also coined many new terms in relation to electricity including: Charge, Conductor, Positively, Negatively, and Battery (more on batteries in a moment)

Odometers: We may not look at them everyday,  but they are definitely in all of our automobiles.  As PostMaster, Franklin wanted to keep track of routes delivering the mail.

Batteries: The battery might have many incarnations today, but Ben is the one who first developed the name and experimented with his “Franklin Battery.”

“A penny saved is a penny earned” — It’s a little bit of a misquote from what was originally said by Franklin – but I certainly cannot count the number of times this was said to me by my parents and grandparents.

Public Libraries: Franklin created the first U.S. public library so the less fortunate could expand their minds.

Swim Fins:  Ok, so maybe we don’t use swimfins everyday.  But, he did invent them at the age of 11. (His were just used on the hands instead of the feet)

“Benjamins” — The Pennsylvania Gazette was a printing press owned by Benjamin Franklin that began printing the first paper money in Philadelphia and Delaware.  (Even with misspellings thought to ward off counterfeits.) Over a century later, an image of Franklin was used on the $100 bill, and many of us call them Benjamins to this day.

Freedom:  Yes, we have him to thank for this.  He was one of the 5 men to draft the Declaration of Independence. He was also one of only 4 men to sign the Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolutionary War and acknowledged the United States to be a free, sovereign and independent nation. 

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from Ben Franklin?

— 

Crystal is Store Manager at Half Price Books Flagship in Dallas, Texas.

David Bowie Fashions through the Decades

Fashion! Turn to the left!

Fashion! Turn to the Right!

Oooh, Fashion!

David Bowie is as synonymous with fashion as he is with music.  From Diamond Dogs to Scary Monsters.  In honor of his 66th birthday, let’s put on our red shoes and dance through fashion trends during the decades of David Bowie.

The 1960sThe Redhead

David’s signature locks showed us all that being a red headed stepchild actually looked good! Ginger was definitely the color to have on your head.

The 1970s – Glam Rock

The trend that describes a musical style as much as a fashion style.  Don’t like your hair? That is totally fine – Just cover it with a wig!  Don’t like your face? Not to worry – Just paint one on that you like! Feeling a little short? No big deal – Heels are now ok for girls and guys alike!  And let’s not forget the beginning of bling with all that glitters and sparkles.  Who was at the center of all of this?  Ziggy Stardust.

The 1980s – Goblin King

Sure there were many styles in the 80s, but I want to focus on my favorite.  The style that proved that being the bad guy can always be in fashion.  David Bowie as the Goblin King in Labyrinth.  With a hairstyle and eye makeup that have re-emerged on fashion runways through the years.   David Bowie was certainly holding the crystal ball to see into fashion trends.

The 1990s – Goatee

The facial hair pattern that is still worn by so many men (including my husband.. on rare occasions).

The 2000s – Re-inventing the Mustache

The 2000s re-introduced us to Bowie, the actor.  When we say mustache, so many of us think Burt Reynolds in the 1980s, we so often forget the 90s – the 1890s in fact with Mr. Nikola Tesla.  David Bowie’s portrayal of Tesla showed us that it’s not only cool to be geek but it’s also cool to sport the ‘stache.

So what’s your favorite Bowie incarnation? — Crystal

Crystal is Store Manager at Half Price Books Flagship in Dallas, Texas.

Introducing the latest in retro-nostalgic holiday fun — “Halfy Call-A-Days,” the Half Price Books Holiday Hotline!

Our talented Bibliomaniacs are at it again! They sing, they write poetry, they give great book, music and movie recommendations . . . and they can really spread the holiday cheer! So this year HPB created a toll-free line where you can dial in for holiday greetings any time, any place, straight from our Bibliomaniacs to you! Hurry, don’t delay! Call 1-855-HPB-FONE right now!

Our HPB Halfy Call-A-Days Kazoo Crew gives you a special preview!

So, grab a cup of holiday tea or cocoa at your desk, at home by the fire or even while you wait in line at the grocery store and take a moment to relax and enjoy the holidays. Dial up Jim Swayze at 1-855-HPB-FONE that’s (toll-free) 1-855-472-3663.

Add it to your contacts and call back often!

If you are wondering what you might hear, some options include:

  • A special greeting from the Half Price Books Santa Claus
  • T’was the Night Before Christmas in the Bookstore, an original poem written by Elizabeth E. on the HPB Development team (and read by Tim, our HR director)
  • Up On the Housetop performed by the Buy Guy
  • A Holiday Funny brought to you by Our Customer Service Department
  • Auld Lang Syne  performed by some Caroling Marketeers
  • And a bonus track from Jim Swayze!

Our warmest wishes to you this festive season! – Becky

Becky is Marketing Communications Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @Bexican75.

Pumpkin Carving Step-by-Step DIY Guide

It is that time of year again where everyone is preparing for Halloween. Whether it be picking out costumes, buying candy or watching scary movies, October is a fun time of year. A Halloween tradition at Half Price Books corporate headquarters: pumpkin carving competion. And some departments take it pretty seriously. So, as we get in gear for our rivalry, I thought I’d share some tips on how to carve a design into the exterior of a pumpkin. This means foregoing the messy gut-removal of jack-o-latern style pumpkin carving. Instead of a self-portrait, I decided on someone a little more attractive than myself – a flesh eating zombie!


Find a picture you want to carve, your favorite monster, super-hero or even your kids. Print out the face so it fits on an 8.5 x 11 sheet. You may want it larger or smaller depending in the size of the pumpkin you have. Get your tools ready. You will need tape, a push pin or small nail, and a cutting tool. (I chose a linoleum cutter)
 
Take the print of your character and tape it the best you can to the pumpkin. It may be necessary to fold some corners and improvise since the pumpkin is a curved surface.
 
Once the face is taped down, begin punching small holes around all the edges you wish to cut. You might think it would be easier to take a razor blade and just cut along the edge. If you do this, the paper will be shredded before long and very hard to deal with.
 
After punching along the lines of your image, remove the paper and begin cutting away. Be carful when you are cutting, the pumpkins can be hard to handle and a slip of the knife or cutting tool can easily cause a bad injury.

And now you have your favorite (or creepy) face on a pumpkin.

Have a spooky and safe Halloween! – Jim

Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.

The Great, the Gross and the Gruesome

Have you ever read a book that sent shivers down your spine?  Have you ever read a passage that was so gross that it made you gag?  Have you ever had to close a book and said to yourself, “I don’t think I can read any more of this?”  Now, have you ever done these things with a trivia book?  I have, and the book was Gruesome Facts, published by Igloo books.  So I just have to share all the wonderful things you can learn in this book, like:

Places you should not go on vacation:

  • The village of Pluckley in Kent England, which is one of the most haunted places in the world
  • Deshnoke in India is a good place to stay away from, unless you really like rats
  • Centralia, PA, unless you want to turn into a human fireball
  • Siberia, Russia, for not only is Tunguska, Siberia a lonely and desolate spot whose burned landscape cannot be fully explained, but it is also the home of Peter Plogojowitz, who is said to be the first vampire.  You thought it was Count Dracula, but he’s just a character in a book, who was inspired by Vlad the Impaler, who was not a vampire — just a guy that impaled his victims on stakes.

People you do not want to travel back in time and meet:

  • Queen Ranavalona of Madagascar, whose favorite pastime was boiling people alive.  I was going to make a cooking reference here but it would probably sound too much like Titus Andronicus.
  • Emperor Caligula, who once had a section of the Coliseum’s spectators slaughtered by wild animals, just because he was bored. And they say video games make you violent. 
  • Anyone in the Medici family in Italy; not only did they kill other people, they also killed each other, second only to the Borgia family in their pursuit of power.  So, I would stay away from the Borgias too, and for Pete’s sake don’t tell them about the time machine.

People you do not want operating on you:

  • Dr. Walter Freeman, who preformed lobotomies with an icepick. Can you say “Ouch?”
  • Dr. John R. Brinkley, who used to implant people with goat glands while he was drunk.  I’m thinking the patients must have been drunk too.
  • Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr.– please note there is no Dr. in front of his name. There is a reason for that.  He wasn’t one, but he played one in the Royal Canadian Navy.
  • Bonus Information: Did you know they used to use giant ants to clamp intestinal wounds together?  Now, don’t you wish you didn’t?

Things you don’t want to eat:

  • Casu marzu. Sounds harmless, but it is cheese with live maggots in it (and yes, this is where I gagged). The book does warn you to be sure and crunch the maggots to death before you swallow because they can tear holes in your gut. (Yum!)
  • Jellied Moose Nose.  Yes, it is exactly what it says it is.  (Still reading?  It gets better—or should that be worse.)
  • Hard Tack.  You may have heard of this as many books have featured hard tack as a food for sailors. However, this is a biscuit that is so old and stale that it is filled with weevils and other insects. (If you haven’t noticed, I’m not much of an insect eater.)
  • Pretzels. Have you ever wondered how pretzels get that lovely brown color on the outside?  It comes from the chemical compound urea, which can be extracted from urine.  Now, it can be made chemically as well, which is how I’m sure how the ones we eat are made. However, I will never look at my favorite salty snack the same again.

Since we’re talking about bodily fluids…

  • Don’t ever ask an Inuit man in Alaska what he’s going to do with that bucket full of urine.  You will never shake anyone’s hand again.
  • Don’t eat your boogers.  You don’t want to know what’s in them.
  • For the same reason, don’t pee in the shower. You never know what’s in your kidneys.
  • Bonus information: There is a man who had his rear end rebuilt after a horrible car accident left him badly damaged.  He now has to go to the toilet using a remote control, which he carries in his pocket. (No, I didn’t make that up.)

These topics are just the tip of the iceberg in the book Gruesome Facts.  So, if you ever wanted to know why the Romans used to have vomitoriums, or why the people in northeast England hung a monkey, then this book is for you. You can find a new copy of Gruesome Facts at your local Half Price Books this Halloween season.  And if you make jellied moose nose for your Halloween party, please don’t invite me. – Julie

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