Behind the Book: Mary Kay on People Management

Mary Kay is known for cutting-edge beauty innovations, entrepreneurship opportunities and female empowerment across the world. However, Mary Kay Ash’s pink road to success wasn’t always so rosy. When Ash founded her namesake company, Mary Kay Cosmetics, in 1963, it was in response to years of seeing the men she trained receive promotions over her. In fact, on more than one occasion, after taking a male recruit on the road with her for six months, she returned with him to Texas only to see him promoted above her at twice her salary. Frustrated and disheartened, Mary Kay Ash set out to create a company where “thinking like a woman” was an asset, not an insult. Continue reading

Behind the Book: The Middle Matters by Lisa-Jo Baker

Editor’s Note: Lisa-Jo Baker’s newest book, The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You invites us to get a good look at our middles and gives us permission to embrace them — because Lisa-Jo knows that the middle might be the best part of the love story of life, kids, faith, doubt, marriage, failure, wonder and the muffin top—and that these are all good things. Read on to get a glimpse Behind the Book with Lisa-Jo Baker.


I like to think of my latest book, The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good On You, as a love letter to ordinary life.

Because if we’re not careful, I think midlife will actually run right over us. Like a runaway hamster wheel. There’s so much carpool and extracurriculars and work and before we know it we will have missed the chance to relish the very stories that will line our empty nests one day.

Between meeting thousands of women at speaking events and hearing from podcast listeners, I’ve learned that we all keep waiting to feel like grown-ups while going through all the grown-up motions. It’s weird to have all the responsibilities of a grown-up and look like a grown-up and have a grown-up job and a grown-up mortgage and still not be sure how or when to change the air filters.

It’s a shock to most of us to find ourselves here at the midpoint of our lives and still be figuring so much of it out. Normal feels all stretched out and squidgy around the edges when you’re splitting time and to-dos, and yet it’s the stuff of life and marriage and kids and work that everyone lives. The intimidation of financial planning and the reality of retirement as more than just that infomercial you used to fast forward through but also something you will actually need in the no-longer distant future.

And the just-as-crucial fighting for time to keep dating the man you’re raising kids with so you feel like a couple and not just a couple of people running a summer camp together. Turns out we’re all trying to make sense of this season we’re in. And it helps to talk about it. How exhausting it is to constantly feel pressured to seize every minute of every day. How lots of days just feel like figuring out new ways to make chicken.

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Hangin’ With the Girls

There’s nothing like calling all your girlfriends and spending the day shopping, getting pampered at the spa and then closing down a restaurant just gabbing, unless it’s getting together at your house for wine snacks and a good movie. Now, I don’t normally need an excuse to get together with my friends, but knowing that August 1 is Girlfriends’ Day is an awfully good excuse to have some fun with the girls. So whether it’s your book club ladies, your crazy college sisters or just your BFF, Half Price Books has books, movies and music to help you celebrate with the girls.

Books to share with the girls:
The Group, by Mary McCarthy
Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
Waiting to Exhale, by Terry McMillan
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, by Fannie Flagg
Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell
Divine Serets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
How Should a Person Be, by Sheila Heti

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Little Readers’ Storytime Book Club

Our friend Kristen (known on Instagram as @tojaneandrose) took summer reading to a whole new level by launching @storytimebookclub, a neighborhood book club for little readers. We encourage you to follow their weekly adventures as the kids gather on Wednesdays for a neighborhood story time play group like no other! Each week, neighborhood’s little readers join together for a new themed storytime and activity, and we’re way jealous.

We asked the @storytimebookclub creator and mom-in-chief if she had any advice to share and here are her tips and wisdom for getting something started where YOU live! Continue reading

Behind the Book: Maid by Stephanie Land

Written in raw, masterful, heart-rending prose, Maid is the story of one woman’s tenacity to survive and break free of the grips of the welfare system to give her child a better life. Stephanie Land’s work gives voice to the working poor. Her compassionate, unflinching writing is fueled by her own struggle as a low-income single mother who aspired to use her stories to expose the reality of pursuing the American Dream while being held below the poverty line. We had a chance to catch up with Stephanie Land and ask her some questions for our Behind the Book series

maid
What inspired you to put pen to paper and actually write down your experiences? Was there a certain catalyst that made you want to write this book?
I’ve been writing about my experiences since I was 10 years old, but it was almost entirely in a private way by journaling and not allowing anyone to read it. By the time I decided to take writing (and consequentially publishing) seriously, I’d been a daily writer for over 25 years. Maid came from an essay I’d published in Vox that went incredibly viral. I guess from all the interest it was clear that a book was bound to happen! Continue reading

A Bestseller Flashback- 2018 in Books

Editor’s Note: Throughout the year, our buyers curate a selection of new, bestselling books to offer in our stores at 20% off the cover price. Here’s a closer look at some of 2018’s standouts!

melmoth
Melmoth (Sarah Perry)
Melmoth is a full-on gothic horror novel from the author of The Essex Serpent. The story crosses many different time periods and focuses on people who are in the midst of difficult situations. It is primarily centered on Helen Franklin, an English translator working in Prague, who disregards an obscure local monster legend before a friend’s disappearance reveals that Helen is being watched. This particular book asks the question, “What’s the difference between someone who orders a horrific act be done and the person who turns a blind eye towards it?” It’s a very chilling, and at times horrific, book that stays with you. Continue reading

Behind the Book: The Dark Between Stars by Atticus

Editor’s Note: Atticus is the internationally bestselling author of Love Her Wild, his first collection of poetry. In The Dark Between Stars, Atticus delves into the dualities of life experiences and the connections between life’s highs and lows. In this poignant collection, he captures the need for both beauty and pain, for light-heartedness and deep revelations. This collection is a glimpse into the human soul, full of tragedy and promise. We had the opportunity to catch up with Atticus recently. Read on to discover his answers to our questions!

When did you first start writing poetry? What was your inspiration?
I began about 5 years ago. I was in Paris at the time and was moved by the way the city looked after it rained. I took out my phone and started writing. I decided to post what I had written on Instagram, but I knew that I wanted to do it anonymously so I could always remember to write what I feel and tell the truth.

Do you have any recommendations for people who are just starting to write poetry for the first time?
Bukowski said, “don’t try,” which, to me, means: don’t set out to write the best poem. Just write something, period, and the good will come. I believe that.

Do you have any rituals or anything special that you do while writing to get into the right mindset?
I have a little back-house/writing shack filled with things that inspire me: old books, typewriters, candles, photos, records, tobacco pipes, anything that gets me in the headspace to write.  Sometimes I go back there and don’t even write, I just sit and look at pictures and read. For me, half of writing is sitting, staring at a candle, watching the flame dance, and waiting for it to tell me something profound. Continue reading

Meet the Artist: Louis Zoellar Bickett II

At HPB Hamburg Pavilion, we receive large amounts of paper history from Appalachia, books on local history, books signed by famous local authors and artists, and books that are just brimming with fascinating information about Kentucky. To showcase this wealth of knowledge, we’ve carved out a nook in our Collectibles section to display the many wonderful books we have for sale. Stop by our store to check it out.

Recently Kentucky lost a notable historian and artist, Louis Zoellar Bickett II. For a sense of the personality of the man I give you a short piece from the obituary he had written himself before he passed: “…went home to glory, crossed over, passed away, was carried to paradise, fell into the arms of Jesus, gave up the ghost, petered out, kicked the bucket, croaked, faced the music, bit the bullet, left the building, did not go gently into the night, and died Sunday, October 29, after engaging a long battle with ALS: ALS 1, LZB 0…” His most notable work is a collection that spans more than three decades that is simply known as The Archive. This collection indexes thousands of pieces of ephemera, which for Bickett was proof of concept that the people who owned them existed and acts as an eternal witness to the weight of a person’s life.

At the beginning of March, Aaron Skolnick got into contact with our store to inquire, like most folks, whether or not we’d be interested in buying a vast part of the more personal collection of his late husband, Louis Zoellar Bickett II. Over the course of the next three months, we received hundreds of signed and inscribed books that began to tell a piece of the story of this voluminous curator. Many of these inscriptions speak with great warmth of this human who infiltrated their lives in some way or another. Some of the more notable authors include Maya Angelou, Wendell Berry, Allen Ginsberg and Luke Smalley.

You can find a sample of the collection for sale listed on our store page in the Amazing Finds in section. Simply put: This is a mere fraction of the enormous collection of items sold to us, and if you’d like to see them all, swing by or give us a call and we would be more than happy to talk about it and even ship the books to you. I am humbled by the resonant impression of vibrant “here-ness” that the man known as Louis Zoellar Bickett II left on reality in my own Kentucky home.

Mirry Childs, Shift Leader, HPB Hamburg Pavilion in Lexington. KY

Literary Besties for Best Friends Day

Whether you call them bosom buddies, kindred spirits, BFFs or just besties, one thing is sure: neither life nor literature would be the same without best friends. That’s why we are celebrating June 8, Best Friends Day, with some of the greatest BFFs to ever be written on the page.

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Anne Shirley and Diana Barry, from Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery—Who else but your bosom friend would not pursue a guy because she knew you secretly liked him (although you pretended like you hated him)? Continue reading

Behind the Book: The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

Editor’s Note from Kristen Beverly, HPB Buyer:

As a lover of psychological thrillers, when I first heard the plot of The Perfect Mother I was intrigued. It’s the story of a mother’s group and one of the babies goes missing. Seems simple enough. But place this mother’s group in the middle of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and add the fact that the baby goes missing while the moms are out partying together and things start to get more interesting. As the police hunt for the baby, the reader sees the lives of each of the mothers in the group put on full display. Marriages and friendships are put to the test as secrets are revealed about each character. This thriller definitely delivers the thrills – and Kerry Washington agrees. She’s already signed up to both produce and star in the movie! We procured this Q&A with author Aimee Molloy to tell us a little more about the book.

The Perfect Mother

WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF THE PERFECT MOTHER?
After my first daughter was born in 2013, I signed up for September Babies, a new moms group in Brooklyn. I was a little skeptical about this initially, but the skepticism dissolved almost immediately. I had no family around to help and very little experience with infants. September Babies became my lifeline. Though some members met in person, most of our interaction was via a list serve—a place where people asked questions (Is this normal . . . ? Should I be worried . . . ? Will they ever sleep through the night?). I was blown away by the generosity and encouragement the members showed one another. Perhaps it was the sleep deprivation, but I envisioned us—a relative group of strangers—as a tribe of women who had banded together, and the question occurred to me: what if, God forbid, one of our babies went missing? I could see the members of the group, black war paint under our eyes, torches in hand, combing the streets until the baby was found. I remember I was riding the subway, my daughter strapped to my chest, and I pulled out a notebook, jotting down notes on this idea. A few years later, those notes became The Perfect Mother.

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