Celebrating National Public Lands Day

Some of my fondest childhood memories are walking, riding my bike or roller skating to my neighborhood park. Marcus Park was my personal paradise where I played basketball, softball, kickball, hopscotch and even chess. My best friend and I shared secrets on the swings and made up stories while leisurely pushing the merry-go-round. This little plot of public land was an essential part of my everyday life and helped form my love of the great outdoors.

Through books, I was able to explore public lands beyond my neighborhood. When I was a young child, Make Way for Ducklings took me to the Public Garden in Boston and Brighty of the Grand Canyon instilled a lifelong desire to explore that great National Park. As an adult, I laughed my way through Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods and started planning my own trek on the Appalachian Trail.

Of course, movie directors have discovered the dramatic potential of public lands such as the cliff-hanging Mount Rushmore scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.

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Plus,  in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Roy Neary’s (Richard Dreyfuss) UFO obsession leads him to an isolated mountaintop, aka Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the nation’s first national monument.
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Saturday, September 30 is National Public Lands Day, a day to volunteer and help restore or improve your neighborhood, city, state, or national park, forest, monument or shoreline. And after you have finished volunteering how about discovering other publicly owned lands and waterways in these books and movies.

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Meet the Bibliomaniacs: The HPB Tyler Team

You asked, we listened. We’re beyond excited for the opening of our new store in Tyler, TX. In this edition of Meet the Bibliomaniacs, we would like to introduce you to the entire HPB Tyler team. Take it away, guys!

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What is your favorite part about working at HPB?

  • “Interacting with and serving our customers and setting up my staff to succeed.” ­– Joseph M. (Store Manager)
  • “My interactions with customers and employees.” – Cody T. (Asst. Store Manager)
  • “The customers and coworkers are my favorite part of working at HPB.” – Twila B. (Shift Leader)
  • “Being surrounded by the things I love.” – Curtis B. (Bookseller)
  • “Meeting new people.” – Natasha M. (Bookseller)
  • “Learning! Opportunities to learn about anything and everything are endless.” – Bree L. (Bookseller)
  • “Discovering fantastic books!” – Jeff G. (Bookseller)
  • “How much HPB understands and celebrates the individuality of its team members.” – Dana E. (Bookseller)
  • “I am a bibliophile, so my favorite part of being a team member is the books and officially becoming a bibliomaniac.” – Jennifer G. (Bookseller)

What is your all-time favorite book, movie or album?

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Books, movies and music for the eclipse. No special glasses necessary.

On Monday, August 21, as you might have heard, the U.S. will experience a total solar eclipse for the first time since 1979. At least those in the ominous-sounding Path of Totality will. The rest of us will experience a partial eclipse. Nevertheless, it’s been 99 years since a total eclipse crossed the whole country, so it’s a big deal.

Back in the day, historically speaking, eclipses were often seen as omens. At HPB, we see it as a chance to highlight some books, movies and even music where eclipses play a role.

Books
Connecticut YankeeA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
In Twain’s 1899 novel, an American named Hank is transported back in time and across the pond to the court of King Arthur, where he uses his knowledge of modern science and technology to fool the people there. He’s scheduled to be burned at the stake on the exact date of an eclipse that he knows about since he’s from the future and all, so he cleverly gets out of the jam by making people think he caused the eclipse to happen.

Nightfall_coverNightfall by Isaac Asimov
Asimov was only 21-years-old when he wrote this short science fiction story, published in 1941. It concerns the fictional planet Lagash, which is lit by six suns and therefore experiences daylight at all times. When scientists start predicting a very rare eclipse of all six suns, hysteria ensues. Nightfall was once voted the best science fiction short story ever written. Asimov worked with Robert Silverberg to expand it into a novel in 1990.

DoloresClaiborneNovelgeralds-gameDolores Claiborne and Gerald’s Game by Stephen King
The real-life solar eclipse of July 20, 1963, plays a role in these two loosely connected Stephen King novels, both released in 1992. The books were originally conceived by King as part of a longer work called In the Path of the Eclipse. By the way, this very same historical eclipse was featured in an episode of Mad Men (“Seven Twenty Three”) and was mentioned in the John Updike novel, Couples. Continue reading

Meet the Bibliomaniac: Aliyah Uddin

If you haven’t heard the good news, we’re opening a new store in St. Charles, MO. We can’t wait for you, our booklovers, to come check out our new digs. We’re even more excited for you to get to know the amazing staff. In this edition of “Meet the Bibliomaniac”, we introduce you to Aliyah.

Store #127 Shift Leader-Aliyah UddinName: Aliyah Uddin
Job Title: Shift Leader
Location:  HPB St. Charles

When did you join the team? 
September 2016

As a shift leader, what’s an average day like for you?
Right now, we are installing our new store in St. Charles, MO.  So it’s a lot of guidance, lots of alphabetizing, sizing the books and making sure the shelves are full for our Great Opening on August 17!

What is your favorite part about working at HPB?
Definitely seeing what we are buying from our customers!  Then visiting with our customers about our inventory and getting them as excited about it as I am!

What is your all-time favorite book/movie or album? 
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

What are you reading right now?
A Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

What TV show/movie are you embarrassed to admit you love?
Say Yes to the Dress

What do you like to do in your free time?
I am a photographer.  I love to photograph weddings and families!

If you could write a book about yourself, what would the title be? 
A Foot in Two Worlds

When are you the happiest?
When I am in the presence of my family, whether we’re doing something special or just hanging out.

Anything else you’d like to add? 
I love this job!  Can’t wait for the new store to open!

 

A Book Nerd’s Look at the Modern Mass Market Paperback

To call me a book nerd would be like calling the Hulk green, so obvious that the statement is completely unnecessary. So, when I found out that July 30 was the day the modern paperback book was introduced, I wanted to know more.

First, let’s get some facts straight. July 30, 1935 was not the day the first paperback book was published. In France and Germany, paperback books were published in the 17th century, and James Fenimore Cooper wrote paperback book-like frontier stories back in 1823. Probably the first true mass-market paperback was Malaeska, by Ann S. Stephens, published in June 1860 by the pioneers of the Dime Novel or “penny dreadful.”

However, July 30, 1935 was the day Sir Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Publishing, published the first “respectable” paperback book, Ariel, by André Maurois. Ariel is a biography of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. The story behind the first Penguin paperback is that Mr. Lane, after a weekend in the country with Agatha Christie, was at the train station looking for something to read on his trip back to London, but couldn’t find anything except slick magazines and pulp fiction. His idea was to make quality fiction and nonfiction available in places like train stations for discerning readers who were traveling, and to make them just as affordable as a pack of cigarettes. Voila, the modern paperback was born.

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At first, booksellers were reluctant to buy Lane’s paperbacks, but when Woolworths placed a large order, the books sold so well that booksellers began to stock Lane’s books, making the name “Penguin” synonymous with paperbacks. Continue reading

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.”
Both are in Very Good condition.—$15 each Continue reading

#HPBgives: More Than 330,000 Kids’ Books Donated Nationwide

Another year of our Half Pint Library Book Drive and book giveaways has come and gone! This was the 19th year of our Half Pint Library Book Drive (part of our Million Book Donation Project), and I am pleased to announce we distributed 330,789 books to organizations across the country.

Thank you to all of our wonderful customers who donated books to the drive. We couldn’t have gotten so many books into the hands of kids who need them without you! Until next year, please enjoy these photos from some of our giveaways.

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The book recipients and HPB staff pose for a photo before the book distribution begins at our Downers Grove, Illinois location.

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And the Prize Goes to… (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

The Pulitzer Prize program was initiated in 1917. No award for fiction was given that first year, but prizes have been handed out in all but eleven years since 1918. The winner in 1918 was Ernest Poole, who won for His Family. Poole and quite a few other Fiction Pulitzer winners are all but forgotten now (our stores don’t get many requests these days for books by Margaret Wilson, Martin Flavin or Josephine Johnson—all Fiction prizewinners).

But other award-winning novels have stood the test of time and are on students’ reading lists and/or their parents’ must-read lists. Here we feature some collectible editions of Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction books which can be found on our shelves!

GoneWithTheWind

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Macmillan, 1986. 50th Anniversary Edition.
Awarded the Pulitzer in 1937

This anniversary edition of the timeless Civil War classic is in a slipcase that features a photograph of author Margaret Mitchell. It’s at our Cincinnati-Northgate store—$20. Continue reading

Books Authors Read with Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle

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Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle to two of our locations in just a few weeks! They’ll stop by our Northwest Highway location in Dallas on Monday, May 8 at 7p.m. CST to discuss their new book, Driving Miss Norma. 90-year-old Norma Bauerschmidt was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2015. Instead of having a difficult procedure and following through with chemotherapy, she decided to hit the road with her son and daughter-in-law. Her adventures were chronicled by the pair through pictures and blog posts, and she became a Facebook phenomenon. Although she passed away in 2016, she taught us all that saying “Yes” to life is the best way to live. We hope to see you at the Dallas event! If you can’t make it to the Dallas location, Tim and Ramie will also stop by our Marietta location in the Atlanta, Georgia area on May 16 at 7 p.m. EST. In the meantime, we asked them to share some of their favorite books with us in our Books Authors Read blog series – enjoy!

Memoirs and books involving the end-of-life seem to be the recent themes of our collective reading.

Being Mortal Medicine and What Matters in the EndBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
This is the book that inspired us to take “Miss Norma” on the road with us instead of leaving her behind in a nursing home. In it, Dr. Gawande addresses the realities everyone must face as they near the end of their lives. As a result, our eyes were wide open and clear when the time came to help make transformative decisions for Norma.

Dr. Gawande points out that most decisions concerning our elderly population’s living situations are aimed at ensuring their safety, at the expense of dignity and autonomy. He says this is especially true when adult children are making these decisions for them, and certainly all nursing homes are geared toward that approach.

He further argues that it is not just the “quantity of life” but the “quality of life” that must be considered at end times. Modern medicine is too concerned about prolonging life at the expense of the patient’s total well-being. Not only did his words give us the gumption to take Norma places that we would have otherwise not thought of, but he also demonstrates the beauty of hospice care in the home, giving us the confidence to have Norma with us in the motor home until the very end.

“Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.”  — Atul Gawande Continue reading

Celebrate Pi Day with these Math-ical Books, Movies and Music

March 14 is the day everyone in the world, or at least everyone here in the U.S. (where we put the month before the day), pauses to celebrate that most constant of mathematical constants, that most transcendental of transcendental numbers. Of course, I’m talking about Pi, also known as “π,” also known as the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, also known as 3.14 (give or take a trillion digits). 3.14…3/14…March 14. Get it? Yeah, me neither. Never had much of a head for math.

Nevertheless, this Pi Day thing seems to be real. They even have a website where you can buy a t-shirt and watch a rap video.

All this hubbub got me thinking about my favorite books, movies and even songs that feature a heavy dose of math. You can look for these at your local HPB and do some math when you calculate how much money you’re saving.

Life of Pi bookLife of Pi
This 2001 novel by Yann Martel and its 2012 film adaptation tell the story of Piscine “Pi” Patel, an Indian boy who adopts the nickname Pi after kids make fun of his real name. That’s a pretty great story right there, but things get more interesting when Pi is stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger, a hyena and a zebra. Okay, there’s actually not too much math in this story, but it’s a great read, the movie has amazing animation and the kid’s name is Pi.

Hidden FiguresHidden Figures
This is a book about human computers. No, it’s not sci-fi; it’s the non-fiction bestseller by Margot Lee Shetterly that inspired the acclaimed movie about female African-American mathematicians at NASA. They were called human computers because, like, they did computations. Set during World War II, the Space Race and the Civil Rights Movement, the book profiles four ladies who were among the space program’s unsung heroes. Continue reading