Win an HPB Gift Card during National Novel Writing Month

For a lot of writers, Halloween signifies something very different than candy and costumes — it is the last day of freedom before the start of National Novel Writing Month, which begins at 12:01am on November 1 every year. Now in its 12th year, NaNoWriMo (what it’s called amongst the Rhinos who participate) challenges writers of any walk of life to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and 30 each year.

This is my second serious attempt to complete NaNoWriMo; I sorta kinda thought about it two years ago, but last year I really gave it a valiant try — which lasted approximately 36 hours. At the time, I had a small sapling of an idea that I quickly realized needed a major boost of worldbuilding, plotting, and character development before I could even begin to pound out 2,000 words a day. Since then, I’ve worked pretty diligently on the development of that idea (which I still love) and have now been counting down the days to November 1 when I could finally start writing it.

So here’s my question: how many of you, our brilliant HPB booklovers all around the country, are also writers? Are you giving NaNoWriMo a go? Have you always wanted to write a novel (or just write anything) but felt like you didn’t have a support system, or maybe just needed a good kick in the pants? We’d love to get to know our HPB writers out there — so let us know who you are in the comments (what you write, what you read, what you’d love to spend your days working on if you had unlimited time and resources) and we’ll do a random HPB giftcard drawing (because after all, good writers are always avid readers — am I right?)

Otherwise, wish me luck! Keep me accountable! I’ll posted my progress throughout the month (and if I crash and burn, please make me feel super guilty. I respond well to guilt :)) If you are also sacrificing your life for the next 30 days, visit the NaNoWriMo site, which has some helpful suggestions on staying on track – including connecting with other Rhinos in your area, participating in write-ins, and keeping each other accountable. You can also follow @nanowrimo on Twitter.

— Kristen D.

P.S. Not to douse all this hope I’m gathering here, but this “So You Want to Write a Novel” video is a really funny dose of reality for everyone who’s ever thought about publishing (it went rapid-fire around the internet last fall & is still just as relevant now.)

13 Things I Learned From Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is a gifted, intellectual writer. A well-known journalist for The New Yorker since 1996, his bestselling books have practically turned him into a guru on social sciences. His insights are remarkable. His prose, ambitious. In his four published works, Gladwell mines through academic research and social studies and uncovers basic truths. In short, his books make you think. And think differently.

If you’ve never read Malcolm Gladwell, I recommend you start with his first, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000). Not that his books need to be read in chronological order, but because The Tipping Point is quite simply the best. Fortune magazine described it as “a fascinating book that makes you see the world in different way.” His subsequent books are also compelling and thoughtful. In fact, Outliers: The Story of Success (2008) is my second favorite by a nose. Then, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005) and lastly, What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2010).

Once read, they’re all worth re-reading to help better understand the information. As Gladwell writes himself, “A book, I was taught long ago in English class, is a living and breathing document that grows richer with each new reading.” In the world of nonfiction writers, this author is among my favorites. So, here are 13 things I’ve learned from Malcolm Gladwell.

1. “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” (Outliers)

2. “Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head.” (What the Dog Saw)

3. “We store information in other people.” (The Tipping Point)

4. “The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” (Blink)

5. “There’s strength in weak ties. People aren’t getting jobs through their friends but through their acquaintances.” (The Tipping Point)

6. “There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.” (Blink)

7. “If you want to bring a fundamental change in people’s belief and behavior… you need to create a community around them where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured.” (The Tipping Point)

8. “Achievement is talent plus preparation.” (Outliers)

9. “There is a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible. All you have to do is find it.” (The Tipping Point)

10. “There are exceptional people out there who are capable of starting epidemics. All you have to do is find them.” (The Tipping Point)

11. “No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich.” (Outliers)

12. “In the act of tearing something apart, you lose its meaning.” (Blink)

13. “Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. It’s not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether or not our work fulfills us.” (Outliers)

After you read his four books, if you want to dive into more of Gladwell’s observations, he blogs over at, but he hasn’t made a new post since 2010. Maybe he’s been busy reading and re-reading books. You might be surprised to learn that Gladwell enjoys “thrillers and airport literature” as he described in this recent article. Or, perhaps Gladwell has a new book in the works. (I hope so.) Any guesses on his next topic? What topic would you love for him to crack wide open? What’s your favorite quote or insight from his books? Which is your favorite Malcolm Gladwell book?

Now, go put your thinking (differently) caps on. – Meredith

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

Q: What’s the difference between a cat and a compound sentence?

A: “A cat has paws at the end of its claws;

A comma has pause at the end of its clause.”

You didn’t think we were going to do a dog post and not follow it up with a cat post, did you? This adorable picture came through after our post about Zoe in the store:


His owner says, “Jack says there is nothing like curling up with a good book! Especially if it comes from Half Price Books.”

Hear, hear, Jack. Here are a couple more adorable cat + book combos, courtesy of The Berry:



More pictures available here. If you guys have any other fun picture combinations of your pets + books/music/movies/games, please send to!

— Julie