“Read the Movie” during Teen Read Week

October 16-22 is Teen Read Week, which is a literacy initiative of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)  and the American Library Association (ALA). To help celebrate this week, I want to encourage teens to “Read the Movie.”  Below are my recommendations of great books that have been turned into entertaining movies (which you’ve probably already seen).

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Made into the wonderful Dreamworks movie, this book is a wonder in itself, and besides the names, and Hiccup’s facetious attitude about the place he lives, the stories are completely different.  In this book, everyone has a dragon, and Hiccup’s first task, in order to make him a man in the eyes of his village, is to catch a dragon. His second task is to train it.  However, dragons are not so easy to train, and the only training manual that his village has consists of only one page that says “Yell at them, the louder, the better.”  Not being much of a yeller, Hiccup has to figure out a different way to train his dragon, pass his manhood test and save the day.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Though I never miss a Brendan Fraser movie, I’m glad I did not miss this book either, for the movie did use a lot of creative license in the screenplay. The book is told through the eyes of Meggie, whose father, a bookbinder, goes on the run from an evil man named Capricorn for reasons he will not explain. When her father gets kidnapped, Meggie must learn to trust an aunt she doesn’t like and a strange man named Dustfinger who betrayed her father, in order to save her father and save the book that Capricorn wants so desperately to get his hands on. She soon learns that her father has the ability to literally bring the story to life whenever he reads out loud. This adventure story is as much about the love of books as it is the actual adventure, with quotes from different books to begin each chapter and quaint illustrations to end it.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini
While the movie is good, the book holds so much more and is an epic tale reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien. While Eragon is out hunting one day, a great explosion scares away his prey, but leaves a smooth blue and white stone, which he tries to sell a couple of times with no luck. Finally one night, the stone hatches, and out pops a dragon.  Suddenly, Eragon finds himself being chased across the empire with a magic-wielding, sword-fighting storyteller, who knows more about what’s going on than he is willing to tell. This book caused me to cry at least twice and the dialogue (especially where Brom was concerned) had me laughing numerous times.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I know. I know. Who hasn’t read Twilight? Well, it’s time to pull it out and read it again. It’s October. Halloween is getting close. What a perfect time to read a love story about a “vegetarian” vampire (or so the other vampires call the Cullens) who can read minds, and the new girl in town who doesn’t know how good she smells. Though at times Meyers sentence structure can have you reading a sentence more than once to make sure you understand what she’s saying, the story sucks you in until you wonder things like, “How normal is my mind?” and “That guy over there is pretty pale.  I wonder if he’s a vampire.”  This was a book I could not put down. And though I haven’t watched any of the Twilight movies yet (Vampire movies have always freaked me out a bit), I may have to rent them this Halloween, provided I don’t have to watch them alone.

My point is don’t be content to just watch the movie. You never know what you might be missing. Read the book. Don’t forget to check out the winners of the YALSA Top Ten: Inkheark, Eragon and Twilight have all been on this list at one time. So, what is your favorite book that has been made into a movie?

— Julie

Banned Books Posters + T-Shirts Round-Up

Censorship is not a thing of the past. You might be surprised to learn that more than 11,000 books have been banned or challenged since 1982 and 348 reported in 2010. Banned Books Awareness Week (BBAW) is an annual event when we, the community of employees and customers at Half Price Books, celebrate our First Amendment rights. Alongside the American Library Association and booklovers everywhere, we celebrate our freedom to read. As part of this, posters and T-shirts are designed each year. Here’s a round-up of some of our favorites.


Support the imaginative and courageous authors of all books, including those that open our eyes to controversial topics. Exercise your First Amendment rights this week by reading a banned or challenged book. And encourage others to build libraries, not bonfires.

Put on your favorite “Banned Books” T-shirt this week and join us! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the virtual rally happening online. Make a comment below telling us how you joined the First Amendment Rights Rally before 3 p.m. CST on Thursday, September 29 and enter to win a free HPB Banned Books tee. Winner will be randomly selected.

— Meredith


UPDATE: Congratulations to our random winner, Jackie Fender. You’ve won your very own HPB Banned Books T-Shirt. Drop us a note at besocial@hpb.com to claim your prize! This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Banned Books Awareness Week 2011

From our Springhurst store in LouisvilleHi guys! Y’know, just when I think my family and I are your average, ordinary citizens, I find out that, actually, we’re way-out radicals!  The folks at Half Price Books told me this was Banned Books Awareness Week.  Who knew? Huck Finn, the Twilight Series, even The Bible have all been challenged or banned by some group at one time or another.

Well, darned if I hadn’t read most of ‘em!  And my “wild” wife Jenni … she’s read To Kill a Mockingbird and Peyton Place plenty of times. Our youngest loves all the Harry Potter books, but there’re evidently some people out there that aren’t “just wild about Harry.” Yep, he’s on the list too! And The Joy of Sex was banned in 1972 when Half Price Books first opened their doors … thus creating the term “book lovers!”

Guess we just don’t buy into not having the freedom to read what’s out there if we want. We’ll never stop reading these so-called banned books … or shopping our favorite bookstore, Half Price Books. And if you can believe it, the latest radio ad was even banned from certain stations for being too controversial! 

So hurry in and be a way-out radical too! While you’re there, you might see some of these Banned Books Awareness Week displays the stores are putting up. Pretty creative! 

From our North Lamar store in Austin, Texas

From our Springhurst store in Louisville, Kentucky

From our South Lamar store in Austin, Texas

So, what’s your favorite banned book?

— Jim Swayze

Top 5 Young Adult Banned Books

Banned Books Awareness Week begins tomorrow, September 24, and to celebrate this week, here are my top 5 Banned Books for Young Adults. 

First, what is a banned book? A banned book is any book that has ever been removed from the shelves of a library, bookstore or classroom because of its controversial content.  This does not mean that the book has been removed from all libraries, bookstores or classroom, or that it is no longer available to readers. What it does mean is that at one time someone has stopped others in their country, state or community from reading these books.  Although some banned books have been burned or even refused publication, most books are banned because someone has decided that the content of a certain book is not suitable for another person or group of people to read, and they are taken off the shelves of classrooms or school libraries in the area where the book is banned.

1. The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank (first published in English 1952)

This true-life story of a young Jewish girl living in hiding in Amsterdam during World War II explores Anne’s true thoughts and feelings about herself, her family, boys, and the war.  Anne receives a diary for her 13th birthday.  Less than a month later, she and her family are in hiding as the Nazis continue to round up all the Jews in Holland and send them to labor camps. Reading this book, you would assume it was banned because of its difficult subject matter. I mean, how do you explain anti-Semitism or the Holocaust to a young American teen? Another reason you might think this book would be banned is for Anne’s honesty about her feelings toward her changing body and the emotional issues that plague every teen. And though the book has been banned in certain areas because certain passages were considered “sexually offensive,” the most common reason The Diary of a Young Girl has been banned is because it was “a real downer.”  Only happy books for these people it seems.

2The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton (published 1967)

I have to admit that this novel, which tells the story of a sensitive fourteen-year-old boy from the wrong side of town, was my favorite book when I was twelve and thirteen. The main character, Ponyboy, and his friend Johnny get into a fight with two of the social set, called “Socs.” During this fight, Johnny kills one of the “Socs.”  After that, Ponyboy and Johnny run away to escape persecution. Again, the reasons for banning this book are not always what you would expect.  You would assume the book would be banned because of violence (there is also a big “rumble” at the end of the book), but the actual reasons for banning this book include “drug and alcohol use ” and the fact that “virtually all the characters are from broken homes.”  Ironically, this story was based on a real life situation, as one of Hinton’s friends had been “jumped” for being a “Greaser.” The event upset Hinton so much that she went home and started writing The Outsiders. She was fifteen years old when she wrote the book.

3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier (published 1974)

Trinity High School, a boys’ Catholic school, sells chocolate every year, but this year the chocolate sales are more important than ever.  The goals have doubled and so has the price. Though the group of school bullies known as the Vigils have promised to support the chocolate sale, they give the assignment to fourteen-year-old Jerry to refuse to sell the chocolates.  And so, Jerry finds himself at war against the biggest bully of them all, his teacher.  The Chocolate War is a book about standing up to bullies and the sometimes futility behind it.  However, according to some critics, the book’s “vulgar language” and “sexual content” seem to overshadow its anti-bullying message. Personally, I thought the anti-bullying message was not overshadowed, and the book adequately portrayed the thoughts and feelings of the bullies as well as the bullied.



4.  ttyl, by Lauren Myracle (published 2004)

This interesting book, the first of three by author Lauren Myracle, is written solely in Instant Messenger and follows the messages of three fifteen-year-old girls as they face the daily struggles of high school.  While Angela (SnowAngel) faces constant boy trouble, and Maddie (mad maddie) is singled out by a mean girl causing total school-wide humiliation, Zoe (zoegirl) gets in over her head with a flirty teacher.  The book’s theme is friendship, and although it does cover topics that some may consider controversial, it never promotes negative behavior as a way to deal with those topics. Lauren Myracle’s entire series has been banned and challenged in many schools because of “sexually explicit content” and “foul language.”  Of course, it doesn’t help that it is “grammatically incorrect.”

5.  The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (published 2008)

Set in the ruins of what was once known as North America, this dystopian novel follows sixteen-year-old Katniss as she is forced to participate in what is known as the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death between twenty-four boys and girls, ages twelve through eighteen.  The games are a way for the Capitol to keep the twelve districts in line by forcing each district to send one boy and one girl to fight to the death each year. When Katniss’ sister is chosen to participate in the game, Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place. In the games, Katniss’s pride and perseverance, along with her hunting skills, make her a contender, and she and Peeta, her male counterpart, end up breaking the rules and changing the game.  Needless to say the book is banned because of “excessive violence,” and author Suzanne Collins admits the Hunger Game trilogy is violent. “It’s a war trilogy,”  she says. However, it is also banned for “sexual content,” which is odd since although it has a bit of a love story, the most they do is kiss, and though they do share a sleeping bag for a few days, it’s more about keeping warm than anything else. It does make me wonder what the movie is going to make of that scene though.  The Hunger Games movie is scheduled for release in March 2012.

For more about banned books and why they are banned, check out deletecensorship.org.

So what is your favorite banned book, and why is it banned?

— Julie