Totally Random Lists 2019: Take the Fifth

Editor’s Note: This year our Half Price Books calendar once again features books, movies and music grouped together in weird, unexpected ways. You might even call them Totally Random Lists, which is what we did because, well, we had to put something on the front cover. We like the lists so much, we’ll be sharing them on this blog throughout the year.


Five is a mystical number representing balance and the five senses. We’re not saying a writer’s fifth novel, a director’s fifth feature or a band’s fifth album is automatically great because of this, but judging by our list, we just might be onto something. Continue reading

Totally Random Lists 2019: How ‘Bout Them Apples?

Editor’s Note: This year our Half Price Books calendar once again features books, movies and music grouped together in weird, unexpected ways. You might even call them Totally Random Lists, which is what we did because, well, we had to put something on the front cover. We like the lists so much, we’ll be sharing them on this blog throughout the year.


Symbolizing knowledge, immortality and temptation, the apple is no ordinary fruit. More likely to star in media than a second banana, apples are a juicy subject for any author or auteur. Here’s a bushel of titles to keep the doctor away. Continue reading

Totally Random Lists 2019: One Syllable is Enough

Editor’s Note: This year, our Half Price Books calendar once again features books, movies and music grouped together in weird, unexpected ways. You might even call them Totally Random Lists, which is what we did because, well, we had to put something on the front cover. We like the lists so much, we’ll be sharing them on this blog throughout the year.


When an author chooses a one-word title, they’re basically saying, “this one word is all I need to capture my creation’s powerful essence!” Here are some of our favorite books, movies and albums that say it all with a single, memorable syllable—on the cover, anyway.

BOOKSOneSyllable Stack 3 BLOG
Holes, Louis Sachar
Night, Elie Wiesel
Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
It, Stephen King
Room, Emma Donoghue
Jazz, Toni Morrison
Watt, Samuel Beckett
Dune, Frank Herbert
Crash, J.G. Ballard

MOVIESalbums 1
Babe
Jaws 
Big
Mask
Up
Brave
Elf
Speed
Pi

MUSIC
Blue, Joni Mitchell
Pearl, Janis Joplin
Damn, Kendrick Lamar
Go, Dexter Gordon
Tusk, Fleetwood Mac
Bad, Michael Jackson
So, Peter Gabriel

For a longer list of monosyllabic titles, visit HPB.com/syllable.

Candy & Books: A Sweet Pairing

There’s nothing I like better than a good book. Well, except a good book and some chocolate. Or something a little tart. Okay fine, I love candy, and I love books. Since it is October, I have plenty of each! What better way to celebrate this fun month than pairing candy and books?

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Candy Pairing: Payday

Millions of Americans work full-time, year-round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Pairing 1Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job—any job—could be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. She worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing home aide and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly “unskilled,” that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors. Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety and surprising generosity. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich’s perspective and for a rare view of how “prosperity” looks from the bottom.

Pair this critical book that is still relevant today with a Payday to appreciate the fact that millions of Americans have to work full-time, year-round from payday to payday just to survive.

Bossypants by Tina Fey
Candy Pairing: Snickers

Pairing 2Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon—from the beginning paragraph to the final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

Pair with a Snickers bar because you will not be able to contain your laughter while reading this classic, humorous account of Tina Fey’s life, as well as behind-the-scenes stories from her hit shows! Continue reading

The Reading Road Trip: Explore Literary Landmarks Across the U.S.

The lazy days of summer are the perfect time to hit the road for new adventures. And for a bookish type, what better journey to plan than a drive to one of the great literary landmarks across the United States?

From memorial libraries to author hangouts to well-preserved homes, there are a myriad of fascinating stops to explore. Here are a few of our favorites:

Scott and Zelda FitzgeraldScott&ZeldaAirBNB.jpg
The only dedicated museum to the glamorous Jazz Age couple, this restored home in Montgomery, Alabama was the site of the longest residence for the Fitzgeralds, and the spot where Scott wrote Tender is the Night and Zelda penned Save Me the Waltz. Full of copies of F. Scott and Zelda’s letters to one another (plus a few snarky ones Scott sent to Hemingway), photographs and Zelda’s paintings, the Fitzgerald Museum stands as a testament to their doomed but passionate relationship. Bonus: you can even book a stay upstairs in a quaint Airbnb decorated with pillows stitched with Zelda’s quotes.

Gorey_House

Photo courtesy of James Edwards

Edward Gorey
Gothic author, illustrator and playwright Edward Gorey turned his 200-year-old Cape Cod home Elephant House into a cabinet of curiosities. Gorey collected everything from cheese graters to elephants, so you’ll find plenty of ephemera in the cottage along with his overflowing library and a fabulous gift shop. If you look closely, you might even discover 26 children who met their untimely ends based on his classic alphabet book The Gashlycrumb Tinies hidden away around the abode.

Continue reading

Famous First Lines: Emoji Edition

In the 1400s, Johannes Gutenberg developed the printing press bringing forth a new age of literary access to the common man and placing the care and construct of modern language in the hands of all. It was the dawn of Enlightenment.

Fast forward to now, and we’ve got emojis.

Are emojis a language? A few thumb taps and a little picture can communicate a complex idea that leaves little room for interpretation.  With a simple 0-wine, my wife can let me know the kids are being crazy and I should pick up a bottle of wine on my way home.

Emojis are pictures, but can they paint a picture? Would the world’s great authors be able to use emojis to express the subtle nuances of their work? Let’s find out.

Below, to the best of my ability, I have interpreted the first lines from major works of literature into emoji. Is anything lost in translation? Does the beauty of the text remain intact?

1-austen

Original Text: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

2-dickens

Original Text: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859) Continue reading

Ice Cream & Book Pairings for the Book Loving Foodie

July 16 is National Ice Cream Day, and as far as we’re concerned, every day is National Book-Reading Day. To help you effectively combine these two life-giving pleasures, we’re serving up some recommendations for books and ice cream flavors that pair well together. (If you figure out how to eat ice cream and hold a book at the same time, let us know.)

benjerry
Ben & Jerry’s Bob Marley’s One Love™ and A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
The famous Vermont ice cream kings created this flavor as a tribute to the late, great reggae star Bob Marley. It’s got a banana ice cream base with caramel and graham cracker swirls and fudge peace signs. This ice cream is to die for, so it’s a perfect pairing with A Brief History of Seven Killings, the Man Booker Prize-winning novel from Jamaican writer Marlon James. The centerpiece of this sprawling, music-infused book is the 1976 attempted assassination of none other than Bob Marley. Continue reading

Take a Break, Read a Book!: Your Spring Break Reading Guide

Disappear into a different world and enjoy your Spring Break reading these fantastic books!

Everyone is looking for something to do for Spring Break this year. Whether a vacation is in the works or not, the best way to take a break is to read a book! If you’re in the airport waiting on the arrival of a plane or sitting in the car trying to ignore a hotly debated directions dispute, reading a book is a great way to escape. Reading to the kids while traveling is a great way to distract them from the ennui of getting to the destination. Of course, if you’re not going anywhere for this particular Spring Break, reading a book is great way to get away without all the costs and hassles of real travel. Read on to discover our list of recently released books you can find online or at your local Half Price Books store that are perfect for Spring Break!

stranger-than-fanfictionStranger Than Fanfiction by Chris Colfer (Teen)
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Land of Stories series Chris Colfer comes this fantastic standalone novel that promises to be an engrossing read. The story is centered on Cash Carter, a young, world-famous lead actor of the hit television show Wiz Kids. Four fans jokingly invite Cash Carter on a cross-country road trip, which he shockingly accepts. The group are chased by paparazzi and hounded by reporters. It is the story of an unlikely crew taking off on a journey of a lifetime – but along the way they discover that the star they love has been keeping deep secrets. What they come to learn about the life of the mysterious person they thought they knew will teach them about the power of empathy and the unbreakable bond of true friendship.

the-beast-is-an-animalThe Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale (Teen)
This fantastic story is a hauntingly beautiful twisted fairytale. The main character, Alys, was seven when creatures called soul eaters came to her village. These soul eaters are twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly grew into something not quite human, something that needs to feed on souls to survive. Alys and all the children in her village were spared by the twins, but having lost their parents and elders, the children were sent to live in a neighboring village. Afraid of facing a similar fate, the villagers in the children’s adopted home created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters – and of the Beast they believe guides them – rules village life. But the Beast is not what they think he is. And neither is Alys. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Mark Twain!: Rarest of Rare Collectibles

On his 70th birthday, Mark Twain gave a speech to friends gathered at Delmonico’s Restaurant. To mark the occasion, he noted that the age of 70 is “the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity; when you may throw aside the decent reserves which have oppressed you for a generation and stand unafraid and unabashed upon your seven-terraced summit and look down and teach—unrebuked.”

On the same occasion, he joked about his very first birthday: “I always think of it with indignation; everything was so crude, unaesthetic, primeval. Nothing like this at all. No proper appreciative preparation made; nothing really ready. Now, for a person born with high and delicate instincts—why, even the cradle wasn’t whitewashed—nothing ready at all. I hadn’t any hair, I hadn’t any teeth, I hadn’t any clothes. I had to go to my first banquet just like that.”

It got better for Mr. Twain. He lived a long and happy-but-cranky life, very productive and much celebrated during his time. Continue reading

Books I Am Thankful For

I love books, but there are certain books that have had such an impact on my life that I couldn’t imagine the world without them.  Here is a list of five books for which I am truly thankful and the reasons why.

c67cf2f90ca165077b59c29f2c9ef7f5A Dog Called Kitty by Bill Wallace
I first read this book when I was in third grade. The book is about a young boy who is afraid of dogs until he meets a dog who answers to nothing but the word “kitty.”  A Dog Called Kitty is the first book that made me both laugh and cry.  I proceeded to loan it to all my friends.  I even read a portion of it over the phone to try to get one of them interested in reading it.  Now that I have a nephew in fourth grade, I have given him a copy to read and can only hope that he will love it as much as I did.

0446310786To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
No one will find it surprising that I first read this book for my high school freshman English class.  When we started reading it, I had just finished The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss. So when Scout’s teacher comments that she doesn’t understand how Hitler could treat Jews the way he does because they are such nice people, all the while the town she lives in is condemning Tom Robinson for a crime they know he didn’t commit just because he’s black, I became so upset with that character I threw the book across my room. Thus, To Kill a Mockingbird became the first book in which I acted out one of my favorite Dorothy Parker quotes, “This isn’t a book to be tossed aside lightly. It must be thrown with great force.”  It was the first book that I was forced to read in school that I actually enjoyed. Continue reading