Do You Know Where Your Towel Is? May 25 is Towel Day.

If you know the answer to life, the universe and everything, if you learned to fly by aiming for the ground and missing and if you ever speculated why a bowl of petunias would think, “Oh no, not again…” while hurtling toward a planet, then you should celebrate Towel Day. Towel Day is an annual tribute to Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. On Towel Day, Adams’ fans are encouraged to carry a towel with them for the day. The more conspicuous the towel, the better.

If you have never read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you might ask, “Why a towel?”  Well, Adams explains the importance of towels in chapter 3 of the aforementioned book.

HitchikersGuide“A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. Continue reading

Banned Collectible Books (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Again this year, in honor of Banned Books Awareness Week, we present a couple of perennial reading-list favorites that have been censored and banned.

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
First Printing, Little, Brown & Co., 1951

In 2015, one of our two featured books during Banned Books Awareness Week was J.D. Salinger’s first book. That copy sold out of one of our Minnesota stores, and this year a Texas store has acquired another first edition in Very Good condition.

The Catcher in the Rye has remained a popular and critical favorite since it was published, appearing near the top of the “greatest American literature” lists of Time, Modern Library and many other listmakers. Many school districts and libraries have restricted or banned it for profanity, sexual references and for being “negative” and because it “undermines morality.”

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Top School Required Reading You Didn’t Hate

As summer ends and the kids prepare to head back to school, our thoughts naturally return to the required reading we were forced to endure the last time we sat in a classroom.  The books that spring quickly to my mind are William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, three books which I would be happy to never see again in my life.  Now, we know that not all required reading makes you question the sanity of your English teacher.  So, we asked you what were the books on your required reading list that you enjoyed.  (Enjoyed might be too strong of a word.  Liked? Tolerated? Didn’t throw across the room in a fit of frustration and boredom?)  So, without further ado, here is the list of required reading you—didn’t hate.

(1) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; (2) Brave New World, by Aldoux Huxley (3) Night, by Elie Wiesel (4) Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen (5) The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien (6) Lord of the Flies, by William Golding (7) The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (8) The Giver, by Lois Lowry (9) A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess (10) All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque (11) 1984, by George Orwell, (12) War of the Worldsby H.G. Wells (13) Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte (14) East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (15) Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card (16) Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe (17) A Separate Peace, by John Knowles (18) The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde (19) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (20) Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

(21) Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut (22) The Iliad, by Homer (23) Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (24) The Invisible Man, by H.G. Wells (25) The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien (26) Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (27) On the Beach, by Nevil Shute (28) The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (29) A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (30) The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck (31) The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (32) Legend, by Marie Lu (33) The Ramayana, by William Buck (34) Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott (35) Animal Farm, by George Orwell (36) The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway (37) Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (38) The Red Pony, by John Steinbeck (39) The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch (40) As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

(41) Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (42) Alas Babylon, by Pat Frank (43) Anthem, by Ayn Rand (44) Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand (45) Indian Killer, by Sherman Alexie (46) Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonthan Swift (47) The Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (48) James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl (49) The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (50) Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse (51) Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous (52) The Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell (53) Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom (54) Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor M. Dostoevsky (55) Same Kind of Different As Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore (56) The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin, by H.W. Brands (57) Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy (58) The Diary of Ma Yan, by Ma Yan (59) O, Pioneers! by Willa Cather (60) The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Reading this list I remembered several books I read and loved in school.  What about you?  Did your favorite required reading title make the list?

And if you are preparing to go back to school yourself, we hope your required reading list is full of books you—don’t hate. — Julie

Julie is Production Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.

Top 5 Classic Hollywood Romances

It’s hard not to fall in love with the characters of classic films. Many other romantic movies have been produced since, but they all pale in comparison to these great couples and their classic love stories.

1. Scarlet O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) in Gone with the Wind (1939) — Who can forget these two strong-willed characters? Take a look at this famous scene where Rhett says his famous line, “You need kissing, badly… You should be kissed. And often. And by someone who knows how.”

2. Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) and Nick Ferrante (Cary Grant) in An Affair to Remember (1957) — In this clip, the two lovers agree to meet on the top of the Empire State Building, just after Miss McKay says, “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.” This movie helped make the Empire State Building into a romantic icon of the New York City skyline, and later played a key role in the romantic plot of Sleepless in Seattle (1993).


3.
Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) and Paul Varjack (George Peppard) in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) — Paul (aka Fred Baby), a writer, and Holly (aka Lula Mae), a party girl, find love and friendship when they become neighbors in a New York City brownstone. Holly’s stubbornness gives way in this final scene of the film, ending with a romantic kiss in the rain.

4. Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and Rick Blane (Humphrey Bogart) in Casablanca (1942) — Rick’s Cafe sets the stage for the reunion of two lovers who find their love is just as strong as it was when they first met. Their sentimental song,”As Time Goes By” – a song made famous by the film – is played by Sam (Dooley Wilson) in this scene. And along with it comes the famous line, “Play it. Play it again, Sam.”



5. Mary Hatch
(Donna Reed) and George Bailey (James Stewart) in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) — Among many other things, this film is remembered for the romantic gesture made by George promising to lasso the moon for Mary. This is the scene where their love for one another begins — “Do you want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down!”

Which movie scene makes you swoon every time? Do tell – Meredith

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

40 Classic Books You Should Have Read in School

Earlier this month Jim Swayze challenged you to read Classic Literature, but if you are anything like me, you wonder when a book stops being a regular book and starts being a “classic.” Interestingly enough, no one really knows. In fact, essays have been found debating the topic since the early 19th century. The term “classic” is accepted to mean that the book is noteworthy and stands the test of time. However, the noteworthiness of the book is also very subjective.

So how are you to know whether the book you are reading is a classic? Well, lucky for you, our employees know books. We conducted an extensive and amusing poll, consisting of the ever-so-technical question, “So, what do you think?” Without further ado, here are our employees’ selections for 40 Books You Should Have Read in School, a.k.a. Classic Literature.

 

 

 

  

So, how many of you read that list saying, “Read it. Read it. Hated it. Want to read it. Never heard of it . . .” ? Wow! You are like me. If so, I know that you will be itching to read those books that you haven’t read, and why not enter to win a $50 HPB gift card in the process. You have one more week to sign up for the HPB Reading Challenge: Lit Classics.

Tip: Les Miserables is almost 1,500 pages. A Christmas Carol is a little more than 100 pages. I’m just saying.

Did we leave out your favorite classic lit from our list? Let us know in the comments below.

— Julie

Top 10 Summertime Movie Classics

Whether it’s a vacay for the whole family, taking a long holiday overseas, enjoying the sunshine at the beach, or off to summer camp for the kids, summer is a time for new adventures and a break from the old routine. And in the spirit of summer, here’s a top ten list to consider for a fun movie night with friends and family, my Top 10 Summertime Movie Classics.

1. Roman Holiday (1953). One of my all-time favorite Audrey Hepburn movies, and the only one that earned her an Oscar. Hepburn is a princess who, on the Roman leg of her European capitals tour, rebelliously sneaks away from her entourage and sets off on her own. She is discovered by an American reporter (Gregory Peck), who is thrilled that he can get the inside scoop on the runaway princess. A charming romance, of course, ensues. Rome often looks beautiful in the movies, and this film is no exception. See the sights like a tourist through this classic film. Perhaps for a moment you’ll feel like you’re vacationing abroad, zipping through the streets of Rome on a Vespa.

2. Dirty Dancing (1987). A sensational summertime movie. Baby (Jennifer Grey) goes up to the Kellerma’s resort in the Catskills with her parents (Jerry Orbach, Kelly Bishop) and older sister (Jane Brucker) and falls in love with the dance instructor (Patrick Swayze). Well known not only for its music and choreography, but also for famous lines like, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” The big final dance scene sends an epic farewell to summer vacation at the end.

3. Jaws (1975). This movie put Steven Spielberg on the map, scared a whole generation out of the water, and changed the way the general public thinks about sharks. It spawned classic lines like, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” and “Shaark!” Incidentally, this movie also spawned sequel-itis. While the shark obviously looks fake now, the movie still holds up in terms of its look and feel, and may keep you off the beach for a while after viewing it.

4. The Parent Trap (1961). Hayley Mills plays twins who, unbeknownst to their divorced parents, meet at a summer camp. Products of single parent households, they switch places in order to meet the parent they never knew, and then conspire to reunite them (Maureen O’Hara, Brian Keith). In its made-for-tv movie sequel Parent Trap 2 (1986), Mary and Nicki are best friends who want their unsuspecting single parents to marry. Nicki’s mother Sharon (Hayley Mills) wants to move to New York City. With the help of Sharon’s twin sister Susan (Hayley Mills), the girls try to get their parents together. The Parent Trap (1998, remake) updates the tale with identical twins Hallie Parker and Annie James (Lindsay Lohan), who were separated at birth when their parents divorced. After the two meet at summer camp, they begin plotting to reunite their estranged parents (Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson).

5. Grease (1978). Good girl Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and greaser Danny (John Travolta) fell in love over the summer. But when they unexpectedly discover they’re now in the same high school, will they be able to rekindle their romance? A musical melodrama ensues at Rydell High.

6. Summertime (1955). Jane (Katharine Hepburn), a lonely secretary on her dream vacation in Venice, Italy (filmed entirely on location), finds unexpected romance at an outdoor café, where she falls in love with an antique dealer Renato de Rossi (Rossano Brazzi). Hepburn was nominated for an Oscar for this leading role.

7. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). The tale of a boy (Matthew Broderick) who decides to take a day off. He first recruits his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck), and the two of them, along with Cameron’s father’s Ferrari, go to get the last member of the trio, Ferris’ girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara). To get her out of school, they have to fake a death in the family and stage a very convincing escape. The three of them proceed to have the best day off ever.

8. The Seven Year Itch (1955). A professional book reader for a publishing company, Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell), must endure the dog days of a New York summer alone while his wife and son are away in the country for the summer. To pass the lonely hours, the overly-imaginative book reader fantasizes about a young model (Marilyn Monroe) who is lodging temporarily in the apartment upstairs.

9. Forrest Gump (1994). The story follows the life of Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) and the love of his life, Jenny (Robin Wright). The film chronicles his accidental experiences with some of the most important people and events in America from the late 1950s through the 1970s, including a meeting with Elvis Presley, JFK, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, John Lennon and many more famous faces. It carries a feeling of summer love that suits the season.

10. Rear Window (1954). The scorching summer heat plays a catalyst for the story that unfolds. Thanks to a broken leg, wheelchair-bound photographer (Jimmy Stewart) spies on his neighbors from his apartment window to pass the time, and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. Eventually, he ropes his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) into snooping with him. It’s an essential must-see Hitchcock film and among my personal favorites.

So let’s have it… What’s your favorite flick to watch during the summer?

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