Lovely Ladies of Literature — Literacy Month Edition

In a fairytale world where more and more little girls seem to be more interested in playing the “princess” than perusing the public library, we’re taking some time to honor women who, for some reason, haven’t managed to break through the doll and dress up aisle. Here we present a first, and hopefully not last, edition of the Lovely Ladies of Literature.

I must confess, this is my personal list of women writers who either inspired, frustrated or empowered me during my child and young adult-hood. I know the list of possible LLoL pageant contestants, those who are deserving of being included, is practically infinite. I encourage you all to create your OWN list by commenting below with a LLoL of your own. But, back to me– why did I single out these women? It wasn’t because I wanted to dress like them, wear make up like them, talk, walk or curtsy like them; it was that I wanted to live in the worlds they created. Or, perhaps I wanted to ask them WHY? Why would you write what I just read? I closed a book wanting to call them and challenge them about their plots and characters and process, or yell at them for something I thought was unjust. I had comfort, as I grew older knowing  that, even if I disagreed with them, I learned from them. I wanted to stand united with them knowing that they faced a tough road.

I wanted to travel that road myself – to create, challenge, or make another little girl think – to help a young lady understand that it isn’t a fashion magazine or a pink and purple sparkly dress that can define her femininity and spirit–  it  is a mind, a pen and paper.

So, here are our Literacy Month Lovely Ladies of Literature:

             

Row 1: Judy Blume, Willa Cather, Jane Austen; Row 2: Ursula LeGuin, Mary Shelley, Louisa May Alcott; Row 3: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madeline L’Engle, Margaret Atwood; Row 4: J.K. Rowling, Shirley Jackson, the Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne)

Can you play dress up for the mind? If I could, I would want my mind to look like these.

Becky is Marketing Communications Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @bexican75.

Books We’re Looking Forward to this September

When I was looking over the publication schedule for September, I noticed something really exciting. A highly anticipated new book is scheduled for release every week! From J.K. Rowling to Ken Follett, there’s a book on this list for all lovers of fiction.
 
September 4:
NW by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith’s first book in seven years is a love letter to Northwest London. It follows four separate characters – Leah, Felix, Natalie and Nathan – who all grew up in the same place in London, Caldwell and now continue on about their adult lives. This novel brings to light the fact that London is a complicated place, as are the people that live there. It’s beautiful, but brutal. NW is such a lovely novel, it is definitely worth the challenge of reading it with its stream of consciousness narrative.  
 
September 11:
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

Telegraph Avenue is the story of two families – one black and one white – whose lives are twisted together as they are falling apart. The patriarchs of the family, Nat and Archy, work at a record store that is going under. The matriarchs, Gwen and Aviva, are midwives who are being sued after a birth gone wrong. As their lives are all falling apart, they start to realize how they need each other. The way that Chabon weaves both words and stories together is just beautiful. This novel solidifies my belief that Michael Chabon is one of the greatest authors of our time.
 
September 18:
Winter of the World by Ken Follett

There are a few authors that every bookstore seems to carry no matter what. Ken Follett is one of them. Winter of the World, a continuation of the first novel in the series, picks up right where Fall of Giants left off — with the rise of the Third Reich and the beginning of World War II, following the same five families from America, Germany, Russia, England and Wales. This epic novel can be a little daunting at first, given its massive size, but once you get into it, the pages seem to fly by and there’s no putting it down.
 
September 27:
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

While most of the details of this novel are being kept top secret until its debut, there is still tons of excitement surrounding its release. Pretty much all anyone knows about this book is the cover and the general synopsis –– in the tiny town of Pagford, nothing will ever be the same again. Barry Fairweather has died in his early forties and left Pagford at war over many things, including his seat on the parish council. This will be Rowling’s first adult book and we are all on the edge of our seats awaiting its debut!
 
Which novel are you most excited about this September? – Kristen B.

Kristen B. is Buyer’s Assistant at Half Price Books Distribution Center.
You can follow her on Twitter at @kbev302.

A Toast to J.K. Rowling

Here at HPB, we are huge fans of J.K. Rowling and her ever-popular Harry Potter series.
In honor of her birthday, we celebrate in true muggle fashion with a glass of Butterbeer.
Butterbeer is a deliciously frothy drink of sweet butterscotch and cream.
Here’s what you will need to make your own:

BUTTERBEER

1 cup – ice cream
1 cup – crushed ice
1- 12 oz – bottle of cream soda or club soda
1/2 cup – butterscotch ice cream topping
Whipped cream and cinnamon for topping (optional)

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Top with whipped cream and cinnamon.

CHEERS!

Stop by our stores or online, pick-up the whole Harry Potter collection and curl up with a nice cup of Butterbeer.

 

So let’s hear it, what is your favorite Harry Potter treat?

– Stephanie (muggle crafter)

J.K. Rowling + the Nobel Prize Debate

A couple weeks ago Jeff O’Neal of Book Riot wrote a provocative article which started the discussion about J.K. Rowling as a writer deserving of the title Nobel Laureate. It has gotten the literary community stirring with quite a debate.

The Nobel prize often brings underdogs of literature into the limelight much in the same way that Sundance calls our attention to often under-rated, independent films. Alfred Nobel intended for this prestigious award to recognize “literary excellence.” But who says literary excellence can’t take the form of mass-market fiction? If J.R.R. Tolkien couldn’t receive the award after being nominated by C.S. Lewis in 1961, then who? Setting aside artistic and subjective elements, shouldn’t literature which is beloved by millions of readers across many generations stand a chance?

At HPB, we applaud authors who spark imaginations and ignite a passion for reading. So while the bar may be set a little too high for J.K. Rowling to win a Nobel prize for her contribution to literature, we believe she deserves our praise. After all, she’s inspired a new generation of readers. And writers, too. And the characters she created in her books will live on for generations to come.

What do you think? What author do you think deserves the Nobel Prize for Literature?

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

Good Mourning: A No-Spoiler “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows” Review

I am indeed in mourning, whilst I choke down the first of several large lattes with a glassy stare at my computer screen. I knew last night would be difficult, but I didn’t know it would evoke such emotion. I realized I was not alone when only a few minutes into the midnight premiere, I heard my fellow movie-goers choking back the tears as we ended our journeys together. I wonder if they were still teary-eyed on their commutes to work today?

I could quibble over details about changes between the book and the movie, but I am sure there are better Potter-ologists than me in the world. I am consoled by the fact that all Deathly Hallows book-to-movie changes were met with J.K. Rowling’s stamp of approval, and, as a reader and movie-watcher, the story wraps up quite well: Hope prevails. Most importantly, love, friendship and loyalty are the most important things in life– which is what that lonely tousle-headed boy with a scar sought from the beginning, and that is what the boy-turned-man is surrounded with in the end.  

On a scale of one to legendary, the book and movie series scores a big, bold EPIC. Who knows if in 10 or 20 years the cinematic world will find the technology dated, but the story continues in the hearts of young readers for generations.

The midnight premiere atmosphere: It is redundant to say it was magical, but it was. There were ample laughter, giggles and many tears as well as plenty of cheers, fist pumps, and colorful exclamations.

Last impressions from the supporting cast: Neville is a rock star, I’d put Molly Weasly up against any hockey mom with or without lipstick, Professor McGonagall is my home girl and Snape…oh, Snape.

Happy Tears, Wizards and Witches– Becky