2018 Mad Dash Reading List

You were prepped and ready pre-New Year’s Eve 2017. Your HPB Gift Cards were locked and loaded and you had a slightly uninterested, yet supportive group of friends waiting in the wings to hold you accountable. The resolution? Read more in 2018. The result? HA!

We get it. Work got in the way, sports happened, your cousin’s wedding, tricks and treats, Thanksgiving eats and before you could crack the cover on your first New York Times Bestseller, it was December. No worries, you’ve still got plenty of time…not War And Peace time, mind you. But you can do this, and we can help.

Books are kind of our thing, so we’ve curated a list for slackers, not unlike yourself, who’ve found themselves worse for wear with that whole bibliophile resolution thing. Read on (see what we did there?) to check out our top 5 picks to help you make it to the end of the year without becoming a repeat resolution maker.

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1.What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky: Stories – Lesley Nneka Arimah
Author Lesley Nneka Arimah tasks readers with tapping into the root of their familial dysfunction in her debut collection of short stories. The majority of the pieces are set in post-apocalyptic times, often causing the characters to grapple with the very foundation of their being as their behavior plays out in desperate circumstances. As each story unfolds, Arimah touches on the taboo topics woven into the fabric of both Nigerian and American households. Against a weary, yet at times fanciful backdrop, she brings much-needed attention to the ways we deal with class, gender and death. Continue reading

Books Authors Read with Omar El Akkad


Editor’s Note: We’ve been looking forward to the release of Omar El Akkad’s new book, American War (available April 4), so we were thrilled when he offered to share some of his favorite reads from the past year. Enjoy!

My reading list this year has been wildly varied, in large part because one of the chief perks of loitering on the outskirts of the publishing industry is the ability to swipe advance copies of upcoming novels. Having no self-discipline when it comes to such matters, I have, in the past few months, nabbed every book I could get my hands on.

These are ten of the most interesting books I’ve read this year. Some are older titles I stumbled on serendipitously, but most are either newly released or will be coming out soon.

Sin_Selected Poems of Forugh FarrokhzadSin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad
Iran’s stunningly gifted poet died too young, at 32. But in her brief career she breathed life into the country’s modernist movement, eschewing a long tradition of poetic conservatism in favor of frank explorations of sexuality and powerful indictments of bureaucratic oppression. Sin is a beautiful cross-section of her work, and translator Sholeh Wolpe does an outstanding job of keeping the fire of the original text alight.

Ernest Hemingway_A BiographyErnest Hemingway: A Biography by Mary V. Dearborn
Regardless how you feel about Hemingway’s work, Mary Dearborn’s fascinating new biography is an enthralling chronicle of the writer’s life. The book presents an intimate, immensely well-researched portrait of a man who, capable of immense acts of literary and personal grandeur, eventually falls prey to his own myth-making. This book is set to hit shelves May 16.

SpoilsSpoils by Brian Van Reet
Ironically, given the title of my debut novel, I honestly don’t like war stories that much – or at least not ones about contemporary wars. But Spoils is the rare exception. Set in Iraq and telling the dual stories of a captured U.S. soldier and a disillusioned jihadist, it’s a wondrously nuanced book. Van Reet offers none of the bang-bang breathlessness that so often accompanies contemporary descriptions of war. Instead, there is something deeply human here – a story concerned first and foremost with the souls of those who find themselves protagonists in history’s darkest chapters. This book is set to hit shelves April 18. Continue reading

50 Fiction Books That Might Just Change Your Life

Is there a book that changed your life?

You may never forget the first “grown-up” book you read –– When a reader is at a pivotal age of adolescence, a coming-of-age story somehow can empower you to come into your own. Sometimes a work of fiction can teach you some truth about yourself. For some, a life-altering book might be the one that set you on a new course for the future, or helped you heal from your past.

From a poll of Half Price Books staff of Bibliomaniacs, here is list of 50 fiction books that just might change your life. Hopefully, you will find them as inspiring as we did.

One bookseller told us, “I am a first generation immigrant to America, and grew up with very little family. The Phantom Tollbooth, a tale about a lost boy, made me feel like I could fit, somewhere, even if it was only in the imagination of my own mind.”


LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel, 2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, 3. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 4. The Best American Short Stories by Tom Perrotta (editor), 5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

6. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, 7. The Last Leaf by O. Henry, 8. So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell, 9. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, 10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

11. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, 12. Atonement by Ian McEwan, 13. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, 14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, 15. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

16. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, 17. White Oleander by Janet Fitch, 18. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, 19. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, 20. Foster by Claire Keegan,

21. The Bluest Eye by Tony Morrison, 22. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy, 23. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, 24. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 25. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

26. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, 27. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, 28. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 29. Without Feathers by Woody Allen, 30. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

31. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, 32. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, 33. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, 34. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, 35. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

36. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, 37. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, 38. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, 39. Blindness by Jose Saramago, 40. The Giver by Lois Lowry

41. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, 42. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, 43. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, 44. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, 45. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster

46. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 47. 1984 by George Orwell, 48. On the Road by Jack Kerouac, 49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, 50. Little Big Man by Thomas Berger.

What book changed your life? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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

50 Greatest Love Stories Ever Told (in a book)

Every great love story has a bit of conflict. You know? That moment of angst when you want everything to work out so they can live happily ever after. Life, not just romance fiction of course, has a chapter or two of conflict as well. But luckily, August 25 is “Kiss and Make Up” Day.

Here are the 50 Greatest Love Stories Ever Told (in a book) to inspire you to do just that. Start reading and get ready to pucker up!

1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen • 2. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell • 3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë • 4. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy • 5. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare • 6. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen • 7. Emma by Jane Austen • 8. Atonement by Ian McEwan • 9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte • 10. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier • 11. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen • 12. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Márquez • 13. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden • 14. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald • 15. Cold Mountain by Charles Fraizer • 16. Bridges of Madison County by Robert James • 17. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss • 18. The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mashima • 19. Possession by A.S. Byatt • 20. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough • 21. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel • 22. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak • 23. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje • 24. Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer • 25. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres • 26. The Odyssey by Homer • 27. The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andia • 28. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett • 29. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles • 30. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green • 31. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding • 32. The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory • 33. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene • 34. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger • 35. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins • 36. The Princess Bride by William Goldman • 37. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen • 38. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt • 39. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion • 40. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King • 41. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell • 42. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta • 43. P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern • 44. The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver • 45. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson • 46. Love Story by Erich Segal • 47. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon • 48. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh • 49. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks • 50. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

What’s your favorite love story (in a book)? Your #greatestlove?

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

As Seen on TV: 21 Books from Mad Men

What’s that book Don Draper’s reading, you ask? We’ve got the answer for you.

Everyone’s favorite ad man Don Draper and his cohorts from AMC’s hit period drama Mad Men have been spotted in scenes reading heralded books from the era.

In anticipation of the sixth season of Mad Men, which premieres on Sunday, we’ve rounded up a list of books that make an appearance in episodes of Mad Men thus far.

1. Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence gets passed around among the ladies in the secretary pool. Season 1, Episode 3 “Marriage of Fiagro” / Lady Chatterly’s Lover was first published in 1928 in Italy, but made its notorious debut in the United States in 1960.

2. Betty Draper reads bedtime stories to Bobby from Nursery Friends from France, translated by Olive Beaupre Miller. Season 1, Episode 4 “New Amsterdam” / This 1920s children’s book is a collector’s item with illustrations by Miska Peresham.

3. Exodus by Leon Uris is discussed around the office and read as “research” when Don Draper and Roger Sterling are trying to win the business of Menken’s department store. Season 1, Episode 6 “Babylon” / This 1958 international bestselling novel is about the founding of the State of Israel.

4. While in bed next to Betty, Don is seen reading The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. Season 1, Episode 6 “Babylon” / This 1958 novel tells the story of employees at a New York publishing company, which was adapted into a film in 1959.

5. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is an obsession of Bert Cooper, who tells Don to buy a copy. If you’re paying attention, you can spot it on the bookshelf in the Sterling Cooper offices. Season 1, Episode 8 “The Hobo Code” / This 1957 dystopian novel was Rand’s fourth and final published book.

6. Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O’Hara makes a few appearances in one episode, including being read by Don in a bar. Season 2, Episode 1 “For Those Who Think Young” / This book is a collection of poems by American writer O’Hara, first published in 1957.

7. Betty reads “A Diamond as Big as the Ritz” and other short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Season 2, Episode 4 “Three Sundays” / This novella was first published in 1922 as part of Tales of the Jazz Age.

8. We see Betty staying up late to read Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter. Season 2, Episode 9 “Six Month Leave” / This 1962 novel is an allegory about the rise of Nazism.

9. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner is spotted in the hands of Don’s lover named Joy. Season 2, Episode 11 “Jet Set” / This Southern Gothic novel tells the story of aristocrats who struggle as they lose their family reputation and face financial ruin.

10. Sally Draper is shown reading aloud to her Grandpa Gene from a copy of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon. Season 3, Episode 3 “My Old Kentucky Home” / Variations on this nonfiction title have been used by subsequent authors over the years.

11. True-to-form for an advertising agency, Confessions of An Advertising Man by David Ogilvy is a topic of conversation. Season 3, Episode 7 “Seven Twenty Three” / An advertising copywriter, Oliglvy’s book is well-written and considered required reading for ad industry professionals.

12. Don reads The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns in Japanese Culture by Ruth Benedict in an episode with the same name. Season 4, Episode 5 “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” / Influential book in post-World War II America, shaping the ideas about Japanese culture.

13. Young Sally Draper reads The Clue of the Black Keys by Carolyn Keene. Season 4, Episode 9 “The Beautiful Girls” / This is the 28th volume in the Nancy Drew mystery series, published under the pseudonym. Actual authors were Wilhelmina Ranking and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams.

14. In a moment of ego and reflection, Roger Sterling publishes his own book entitled Sterling’s Gold. Season 4, Episode 11 “Chinese Wall” / This fictitious memoir has been published in real life, containing Roger’s quips and quotes from the show.

15. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carré makes an appearance as Don’s bedtime reading. Season 4, Episode 13 “Tomorrowland” / A tale of western espionage, this novel received critical acclaim when it was published in 1963.

16. Sally and Bobby’s step-grandmother Pauline is reading Where Love Has Gone by Harold Robbins after the kids go to bed. Season 5, Episode 4 “Mystery Date” / Harold Robbins was a bestselling author, best-known for his book The Carpetbaggers.

17. To help learn the language of his new wife and in-laws, Don studies up on The Berlitz Self-Teacher: French. Season 5, Episode 7 “At the Codfish Ball” / Berlitz Publishing is a leading source for language education and world travel books.

18. Megan and Don talk about what his father-in-law will think of his reading choices, while he reads The Fixer by Bernard Malamud before bed. Season 5, Episode 7 “At the Codfish Ball” / This novel won the U.S. National Book Award for fiction in 1967.

19. More bedtime reading for Don with Odds Against by Dick Francis. Season 5, Episode 9 “Dark Shadows” / International bestselling crime writer, Dick Francis’ novels center around horse racing.

20. Pete Campbell reads Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown as a bedtime story to his child. Season 5, Episode 11 “The Other Woman” / This highly acclaimed book is a classic bedtime story for generations of children.

21. The Inferno by Dante Alighieri translated by John Ciardi appears as Don’s beach read in Hawaii. Season 6 Preview Trailer / This is the first part of the epic poem series, The Divine Comedy, followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso.

The mass market paperback edition of The Inferno shown in Don’s hands in the trailer was published in 1954. We still don’t know what year Mad Men Season 6 will take place, this book doesn’t provide a clue. No such luck. Season 5‘s storyline left us in the Spring of 1967. The show’s creator Matthew Weiner has kept the time period of the next season tightly under wraps. Until Sunday…

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