40 Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

You know that book. The one you read in one or two sittings. The one you practically swallowed whole. What an exhilarating experience –– to be so captivated by a book that you cannot bear to do anything until you get to the last page!

I polled our ~3,000 HPB Bibliomaniacs around the country about which books they devoured. And they had much to say on the topic. So, if you’ve never read them, give these books a try. Without further ado, here are 40 Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down.

                                      
There seems to be something for everyone on this list — mystery, romance, biography, contemporary literature, classics, even paranormal. So, did your favorite quick read make the list? Add yours to our list by making a quick comment below.

— Julie

Books for Your 2012 New Year’s Resolution

With the start of a new year, one can feel renewed with hope. Or, perhaps motivation. It’s a chance to better yourself, to start new habits or quit old ones. To pick up a new hobby or challenge yourself to face your fears. There’s a wealth of inspiration in store for you at Half Price Books. Check out some of these nonfiction titles to help you with your New Year’s Resolutions.

Books to steer your health, diet and fitness…

   

Books to better your business or inspire your career path…

Books for self-improvement and relationships…

   

Or, perhaps you’re too hard on yourself. Or, life’s been a little too hard on you. If so, here’s to more laugh-out-loud laughter this year!

Books to help you lighten up and live a little…

  

Happy New Year!

May it be a resolute 2012!

— Meredith

Judging a Book by its Cover: The Best of 2011

Bookstores are eye candy. Art is on every shelf, in every nook and cranny. “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” or so the saying goes. I beg to differ. I do it all the time. And I’d venture to say you do too. Mere moments – that’s all it takes for you to react to the colors, typography and imagery. Good design can make the difference between you picking up the book and passing it by.

Here’s my round-up of 50 of the best book cover designs to hit the shelves in the past year. Some are New York Times bestsellers while some are lesser known titles. But all in all – between the reprinted classics and modern lit released in 2011 – there’s a wealth of eye-catching book cover designs. 

 
 
   
   
   
  
   
   
  
 

 

Which is your fave? What book did you read this year because the cover caught your eye?

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

5 Holiday Movies to Rev Up Your Holiday Cheer

Thanksgiving is only days away and that means the start of the holiday season– and with that, holiday movies! This is a great time for movies; some of the big Oscar contenders will be hitting the theaters and there are always a list of holiday favorites that just need to be watched. Without fail, each year, we break out a stack of holiday DVDs to get in the spirit. Here are my house’s Top 5 Holiday Movies:

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

How can this not be at the top of everyone’s list? Frank Capra has created a timeless holiday classic starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. This classic takes a look at a business man who, while contemplating suicide, is visited by an angel who shows him what a difference he has made for his family and those around him. A very heart warming holiday classic! And if you don’t own it on DVD, you can count on NBC to air it on TV after the Thanksgiving Day parade.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

It’s good to have a little off-beat fun for the holidays. Bridget Jones’s Diary is very funny with a well written script that will have you laughing the entire time. Renee Zellwegger plays Bridget Jones, who has started keeping a diary and promised herself to always tell the complete truth. Things get interesting when she starts dating her disreputable boss, played by Hugh Grant. Enter Academy Award winner Colin Firth as the mild mannered, engaged-to-be-married Mark Darcy, who starts falling for one time neighbor Ms. Jones. If you have never seen this laugh-a-minute movie, I suggest you put it on your holiday movie list.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Holiday movies include Thanksgiving, and this is THE Thanksgiving movie. Family man Neal Page, played by Steve Martin,  just wants to get home for Thanksgiving. After his flight is canceled, he meets Del Griffith, played by John Candy. Going the same direction, they decide to take the trek together to get home for Thanksgiving by what ever means necessary. Of course they are polar opposites, as Del is never short on conversation and bad jokes– so you can imagine the hilarity that ensues between these two great comedians! A must see classic for turkey day!

Home Alone (1990)

This is the film that made kid star Macauley Culkin. Kevin has been accidentally left at home while his family is off to spend the holidays in France. He milks having the house to himself for all it’s worth, ordering pizza, jumping on the bed . . . every kid’s dream. Discovering that there are two burglars trying to rob the supposedly empty home, he rigs the house with makeshift booby-traps to fend them off. This  fun holiday movie was directed by Chris Columbus (Mrs Doudtfire, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) and written by legend John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.) Note: This 90s classic is now available on Blu-Ray.

A Christmas Story (1983)

Ok, this one is worth watching, even if you are tired of the 24 hour Christmas Story marathons on Christmas Day. This is a fun story about Ralphie, who wants  only one thing for Christmas: an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle! There is something everyone can relate to in this film, whether it is awkward gifts, bullies at school, Christmas dinner or using profanity for the first time. This is a great holiday movie for the entire family!

What is your family’s holiday movie tradition? Your favorite holiday flick?

— Jim

Young Adult Library Services Association 2011 Teen’s Choice Nominees

It’s time to vote for the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Teen’s Top Ten, a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books from the previous year. Every year, 30+ publishers send recent young adult titles to teen book discussion groups in libraries and schools across the country. These groups evaluate the books and nominate their favorites for YALSA’s Teen’s Top Ten list. Being a big fan of previous winners – like Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and Twilight by Stephenie Meyer – I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth (no pun intended) into this year’s list. Of the twenty-five nominees, here are my two favorite picks for the YALSA Teen’s Top Ten.

before i fall by Lauren Oliver

Sam, a popular senior girl at Thomas Jefferson High School, gets into a car accident coming home from a party and dies, but instead of a white light or pearly gates, she wakes up in her own bedroom and must live through the day of her death again. Now, she is stuck in a loop and every time she goes to sleep, she wakes up the morning of her accident, and every day she discovers something new about herself, about her accident and about how her actions affect other people. A definite must read, with an ending I didn’t expect. Be prepared for a few tears.

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

The second book in the Leviathan series, continues the adventures of Deryn/Dylan, a girl (Deryn) dressed as a boy (Dylan) serving as a British airman during World War I. Though constantly worried that someone will discover her secret, Deryn makes friends with Alek, an Austrian prince who has a few secrets of his own, and together they plan a revolution, destroy the Germans’ hold on the Ottoman empire and save the British airship “The Leviathan” from the Germans new weapon, the Teslaa canon. This series was my first experience with the steampunk genre, and I can’t wait to read the third book – Goliath is scheduled for release in September.

Other books on the list include I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, Love Inc. by Yvonne Collins, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, the third and final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy. 

Be sure to check out the complete list of the 25 YALSA Teen’s Top Ten nominees. Voting will begin August 22 for readers ages 12-18 and the winners will be announced during Teen Read Week, October 16-22.  

Which is your pick? And who do you think will make it to the top ten?

— 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.