What’s Your Story?: Rarest of Rare Collectibles

May 16 is National Biographer’s Day. I’ll bet you didn’t know that! We see a lot of biographies and memoirs come into HPB: life stories of the rich and famous, plus memoirs of the poor and infamous.

But it’s also wonderful to learn more about some of the offbeat, footnote characters in history, and I was delighted to hear about some life-story gems our stores have acquired lately. Continue reading

Best of 2015: HPB Staff Picks in Books, Movies & Music

As with any year, putting together a list of the best new releases is challenging because there is so much great work to recognize. This collection of HPB Staff Picks are the books, music and movies which inspired and entertained us in 2015. If you haven’t discovered these yet, we hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we did. Here they are, in no particular order:

Best_of2015.jpg

BOOKS // 1. Best Coloring Book (for Adults): Secret Garden Artist’s Edition by Johanna Basford / 2. Best LOL Biography: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling / 3.  Best Literary Fiction to Cry Your Eyes Out Over: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara / 4. Best Edge-of-Your-Seat Mystery: Memory Man by David Baldacci / 5. Best Unexpected, Recently-Published 1950s Novel: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee / 6. Best Finale to a Series: Winter by Marissa Meyer / 7. Best Finger-Licking Good Recipes: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime by Ree Drummond / 8. Best Controversy-Stirring Nonfiction: Missoula by Jon Krakauer / 9. Best Euphorically-Geeky, Shout-Out-to-the-80s Science Fiction: Armada by Ernest Cline / 10. Best Historical Novel: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah / 11. Best Children’s Picture Book Grown-Ups Will Enjoy Reading Again & Again: The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin / 12. Best Impactful Middle Grade Novel: Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan / 13. Best Brush-Up-On-Your-Manners Children’s Book: Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony (which technically was released on December 30, 2014 but we’re going to count it as a 2015 release) / 14. Best Pass-on-Your-Passion for Star Wars Graphic Novel: Vader’s Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown / 15. Best Ghost Story: Slade House by David Mitchell / 16. Best Inspirational, Red-White-and-Blue American History Biography: Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship and Sacrifice by Adam Makos / 17. Best Continuation of a Series by a New Author: The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz / 18. Best Revelatory and Culture-Questioning Memoir: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates / 19. Best Start of a New Series: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard / 20. Best Infectiously Happy Bio: Wildflower by Drew Barrymore / 22. Best Impassioned and Thought-Provoking Memoir: Spinster by Kate Bolick / 22. Best Movie Tie-in Edition: The Martian by Andy Weir / 23. Best Dystopian Fantasy: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi / 24. Best Steamy Romance Fiction: Country by Danielle Steel / 25. Best Adventure-of-a-Lifetime Story: The Explorer’s Guild by Kevin Costner and Jon Baird  //  MOVIES // 26. Best Based-on-Real-Events Film: Selma, starring David Oyelowo / 27. Best Music-Rich, Unorthodox Biographical Film: Love & Mercy, starring John Cusack / 28. Best Feel-All-the-Feels Animated Movie for All Ages: Inside Out by Disney Pixar / 29. Best Weirdly-Wonderful Dark Comedy: Birdman, starring Michael Keaton / 30. Best Action-Packed-Dialogue Movie: Steve Jobs, written by Aaron Sorkin // MUSIC // 31. Best Playful-Surprise Alternative Rock Album: Star Wars by Wilco / 32. Best Throwback-to-Soul Album: Coming Home by Leon Bridges / 33. Best New Album of Old Standards: Shadows in the Night by Bob Dylan / 34. Best Powerhouse Vocalist Album: 25 by Adele / 35. Best Hauntingly-Beautiful Indie Folk Album: Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens.

What are your favorites from 2015? Did we overlook the best new book you read in 2015? We’d love to hear about your Best List in the comments below. Here’s to another fantastic year of literature, music and films in 2016! Happy New Year, booklovers!

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

Hey, Mr. President, read these books next!

ABC News reported yesterday that President Obama has packed an armful of books for a two-week vacation with his family in Martha’s Vineyard. Here are the six books he selected!

  

There are some great choices on his summer reading list, including award-winning fiction and non-fiction but what happens when any booklover finishes the last book on the TBR list? You ask, “What should I read next?” We’ve got the answer. If you enjoyed these selections, here’s a list of HPB Staff Picks to get you started on your next book.

Continue reading

Let’s get dirty! 27 Garden Inspired Books for Your Summer

Summer officially arrives this year at 6:51 AM EDT, on Saturday, June 21. If you are like me, this means an extra-long, delightfully sweaty day in the garden. Gardeners come from all walks of life and take joy in creating edible and/or ornamental gardens. And, when we are unable to be in the garden we daydream about it, here are a few suggested reads that will hopefully satisfy your desire and dreams of the garden.

Fiction 1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett • 2. The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman • Mysteries   3. Pushing Up Daisies by Rosemary Harris • 4. Garden of Secrets Past by Anthony Eglin • Poetry  5. Led By The Nose by Jenny Joseph • 6. Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver • Short Story Collection  7. The Garden of Reading edited by Michelle Slung • Nonfiction by Amy Stewart 8. From the Ground Up • 9. The Earth Moved • 10. Flower Confidential • 11. Wicked Plants • 12. Gilding the Lily • 13. Wicked Bugs • 14. The Drunken BotanistNonfiction by Christopher Lloyd 15. The Well-Tempered Garden • 16. Dear Friend and Gardener • 17. In My Garden • 18. The Adventurous GardenerMore Nonfiction  19. My Garden Book by Jamaica Kincaid • 20. The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean • 21. A Garden in Lucca by Paul Gervais • 22. The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf • 23. The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan • 24. The Tulip by Anna Pavord • 25. Bulb by Anna Pavord • 26. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver • 27. Potted History by Catherine Horwood

Susan is Creative Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.

Mission Accomplished: I Read 100 Books in 2013

Like many of you (50K of you, in fact), I resolved to read more in 2013. I challenged myself to read 100 books before the year’s end. And I can proudly say I did it!

Since I work for a bookstore and mingle with publishers year-round, I’m lucky enough to always have a good book on hand, including some advanced reader copies. Here’s a look at my 15 favorites among the 100 books I read in 2013, along with my ratings of each. The first 13 on my list earned themselves a 5-star rating. Keep reading to learn how you can enter to win a $100 HPB Gift Card.

1. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert,
2. The Son by Philipp Meyer,
3. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand,
4. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey,
5. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer,
6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple,
7. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard,
8. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell,
9. The Dinner by Herman Koch,
10. Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley,
11. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini,
12. On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee (January 7, 2014 release date),
13. Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan,
14. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (January 7, 2014 release date),
15. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

 

So now it’s your turn, booklovers. Join me! I’m making a resolution again for 2014 to keep on reading more! Tell us about your resolution (here) and enter for a chance to score a $100 HPB Gift Card.

HOW TO ENTER: Go to hpb.com/resolve and complete the entry form, including how many books you resolve to read in 2014. You must provide a valid email address so we can contact you if you’re the lucky winner. Limit one entry per person. Deadline to enter is Friday, January 31, 2014.* Just for kicks, tell us what books you’ll be reading this year in the comments below. Need some recommendations? Stop in your local store today and ask for help. Happy New Year!

*One randomly selected winner will be notified via email after January 31, 2014.

Kristen B. is Procurement Specialist at Half Price Books Distribution Center.
You can follow her on Twitter at @kbev302.

Judging a Book by its Cover: The Best Book Cover Designs of 2013

Typography, illustration, photograhy and graphic design can work together to tell a story and catch your eye. This year, some notable trends in book cover art direction include handwritten lettering and torn paper. Here’s the 3rd annual round-up of 50 of the best book cover designs to hit the shelves of Half Price Books in the past year, including some re-releases, reprinted literary classics and paperback releases, alongside brand new publications in 2013. Hope you enjoy this collection of eye candy.

          

If you’re interested, here are the lists from 2012 and 2011.

Which book cover of 2013 is your favorite?

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

Remembering JFK: 50 Years after the Assassination

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Those are among the most famous words spoken by John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address as our nation’s 35th president.

On this 50th anniversary of his assassination, we take time to reflect on his life, his presidency, his tragic death and his legacy. In addition to the more than 40,000 books already published about JFK, there’s a shelf full of new titles which were released this year. Here’s a quick guide to help you discover some of the best-selling and most-talked-about nonfiction this season.

(Row 1) Five Days in November by Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin, The Kennedy Assassination by Professor Matthew Smith and David Southwell, End of Days by James Swanson, The Day Kennedy Was Shot by Jim Bishop; (Row 2) Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly, Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House by Robert Dallek, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews, TIME JFK: His Enduring Legacy by David Von Drehle with Chris Matthews; (Row 3) Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy by Caroline Kennedy, Photographic History of JFK: His Life, His Legacy by Tim Hill; and Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio. 

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

100 Books You Can’t Put Down

Oh the joy of discovering a book you just… can’t… put… down. I have a profound memory of being 12 years old and reading the mystical children’s book, When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson (now out of print). I tried to read it slowly to stretch out the adventure, but I couldn’t stop. And I will never forget how I cried when I was finished. I cried not necessarily because it was a sad book, but because the adventure was over.

I have been lucky to read many books I just can’t put down. Below is a list of 100 Books You Can’t Put Down, compiled from both your recommendations as well as suggested titles from our HPB Bibliomaniacs.

(1) The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (2) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis (3) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling (4) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson (5) The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown (6) The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls (7) The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (8) The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (9) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (10) The Help, by Kathryn Stockett (11) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (12) Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card (13) The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (14) The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson (15) A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving (16) The Fault in our Stars, by John Green (17) The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien (18) City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare (19) Storm Front, by Jim Butcher (20) 11.22.63, by Stephen King (21) Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon (22) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (23) The Giver, by Lois Lowry (24) Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradlez (25) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt

 

(26) A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini (27) Night Circus, by Eric Morgenstern (28) Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen (29) East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (30) On the Road, by Jack Kerouac (31) Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld (32) Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts (33) The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver (34) Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom (35) Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett (36) Twilight, by Stephenie Meyers (37) Circle of Friends, by Maeve Binchy (38) Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan (39) Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin (40) Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (41) The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant (42) Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert (43) The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein (44) Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosney (45) The Time Travelers Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (46) Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell (47) The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (48) The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck (49) Divergent, by Veronica Roth (50) The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson

 

(51) Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden (52) The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman (53) Someone Knows my Name, by Lawrence Hill (54)
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd (55) The Other Boleyn Girl, by Phillipa Gregory (56) The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton (57) Big Stone Gap, by Ardiana Trigiani (58) Skinny Dip, by Carl Hiaasen (59) She, by H. Rider Haggard (60) The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (61)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou (62) Teacher Man: A Memoir, by Frank McCourt (63) Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (64) And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts (65)
Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann (66) World War Z, by Max Brooks (67) Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer (68) Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (69) History of Love, by Nicole Krauss (70) Girl in Translation, by Jean Kwok (71) Explosive 18, by Janet Evanovich (72)
Bossypants, by Tina Fey (73) The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta (74)
Siddhartha, by Herman Hess (75) Catch 22, by Joseph Heller

 

(76) I Love Everybody (And Other Atrocious Lies), by Laurie Notaro (77) You Shall Know Our Velocity, by Dave Eggers (78) Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, by Judy Blume (79) Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris (80) The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono (81) The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (82) Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett (83) Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl, by Susan McCorkindale (84) Halfway to the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost (85) Prey, by Linda Howard (86) The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett (87) The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon (88) High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby (89) A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson (90) Deerskin, by Robin McKinley (91) Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn (92) The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger (93) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon (94) The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery (95) Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James (96) Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris (97) Murder on Astor Place, by Victoria Thompson (98) Deadly Sins, by Lora Leigh (99) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson (100) Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison

Do you remember a book you just couldn’t put down?

Susan is Production Assistant at Half Price Books Corporate.

Quick Reads: 55 Books Under 200 Pages

Traveling with books can be cumbersome, but traveling without books is unimaginable. Usually I keep one book in the car or in my carry-on and one book in my suitcase. And depending on the book, it can really start to weigh you down. (Tip: Don’t take Les Mis with you on a plane, even if you are traveling from Dallas to Seattle. By the time the trip is over, your shoulder will be sore from propping it up.)

The answer is to take small books that you can read quickly. So, I asked our 3,000 HPB Bibliomanics: what quick reads (under 200 pages) would you recommend for the traveling booklovers? And they responded in mass. So, here are 55 Quick Reads (a.k.a. great books under 200 pages you’ll enjoy diving into whether at home or on-the-go):

1. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck / 2. Siddhartha by Herman Hessel / 3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman / 4. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway / 5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald / 6. The Pearl by John Steinbeck / 7. Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott / 8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (not the Complete Guide) / 9. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes / 10. Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates / 11. The Neon Bible by John Toole / 12. Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher / 13. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder / 14. Chronicle of Death Foretold by Gabriel Garciá Márquez / 15. The Stranger by Albert Camus / 16. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens / 17. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket / 18. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein / 19. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck / 20. Being There by Jerzy Kosinki / 21. The Red Pony by John Steinbeck / 22. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White / 23. The Awakening by Kate Chopin / 24. A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut / 25. Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan / 26. Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker / 27. Black Orchids by Rex Stout / 28. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells / 29. Animal Farm by George Orwell / 30. The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde / 31. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton / 32. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle / 33. Heartburn by Nora Ephron / 34. The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell / 35. Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garciá Márquez / 36. Grendel by John Gardner / 37. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote / 38. Flatland by Edwin Abbot / 40. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto / 40. Shopgirl by Steve Martin / 41. The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo / 42. Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr. / 43. The Girl on the Fridge by Edgar Keret / 44. Love is Letting Go of Fear by Gerald G. Jampolsky / 45. I And Thou by Martin Buber / 46. Perelandra by C.S. Lewis / 47. Pafko at the Wall by Don Delilo / 48. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett / 49. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George / 50. At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom by Amy Hempel / 51. Lord of the Flies by William Golding / 52. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson / 53. The Quiet American by Graham Greene / 54. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt / 55. Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates.

Now, my only dilemma is choosing. Which one should I take to my family reunion this weekend?

Did we miss your favorite quick read under 200 pages? Let us know in the comments below.

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

Summer Musts for Booklovers + Chance to Win a $25 Gift Card!

Booklovers don’t leave home without a book in hand. Especially when going on vacation.

This summer reading list has something for everyone! Perhaps you’re jetting off to the mountains, taking a leisure cruise to a tropical island, or dashing away for a 3-day weekend at a bed-and-breakfast. Or, maybe you’re “stay-cationing” this summer and need some entertainment to satisfy your wanderlust, an hour of escape while the kids are occupied, or just a few moments of solitude before bed.

No matter what your summer plans are, you need to check out these must-reads. Plus, you could win a $25 HPB Gift Card to stock up on books for your summer vacation. Keep reading below for details.

For a day at the beach: 1) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, 2) Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell, 4) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; For a long, weekend getaway: 1) This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trapper, 2) The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls, 3) If Jack’s in Love by Stephen Wetta, 4) The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes; For a week-long vacation: 1) Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, 2) The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovette, 3) The Story of Sisters by Alice Hoffman, 4) The Secret History by Donna Tartt; For wanderlust at home: 1) Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, 2) On the Road by Jack Kerouac, 3) Life of Pi by Yann Martel, 4) Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

HOW TO ENTER: Tell us what book you’re reading this summer! Just make a comment below and you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win a $25 HPB Gift Card! Use the hashtag #summerreads to tell your friends on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest what book you’ve got your nose in right now. Winner will be randomly selected from blog comments. Deadline to enter 4:00pm CST Friday, June 21, 2013.

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