29 Short Books to Read on Leap Day

2020 is a leap year, which means this February we get one extra day to read. If you’ve ever wanted to up your book reading from say, fifty a year to seventy-nine, then this list is just for you.

Here is a list of twenty-nine quick reads under 300 pages you can dive into on this extra day. They are a perfect mix of some old, some new, some blue, some yellow, some poetry, some self-help, some existential and everything in between.

So the real question is, how many of these can you knock out with your extra day?

1. The Alchemist  by Paulo Coelho


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Behind the Book: Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Editor’s note: We are thrilled to feature this wonderful letter from author Chandler Baker. Her latest novel, Whisper Network, is her first adult fiction release and was just selected as Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club pick for July! It follows four women who speak out when their ill-reputed boss is slated to become CEO, which triggers catastrophic shifts throughout their company. This is a fantastic summer release, and Chandler Baker gives us a sneak peek into her inspiration for the novel below!

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Cozy Up with These New Books

Cooler weather, big comfy sweaters and blankets, mugs of hot tea or chocolate and the scent of apples drifting in the air—yes, it’s time for fall! There are many ways to celebrate the arrival of fall, but our favorite is to curl up with a good book. Thankfully, there are plenty of new releases for you to cozy up with this season. Read on to discover our top picks for fall reading, and why they make the perfect read!

This list got pretty long, so if you want to skip ahead you can click for Fiction, or for Nonfiction or for Teen!


Let’s start with some fantastic fiction reads—books that will make you light a candle and drink some cider.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter – Kate Morton
Kate Morton is the master of historical fiction, and this book proves her exceptional skills. Grab your blanket and descend into the summer of 1862. Discover a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe as they descend upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared, a priceless heirloom is missing and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins. There’s nothing better than a thrilling historical mystery to put you in the fall mood! This book will be on shelves October 9.

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11 Military Stories for Memorial Day

As we honor those who have fallen in service to our country, I find myself drawn again to stories about that selfless sacrifice. From movies to books, here are my recommendations of accounts of war I think are compelling and memorable for this Memorial Day.

I’ve been a military movie buff since I was a kid. Initially drawn to films meant more for entertainment than an honest account of war. Movies like The Longest Day, The Dirty Dozen, The Alamo, The Big Red One and The Great Escape were favorites. As I matured, so did my tastes, developing towards more truthful narrative. Galipoli, Paths of Glory, Platoon, Glory, and Saving Private Ryan are personal standouts.

In later years, I joined the Army, and subsequently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Ironically, my taste for war movies has sharply waned. After experiencing war first hand, I now find Hollywood typically falls short of the truth. I read more about war rather than watch it on screen now. Books allow more freedom to draw my own conclusions and at my own pace. Here are a few non-fiction books I recommend as a way to remember and honor the sacrifice others have made.

Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose is full of hundreds of amazing facts and first-hand accounts of Allied and Axis troops from the day after D-Day through the end of WWII in Europe. Another book by Ambrose, Band of Brothers, follows a group of Paratroopers during WWII and chronicles their life-long bonds forged in war. From the same author of Flags of Our Fathers, Flyboys by James Bradley tells the incredible and horrifying ordeal of US POWs on the Pacific Island of Chichi-jima. The Long Gray Line by Rick Atkinson is an intimate and honest portrayal into the complex lives of several West Point cadets from the class of 1966; their journey from school, through Vietnam and into their lives after the war. The Rough Riders by Teddy Roosevelt is a unique historical read, by a giant of American history. The personal accounts of Teddy Roosevelt’s experience in the Spanish American War is both insightful and engaging.

Whatever your plans for Memorial Day, please keep in mind those who made the ultimate sacrifice, even if that comes in the form of a book or movie.

Scott is Senior Designer at Half Price Books Corporate. He still serves in the Army Reserves and will be participating in Carry The Load this Memorial Day.

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.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Booklovers

Happy Holidays! Christmas is right around the corner, which means we have both GIFTS and BOOKS on the brain (since we always have books on the brain). So, let’s put those two together and round-up some ideas for the hard-to-shop-for booklovers in our lives. 

 (Of course, HPB gift cards always make great gifts too, for the treasure-hunting loved one whose favorite activities include browsing HPB bookshelves.)  

For dads who gets lost in sweeping fantasy, creatures, magic, and high stakes . . .

The Game of Thrones series, by George R.R. Martin; The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon 

For warm-hearted sisters who believe in happy endings . . . 

 The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom; Fly Away by Kristin Hannah

For uncles who like their thrillers with a side of bone-cracking suspense:

Command Authority by Tom Clancy; Six Years by Harlan Coben; Night Film by Marisha Pessl

For your college professor friend who celebrates well-written fiction: 

We Are Water by Wally Lamb; Life after Life by Kate Atkinson; The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

For the college sophomore for whom every day is Friday the 13th:  

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill; Joyland by Stephen King; Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

For the niece who thinks the most fascinating subject matter is humanity itself: 

Autobiography by Morrisey; Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers by Valerie Lawson; Waiting to be Heard by Amanda Knox; The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill by William Manchester and Paul Reid; Countdown by Alan Weisman; The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond 

For the middle school librarian whose only Christmas wish is more books — always, more books: 

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo; The House of Hades by Rick Riordan; The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz; The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore; Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney; The Dork Diaries 6: Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker by Rachel Renee Russell; Randi Rhodes: Ninja Detective by Octavia Spencer 

For the girl who lives in the Teen Fiction section  . . . and is probably working on her own YA trilogy: 

The Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy by Rae Carson; The Raven Cycle Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater;  The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy by Kristin Cashore; Mila 2.0 by Debra Dizra; Pivot Point by Kasie West; The Lost Sun: United States of Asgard series by Tessa Gratton; Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor; Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

For the person who can remember exactly where they were: 

Five Days in November by Clint Hill; Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio; November 22, 1963: Witness to History by Hugh Aynesworth

For the husband who needs to know exactly where his food came from — and washes it down with a nice Malbec:

Eat Vegan Before 6 by Mark Bittman; Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That by Richard Betts; The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman; The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays by Ree Drummond 

For the uncle who loves movies, and the Internet, and everything in between: 

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher; How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal and Matthew Inman; What Does the Fox Say? by Ylvis, Christian Lochstoer and Svein Nyhus  

What about you? Which books are you giving as gifts this year? — Kristen 

Kristen is Public Relations Specialist at Half Price Books Corporate. 
You may follow her on Twitter at @kristendickson.

Books About Books Make Great Books

“In books I meet the dead as if they were alive,

In books we see what is yet to come…

All things decay and pass with time…

All fame would fall victim to oblivion

If God had not given mortal men the book to aid them.”

I believe the above quote from Richard de Bury adequately expresses the importance books play in our lives.  Books can teach us about civilizations long gone, as well as the world around us now, and they can inspire us with glimpses of what the future could be.  Some people believe that books are so important they have written books about them.  Here are 5 of my favorite books about books.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke — This book is about Meggie and her father Mo, a man who can read characters out of books and into the real world.  One night while reading the book Inkheart aloud to his wife and baby girl,  Mo reads several characters out of the book.  Unfortunately, for everything that is read out of a book, something must go in.  Mo’s wife is taken into the book, and the rest of the story is roughly about getting her back, while the characters from the book try to take over the real world.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford — While the characters of Inkheart are read into the real world, Detective Thursday Next in The Eyre Affair uses the Prose Portal to go into a book to stop a thief from blackmailing the literary world.  However, the damage done by Thursday and the thief to the classic novel Jane Eyre causes Thornfield Hall to burn down and Rochester’s mad wife to fall to her death…What do you mean that’s how the story ends?  Are you sure it always ended that way?   And are you sure that a Goliath Corporation operative named Jack Schitt hasn’t always been trapped in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven?

The Bookman’s Wake by John Dunning — Speaking of The Raven, the bibliomystery The Bookman’s Wake follows detective-turned-book dealer Cliff Janeway as he tries to protect a young woman who has stolen a rare volume of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven from someone who’s been killing people for more than 20 years to get his hands on it. This book also can teach you a lot about rare books and book binding, even as the reader stops into the University District Half Price Books store while following Janeway to Snoqualmie Falls. (Seriously, we’re in the book!)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak — Since we were talking about people stealing books, we can’t leave out Liesel Meminger, the main character of The Book Thief, a book which is, of course, narrated by Death, during Nazi-Germany, a time when Death admits he was a pretty busy guy.  Liesel steals her first book after an apprentice gravedigger drops The Grave Digger’s Handbook in the snow after her brother’s funeral.  The also steals The Shoulder Shrug from a pile of books to be burned in celebration of Hitler’s birthday  Throughout this book, the power of books to change lives is explored.  Liesel even writes the book of her life story, which is the book that Death has been carrying around with him for years.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury — If we are going to mention burning books, we have to mention Fahrenheit 451, which is about a man whose job is to burn books.  First published in 1953, this book talks about technology taking over our lives and making them empty.  Books became blander and blander due to censorship, and finally stopped selling altogether.  So the government started burning them.  However, some people don’t give up their books willingly and are arrested or killed.  Montag, the main character is a fireman, or someone who burns books for a living, but he is also a man searching for something more in his life.  He begins to keep and read some of the books he is supposed to burn until the men he works with start coming after him.

Now, this is just a sampling of some wonderful and at times very poignant books about books.  There are many others.  In fact, the Assistant Manager at the Mesquite store might kill me for not mentioning The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende.  So, what are your favorite books about books?

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

His & Hers: New Mystery Novels

Looking for a great mystery to read this summer with your significant other? Check out these “His & Hers” new mystery releases and other recommendations for summer.
What’s the point of being a detective and discovering a murderer when the whole world’s going to end in just a few months anyway? That’s what most people think in this pre-apocalyptic world that author Ben Winters has created in The Last Policeman. But not Detective Hank Palace. After visiting the site of an apparent suicide, Detective Palace just knows that something is wrong. He thinks it was murder. And now he has to prove it before the asteroid pummeling toward the earth makes contact and destroys the planet. He also wants to prove that just because the world is ending, it doesn’t mean humanity should be thrown out the window. Be sure you have a chunk of time to spare when you start reading this one, because if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to put it down.  After you’ve finished reeling from the shocking ending with a new discovery that leads way to the next book in the trilogy, you might also enjoy some of these other new dark mysteries (shown below).


Size 12 and Ready to Rock, the newest in the Heather Wells series by bestselling author Meg Cabot, is a fun, hilarious mystery to read this summer. Heather Wells is back at New York College for the summer break, but that doesn’t mean she actually gets to take it easy. What was supposed to be a nice, easy summer for Heather Wells as Assistant Resident Hall Director of Fischer Hall, somehow turns into a chaotic one. The dorm is taken over for filming the reality TV show, “Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp”. Just as the filming is about to start, there is yet another murder at Fischer Hall, the deadliest dorm on New York College’s campus. Heather is supposed to leave the detective work up to her boyfriend, Cooper Cartwright, but she just can’t resist a good investigation. If you’re a fan of Meg Cabot, be sure to pick up a copy! And after you’re done, be sure to grab one of the other books (shown below) in this fun, girly mystery series.



So, ladies and gents: What are you reading this summer? — Kristen B.

11 Quick Reads: Books Under 200 Pages

Some of the best things in life come in small packages, like diamond rings —  and short novels. One of my favorite things about short novels is that most have an incredibly simple plot, but fit an incredibly amount of emotion and even action into such a small package. These 11 “quick reads” are all under 200 pages (in at least one of their formats). Short novels can be fantastic to tote along with you this summer while lying on the beach for an afternoon or during the kids’ soccer practice.

Even at 11 books, this list seems incomplete. What quick read that’s under 200 pages would you add to this list? — Kristen B.

Countdown to Summer: 4 Dystopian Young Adult Series

The Hunger Games trilogy has made way for a whole host of new dystopian teen fiction series to be published, much in the same way that Twilight did for paranormal romance. The dystopian series generally don’t have as much romance, but a lot more action and therefore tend to be more appealing to both boys and girls of all ages (yes, adults too!). Next time you’re in HPB, be on the lookout for some of these series for either you or your kids.
In the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, 16-year-old Beatrice, a.k.a. Tris, discovers that she is not like the rest of the people in dystopian Chicago. Instead of being chosen for one of five factions – Candor (the honest), Erudite (the intelligent), Amity (the peaceful), Dauntless (the brave), and Abnegation (the selfless) – like the rest of the population, she is worthy of three: Erudite, Dauntless, and Abnegation. At the choosing ceremony, she chooses to be part of the Dauntless faction, while her brother chooses a rival. Tris then has to go through the Dauntless initiation process, where she discovers that her world isn’t as perfect as she once thought. Divergent makes way for the next book in the series, Insurgent, which was just published in May.
The beginning of The Maze Runner series, by James Dashner, starts with a boy named Thomas awakening in an elevator, remembering absolutely nothing but his first name. Once the doors open, he discovers that he is not alone. He is surrounded by other boys who were also dumped in an elevator with no memory. The very next day, something even more peculiar happens and a girl arrives. Every day they run through the maze, hoping to find the end so that they can escape this unknown place and discover who they really are and where they came from. if you didn’t get enough of your questions answered by the last novel The Death Cure, a prequel to the trilogy, The Kill Order, is scheduled for release in August. It is expected to shed some light on to how the world became such a dark and terrible place. Check out a sneak peek at the cover art and an excerpt from the book courtesy of USA Today.
Delirium by Lauren Oliver starts out in a dystopia U.S. where love has been banned. The government claims that love is a disease, or a “deliria” for which a surgical cure has been discovered. It is required that everyone receives this cure once they turn 18. Shortly before she is scheduled to have the operation, Lena falls in love with a man who has not had the cure. Because of this change in Lena, she decides not to have the procedure and to escape instead. Lena goes to live in “The Wilds,” where she encounters a whole new set of challenges. The next book in the trilogy, Pandemonium, was recently published, and the third book, Requiem is expected to be published in February 2013. There are also whispers of a “Delirium” movie adaptation.
The Legend series by Marie Lu, is the quintessential dystopian thriller for teens. Also set in a dystopian America,  a.k.a. The Republic, Legend features a rich and beautiful 15 year old girl named June, who is destined for the military, and Day, the country’s most wanted criminal. Day becomes a prime suspect for the murder of June’s brother, and they meet only to discover that they are not each other’s true enemies. The Republic is hiding secrets The next book in the series, Prodigy is expected to be published in January 2013.

Want some more adventure? Stay tuned for the next “Countdown to Summer” reading recommendations — 4 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Teen Fiction Series. And if you missed the last one, jump back to see 4 Vampire Romance Teen Fiction Series to try this summer.

— Kristen B.

P.S. Get rewarded for your extracurricular reading! Kids 14 and under can earn $5 HPB Back-to-School Bucks during the Feed Your Brain® Summer Reading Program. Pick up your reading log at your local HPB today to get started!