Best of the Decade: 1920s

Editor’s Note: This year, our Half Price Books calendar once again features lists of books, movies and music. We’re heading into a new decade with a new focus…the past. Each month, we’ll share a list of events, inventions and, of course, books, movies and music, from every decade since the 1900s right here on the blog. Enjoy!

Something cool came along when jazz was introduced to the masses and the literary scene got a leg up from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Get a good look at the grandstanding books, music and movies from the decade that left dancers flapping in the wind…see what we did there? You guessed it. It’s the 1920s!

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The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald Continue reading

Great American Novels of the 21st Century

This month we’re reading The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation comes out tomorrow!), widely heralded as one of the Great American Novels, defined as “a novel that is distinguished in both craft and theme as being the most accurate representative of the zeitgeist in the United States at the time of its writing or in the time it is set.” There are lots and lots of lists out there that attempt to catalogue ALL of the Great American Novels, so we thought we’d start small(ish) and recent(ish). Here’s a gathering of some of the best novels from American authors from 2000-now.



Row 1: Swamplandia by Karen Russell; Netherland by Joseph O’Neill; Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson; These Dreams of You by Steve Erickson; Row 2: Bee Season by Myla Goldberg; A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan; Bel Canto by Ann Pachett; Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann; Row 3: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple; The Road by Cormac McCarthy; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Row 4: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen; Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer; Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides; Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Which ones did we miss? Any on here you would argue should not be considered a Great American Novel? — Kristen

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

Top 32 Popular Fiction Books for Book Clubs

We have Book Club fever here at Half Price Books! Our April-May title is The Great Gatsby, which we’re reading (or rereading) in anticipation of Baz Lurhmann’s adaptation, in theaters May 10. We love these books that draw people together over coffee/wine/dinner to discuss character, plot, themes, and symbolism, and thought it was time to suggest some popular titles. As always, we turned to our 3,000 bibliomaniacs for their opinion on the most-asked-for contemporary* Book Club recommendations, and here’s what they reported back. 

*Note that this list focuses on recent(ish) fiction — we will most likely do additional Book Club round-ups for Young Adult, Classics, genre fiction, etc. Ready? Here we go: 

(1) The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold (2) The History of Love, by Nicole Strauss (3) The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffinegger (4) The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obreht (5) Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn (6) The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce (7) A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby (8) A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan (9) Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (10) The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (11) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz (12) The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls (13) Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout (14) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot (15)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer (16) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

(17) Little Bee, by Chris Cleeve (18) Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson (19) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, by Mark Haddon (20) Middlesex, by Jeffrey Euginedes (21) My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult (22) Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay (23) Room, by Emma Donoghue (24) She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb (25) The Help, by Kathryn Stockett (26) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows (27) The Paris Wife, by Paula McClain (28) Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston (29) The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd (30)
Unbroken, by Laura Hillard (31) Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen (32) Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese 

Which of these books did your book club read? What other titles should be included on this contemporary list? — Kristen 

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

International Literacy Day: Top 10 Iconic Book Cover . . . T-shirts

Today is International Literacy Day! Over the weekend, Flavorwire compiled a list of the “20 Most Iconic Book Covers Ever”, which includes The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Catch 22 (a post we really enjoyed, since the possibility of finding iconic classic book editions is one of the best things about shopping our stores). Several commenters then pointed us to Out of Print, which produces these really cool literary T-shirts, and we had to share:

The t-shirt sizes are in men’s, kids’, and women’s (including Wuthering HeightsThe Bell Jar, and Song of Solomon), and each purchase sends a book to a community in need.

To bring all this full-circle, just yesterday Half Price Books was honored as one of Literacy Instruction For Texas’ Champions for Literacy. International Literacy Day is meant to focus attention on worldwide literacy needs — so let’s be sure to think about those who are not able to enjoy these iconic classics and take steps to improve literacy in our communities (you can start here!)

— Kristen D.