Best Harry Potter Books

harry potter booksAfter a decade of returning to Hogwarts for wands and wizardry JK Rowling finished her fabulous Harry potter series leaving those who had grown up with Harry, Hermione and Ron out on a limb. What makes these books so special is that Rowling managed not only to capture the imagination of a generation, but to allow her characters to grow up at the same pace as her readers. What starts as simple childish fantasy grows into something dark and atmospheric that propels the story and characters forward and also tackles the hardships of adolescence and change. Harry Potter is a fabulous role model for children; the underdog orphan who was kept in the closet goes on to be one of the most powerful wizards in history and embraces bravery, loyalty and friendship at every step. Rowling created Harry’s universe so in depth that as soon as you open the pages you are transported into a paradox of the world we know so well, but it is a world sprinkled with magic and spells. Rowling doesn’t flinch from the death and the darkness which is a brave move for a children’s author. She also blurs the lines of good and bad with complex troubled characters like Professor Snape, Draco Malfoy and even you-know-who. In short the Harry Potter books are more than a simple escape series, they are a whole new world waiting for you. Take a look at the best Harry Potter books and let the Hogwarts express take you away…

phil stoneHarry Potter and the Philosophers Stone
This was the book that very first took us into the world of Hogwarts and Harry Potter. We first meet Potter as an orphan boy who lives with his hideous ‘muggle’ relatives who keep him stashed away in the cupboard and dress him in rags. That is until his eleventh birthday when Hagrid comes crashing through the door to transport him to Hogwarts School of Wizardry. Although this book is without a doubt the most childish of all the series, it is still one of the best. No one can forget the first time they read about the floating candles of Hogwarts, crashing through the platform to find the hidden train and all other kinds of magic and mysteries. Rowling set the stage and it was fascinating from the word go.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire  goblet
The Goblet of Fire was the first book to truly take its first steps into the adult plain. This was the book where Hermione started to care about her hair, where Ron started to feel a flutter of jealousy, and where the children have to deal with death in its rawest form. This is also the book where Rowling truly goes wild in her fantasy creation, throwing in mermaids, dragons, dark forces and a whole lot more. It’s a glimpse into the darkness and a shift to an older plain which is what makes it such a standout book that doesn’t conform to the structure and sense of the past three. Friendships start to become more complex, webs start to get weaved and tangled and being a wizard stops being all about fun as the readers realize there are deadly consequences to this game.

azkabanHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Another firm favorite in the great debate of the best harry potter books, the Prisoner of Azkaban always comes up trumps. Sirius Black is one of the best characters to come out of the woodwork and we really start to get a true look into the dark past of Hogwarts and what became of the Potter family that fateful night. The subject of horror and fear starts to pepper the pages and we feel a shiver down our spine as we read about the dementors who feed on human sadness and we start to see a Harry that has to face responsibly and defining moments that will stick with him for the rest of his life. This is where the tale takes a subtle twist and starts to let in the shadows and leave the whimsical light behind.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows deathly hallows
The dramatic finale in the series of Harry Potter and arguably the best. The Deathly Hallows leaves childish fantasy at the door and takes the reader into a world that is both dark and disturbing and without the safety net of certain characters to save the day. Harry is out on a limb and has to ride the roller coaster of fear, sadness, and an adventure alone, with only the readers in tow for company. This was the book that had us on the edge of our seats, the book that kept us breathless and the book that delivered nothing less than a perfect conclusion to a perfect story, the best way to end a decade.

Best Selling Books of All Time

Sometimes a book comes along that you simply refuse to part with; you grip it like a lost lover on the bus. You sneak out on your lunch break to hungrily race through the pages like a starving man at a great feast. And you are not the only one; in every book lovers home across the globe you can find a battered copy of these best-selling books. You can shyly nod at strangers on the train who pull this book out from their bag. Literary scholars may debate which is the best book in the world, but this list is a look at the best-selling books of all time. It encompasses a range of literary genres from fiction to philosophy, to make believe worlds, books that sparked children’s imaginations and books that have hung around our shelves for centuries. Take a look at few of the best-selling books of all time and see how many you have read.

tale of 2 citiesA Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens 200 million copies sold
Dickens may demand a lot of concentration but this story set in the gray slate streets of London and the violent streets of Paris truly has everything of a great story stashed between its pages. Love, blood, revenge and revolt are just a few of the themes that Dickens makes come alive in his tale that follows Dr. Manette, a former prisoner of the Bastille. Love it or loathe it, Dickens knows how to throw together a great melodrama and although many will claim that finishing a Tale of Two Cities was the best of times and the worst of times, 200 million gave it a go and made it the best-selling book of all time.

The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien 150 million copies sold The Fellowship Of The Ring Book Cover by JRR Tolkien_1
The one story to rule them all is without a doubt The Lord of the Rings trilogy by the late and the very great J.R.R Tolkien. This is the quintessential story of good vs. evil, set in a fantasy world that the linguistics and literary professor crafted and shaped from our very own earth. It’s a story of sheer delight and fascination with loveable characters that will stay in our hearts until the end of time. Frodo Baggins, a quaint and happy hobbit who loves to smoke beside the fireplace is taken out of his comfortable life and given a quest that will change Middle Earth forever. Elves, wizards, dwarves and all living species come together to fight the greatest war that will ever be. Although this is fantasy you can get lost in, you can never escape the human qualities of bravery, spirit and good and evil that Tolkien makes so relevant in his timeless masterpiece.

le petit princeLe Petit Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 140 million copies sold
Antoine de Saint-Expery was a wealthy aristocrat who managed to capture the hearts of millions with his tender tale of the little prince who fell to earth. Although published as a children’s book with gorgeous illustrations, this short and sweet poetic tale manages to encompass the heart, the human condition and loneliness in one swoop. Peppered with philosophy and some acute observations that bind the young and the old, few books have been so cherished and loved as Le Petit Prince in both the hands of adults and children.

dream of the red chamberDream of the Red Chamber – Cao Xueqin 100 million copies sold
Hailed as the Romeo and Juliet of the far flung East, Dream of the Red Chamber is known as the best book to come out of China. With an enormous cast of characters and complex themes entwined in the breathtaking and tragic story against the backdrop of 18th century china. The novel focuses on the Chia family and how their illustrious image cannot hide the deterioration of their household from the inside out. With family conflicts flying left, right and center this is an epic story that will grip you from beginning to end.

then there were noneAnd ThenThere Were None – Agatha Christie 100 million copies sold
Agatha Christie is la crème de la crème when it comes to mysteries and thrillers and this was the tale that really hit home with no less than 100 million eager readers. It’s the basis for all murder mystery weekends that have ever been as in the story ten people, with skeletons in the closet are invited to a lonely mansion where an unseen host accuses each of murder. The plot itself makes great stuff and is sure to have you hooked, each of them will fall but who will be left standing?

Vintage and Antique Books Search

Find and Antique & Vintage Books Online
(120 million antique books worldwide)

old booksThe world is full of old books stuffed into boxes in attics, collecting damp in cellars and gathering dust on the shelves. Yet just because a used book is as old as time, doesn’t mean that is rare or even antique. A vintage or antique book will ignite all of the senses, it will have a certain feel, a certain touch, a certain smell and will get into your soul. The pages may have crinkled and yellowed, the leather binding may have soaked in oils and colors from peoples fingers over the years, and the whole book will permeate the scent of time. Vintage and antique books can be extremely valuable, providing you get the real deal. It’s important when actively seeking out vintage or antique books that you understand what you are looking for and know how to spot the real deal from a fake.

Check the Cover

Even though you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, when it comes to antiques this rule should get swept under the carpet. Antique and vintage books may be bound in luxurious leather for the wealthy readers of the 19th century. However many books have been rebound in leather to make them more appealing, so you need to check how the leather has aged to see if it is a real rare find. Anything with a dust jacket will be post 19th century.

Read the Copyright Page

As soon as you thumb through a book you should find the copyright page. This is your key to the mystery of the books age. All modern books will include information on the publishing date and the edition year. Older books however may not have this information and this is where many collectors start to feel that tingle of excitement.

Knowledge is the Key

Your next step in distinguishing if a book is vintage or antique will be to research everything you can about the book and the author. Knowing an author’s timeline of work will help you to pinpoint when this book was published. You should also brush up your knowledge on printing methods used in each century as many seasoned collectors can tell a books age by the feel of the paper and the look of the text. You should also check that the book has its original binding intact as a rebound book can lose significant value in the eyes of a book appraiser.

A Collectors Dream

If you happen to stumble across the following kinds of books on your journey through the world of literature you should certainly start planning a professional book appraisal. Anything printed before 1501 should send a shiver down your spine as should American books printed prior to 1801. It is also worth looking out for banned books of which only a few copies would have survived.

Popular authorspeter pan and universally known titles that are first editions such as "A Catcher in the Rye" or children’s books like "Peter Pan" are also sure to raise the eyebrow of a book collector.

One of the most important tips you can receive as a book collector or someone interested in vintage and antique books is to spend your life around books. The more rare, vintage and antique books you touch and see and feel, the better acquainted you will become with the real deal. You need to take your time immersing your senses in old books, leaf through them and get a feel for the pages, touch the cracks on the spine and use your nose.

Best Novels

Every writer dreams of creating the world’s greatest novel, but taking pen to paper can prove a challenge. There are many fabulous books that line the shelves of libraries across the world; some have the strength and the power to wrench our hearts from our chest, to crack our sides with laughter and to force us to hold our breath in suspense as we devour the pages.

A great novel is able to take us from the humdrum of everyday life and to transport us into a world where the characters are as real as the people outside on our street, where the landscape is so vivid you could reach out and touch it, and where the plot is so absurdly or simply fascinating that we follow the journey with baited breath. Then there are those novels that challenge us, that lead us through a whirlwind of emotions and that stay with us until the end of time. Choosing the best novels in the world is never easy, it is a list that can be chopped and chewed and changed depending on how you feel that day. However there are titles that turn up time and time again as being the novels that changed the world.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy anna karenina
Leo Tolstoy sat down to pen one of the most scandalous love affairs ever to be told and it took him two decades to tell the tale. The young and unhappy aristocrat Anna Karenina leaves her husband to chase the dream of love with the charming Count Vronsky. This decision leaves her shunned from the social scene of Russia and things start to take a turn for the worse. This tragic tale is literally flawless and reading between the lines you get so much more than a trite love story, you get a glimpse into Russian upper class society, gender politics, philosophy, and the complexities of human relationships. This masterpiece is a firm reminder that the flight of fairytale is often bound by the weight of reality.

lolitaLolita by Vladimir Nabokov
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.” So begins the tremulous journey through the mind and life of Humbert Humbert, a literary scholar with a penchant for a young so called nymphet named Lolita. Vladimir Nabokov is a master of the literary tongue and blends poetry and power into this fascinating and often disturbing novel that challenges the controversial topic of adolescents and sexuality. The story of Lolita is perhaps one of the finest examples in history of the unreliable narrator and this novel has proved to be a cult classic that will forever stand the test of time.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck  east of eden
Even though John Steinbeck is known for his Great Depression era masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath, his greatest novel remains the epic East of Eden. The novel is ambitious and never falls short of spectacular as Steinbeck brings the biblical tale of Cain and Abel into the Salinas Valley. The Magnum Opus follows the family tree of the Hamilton family and explores the struggle of family ties, good and evil and the destruction of love. The characterization runs as deep as the valley and the complexities of the plot and theme are as sweepingly epic as the rolling landscape in which the story is set. This book is the true great American novel.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller catch 22
“He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.” Joseph Heller may have been a one hit wonder but no novel can strike as close to the bone as the fabulously satirical Catch 22. Captain John Yossarian of the US Army Air Force takes us through the mind melting absurdity of war and bureaucracy and teeters on the fine line of sanity and insanity. With a joke on every page and a non-chronological structure, Heller manages to capture the essence of screaming into paper and binding it all in an iconic comedy of errors. The book even coined a new phrase to be included in the English dictionary and has never failed to be relevant.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee To_Kill_a_Mockingbird
The only book ever penned by Harper Lee has turned out to be one of the most important stories to sit on our shelves. Short, sharp and woven with sweetness, the tale follows six year old scout and her loss of innocence in a tired old town in the deep south of Alabama. Scouts father, Atticus Finch, is perhaps one of the most moral characters in modern literature as he stands against the pitchfork to defend a black man at the height of racial inequality during the Great Depression. Harper Lee’s gift for storytelling is both spellbinding and flawless and she manages to tackle some hard hitting themes with compassion and even a warm dab of humor. To Kill a Mockingbird is a quiet masterpiece that will set fire to your soul and leave you smoldering for years to come.

Best Books 2013

It’s been an exciting year in literature considering we are only just putting the sweltering summer behind us. With new releases from time honored authors like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Khaled Hosseini, we can only speculate as to what the golden leaves of autumn will bring to our shelves. This year has seen modern classics like “The Great Gatsby” get plucked from the past with the release of Baz Lurhmans brazen film adaption, it has witnessed George R Martins “Song of Ice and Fire” Series stir up a frenzy and it has hopefully allowed us to scramble up the falling cliffs of fifty shades of gray and put that all behind us. So what secret gems have we discovered this year so far in the wonderful world of literature, take a look.

  And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseiniand the mountains echoed
Literary lovers across the globe fell in love with the stark lyrical genius of “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and the mesmerizing poetry of “The Kite Runner”. This year Khaled Hosseini doesn’t disappoint with his third novel “And the Mountains Echoed”. The series of interlinking stories takes us from a tiny village in Afghanistan and takes us through five different countries in a tale that spans for decades. The reader witness’s war, birth, life, death, love and consequence as every action resounds through generations. It’s a journey that will bring the reader to tears and a brave attempt at a timeless tale that will rock the foundations on which you stand.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaimanneil gaiman
Many will argue that fantasy and Gaiman are a niche genre, yet this novel has been anticipated for years as his first offering of a new adult novel. Neil Gaiman has always had a penchant for the magical and the hazy lines between dreams and reality. A man revisits his past and his memory is drawn to the old farmhouse and the enchanting girl that once lived there in this haunting tale of memory and survival. This is said to be Gaiman’s most personal attempt at writing and the human spirit glistens like the silky fabric of a spider’s web in this adult fairytale.

Transatlantic Colum McCanntransatlantic
Colum McCann has little to prove after awing readers with powerful storytelling in “This Side of Brightness” and tackling the unknown with his exploration of hidden Romani culture in “Zoli”. Yet somehow McCann just keeps on giving and “Transatlantic” is his latest offering. The first non-stop transatlantic flight made in 1919 lies at the center of this spellbinding tale as McCann reaches out to embrace over 150 years of Irish and American history. At times the narrative is difficult to grasp in the palm of your hand as it follows three different series of events, but this turbulence is short lived and the result is a McCann classic, a strong story interspersed with lyricism, poetry and harmony.

Devil in the Grove by Gilbert Kingdevil in the grove
Amongst the sweet scent of orange blossom down in Florida there lurks something sinister and Gilbert King takes an unflinching look at the events that helped shaped the civil revolution. Its 1949 and a young white girl cries rape in a small town. The so called perpetrators are four young black men and the red eyed sheriff is looking for any excuse to take them down and incite a lynching. What strikes a chord close to the heart is this daring masterpiece is testament to the old saying that truth is stranger than fiction. It’s an exploration of the dark heart of America in a time when racial inequality was at the forefront of everyday life and homage to those who had the guts to stand and be heard. The research is flawless and the lyrical approach puts a touch of fear into your heart in a southern Gothic style.

Rare and Valuable Books Search

Find Rare, Out of Print and Valuable Books for Sale Online

What Makes a Book Rare and Valuable?

alice

One key thing to remember when it comes to spotting a rare book is that sentimentality should be the first thing out of the window. Often, as book lovers we tend to confuse sentimental value with monetary value. Sure that battered childhood version of “Alice in Wonderland” may have belonged to your Grandmother, and you may have tucked it beneath your pillow every night, and the pages may have yellowed to look the part, but that doesn’t mean it’s a rare book.

A rare book is not simply an old book, it’s not a now out of print book and it’s not a book that has simply been passed down because of its sentimental value. This is why searching for rare books can be similar to seeking out the Holy Grail or finding the magic lamp in Aladdin’s cave. A true rare book can be like finding a needle in a haystack, but once you have it in your hand, it makes the search worthwhile. The first step to finding rare books is to understand exactly what makes a book rare.

Demand
A book will only be considered valuable if it is in demand. A book that nobody wants or nobody is willing to pay for, is not a valuable book, even though it could still be considered a rare book. Ever since the printed word went into press, millions of books have been produced and many ended up on the slush pile. Many authors have created works that are now out of print and just because you have stumbled across a copy may make it rare but doesn’t make it valuable. In fact an author’s popularity often affects whether the book is considered rare or a collectible. Great American authors like Ernest Hemingwayare highly collectable and if you have a limited edition copy of an early Hemingway novel then this could be an example of both a rare and valuable book. Remember demand is the first step to discovering if the book is considered valuable.

Scarcity
How scare a book is will also determine how rare a book is. You may have a book that is scarcely found to be in such good condition, or is scarcely found with a hardback jacket. How commonly available a certain kind of book is will have some bearing on how rare the book is and will also add to its value.

Special Features
Regardless of the books age, a rare book can be found on the shelves of modern classics. A book can be considered rare if it holds some special features that sets it aside from its printed brothers and sisters. For example maybe this book is a first print edition, or a limited print edition. Maybe it has a different dust jacket or it has additional features inside. All these things can add to a books demand. It is worth noting however, that just because the author has happened to scrawl their name on the book, doesn’t always mean the books value has been boosted.

Condition
The biggest factor when it comes to weighing up the value of a rare book is the physical condition. The book seller will turn this book over in their hands time and time again trying to gauge how close this copy is to the original copy. You need to check the pages carefully to see if they are all there or whether any are torn. Look at the spine and see if it is cracked, faded or damaged or if the book has been rebound. Rebound books will lose a large chunk of their rarity and it will reduce their value. A general rule of thumb is that the better the condition, the more the rare book is worth

booksThese are the basic factors that make a book valuable; demand, scarcity, special ‘one off’ features and condition. For any aspiring book collector these things should certainly be taken into account as you never know what you will find hiding on the shelves of some dusty old book shop or on specialist websites like www.usedbooksearch.co.uk