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Books We're Buying With Our Tax Refunds

Hopefully your financial records are a little more up to date than this...(image via flickr)

Tax season is almost totally upon us, and what better way to spend your hard-won tax refund than on sweet, sweet works of literature? We here at Quirk made lists and checked them twice for all the books we'll cash in on when the refund check arrives.

BRETT COHENThe Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
This is one of the first books I remember having to read for high school and actually enjoying.  After enjoying a string of recent YA hits like The Hunger Games and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, it might be good to revisit a favorite book from when I was actually a young adult.

BLAIR THORNBURGH: Okay, there is no way I could EVER afford this, because facsimiles are major $$, but in an ideal world...a full-color reproduction of the Lindisfarne Gospels. (Have you been watching Vikings? That book is beautiful). the real world, I'll probably go for something like Terry Jones' Medieval Lives (because Monty Python! And the Middle Ages!)

MARI KRASKERod: The Autobiography by Rod Stewart. Not kidding. I probably wouldn’t buy this book unless I had extra cash. But I love Rod Stewart and am pretty much only reading non-fiction these days. I heard it was good read and filled with lots of scandalous gossip on 70s Brit music giants. Besides, who wouldn’t want to know what the hell happened to someone like Rod Stewart in the 80s? I would, that’s for sure. Thanks tax refund!

NICOLE DE JACKMO: Lately I've been patronizing the awesome Free Library instead of buying books. And although I'm not getting a refund, thankfully I don't owe money--so that's cause for celebration! I'll be celebrating by buying a copy of "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home". Summer's just around the corner and I can't think of a better way to prepare for it than making delicious ice cream.

ERIC SMITH: I've been swooning over box sets featuring hardcover copies of my favorite YA novels. I'll likely be picking up the John Green box set, or maybe Ally Condie's Matched trilogy

Game-of-Thrones-ify Your Name with the Power of Palaeography!

That's Miss Dragon Girl to you, pal.


Admit it: you wish your name were more interesting. A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but a Daenerys just wouldn’t sound as awesome if she were a Dana (no offense, of course, to the Danas of the world—I’m sure you’re all lovely people).

Westerosians get names full of weird letters and strange spellings, but we normals are saddled with names that are...kinda boring. Luckily, English has a vast, rich, and totally weird history of being spelled completely differently, once upon a time. Forget your first pet’s name or the name of the street where you grew up—all you need to spiff up your moniker are a few forgotten graphemes. Swap out the appropriate sounds in your name for their ancient equivalent and you’ll be mistaken for an Enya album in no time.

How to Make Whipped Cream by Hand (With a Food Quiz!)

Fresh, homemade whipped cream is one of Life’s Best Things. It’s the Kate Middleton of dessert toppings – rich, sweet, and lightweight. Fresh whipped cream is so good that the only reason I can think for it not being including in Maria’s favorite things in “The Sound of Music” is that Maria must have been lactose intolerant. Poor fraulein.

Books Save Lives: An Ode to YA’s Realistic Depiction of Tragedy

Image via HuffPostBooks

I want you to think back to when you were sixteen. What did you listen to? What did you read? What hobbies did you have, and what did you and your friends do on the weekends? Did you ever fight with your parents? Did you ever have a break-up that felt like the world was going to fall to pieces that second? Were you ever told “you’ll get over it, it’s no big deal” whenever you were upset about something? Did you ever keep secrets from family or friends, and it ate at you late at night and it made you feel small and all alone?

Whether or not you were a good kid with excellent grades and no drug record, chances are you knew someone who struggled in school, struggled with friends and grades, probably smoked, maybe they experimented, maybe they even took risks. And if you didn’t know someone in real life, you knew a fictional character that experienced all of that, and it opened your eyes to hardships in life.
Young adult books teach, young adult books say “You’re not alone,” young adult books mirror reality. And it’s because of this terrifyingly perfect, realistic depiction of teen tragedy that several adults ban these books.
The YA genre is not only for escapism, but also a place of comfort, a home for those who feel they have nowhere to turn, that no one understands. Many YA authors are successful because their readership responds to realistic depictions of teen issues, such as death, sex, and drugs. This kind of story isn't one-size-fits-all teens, but it can be a powerful presence for the teens that do experience some of life’s more horrific events. Teenagers want to read this. As Kerry Winfrey says in her article “Can YA Books Ever Be ‘Inappropriate'":
I didn’t want to read a sanitized, pre-screened selection of books where no one ever used profanity and the characters always made the right decisions, where no one ever got hurt and people never behaved badly. I wanted to read about real life and the real world.
I’m not a teenager anymore, but I’d be willing to bet that teenagers today still feel the same way. Assuming that kids can’t handle books about intense, upsetting, controversial topics is worse than just silly, it’s insulting. Kids aren’t stupid. They know every story doesn’t have a happy ending—not in real life, anyway.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48% of teen deaths are caused by unintentional injuries, and 73% of those injuries were from vehicle accidents. 11% of deaths are from suicide, and 6% are from cancer. Teen sexual abuse is rather high, as well. According to Teen Help, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by the age of 18, and 70% of those teens know the abuser. 69% of the abuse occurs in the home, suggesting correctly that abuser is typically a member of the family.
Through fiction, YA literature allows the goody-two-shoeses and star athletes to sympathize with the girl or boy in the back of the classroom, silent and misunderstood, holing up their problems and blaming themselves for sad events that have happened to them. Learning about hardship and suffering is safest through a book--what parent would rather have their child experience suffering first-hand?
With these statistics in mind, let’s take a look at six best-selling YA books that respect the intelligence of the reader, move the reader, and accurately portray teen tragedy.

Worst-Case Wednesday: How to Prevent A Club From Flying out of Your Hand

Image via Flickr

Let’s face this fact right now: I sweat, you sweat, we all sweat, and anyone who says otherwise is lying.

It’s uncomfortable, it’s embarrassing, and unless you’re a workout-aholic, it’s hard to come to terms with this unglamorous aspect of the human body. If you're into competitive sports, good for you! You’re probably already well aware that sweating goes hand in hand with the sports you play. If you’re not particularly athletically-inclined, then you need to understand how to combat an overabundance of sweat so that you can go out and do normal things with normal people. There’s nothing more embarrassing, for example, than accidentally throwing a bowling ball behind you instead of in front of you because your hands were sweating so badly.

Golf, like bowling, requires a non-sweaty grip to maintain success in the sport. A pair of sweaty palms can lead to an embarrassing sports mishap that leaves you humiliated. Luckily, The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Golf has you covered for all scenarios, from minor moisture control to remedying a torrential onslaught of sweat.

How to Read Like a Kid Again

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Do you remember what reading was like as a kid? Making weekly trips to the library to pick out ANY BOOK that you wanted. Intensively listening as someone read a story out loud to you and your peers. Looking in wonder at the pictures that went along with the words.

Even if you're an avid reader now, there's no denying that reading was a lot more enjoyable back then. Thankfully, that magic isn't gone. Here are five ways to tap into your inner child and make that next book on your to-read list a little more exceptional.


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