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  • (Image via Flickr)

    Summer is here, and it’s high time for some good Young Adult escapism. When preparing for this, I thought of all the YA books I’ve read and heard of that take place in the summer. Should be easy, right?

    Wrong.
     
    I quickly realized that all the ones I knew were stereotypically beachy and “girly.” What about the literary YA? What about adventures and fantasy? Where are the male protagonists in the summer? YA male readership is rather low, for a number of reasons: girls in glamorous dresses plastered across the front of nearly every book facing out in the bookstores, girl protagonists in general, immense amount of paranormal romance, and because most boys gravitate toward nonfiction or immediately jump into adult fiction and fantasy. How could I find some books that are perfect reads for the summer and fit every reader?
     
    It was a struggle, so I called upon some amazing people for help in narrowing down some of their favorite summer reads that could be read by anyone, any age. Summer is about escaping the hassle of work and school. Whether these YA reads are set in the summer, the sweltering South, in a far-off land, or packed with adventure, take a break in the sun with a nice cool glass of lemonade and crack open any of these books!
     

  • After spending four glorious days in the Windy City for C2E2, Nicole and I are back in Philadelphia. And while we're happy to be back... Chicago, you sure were good to us. We miss you. Keep in touch, okay? 

    During C2E2 we gave out a ton of Planet Quirk totebags, met new and old fans, and introduced convention goers to Ben H. Winters and E.B. Hudspeth. Both Ben and E.B. spoke on panels, and signed advance copies of their upcoming books, Countdown City and The Resurrectionist.  

    We also saw a ton of great cosplayers, met some awesome bloggers and press folk, and got to know the kind people at Valiant (they had a sax player!) and Topshelf Comics. They made excellent neighbors. 

    We managed to capture a number of cosplayers on camera, as well as Ben and E.B.'s signings. Check them out in the video above, or in the photos below. See you again soon, Chicago! 

  • (Image via)

    Media--whether in the form of books, movies, tv, plays, lithographs, or what have you--has been creating unrealistic expectations of human awesomeness for centuries. You don’t think that people were slavering over Romeo in Shakespeare’s time*? And for good reason: made-up guys are just better on paper (talk about storybook romance!) So, forget real-life dudes. Imagine happy days with the following fictional fellows!

  • 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). But...in 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

  • 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.

  • Image via Tumblr

    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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