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Turn Over A New Leaf: Some Books To Kick Off The School Year Right
September 3, 2012
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Well, summer's almost done. For students, it's time to get back into the classroom and hit the books. But as important as it is to keep up with your reading for class, there's always room for another book or two in everyone's life.

Here's a roundup of some good reads, with a good mix of education and entertainment, to take the edge off the back-to-school blues.

george-bang-feature.jpg'George and the Big Bang' by Stephen Hawking and Lucy Hawking

Stephen Hawking wrote a kids' book? Well, sort of. 'George and the Big Bang' is the latest in a series by Stephen's daughter Lucy. The George books explain basic scientific concepts to kids, and this one features an essay by Stephen Hawking explaining the Big Bang in reverse. If that sounds a little heady, don't worry: it's in the form of a graphic novel. Lots of pictures.

one-in-every-crowd.jpg'One In Every Crowd' by Ivan E. Coyote

School can be a rough place, especially if you feel like you don't fit in. This story collection by Ivan E. Coyote is "her first specifically for queer youth." She tells personal stories about growing up as a tomboy in Canada's North, making friends with a kid named Francis, a curly-haired boy who likes to wear dresses, and meeting a group of brave kids at a queer youth camp. According to the jacket description, it's not just for queer kids: "'One In Every Crowd' is really for everyone; it's about embracing and celebrating difference and feeling comfortable in one's own skin."

queen-of-hearts.jpg'Queen Of Hearts' by Martha Brooks

Set in rural Manitoba in 1941, Brooks' young adult novel tells the story of Marie-Claire Cote, a 15-year-old with tuberculosis who is sent to a Sanatorium. It's not a light read - it deals with death and disease - but reviewer Lucy Silag calls it a "careful, graceful novel, robust with sorrow and triumph in equal measure." Can your chemistry textbook do that?

escape-to-gold-mountain.jpg'Escape To Gold Mountain' by David H.T. Wong

The story of Chinese immigration to Canada and the United States has never been told like this. 'Escape To Gold Mountain' is an illustrated novel - the publisher says it's "the first graphic novel to tell their story" - focuses on the Wong family's challenges and triumphs as they try to find "Gold Mountain," the Chinese colloquialism for North America. It shines a light on the immigrant experience and the often difficult history of Chinese immigration to this country and the States, while telling an engaging visual story. It's coming out in early October.

the-turning-feature.jpg'The Turning' by Francine Prose

In this retelling of Henry James' short story 'The Turn of the Screw,' a young man named Jack is spending his summer on a private island where none of his gadgets can connect. No wi-fi, no cell phone, and no one else on the island except a housekeeper and two strange kids he's caring for. Sounds like a lot of people's worst nightmare (how do you check Twitter?) and also the set-up for an entertaining ghost story. It comes out September 25.

Hopefully there's something of interest on this list. But school's about more than just the books you read.

In this video, some famous comedians offer questionable advice on how to conduct yourself this year (although the stuff about patchouli is spot-on):

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