Posted in Book Memes, Discussions

Should readers read books outside their own age range?

“Your Noise reveals you, Todd Hewitt.”

First line in The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Welcome fellow readers. I hope you’re having a great day and thank you for stopping by. Today’s post is for the weekly meme Let’s Talk Bookish, which is hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books. Each week we dicuss a different book related topic, and this week the topic is: Should readers read books that aren’t for their target age?

It’s a heavily debated topic we’re diving into today. Therefore, I’ll start with providing a light definition of these age ranges.

Middle Grade

  • Written for ages 8 to 12
  • No profanity or graphic violence
  • Romance is limited to crushes and innocent first kisses.
  • Themes often revolve around friendship, bullying and family.
  • The characters don’t do much self-reflection, but instead react to their immediate surroundings.

Young Adult

  • Written for ages 13 to 18
  • Romance and sexuality are prevalent themes although no graphic sexual content is allowed.
  • The characters are often put in new and difficult situations and the books deal with the struggles to find one’s place in the world.
  • Relies more on self-reflection than middle grade books.

Adult

  • Written for ages 18 and older
  • Anything goes.
  • A more complex story and setting is allowed although not required.

Disclaimer: these aren’t definitive explanations because those don’t really exist. They are just to give you an idea of what I’m referring to when I mention the age ranges.

Now, when discussing the topic of reading outside of one’s age range there are two sides: to read books meant for someone older and to read books meant for someone younger. Let’s start with the first one.

Reading books written for older readers

In my opinion, this is where we run into most problems. As you might have noticed when reading the definitions above, MG and YA are mainly defined by what isn’t allowed in those books. These restrictions are there for a reason, and that is mainly to protect children and teens from content they aren’t mature enough for. I’m not an expert on the minds of children, so I’m going to go much more into that here.

However, I’m also all for breaking the rules. For a middle grade reader that means the parents can allow a book meant for someone older, if they deem it appropriate for their child. They know the child best, and in such cases I don’t think age ranges should be looked at too rigidly.

With teens, I’m fairly certain they can make these decisions themselves. Also, if you tell a 15-year-old they aren’t allowed to do something, you can be certain that’s exactly what they’ll do. Instead, I think it’s more important that teens figure out their own reading tastes and that include reading something they don’t like. I highly doubt they’ll be scarred for life.

To sum up, I don’t think anyone should feel forced to read books meant for someone older, but I do believe it can very educational in terms of figuring out what one likes as a reader.

Reading books written for younger readers

As you can probably tell, I have far less issues with ‘reading down’. There’s no more worrying about not being emotionally ready for certain topics. You can just read what you want.

To more specifically answer the question of the week: should readers read books that are written for younger readers? I think you should at least give it a shot. Reading books meant for children or teens can give you a great insight into the mind workings of these age groups. We’ve all been that age, but we tend to forget what actually mattered at that point in our life. Reading MG and YA can therefore be quite benefitial if you in your day to day life surround yourself with children or teens.

However, if you’ve tried MG and YA and didn’t like it, then of course, you shouldn’t read it. Just don’t look down on other readers who do enjoy it. We’re past that, aren’t we?

To just elaborate on that – I think it’s perfectly fine for adults to read MG and YA as long as you review the book with that in mind. What is deemed great in an adult novel, isn’t necessarily deemed great in a YA novel and vice versa. The result can be a too low rating for a MG or YA novel and that might discourage someone from the target age from reading it.

This section summed up: read what you want but be aware of what you’re reading.

That was a bit of a long one, so thank you if you read all of it. I hope it made you think just a little bit. What are your thoughts on these age ranges? Do you read books that technically aren’t meant for you? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Wrap up

June Wrap Up

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

First line To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

It’s the end of the month, people. So, here’s a wrap up. I read quite a wide range of different genres this month and my enjoyment of them was equally very varied.

I read a total of 7 books which surprised me when I counted them up. I thought I’d had a bad reading month, but I normally only read 5 or 6. The bad feeling might be because I was close to falling into a reading slump during the month. I was reading two books that I wasn’t really enjoying so when I had time to read, I chose to do something else. Then I picked up a third book that was so perfect that I would read until I couldn’t stay awake any longer. That helped me to finish the other books so in general, it was a very mixed month for me. No more talking. Here are the books I read in June.

The Last Wish (Book 1 in The Witcher)

Author: Andrzej Sapkowski

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis: Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin. And a cold-blooded killer. His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world. But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good… and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

A collection of short stories introducing Geralt of Rivia, to be followed by the first novel in the actual series, The Blood of Elves. Note that, while The Last Wish was published after The Sword of Destiny, the stories contained in The Last Wish take place first chronologically, and many of the individual stories were published before The Sword of Destiny (Goodreads).

My thoughts

This isn’t going to be very coherent because I can’t decide what I think about this book. First of all, it’s a collection of short stories so it’s very difficult to review as whole. One of the stories I really liked because it’s was a very interesting retelling of The Beauty and The Beast. And that is the main aspect I liked in the stories. They were all inspired by fairytales and other folklore stories and I had a good time trying to identify each one. Other than that, it didn’t have much else going for it and if I were to describe it in one word it would be: Fine. I will still continue to the read the series and definitely get past the short stories.

Radio Silence

Author: Alice Oseman

Genre: YA contemporary

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis: What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances is been a study machine with one goal. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. Then Frances meets Aled, and for the first time she’s unafraid to be herself.

So when the fragile trust between them is broken, Frances is caught between who she was and who she longs to be. Now Frances knows that she has to confront her past. To confess why Carys disappeared…

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has (Goodreads).

My thoughts

I’m very happy to have read this book. It wasn’t perfect, but it had some very important themes and an interesting way of presenting them. The main characters felt unique and I really enjoyed reading about their dilemmas. I have a full review for this book if you want to know more about my thoughts and it’s right here.

Thunderhead (Book 2 in Arc of a Scythe)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Genre: YA dystopian

My rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis: Rowan has gone rogue and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now— “Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish”, so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline? (Goodreads).

My thoughts

INCREDIBLE! I’m in awe of how well-crafted this world is. Shusterman seemingly has thought of everything in detail in this futuristic version of Earth. I really like these kinds of dystopias that examine how humans would behave if critical things about our life was different. So many aspects of life are changed in Arc of a Scythe but Shusterman still manages to teach us moral lessons. In Thunderhead, I especially appreciated these lessons coming from an AI.

You might think that YA dystopias aren’t your thing anymore, but I’m telling you to give this series a try. It’s not like anything else you’ve read. I definitely need to read more of Shusterman’s books.  

The Binding

Author: Bridget Collins

Genre: Historical fantasy

My rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis: Imagine you could erase grief.
Imagine you could remove pain.
Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.
Forever.


Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed, and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.

But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten (Goodreads).

My thoughts

I loved the last 2 out of 3 parts of this book mainly because of the romance. It’s so beautifully written that I was completely lost in their lives and the story that unfolded. I couldn’t put the book down. I’m not a romance reader so it surprised quite a lot that this was my reaction. I encourage you to check out my full review for The Binding if you want to know more about my thoughts.

The Mark of Athena (Book 3 in The Heroes of Olympus)

Author: Rick Riordan

Genre: Middle grade/YA fantasy

My rating:

Synopsis: Can Percy Jackson and the Half-blood Heroes succeed on their quest to find The Doors of Death or will the Greek Gods of chaos win their battle to stop them? Percy and his fellow demi-gods face the most important quest of all – the Prophecy of Seva (Goodreads).

My thoughts

Well…I’m not overly excited by this series. I’m mainly reading them to know what happens to Percy and that’s it. I’ve not rated this book because I haven’t been able to find a definitive answer to whether this is middle grade or YA. Let me just say that I have issues with the book either way. If it’s middle grade, I think the focus on relationships is waaay too high. The characters are 15-16 years old. You’re not supposed to be in a relationship at that age. What a way to give your young readers anxiety.

If it’s YA, I’m going to bash the writing. The writing is middle grade level and that’s just a fact. There’s too much telling instead of showing. As a reader, you’re not expected to think for yourself. Everything is explained to you which is common and perfect for a middle grade book. Not a YA. Sorry, rant over.

Red, White and Royal Blue

Author: Casey McQuiston

Genre: New adult contemporary

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis: First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you? (Goodreads)

My thoughts

WHAT is this book? How is it real? Does this mean love is real too?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It’s just too adorable (and hot) not to like. McQuiston made me feel very invested in the lives of Alex and Henry and I was just rooting for them to be together the entire time. When we’re on the topic of characters, one of them reads Harry Potter for comfort. If that’s not the most relatable thing, I don’t know what is. In general, I enjoyed the level of pop-culture references. I feel that can easily be overdone, but in this one, it was just a fun element used to tell the story.

I think you can tell that McQuiston had a clear goal and purpose with this book. It becomes a little predictable, but the book does what it sets out to do, so not the biggest problem. It’s just the reason why I didn’t give it a full 5-star rating. You still need to read it though (or don’t if you don’t want to. I’m not forcing you, I promise).

To Kill a Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee

Genre: Classic fiction

My rating:

Synopsis: The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature (Goodreads).

My thoughts

I understand why this is a classic. It’s very impactful and gives the reader an educational insight into American history. I kept thinking that it’s the perfect book to read in school which I also guess most people do. There are so many small hints and suggestions that can be unpacked in a classroom and discussed further.

I don’t know how to rate classics really. I mean it’s a very important book, but I was also slightly bored a lot of the time. I’m still glad I read it though. Even if you don’t read classics, I think you should at least consider reading this one.

That was 7 mini-reviews for you. If you hadn’t guessed it, Red, White and Royal Blue was the book that prevented the reading slump. A hyped book that actually deserve the hype. Let’s chat in the comments if you’ve read any of these or intend to.

Happy reading,

Line