What is my reading level?

On Twitter yesterday, I promised myself that I wouldn’t write about the latest article that implies that adults shouldn’t be reading YA books. On this occasion it wasn’t an entire article devoted to that cause, but part of an author’s interview with MinnPost. The author was asked what she thought of Ruth Graham’s famous article “Against YA,” which suggested, like so many articles, that adults should be embarrassed to read books written for people younger than they are. Her response was this:

I don’t understand why adults like to read books written for children. I said that on the air the other day. That’s going to upset people… you’re missing out on some really great stuff written for you as an adult. People come back and say, “But at least you’re reading something.” Well, I don’t think that’s justification enough. I think you ought to be reading at your level.

This author is entitled to her opinion and entitled to state it in response to a question. She’s also right to note that her opinion may upset people, as opinions so often do.

I’m not upset. I am, however, more than a little puzzled.

How can I identify my “reading level”?

Is there a test I can do to work it out? I’m turning twenty-three this November. Am I still all right to read Young Adult fiction, or am I now considered far too old for it? (If so, you can pry The Hunger Games and Throne of Glass from my cold, too-old hands, thank you very much.) The ALA defines Young Adult as being aimed at readers of twelve to eighteen years of age. This means I am now half a decade too old for these books.

When I turned nineteen, did an entire genre really get boxed off for ever? Did I lose the ability to comprehend all the wonderful stories that had kept me company through the tumultuous years of becoming an adult? Did I forget the emotions, the experiences, the memories of a whole decade of my life?

At twenty-three, will I still be considered too young for books about people in their thirties and forties, or written by people in their thirties and forties?

Where do I, at twenty-three, fit in to this spectrum?

Can I only read books within the New Adult genre, which are aimed at eighteen to twenty-five year-olds?

Perhaps it isn’t about age. Perhaps that isn’t what the quote is saying. Surely it wouldn’t make sense for me to restrict myself to that one genre, which was only created in 2009. (What did we do before that?) Is your reading level based on your education? Your upbringing? How many books your parents had in the house as you grew up?


Perhaps I’ve misunderstood. Perhaps your ability to enjoy a book is based on life experience. I’ve never been married or divorced or had children. I’ve never had cancer or held a sword or solved a crime or lived in a city other than London. Will I fail to understand or connect with books that present me with characters who have led very different lives to mine?


Will I fail to understand a story about a teenager – even though I was one once?

Did I lose the ability to recognise a stage of life I’ve left behind?


Everyone has the right to read the books they enjoy. If adults would prefer not to read books about teenagers, power to them. There are piles of brilliant books out there that are written for adults, waiting to be discovered. But to suggest that adults should no longer connect with stories written by, or about young people – can’t read them, as if doing so would trigger an allergic reaction – is to dismiss the experience of young people. To cut them off. To suggest that adults must justify reading these books, that they must be embarrassed by it, is to suggest that there is something fundamentally embarrassing about being a teenager. (Which sometimes there is, as all teenagers know – but trust me, the possibility that you might do or say embarrassing things doesn’t go away when you turn twenty.)

We are a society obsessed with retaining and reclaiming our youth – the dying of our grey hairs, the editing of our bodies, the petrification of our faces – but when it comes to books, that veneration disappears in a puff of smoke. It is one of many contradictions at the heart of modern life. We praise the idea of youth, but invalidate the internal experience of it. Try to look like a young adult, yes, but for God’s sake don’t listen to one.

Some adults are still listening.

The world can be a dark and daunting place. Now more than ever, it’s tough to get up and turn on the news in the morning, knowing you’ll be hit with a barrage of horror and not much light at the end of the tunnel. And now, after you’ve tried to process all the darkness, you’re more than likely to see an article informing you that, in the midst of all this, you shouldn’t be reading the books you love. These are the books that help you block out all that horror and despair, that help you to make sense of it. These are the books that you read late into the night, the ones you can’t stop reading until the very last page is turned. These are the books that make you love reading.

Is that justification enough?


A masterpost of YA books (and a few crossover MG titles) to be released in October 2014.  Check out this month’s new releases below.  Feel free to use this as a guide to this month’s releases, but please do not repost it in its entirety elsewhere.  If you found this masterpost helpful, a like, reblog, or link back to Paperback’d would be much appreciated! If you know of a YA book to be released this month that isn’t on the list, drop me a message and I’ll update it!

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What is love?

Have you ever been attached to someone? Have you been so attracted to someone that your attraction has bridged over to obsession or dependency – and a deep neediness has gouged its way into your heart; and it corrupts you; causes you grief, pain, sorrow, fear, a feeling of helplessness?

We call this love or true love.

We romanticize this sickness because we fail to see the danger of it even after the countless tears, the confusion, the loneliness, and the suffocating feeling of isolation that eventually befalls anyone who has ever been gripped by this mental illness. And that’s what it is: a mental illness.

Dependency, attachment, neediness, obsession are not mental states to romanticize.

So why do we romanticize them?

Well, that’s obvious. We romanticize them because of the way they make us feel – which is invincible. We feel complete security. That is love. But it is a false security masquerading as real security.

Why is this?

We find love at a point of our lives where our mind is already insecure. We succumb to the micro messages of society – we watch as the movies, books, music, people we know latch on to others and we think, “This is normal.” We create a belief from all our influences within what our world tells us.

So our minds are already insecure. We’ve already formed beliefs. And one of our beliefs – which are the micro messages and influences we get from society – say, “Happiness is love. And love is when you are with someone. If you are not with someone you are unhappy.” This is a very dangerous belief and most people adopt it.

So when we are alone we feel that we need someone. When we are with someone then our beliefs are met, and this creates security. However a belief is something that isn’t true but you think it is. And therefore finding security in any belief is dangerous, because by its very nature a belief is false. And if you find security in a belief you will only find false security. You understand?

If you’re in love right now, or was, or want to be then I urge you to look deeply into that which is called love or true love. See it for what it is. See it in others – see how immeasurably happy they seem one moment and how easy it is for them to change from happy to extreme sorrow and fear. See the pain this mental illness has caused people. This is what society calls love; what our culture pushes on children; what so many people dream about and hope for.

This is the insanity that our world has nurtured.

There is no freedom in this mental state – just fear, obsession, dependency, and eventually the agony and pain it will bring.


CCM is pleased to announce the inception of a new addition to our publishing endeavor, WHITE RABBIT. To be edited by author and events curator, Kalliopi Mathios, White Rabbit seeks to publish children’s books that cultivate curiosity and original thinking while, at the same time, stretching the modes of the children’s book. Inspiring readers of all ages to think outside of the box, White Rabbit books will spark imagination by offering a brand of innovation that is often overlooked by mainstream publishers. White Rabbit exists under the belief that children need not be marketed to, but rather provided balanced, beautiful, well-written literature that instills a lifelong passion for reading. The imprint is planned to launch in the Fall of 2015 with titles from Dorothea Lasky and Porochista Khakpour.

For authors and illustrators interested in submitting work to White Rabbit, note that the imprint means to publish books for kids of all ages, with the possibilities being limitless, from books for toddlers to YA and everything in between. Disgruntled inner-child’s, daydreamers, and experimental creators are welcome.

With White Rabbit, we hope to inspire younger readers to use their imagination, to follow the white rabbit to their next favorite book.

The 100 || Kass Morgan || The Hundred #1 || 323 pages
Top 3 Genres: Young Adult / Dystopia / Science Fiction

Synopsis: In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth’s toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland… before it’s too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they’ve only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they’re haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love - again.

Finished: October 1st, 2014.

Progress: 43 / 50. 86% complete.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆. [3/5]

My Review: [Under the read more - NOT SPOILER FREE]

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The Children and the Wolves by Adam Rapp
Retail Price $16.99
Deal Price $2.99
Expires 10-31-14



Barnes & Noble

Printz Honor-winning author Adam Rapp spins a raw, gripping, and ultimately redemptive story about three disaffected teens and a kidnapped child.

Three teenagers — a sharp, well-to-do girl named Bounce and two struggling boys named Wiggins and Orange — are holding a four-year old girl hostage in Orange’s basement. The little girl answers to “the Frog” and seems content to play a video game about wolves all day long, a game that parallels the reality around her. As the stakes grow higher and the guilt and tension mount, Wiggins cracks and finally brings Frog to a trusted adult. Not for the faint of heart, Adam Rapp’s powerful, mesmerizing narrative ventures deep into psychological territory that few dare to visit.

Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing. -Once Upon A Time

I’m sick of people looking down on YA novels because they’re for “silly teens”. It sucks to grow up in a place where the government does nothing for you, everything revolves around money, and people keep telling you that it’s impossible to get jobs and the economy sucks, and then when you try to find a place to forget about all that, a safe haven from the suckiness that is reality, you’re told that it’s silly and dumb. Maybe when they—and when I say they, I mean anyone who looks down on anyone for reading YA, or even books in general—Maybe when they think “Oh, another dystopian novel” they don’t realize that these stories with bleak views of the world are not so different than the way we see our own world. And when they say “Oh, another cheesy teenie-bopper love story” they don’t realize that the romance behind the story is the representation of hope that these people refuse to give us in real life. (And also—who are they to judge TFIOS as “another teenie-bopper movie”. Like, stop being a condescending judgmental jerkface. AUGUSTUS DIES, ASSHATS. Teenagers are a little bit more complex than you’d like to think.) Where else are we supposed to find other teens like ourselves who find a way to transcend their barriers? Other people see a depressing dystopian world, I see someone ordinary like me being extraordinary. So excuse me if I’d like to think I’m not stuck in a craphole. Excuse me for having an imagination. I’m not looking for Dickens prose or Spielberg cinema, I’m looking for a story that makes me happy. People can trash my books, trash my movies, call them stupid or silly or a waste of time. But at least they’re giving me hope, unlike the real world.



You may remember a few months ago we launched a campaign to increase the diversity of our submissions. Well, I took your feedback, and I’m proud to announce that we have three new posters—agender, demisexual/demiromantic, and non-binary—and our bisexual poster has been updated to include biromantic.

You can find full details on our submission guidelines page.

As always, feedback is welcome. I know this doesn’t cover everything, even considering that we deliberately left gay out (about 70% of our stories have gay main characters). If there’s an orientation/identity you’d like us to include in our next round, please let me know. We truly want to publish books that represent the whole rainbow spectrum, and we want to spread around graphics and posters that represent that.

Individual posts for everything will go up over the next few weeks.

Girls shouldn’t fear for their lives when they’re just living them. Girls who are impassioned about their worlds, who want nothing more than to engage with their world, learn about that world, build empathy for this place and the people around them, who use their knowledge and their passion to give voice to their beliefs shouldn’t worry about their bodies—or their lives—being at stake for doing so.

And yet, because we’re asking for and raising our voices without waiting for permission to do so, it happens.


Kelly Jensen (catagator), Advocating for and Writing About Girls is a Radical Act

Make sure you read that. Make sure you share it so other people will too. And don’t miss reading and sharing these posts either:

Author Sarah McCarry (sarahmccarry) - Pleasure Principles

Author Laura Ruby (thatlauraruby) - AO Scott Would Like Another Harvey Wallbanger Please

Author Anne Ursu (anneursu) - On Poisoned Apples, the “Great YA Debate” and the Death of the Patriarchy