Now that I’ve been blogging about books and writing a review for everything I’ve ever read, curiosity brewed over how people choose to read what book at which age, especially when they are younger and getting familiar with different genres. With so many genres out there and so many places to look for books, I thought I’d put together my own list of when I would recommend choosing a certain book.
Of course, everyone has a different maturity level and might be ready to read certain books sooner than others, as well as vice versa. It’s only meant as general guidelines with a fun spirit — and not any sense of indicating someone isn’t capable of reading something sooner. Since mystery fiction is my favorite genre, I am starting here with the best age to start reading a mystery… and it was not easy… there are so many to choose from! I tried to pick classics to show different styles, but also have a few more current ones. Maybe it should be a “3 per age” with a vote in the future…
- Pick a genre. You can get very detailed and go into sub-genres, e.g. cozy, classic, etc. I’m starting general and may work my way down into the details.
- Pick an age range, roughly covering 12 years. You can add more or start with less, but I figured twelve ages seemed like a good one to start with.
- Pick a book for each age that you’d recommend to get someone situated with the genre.
- You can’t repeat an author within that age range.
- Explain why that author, book and age.
- Either show a book cover or provide a link to the book on Goodreads, or if you’ve read it and have a review, link your review.
- Start a discussion with everyone, e.g. is it the right age, is something missing…
- Tag others if you’d like, but I open it to everyone.
Age / Book / Author
- Age 13: The Tower Treasure with the Hardy Boys by Franklin Dixon
- The introduction should start with something where someone young is doing the investigating, as it will help build the connection between the reader and the investigators in a book. This one offers a good, clean introduction to the world of mystery.
- Age 14: The Secret of the Old Clock with Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene
- It’s only fair that if you have a team of boy investigators, you also need to have a girl investigator. I put the Hardy Boys first only because it was a family doing the investigating… now it’s time to branch out on your own and understand things from the opposite perspective.
- Age 15: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
- Once you’ve got the basics under your belt, let’s add a mystery that adds the fear without being too overwhelming. And if you’re gonna read in this genre, you need to learn all about the potential for ghosts and the after-life.
- Age 16: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
- Families keep secrets. But that’s not the first thing you should learn. Once you start investigating, you need to understand what happens when you don’t even realize there is a mystery going on until far too late… plus there are a few touchy topics (incest, poison) that probably require a bit older of an audience.
- Age 17: The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
- The master needs to be incorporated, as well as the true intentions of a murder. A true mystery, an introduction to the concept of a morgue and where dead bodies go for an autopsy… the stage is set for horror to grow from here, too. It’ll help you determine if you like a little bit of gothic gore or you want to stay far away from it.
- Age 18: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
- The Queen of the mystery is perfect right as you’re graduating from high school. When you’ve got 10 potential killers all locked on a single island with no escape, you need to learn how to deduce the killer before you are killed yourself. You survived high school but now you’ve got a world to conquer without a real sense of who to trust.
- Age 19: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
- Many don’t think of Henry James as a mystery writer, but he’s a classic, and often taught in first year English college courses. This one takes the leap into the psychological aspects of a family wondering if there is a ghost or if someone is just playing games. At 19, you need to be careful who you allow yourself to be around, especially when you go out on your own… time to learn some lessons here about “what you see isn’t always what you get.”
- Age 20: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
- Ah, the classics. Before 20, you’re often not very interested in anything that’s nearly a century old. This isn’t always true, but for folks just getting introduced to the genre or even reading, it likely could be accurate. Yes, many of the others on the list are fairly old, but this one is one of the earliest introductions to the <i>classic</i> private investigator of the 1930s, where the format and formulas were established and the movies were in the Golden Age of mystery. It’s great to kick back and read a classic one weekend when you don’t want to focus on your job or studies.
- Age 21: Who’s Body? by Dorothy Sayers
- Now that you’ve read the hardcore PI style with Hammett, take a gander at the counterpart with the British version of the classic detective. Plus you have an opportunity to to learn more about the concept of body doubles, perception and the art of throwing off red herring clues. With a focus on British government, structure and the slightly cozy direction, you’ll know if you want to stay this route or go a little more dark. Plus, once you can legally drink, this one may just push you there a little bit sooner.
- Age 22: A Study in Scarlet with Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Another fine classic, possibly something you should watch even younger, but I’ve saved it for the early 20s when you’re mind is sharper, you’ve had some solid reading under your belt and it’s time to decide if you’re ready for a true series with multiple film adaptions or you’re more of a solid single stand-alone mystery. Having dual sleuths is an important introduction, too, as well as the art of the foil when you “meet” Moriarty.
- Age 23: Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
- The truest form of a psychological mystery at nearly 100 years old. You’ve had a few of these ghostly books under your belt by now, but this one will truly ignite a passion for how a mystery book is narrated. Do you want first or third person? Do you know who the narrator is? Is he or she reliable? You’ll determine if you want to continue down the fantasy and sci-fi mystery realm, or look towards the cozy or the thriller suspense.
- Age 24: Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
- And when you choose the thriller and suspense route, I can think of none better than something you can relate to… we all have a good and bad side to us, but which will win out? And though Brown’s works are more fun-reads, rather than a true-to-form traditional investigator solving crimes, it’s the introduction you need to the fast-paced, page-turning read you won’t be able to put down. And then you’re ready to head into formal “adulthood” with the next step of books that will rock your mid 20s to your mid 30s.
I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare! Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.