I love seeing kids that age reading on a noisy subway train or in a classroom, while their friends or siblings are squirming all around them. Middle grade books can be told from the first person plural, or be about an old man, or be in the voice of a dog. Though the eight-to age range holds up well as a common denominator for categorizing a book as middle grade, the edges are still fuzzy.
However, many [readers] are ready for the to age group, which is the older end of middle grade. Traditionally for middle grade, characters tend to top out at Howe has refined her view of the category over time, noting that like many people not yet familiar with publishing terminology, she thought that middle grade was simply a parallel to readers in middle school. It is to their detriment to ignore it in middle grade literature.
Rosenthal explains that in addition to themes in middle grade, formats evolve too. But at the heart of it, there is a story that appeals to kids, that speaks to them and matters to them. Some things are constant. At her school, Swan says she has witnessed some evolution of the term as well.
Few things start a Twitter kerfuffle faster than a reporter mistakenly slapping a YA label on a book that kid lit professionals widely accept as a middle grade work. Why do people get it wrong? They also know when a book is too scary or not right—they know how to set it aside for now. And when they love a book or character or story, they embrace it, or them, in an all-consuming way.
Swan is of the opinion that mix-ups on this topic are probably inevitable. Simonsen believes some amount of disrespect plays a role in how people misidentify middle grade. For Norman, the confusion is a case of inside baseball, or inside publishing as it were. Duncan ponders how assumptions about middle grade material and its audience might create some speed bumps in the pipeline from editor to reader. As is the case in any area of publishing, editors and agents have distinct tastes and goals in mind when they consider taking on new talent.
Several editors stress the burgeoning emotional growth and newfound independence of middle grade readers and how that fits into their thinking about acquiring and editing middle grade books. Barney recalls how her personal experience helped shape the adult she has become, noting that the ideals and passions she holds today were beginning to form during those middle grade years. I was at my most impressionable and vulnerable. I remember as a kid poring over the lines a writer had written and posting the ones that had really affected me on the walls of my bedroom in the way that some kids posted pictures of their idols.
Many psychologists have their doubts, partly because the U-curve is a statistical regularity that emerges from large data sets, and psychologists prefer to study actual people, whether individually or in experimental groups, and ideally across their whole lives. In recent work, however, U-curve researchers have begun to find evidence that is harder to dismiss as mere statistical correlation. Oswald, Terence Cheng, and Nattavudh Powdthavee have found the U-curve in four longitudinal data sets from three countries: an important kind of evidence, because it traces the lived experiences of individuals over time, rather than comparing people of various ages in a statistical snapshot.
Zookeepers, researchers, and other animal caretakers filled out a questionnaire rating the well-being of their primate charges more than captive chimps and orangutans in Australia, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and the United States. I think where the evidence points is this: being satisfied is perfectly possible in midlife, but for a great many of us it is harder. That is how the U-curve felt to me, and how it feels to some of the people I unscientifically surveyed for this article. He said he now experiences difficulty feeling contentment, leading to some of the same self-doubt that I felt: a creeping suspicion that he is fated to be whiny.
He also wondered whether his dissatisfaction has been a cause of some of his problems, not just an effect. Something sufficient for my wife to leave. If I did a deep psychological dive, I might say that nothing will ever make me content. I see life as a challenge to overcome rather than an adventure to be enjoyed. Maybe that will change in my 50s. My friend K. In the past few years, things have turned upward, markedly so.
I measure my worth now by how I can help others and contribute to the community. It was always striving and looking ahead, as opposed to being in the now and feeling grateful for the now. I think I feel a great gratitude. When I am in a situation when I can moan a little bit or feel bad about some of the difficult things that have happened, the balance sheet is hugely on the side of all the great things that have happened.
And I think that gratitude has helped me be both more satisfied and more giving. The same has been true for me. Though I still have my share of gloomy days, I find it far easier than I did in my 40s to appreciate what I have, even without writing down lists of good things, as I had to resort to doing a decade ago. It certainly helps that my pet cause, gay marriage, has met with success, and that I myself achieved legal marriage at age But something has changed inside, too, because in my 40s, I had plenty of success and none of it seemed adequate, which was why I felt so churlish.
For me, after a period when gratitude seemed to have abandoned me, its return feels like a gift. Carstensen described to me this pattern in her own life. I feel it now. Of course, the most interesting question, and unfortunately also the hardest question, is: Why is happiness so often U-shaped? Why the common dissatisfaction in middle age? And why the upswing afterward?
Part of the answer likely involves what researchers call selection bias: unhappier people tend to die sooner, removing themselves from the sample.
Navigating Middle Grade Books
Also, of course, middle age is often a stressful time, burdened with simultaneous demands from jobs, kids, and aging parents. I can attest that I experienced the U-curve without dying off in the process; so do other people, as we know from happiness research that follows individuals over time. And recall that the U-curve often emerges after adjusting for other variables in life children, income, job, marriage , so it is not purely situational.
Where was my best seller? My literary masterpiece? Barack Obama was younger than I, and look where he was! In my 50s, like my friend K.
The goals that are chronically activated in old age are ones about meaning and savoring and living for the moment. In my own case, however, what seems most relevant is a change frequently described both in popular lore and in the research literature: for some reason, I became more accepting of my limitations. He used a German longitudinal survey, with data from to , that, unusually, asked people about both their current life satisfaction and their expected satisfaction five years hence. That allowed him to compare expectations with subsequent reality for the same individuals over time.
So youth is a period of perpetual disappointment, and older adulthood is a period of pleasant surprise.
In other words, middle-aged people tend to feel both disappointed and pessimistic, a recipe for misery. Eventually, however, expectations stop declining. They settle at a lower level than in youth, and reality begins exceeding them. Surprises turn predominantly positive, and life satisfaction swings upward. Okay, but why does this abandonment and reorientation seem to happen so reliably in midlife? Firm explanations are some years away. Still, clues have emerged from the realm of brain science, and they hint at an answer that is both heartening and ancient.
Jeste is a distinguished psychiatrist with an unusual pedigree. Jeste, who is 70 and thin enough to look frail until you notice his nimble gait, is no mystic. He and his colleagues use magnetic-scanning technology and batteries of psychological tests to peer into the brain for clues to how the mind and emotions work. Studying elderly schizophrenics, he was startled to find that they did better as they aged.
- Waiting For My Eyes to Adjust.
- The Secret Scroll!
- Life gets better after 50: why age tends to work in favour of happiness!
- Bible Study Made Easy.
That led him to explore how people can age successfully—that is, happily—despite health problems and other adverse circumstances. Steven Pressfield has written this with some tough love, and makes it a wake-up-call for artists. I like to think of Steven Pressfield as a friendly Spartan. Just as disciplined, but not out to kill you in any way.
Curious fact: Long before writing the book, Sinek ventured to find his own why, because he was deeply unhappy, in spite of owning a very successful business. For years, Simon said down with his friends and friends of friends, 1-on-1, for several hours, workshopping their why with them. Only when he was asked to speak and share his idea in front of more and more people, did he start thinking about writing a book. It speaks to your heart. This is a much more sustainable way to find motivation in your work, which is what makes this book so helpful in finding motivation that lasts.
Curious fact: In , Stephen Covey was at an event where most people were preoccupied with badmouthing Bill Clinton, who was running for president at the time. After winning the election, Bill Clinton called him a few months later, admitting he had read this book twice and wanted to incorporate the 7 habits into his presidency.
By acquiring the first three habits, you switch to an independent mindset and take control of your life. The 7 habits are:. When I read this book I was constantly laughing, nodding, shaking my head in disbelief and my jar dropped in awe more than once. Title: The Happiness of Pursuit. He completed it in , which immediately sparked the beginning of his next quest — writing this book.
Riddled with examples, it shows you that no dream of yours is unfeasible , and that, with some adjusting, any quest can be made a reality. The best part about this book is that you can pick it up again, and again, and again. Every time you complete a quest, you just leaf through it again, and will find yourself scribbling down the next rough draft or sketch of your next adventure. Title: Rich Dad Poor Dad. Some people love this book, others hate it.
I love it. Yet, the way it approaches personal finance is very simplistic, which gives you a sense of relief. To date, over 6,! Finding it is easy. Two choices, really. It starts with introducing you to the idea that being the best in the world is very underrated.
The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis
This book has had the biggest impact on me all year. But greatness always entails sacrifice. Luckily, this book also gives you the courage and confidence to happily make those sacrifices, figure out your true mission, smile and return to work that matters. Soon his host received a call from the local police that Sam was in jail. But a great anecdote to show what a modest, relentlessly growing man he was.
After an month stunt at J. Sam then explains how he built out a chain of 16 stores all but one under the Ben Franklin franchise , integrated family and business, started the first Walmart in due to Ben Franklin franchise disapproving of his discount policy and slowly grew the team, until eventually taking the company public in and using the money from the IPO to grow it further.
He then explains various aspects of growing the company into the largest retailer of the world, including employee policy, his basic principles, and handing over the reigns. The book concludes with his idea of giving back and his 10 rules for building a successful business. I highly recommend keeping his 10 rules for building a successful business around and looking at them every once in a while.
Title: The 4-Hour Workweek. DEAL stands for definition, elimination, automation and liberation. The first section explores how you can kill the fears that will inevitably creep up in your mind about applying all of this, for example by visualizing your worst-case scenario. It also shows you that nobody needs a million dollars to live a luxurious life and how you can crunch the numbers in your favor.
Elimination highlights some ancient, minimalistic, almost Stoic principles of productivity, like a low-information diet and how to deal with interruptions at work.
Automation is where the rubber hits the road. On my first read I instantly downloaded all templates, spreadsheets, and filled them in right after reading each chapter. He initially wrote it to answer his own question of whether to pick a teaching job, or go join the industry, and the answer not only surprised him, but also made his choice fairly easy and almost irrelevant. Summary: This book is broken into four rules. You can then leverage this career capital into autonomy, by gaining more control over your work, for example by turning down promotions and avoiding other control-sapping traps, which Cal describes in rule three.
He finally concludes with how you can find purpose in your work, thanks to your new skills and by going on new missions, which you can test with experiments and little bets. This is a book about where motivation comes from , so, need I really say more? If you do, keep reading. Title: The Miracle Morning. Then he breaks down the six steps of the Miracle Morning in detail, with several options and tips on how to practice each in the best way.
The six steps are:. If you read the first letter of each step in a downward row, you can discover the acronym Hal created to remember his practice better: SAVERS. Hal suggests taking around 60 minutes each morning for your Miracle Morning, but he then also presents a 6-minute version for time-strapped people like Four Minute Books readers. He gives a few customizing ideas and options and then transitions into how you can make your new morning routine a proper habit by joining his day transformation challenge.
His optimism seems to know no boundaries, and it spills over, right into your heart. You can feel that he really believes in you and that life has a lot more in store for you. I confirmed a lot of his questions or answered them in my head as I was reading. This book is simple, light, highly practical, not in the slightest overwhelming and instantly actionable. It could help you improve your own motivation tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, the day after that, and everyday henceforth as opposed to just motivating you once. Thus, it puts the power to motivate in your own hands , which is what makes it one of my favorites.
In he taught a class at Stanford, where one student, Blake Masters, took very detailed notes, and put them up online, for the world to see. And boy, did the world see. The notes have been shared almost , times and were quoted in The New York Times, leaving Thiel thinking that maybe this was something to start a wider conversation about after all. The notes are still online, and you can look at them for free.
Similar to some of the other books on this list, this feels both limiting and liberating at the same time. Hopeful, that the world is in better hands than you think it is. That we can rise to the challenges ahead of us. That alone makes it a winner for me.