Book Gauge

What DO those brightly coloured little dragons right next to the books on this site actually mean?


Well, every publisher and agent (and bookshop) seem to have a ‘slightly’ different idea of where to assign a particular book, not to mention what age category it’s aimed at, as does translations of said book. Add in what the local library wants to define it as, and your book, any book, will be, all over the place, literally.

Some people are perfectly happy reading books defined as being for 10-13 year olds when they are 10-13 years old.  Others will be reading the very same books when they’re 8 or even 80.

For someone who read Tolkien when they were ten, I’ve never had much luck picking books to read by looking at what age-group they’re aimed at. After all, a good story is a good story.

So, rather than trying to create yet another set of age groups to sort our books into, here at DQ we’ll be using our own system based on comparison with the reading level required. Sometimes this might match the age it’s defined as targeting, sometimes it won’t. It goes without saying that it’s based on ‘our’ estimate and that this doesn’t compare, an any sense of the word, the stories contained therein – only the complexity of the writing.


10 Dragon

10 Dragons

If you happily speed down line after line of “Lord of the Rings” by Tolkien without batting an eye at the turn of phrase and refuse to let the mountain defeat you, then you won’t have any difficulty wrestling ten dragons to the ground.


9 Dragons

9 Dragons

If you read “The Belgariad” by David Eddings without stopping and asking for directions, then you won’t need a map to make it through the challenges of nine dragons either.


8 Dragons

8 Dragons

If you’re comfortable with exploring the book universe of, say, “Dragonsdawn” by Anne McCaffrey,  on your own, then eight dragons is for you.


7 Dragons

7 Dragons

If you can find your way through “Xanth” by Piers Anthony with your eyes closed (though it might be safer to keen an eye out, just in case you’ll stumble across something contradictory, then seven dragons in all, you will defeat to find a new treasure in words.


6 Dragons

6 Dragons

If you’re happiest reading books like “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan then six dragons will be pleased to show you around whenever you stop by for coffee and cake. 


5 Dragons

5 Dragons

If nothing fazes you as you dive right into the “Chronicles of Chrestomanci” by Dianne Wynne Jones and let the magic sweep you away, then five dragons invites you to take a stroll into their world (and promise not to smother you in ketchup).


4 Dragons

4 Dragons

If taking a stroll through the words and woods of “Dragonsearch” by Patricia C. Wrede means you reach your goal on the first try, then 4 dragons obviously won’t be able to keep you from finding their secret lair. 


3 Dragons

3 Dragons

If you can take on a challenge and win by a sneeze, then three dragons will be blown away, leaving the road ahead clear to “A Maladay of Magics” by Craig Shaw Gardner and to any book three dragons have read.


2 Dragons

2 Dragons

If you can handle “How to train your dragon” by Cressida Cowell  then, obviously, a mere two dragons on their lonesome won’t be able to blow you off your course and into uncharted waters.


1 Dragon

1 Dragon

Any adventurer worth their salts won’t let a sole dragon (of any size) stand in their way on their road to the next forgotten kingdom two valleys over, or, for that matter, the instructions on how to get there (turn left at the next statue shooting poisoned darts).

Where the adventure begins

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