Note: Potential Spoiler Alert. I don’t believe I’ve revealed anything about The Hunger Games that you didn’t already know…but I thought I’d begin with a warning just to cover my you-know-what.
About a month ago, I crawled out from under the rock I had been calling home and joined the rest of the world by beginning the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy. As I opened the hardback for the first time, hearing that unmistakable crack of the spine, I wondered if the tale of Katniss Everdeen would be as engaging as everyone around me seemed to find it. Last week I finally came up for air, having completed the series.
When I was younger, I remember blowing through installments of The Hardy Boys books like a blustery nor’easter. I’d pick it up, begin chapter one, and within a day or two I’d be reaching for the next crazy mystery in need of solving. As my grade level advanced, so did my required reading and slowly I ventured away from “reading for pleasure” and toward “reading for a grade”. I managed to squeeze in a few guilty pleasures during my high school days, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and several C.S. Lewis novels. After all, the girls weren’t exactly beating down my door…what else was I to do?
Books were a treasure to me growing up. I collected them, kept a shelf in my room of titles that were “off-limits” to anyone but me, and enjoyed spending a few hours getting lost in the stories. I protected them, the way some kids protect action figures still in their packaging, never folding corners or creasing the jackets. Those years, middle school into high school, were my reading heyday.
Upon entering college, I was introduced to more books than I had ever imagined. Unfortunately, they came in the form of textbooks. I began my career in higher education as a journalism major, perhaps in part because of my desire to be around the written word. However, the business world took its grasp after a couple of years and suddenly the only books that crossed my path were HR manuals and general ledgers.
Progress towards a degree became my excuse for not reading anymore, and it remained that way through completion of my Bachelors Degree and MBA as well. Then came life; you know, that place where bills come in the mail and your Dad isn’t there to fix the leaky faucet anymore. I drifted further and further from the novels I once lost myself in and nearly forgot about the lost art of reading. That is until I regained my love of slinging words here on this blog.
As I began to grow in my writing, I also began to yearn for the magic that a good story can produce. Not only for a way to improve my own writing, but for the pure enjoyment of it. So last month, after the kids slipped quietly into dreamland, I sat down on the couch and cracked open The Hunger Games. The premise is one I would have never conjured up myself. There are moments throughout the series that, as a writer, made me curious as to whether the story was taking the wrong turn. But in the end I found myself immersed in the fictional world of Panem and its inhabitants, and isn’t that really the point?
As an aspiring author, I dream of scoring that big book deal one day. Landing on the best-seller list and accepting praise from fans of my work. But if I could produce a story engaging enough to bring back the joy of reading to someone who had long forgotten it, I would consider that a success. And that’s what Suzanne Collins did to this Wordslinger with The Hunger Games. If you haven’t read them, I highly recommend cracking the spine of Book One as soon as you can. You won’t regret it.