Monday, April 10, 2017

H is for “Hunger Games”

Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except Sundays), I’ll be sharing a short bookish memory with you.

Last week, we talked about my decision to study children’s literature in graduate school. One of the many things that pushed me in the children’s lit direction was the success of The Hunger Games trilogy.



While I was obsessing over universities, the world was obsessing over The Hunger Games. Those books were everywhere. They dominated online bookish conversations; they were in the front windows of every bookshop; there was even an article about them in my local newspaper.

The only place I didn’t see The Hunger Games was in my undergraduate literature classes.

I actually remember one of the first lit classes I took at community college. This was before The Hunger Games madness. On the first day of class, the professor asked us to say our names and our favorite author. When it was my turn, I said my name and proudly declared that my favorite author was Stephen King. This was met with laughter and incredulous stares.

At the time, I didn’t know what was wrong with loving Stephen King books. As I took more literature classes, I learned that King’s novels aren’t “serious literature.” They’re meant to please the masses. They don’t push boundaries or alter the way we think about storytelling. My college classes made me feel wrong for liking “genre” fiction.

When The Hunger Games became popular, I was just as obsessed with the series as the rest of the world. Seeing people’s enthusiasm for “trash books” really made me question why we don’t study popular books in college classes. I do see the value in reading classics and literary fiction, but I don’t think we should completely ignore what’s popular right now. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to figure out what makes a book a bestseller?




The Hunger Games helped cement my decision to study children’s lit in graduate school. I was tired of writing essays about 300-year-old adult classics. It was time to branch out and try something new.


Is there a book that influenced a decision you made in your life?







28 comments:

  1. I loved the Hunger Games. I like reading teen fiction. They are often light, easy reads, but they tackle a lot of deeper issues, too. And I agree with you that they are definitely worth studying!

    Stopping by from the A to Z Challenge!
    https://jrvincente.wordpress.com

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    1. Yes! Non-classics shouldn’t be ignored. The books that are being published today are also valuable.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. I agree with you, 300 year old classics are lovely. New books that push boundaries are great. But a good fiction book that gets me lost in a world the doesn't exist and fall in love with a character that wouldn't really act that way in 'real life' is what makes me keep reading. I loved Hunger Games, and I even read and enjoyed 50 Shades of gray :O . I love picking up a sci-fi fantasy book about an epic female heroine and devour it like chocolate cake. The Mercy Thompson series is is my favorite and I often look to her when I need to draw on strength in my daily life and I think that is the sort of thing that should be looked at too in schools.

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    1. Exactly. Escapism is valuable. We shouldn’t look down on books that offer an escape to their readers.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  3. I saw all the movies (it was a daddy/daughter thing) but only read the last of the books. As for Stephen King, I decided to retake freshman english when I was in Grad School. I remember being assigned a "quick in-class essay" based on a Stephen King quote about his writing may be "Salami but it's good salami" or something like that. My professor (who actually had less graduate classes than me) didn't know what to do with my "Marxist Satire" that I wrote.

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  4. I loved this series. I actually read it on my honeymoon which is probably weird lol. I hate that people still judge what others read and enjoy.

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    1. I think The Hunger Games would make perfect honeymoon reading . . .

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  5. I agree that genre fiction doesn't get the respect it deserves (and not just because I write genre fiction :D ). The best genre fiction *is* literature, just as much of the "serious fiction" being written is...poor. And I agree--I'd love to take a class that explored what makes a best-seller a best-seller (maybe especially when said book isn't really well-written). Obviously, we all need to escape sometimes.

    I don't study children's lit (I actually studied the *really* old books in grad school: Chaucer and Co., and found much of it delightful. Chaucer was almost certainly genre fiction in his day...), but I love to read it. Not just the young adult level stuff, either. There is so much amazing stuff being written for the kids from about 9-12, and it often tackles issues that most other books won't touch.
    The Ninja Librarian’s Favorite Characters

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    1. I also love reading the really old stuff, but I don’t think I could read it all the time. I occasionally need to escape. I agree that there are some really awesome children’s books being published right now. I loved Last Stop on Market Street, which is a picture book.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  6. Hopped over from A2Z!

    Reading the classics is great and all but sometimes I just want to get out of my own head and read something so far-fetched it sucks me into a whole new world!

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  7. I always say that I'll never outgrow YA fiction. I prefer it to the more "serious" literature pretty much every time. Which isn't to say that I don't see value in the classics---I just see value in genre fiction too!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I don’t see myself ever outgrowing kids’ books, either. They tackle serious issues in readable ways. There’s nothing wrong with that.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  8. Ah the snobbery of colleges! Heaven forbid you like a popular book/ author lol. Never understood that! But I agree w/ Nicole- she said it well. :) And if we DID study popular works in class I'd probably have been more likely to major in lit!!

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    1. I got to study popular books in grad school, and I loved it. I like classics, but I like modern books a little more.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  9. I saw the movie for The Hunger Games. It's decent, but not worthy of the hype, i.m.o. Perhaps the book was better.

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    1. The books and the movies are all trash. Sometimes, I really love trash, though. :)

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  10. I never read the Hunger Games (the kid has already berated me about this), but I feel as though almost every artistic work has something to offer. Call me middlebrow, but why wouldn't you want to present your ideas in a way, that is both entertaining and accessible?
    Sam @ WLABB

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    1. Exactly! If you want people to read your book, make it entertaining and readable. :)

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  11. This is why I could never do literature classes as much as I love books! I love the fiction world where I run from zombies, go to Hogwarts, take part in the Hunger Games and survive an apocalypse! I love losing myself in new worlds and ready 'the classics' would frankly bore me to tears! I hate the book snobbery where certain readers look down on the choices of others. For me Harry Potter was a game changer. I had lost my love of books since college due to long hours and stressful jobs but when I found Harry many years later I fell in love with books again and have never looked back!

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    1. I’m glad you found books you loved. Harry Potter was a huge part of my childhood. I feel like I spent most of my life waiting for the next HP book to come out.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  12. I think a large part of my decision to go to college in Vermont was due to reading "Understood Betsy" repeated as a kid, and my interest in traveling to Scandinavia (I spent a summer in Norway in high school and a semester in Denmark in college) started with "The Snow Queen."

    I've always liked both genre fiction and literature, and as mentioned above, the best genre fiction IS literature. I have my snobbish moments around romance novels and certain types of best-sellers, but I am working on that. It really doesn't affect me, so why should I judge?

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  13. I read all three Hunger Games in a fury; it was like a crazy addiction or something. I absolutely could not put them down. i often feel "less sophisticated" and looked down upon because I haven't read many classics. But, here's why - I typically don't like them. As an adult, I read for entertainment and escape. I at least want to enjoy what I'm reading/listening to.

    To answer your question, yes - Eat, Pray, Love influenced by decision to be observe more mindfulness and meditate.

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  14. I will never understand why popular fiction is so often ignored. I meet a lot of people who turn their nose up when I say I read fiction books and don't care for classics.

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  15. I absolutely hate when there's elitism amongst readers! To be honest, classics are only considered "quality literature" because they're old and that's hardly sensible sometimes right?! Modern literature is a reflection on our society! And in 100 years, people are going to be reading it to learn what we were like in 2017 right??! I LOVE THE HUNGER GAMES SO MUCH. <3 It started me blogging and being obsessed with YA!!

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  16. I'm far from a literary snob, and I often like to point out to literary snobs that Shakespeare and Chaucer wrote fantasy stories. I love watching them try to argue with me about it. Especially Chaucer, because I studied him while in grad shcool. I also worked really hard to take the unique classes for my English major in undergrad. I had two survey courses early on, and then didn't read another cannon classic until my last semester.

    So many books have changed my life over the years that I couldn't possibly list them all. Anne McCaffrey's Pern series (which I read way too young) was what got me hooked on genre. Gods of Noonday (a memoir by one of my college professors) got me interested in writing creative nonfiction and in African literature. And more recently, reading (and being slightly disappointed in) Laurel K Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series really motivated me to write and publish my own work, because surely I could do better than that, right?

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