Sitting out The Hunger Games
By Dante on March 28th, 2012
Working at Scholastic for more than four years, I’ve seen a few waves of Hunger Games excitement. But as the series gained in popularity, that excitement spilled into the outside world. I’ve seen the numbers of people reading the trilogy on subways, on the street, and in coffee shops and bars increase exponentially over the years. My friends have read the books. My brother breathlessly bragged on Facebook about buying midnight screening tickets for the movie, and his friends posted jealous comments. And everywhere you turn a Hunger Games ad is staring you in the face as you wait for the subway or walk down the street.
The series is seemingly everywhere, but while all this is happening around me. I’m unable to participate. Because I haven’t read The Hunger Games.
I know, I know. This is one of those things you just don’t admit in polite society. But before you jump all over me, hear me out.
First off, movies have always been my thing more than books because I’m not a fast reader. Maybe I spend too much time on sentences and word choices, or perhaps I dwell on passages longer than I should as I shoot the movie version in my head. Whatever the case, it takes me a long time to get through books and I don’t get through as many as a lot of other people. And that leads me to my second point: I’ve missed out on a lot of great titles. I’ve never read Hemingway or Steinbeck. I’ve tackled a few books by Twain and Dickens. I still haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird. I only finally got to Catcher in the Rye a couple years ago. A lot of the books you’re “supposed” to read in high school never made it into my syllabus, so I have a lot of catching up to do.
Which is a long way of saying that The Hunger Games, while it might be good, is further down my queue. I want to read The Grapes of Wrath or A Farewell to Arms — our literary heritage — before I jump into something like The Hunger Games. (I have this problem with movies, too, where I gravitate to old movies at the expense of new ones.) I know this means I miss out on things, and I compensate by reading new non-fiction. But it’s certainly not the same. I’ll admit that the rebel in me gets some sick sense of satisfaction in saying, “The Hunger Games? Haven’t read ‘em.” But that ultimately leave me feeling pretty hollow when I look around and see all the fun, engaging conversations people are having about the books (and now the movie).
So why don’t I just read them? Honestly, I think I want the hype to settle down a bit so I can engage with the books on their terms. It might sound silly, but I have a hard time separating hype from content and that invariably leads me to be too hard on the book, movie, album, TV show, or whatever that’s hyped to the moon. (I’m a critic by trade, I can’t help it.) I think it’s only fair that I meet The Hunger Games on its terms, not those set up by other readers.
Deciding what to read is a commitment, especially for a slow reader like me, and I’m forever conflicted and indecisive about how to balance my predilicitons and my need to be part of today’s culture. So while it might take a while to get to them, I will read The Hunger Games. Eventually. Unless someone can convince me to read them immediately…
So have it, OOM readers. Why should I wait no longer to read The Hunger Games? And please, don’t judge me too harshly.