Yesterday I finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, a book I had never felt particularly attracted to. A live TV show where children kill each other sounded more like a horror story than anything else. How come I ended up reading it? Well, I’m tired. Is it just winter exhaustion, a burn-out or anemia, I don’t know, but I have been feeling unnaturally tired lately. This has affected my reading. Last month I struggled through The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna. I say struggled because it took me 3 weeks to finish it. I cannot remember when I last spent so long on a book (except A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, but it is a big book). And the sad thing is that I know that it is a good book. I was just too tired to focus properly. So when I spotted The Hunger Games at last months Bookswap I took it, thinking, if nothing else it should be a page turner. And it was!
I found myself really enjoying the read. It is a long time since I have been so gripped by a book, staying up to read another chapter. The dystopian world view presented did not completely convince me, although knowing the human love for violence and reality TV, I would not put it past them to watch the show. I found the love triangle a bit childish and inauthentic, but then again this is a YA book. What I did enjoy was the character of Katniss, who is brave but also flawed. The story was well plotted and to my relief there was not too many instances of Katniss being forced to kill other children. I admit this might have made it a better book, showing the horror of children being forced to kill (bringing focus on things like child soldiers), but I was not in the mood for horror.
The fact that I enjoyed reading this book so much brings me to the reason I refuse to be too much of a book snob. I believe that there are different books for different times and places. Why read a harrowing tale of war when you are in no state to handle it? Why read a book filled with the most brilliant prose when you are too distracted to enjoy it. Because not only do you not enjoy the read, you miss the opportunity to appreciate something truly amazing! Writing beautiful prose is one talent, as is building truly authentic characters. But so is writing a gripping story. Writing in easily readable prose and keeping the story going are skills in their own right, which should not be underestimated. I do understand the ‘book snob’ view. A novel can be something extraordinary, which goes far beyond pretty much anything you can watch on TV. Why read books that are like TV but written down, when they can be so much more? Because sometimes what a reader wants is just a good story!
So, after enjoying The Hunger Games, I decided to continue with more YA/children’s lit. Unfortunately, I am not allowing myself to buy more books currently, so I will have to make do with what I find in my shelf. What I have found so far is Mister Monday by Garth Nix, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn. I have the feeling Inkheart might be my favourite out of those, because I saw movie some years ago and thought that I might enjoy the book. I’m counting on the fact that I have forgotten most of the movie by now. A sad fact is that all the books are book 1 of a series, and I only have one book, or (in the case of Across the Nightingale Floor) books 1 & 3. This was also the case with The Hunger Games, and I really wish I had the rest of the trilogy! Well these should keep me occupied for the rest of the month while I try to recover from my exhaustion.