Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First, What are You Reading? Volume 2, September 2010

Here are my answers to the four questions I ask on the first of each month:
first, what are you reading?
what do you like best about it?
what do you like least?
what's next on your list/pile to read?

I hope you'll consider sharing yours on your blog (and linking back here through the Mr. Linky at the bottom of the post) or sharing yours in the comments

First, What are you reading?

The Hunger Games  and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins weaves a fascinating tale of Panem, a futuristic land in what used to be North America, led by a cruel Capital district that forces the other districts to sacrific two teenagers each to battle to the death, for sport and for entertainment.  The Hunger Games and Catching Fire are the first two in her series.  Wow.

I was not aware until earlier this summer that this YA (young adult) series of books are apparently wildly popular.   Now I know why, and I am hooked.  I wrote last month that this was on my "list/pile" to read, and I had no idea I would be so gripped by the series it would be the book I'd share.  I wasn't planning to purchase the books in hardback, but since I've had Mockingjay (third in the series) on hold at the library since it came out last Tuesday, and since the book hasn't arrived yet, I  might give in and head over to my nearest book retailer for a hardback copy.

What do you like best about it?

Both books I've read so far in the series--The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, invite lots of "what-ifs" and comparisons to our modern culture.  Most interesting for me is a pernicious cult of celebrity described.  In the books, before the teenagers are sent out to kill each other in "the arena" they are pampered and "made-over" by teams of stylists, so they look their best for pre-games interviews and parade.  Lots to think about related to the American celebrity culture and how it often depersonalizes people even as it makes them beautiful; really the opposite of a Christian personalism.

Also, the writing is top-rate, and I had trouble putting the books down when I was reading them.  I would keep saying to myself, "At the end of this chapter, I will put the book down and (make dinner/turn off the light/whatever I needed to be doing)" but I wasn't often successful at that, and when I did it took superhuman effort.  That to me is one mark of a good read.

What do you like least about it?

The violence is fairly graphic, making this “young adult novel” only appropriate for the adults in our house.  I'm not sure what age I would let a teenager read the books; every family is different.  I find some of the very realistic descriptions of people dying it truly horrible ways to be haunting.  I know it needs in some way to be part of the story, but I wish it were less intense and it is definitely my least favorite part.

What is next on your list to read?

I’ve got semi-big list of books about a Catholic approach to mental health issues, as in October the Catholic Post Book Group will be featuring Beyond Blue, Therese Borchard’s candid account of her struggle with mental illness.

Also, at the suggestion of a fellow mom, I’ve been reading two books about parenting; one about girls:  Five Conversations you Must Have With Your Daughter by Vickie Courtney, and Wild Things:  The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas.  From what I’ve read so far, both books have definite strengths, and some small weaknesses.  I’m gleaning lots of good information about both boys and girls, especially about that other, foreign land of male people.

I look forward to hearing about your reads!  Leave a comment here or link to your blog, or comment on the Catholic Post Facebook page.


  1. We gave in and bought Mockinjay. I figured I'd be on the hold list forever. Paul (my husband) and I read it together, as we did for the other two. I liked it, but I felt that after reading the other two, I was more familiar with her writing and could guess the "surprises" in advance. You can borrow my copy if you haven't gotten it yet.

    I've also read a lot of kid lit lately. It seems like there is an obsession with all things otherworldly. There are a lot of books about dragons, magic, myth, and the obvious, vampires. Some are good, some really stink, and some just creep me out. It is frustrating for me to have to tell my son "no" when he askes if he can read a book after I've read it. There are a lot of potentially good books that don't get read because I find content opjectionable. What do some of you think when it somes to censoring your kids books?

  2. I bought it already, too, but was too cheap to buy it full price at the bookstore, so ordered it from Amazon. It has not arrived yet. If it doesn't get here by tomorrow I'll get your copy.

    Re: kit lit. I so agree about kids and not knowing what is best. I'm thinking of starting a "kidlit" Tuesdays where we review and discuss these kinds of books and questions with a Catholic and catholic vision. I'd like to get kids involved in the reviews/discussions as well.