Hunger Games–Spoiler Alert!!!

I’m in Florida visiting my sister and her kiddos for the holiday, and I’m not on any type of routine, so my attempts at writing have mostly consisted of searing random thoughts into my brain, making sure I don’t forget the zillion ideas I’ve had in the past week or two. And now that the dust of bedtime has settled and the house is silent, I’m able to write a post that might expose a little too much of my psyche, but I have to get it out somehow.

I read Suzanne Collin’s novel The Hunger Games today. Yep, today. I had read about 60 pages of it before the break, and then had to abandon it for Gatsby and Willy Loman and research papers. But today I had a swath of time that begged for a book, so I finished it.

It’s a great read–action-packed and filled with commentary on where our media-saturated society could very well be heading–but when I read the last page, I was furious.

I admire the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. She knows she’s being manipulated by the system. She knows how to survive, how to take care of her family and friends, and even how to take care of herself. But she doesn’t seem to grasp how anyone could love and admire her. Katniss and I have this in common.

I work hard. I would do most anything for my family and friends. But decades of forced independence have created an inability to comprehend that anyone sees anything at all valuable about me. Which is why I feel guilty when people buy me gifts, and why I don’t really like hugs or pats on the back.

So I was rooting for Katniss to really fall in love in Peeta. I wanted that for her so much. How could she not see that any boy would be lucky to have her? And at the end of the first book, where she blocks out Peeta with her uncertainty and inability to articulate her emotions, I was livid.

It bothered me all day, and it wasn’t until late in the evening that I realized how much I connected with Katniss. No, I’m not in an apocalyptic setting, and I haven’t had to kill anyone in order to survive, but her forced independence resonated with me.

I don’t often read fiction, mostly because I don’t see how anyone could make up a story more outrageous than what happens in real life. But another reason I don’t read fiction is that too often it is a mirror, reflecting and magnifying the fears and insecurities that I’m not yet ready to face.

There’s two more books to go before I know what ultimately happens to Katniss, and I’ll probably read them just so I can say I did. But I don’t have much hope that I’ll read a happy ending…then again, I don’t have much hope that I’ll get a happy ending either.

Fun, Fun, Fun

I’m teaching The Scarlet Letter to my 11A class. I’m teaching it as a book club book, since I REALLY dragged my feet about teaching it. “It’s booooo-ring,” I would whine. Granted, I had never read it before, but it was written in the 19th century, so how could it possibly hold my attention? I decided to just read it with the kids, which is actually pretty fun, as opposed to positioning myself as the authority figure.

Well. For the third time this year, I have proven myself wrong. I. Love. This. Book. I’m finishing it tonight, and I very well may loathe the ending. But there are three divine chapters in the middle that made me swoon almost as much as reading Persuasion makes me swoon.

I started today’s discussion with this quote from Chapter 21: “We have yet the learn again the forgotten art of gayety.” And we talked about how we aren’t really encouraged to have fun anymore. Our lives are busy, our bosses are humorless, and everything must be done NOW. RIGHT NOW! I MEAN IT!

So I’ll ask you, just like I asked my 22 juniors: when was the last time you did something really fun? What was it? And why was it fun for you?

Dead Poet’s Society

Last night’s book club reminded me of how much I really love English literature in all its forms. I’ll be teaching high school English in a couple of months, and I haven’t had an English-only teaching load in 8 years. To be honest, while I’m grateful for the job, I’ve not been very excited about it. That changed last night.

Instead of reading a book and discussing it, we had a poetry night. We each brought several poems to share–a couple of women even read their own poetry. I’ve only written one poem that I’m proud of. A student used it in his poetry program when I was coaching speech.

It was soothing, relaxing, wonderful to sit with friends and read poems. There wasn’t a whole lot of analysis going on, which was fine with me. Here are some of the poems that were read:

Summer Lovin’

Wub, true wub

So cherish your wub…

Chicks rule

This is what I shared…one of my all-time favorite books written in free verse.

Oh, and I love, love, love this one.


My book group is reading Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell this month (my turn to choose a book). We’re meeting Saturday night, so I trolled around for some possible discussion questions. In addition to some great questions, I found this great quiz, with a plethora of disclaimers attached.

I am Squeaky Fromme. Which is hilarious to me, since my favorite scene in Stephen Sondheim’s musical Assassins is where Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore meet.

Your Score:Lynette Fromme

(born: 1948)

Attempted to assassinate President Ford outside the Senator Hotel in Sacremento, CA. on 5 September 1975. Why? Ford was not elected to office and she thought he was involved in Vietnam. Also, she thought that her love, Charles Manson, was the Messiah.

She is still in prison after a temporary escape in 1987.

Link: The Presidential Assassin Test

Reading Sorbet

I’ve been reading a lot of theory–postmodernism, folklore, Marxist approaches to popular culture–and a lot of it is interesting and enjoyable. But today as I packed my bag for class, I turned to the stack of books and binder of articles to figure out what I wanted to tackle tonight during breaks, and could not bring myself to choose anything.

I needed something else to read today. Something that I could enjoy, something that I wouldn’t be tested on, something that might even make me laugh. I looked at the stack of magazines and considered packing the most recent issue of Lucky Magazine, but it’s so heavy and I didn’t want to cart it all over hither and yon. I thought about last April’s General Conference talks, but I really needed some levity, some fun.

Then I saw it. My old friend. The one book I’ve always been able to rely on for side-splitting laughs, the book that I almost feel self-conscious to read in public because I have a smile plastered on my face. Bridget Jones’ Diary. I haven’t spent time with Bridget in two years. Tonight, in between teaching a piano lesson and going to class, I was able to read about 20 pages, and it really was like a reading sorbet–it cleared out my brain, lightened me up for class and helped me refocus.

I might read a little bit of Bridget (or essays by Laurie Notaro) every day from now until November 3, just to keep me fresh. But first thing tomorrow morning? Chapter 6 of Heritage Crusades.