Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vacation Post: How The Hunger Games Taught Me to Read at 4 A.M.

I am still on vacation. But for now, I give you something I wrote earlier this summer on what we can learn from reading The Hunger Games.

Warning: Some minor spoilers ahead.
Lately I’ve been interested in how human beings relate to one another. This is an invaluable tool to me as a storyteller, as I often need to connect a reader to something they’ve never come close to living through. Suzanne Collins uses this tool - empathy - in a mastery way that's worth thinking about.

Unlike the unfortunate protagonist of The Hunger Games, I’ve never been stripped in front of pecking stylists, forcibly clad in a flaming dress, and made to wave to a crowd of enemies who will soon watch me fight through the Hunger Games. And yet I can relate to Katniss, because I know what it feels like to feign happiness, to smile even when surrounded by odious people, to assume a false identity because it may prove beneficial. And okay, so I’ve never lived with an acquaintance for several days (Peeta!), harboring the knowledge that we will soon be fighting each other to the death. But I know what it’s like to feel affection for someone even though it’ll only bring misfortune upon me. The partly subconscious fight that plays out, the confliction over the itching, pulling tug in the back of my mind. And the decisive, awful moment when that tug inevitably whispers, “You like this person, and you’re not ever going to dislike them - no matter how smart that would be.”

I’ve never had to figure out how to feed my starving family before, so maybe I don’t quite understand how important it was to Katniss when a boy threw two loaves of burnt bread at her feet. But I have been alone on a crowded train, searching down the aisles for a seat, and I still remember the moment when a stranger moved her bags for me. The way my quickened heartbeat slowed and I sat, relieved and thankful for the simple act of altruism offered to me.

As I read the Hunger Games, countless memories emerge from my mind. They flutter briefly to the realm of conscious thought, but are usually gone before I can grasp their entirety. However, these memories leave behind traces of emotion - and it’s this emotion that links together my real experiences on a train with Katniss’s experiences in a fictitious, dystopian society. Seemingly unrelated events, yet actually the same.

Katniss and I live in different worlds and we’ve experienced different things. But because of empathy, I am Katniss and - if she were real - she could easily be me, too.

This is one of the reasons why writing fiction is so important to me. It’s the subtlety of the well-chosen word that reminds me, “Hey, we’re all living creatures here on this Earth; some of us seem real different, but we’re actually the same.” And, as people, that’s one of the most important lessons we can ever learn.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vacation Post: Thoughts on the Title

Lots of authors steal titles from Shakespeare*, so 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley is not original, although it is catchy.

Here's my first thought: We've got a book that was written in the past, with its title referring to an even more distant past, and it takes place in the future.** Don't you love literature? Nothing else can defy time so well. It's not even defiance. It's a total disregard.

This is just a tidbit of my thoughts, because I feel bad leaving for California right after announcing the project. Expect one more vacation post (a longer one) before I return, and expect me to expand on my thoughts about time and literature throughout the rest of the year.

* "O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world! That has such people in it!" -Act V, Scene 1 of The Tempest
** 1931, 1610, 632 A.F., respectively

Monday, August 22, 2011

★ The Incomplete List ★

Yes, I am going on a brief hiatus.* I'm still traveling to California. But I couldn't resist posting one last time before September.

This blog needs THE LIST. The List, after all, is the foundation of the whole project. It's incomplete, because I'll be taking other's suggestions. But for now...

The List!

  1. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  2. Dante's Inferno by Dante Alighieri (translated by Mark Musa)
  3. Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov
  4. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  5. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  6. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  8. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  9. The Odyssey by Homer
  10. Frankenstein by Mark Shelley
As you can see, there's no rules for this. I'm not reading them based on the year of publication, or alphabetical order, etc.

So. Who can suggest titles for the remaining 15? Do you have a problem with the 10, or is there one you're especially enthusiastic about? Should I stop asking questions until I actually get readers?

I will see you guys September 2nd. Expect a GIVEAWAY then. (Do you see how I put that in caps, so you can't miss it? Yep. Clever, right? No? .... Okay.)

I'm excited.

* There will be vacation posts! I shall not entirely abandon you!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Hey guys! (Yes. I am aware that no one is reading this -- yet.) I wanted to tell you that I will be going to California tomorrow. New blog posts will be up when I get back, September 2nd.

  • A(n incomplete) list of the books I'll be blogging about
  • A giveaway!!
  • Some posts on the first book I'll read, which will be: BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley

Have you ever heard such a ridiculously cool name for an author? It's right up there with H.P. Lovecraft and Dante Alighieri. (Am I the only one who thinks 'Dante Alighieri' is catchy?)

I'll read it on my trip and post in a little over a week.

Any ideas on the books that should make my list? Leave a comment and drop a title.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Idea

I have an idea.

I’m 16 years old. I'm a bibliophile. I'm going record my first experiences reading classics from the canon. Through blogging, others can join me as my mind is opened to some of the greatest literature ever written.

I hope this blog will become a collaboration of writers, artists, readers, and thinkers. Others can read the same books as me and share their thoughts in comments or guest posts or youtube videos or fanart, etc. It’ll be like a book club, except it won’t be limited by geography and it'll be infinitely cooler.
This is a blog for people who like to read and think. Do you?
I’m going to start small, with a list of 25 classics and a one year deadline. In between I’ll be handling my busiest year of high school, and reading a bunch of books that I won’t blog about, so 25 seems like a fair number.
If you want, comment and tell me what books you think should make the list.
I hope someone else is interested!