Based on the Book – How The Hunger Games Got Me Reading Again
I was a voracious reader in my younger days. I still have shelves and shelves of my childhood books, many ordered through the wonderful Scholastic Book Club at my grade school, Old Mission Peninsula School, near Traverse City, Michigan. The Mystery of the Old Violin, A Room for Cathy, Clarence the TV Dog, The Wednesday Witch, The Ghost of Dibble Hollow. Most of these books cost 60 cents and ran around 150 pages. A quick read for a young book fan. Thanks, Mom, for giving me free rein in the Scholastic catalog.
I moved on to Nancy Drew, any book by Rosamond du Jardin (the Pam and Penny series holds a special place in my heart), the Melendy Family books by Elizabeth Enright, and of course, any book by Louisa May Alcott or Laura Ingalls Wilder. High school came and then college, and my reading gradually tapered off, replaced by heavier pursuits like making enough money to pay the rent and electric bill.
That’s when my love affair with magazines started. I read every magazine that crossed my path, usually stories that could be easily absorbed in 15 minutes. That solved the problem of trying to remember what I’d read if I put a book down and didn’t pick it back up for a month. I couldn’t walk by a magazine rack at the grocery store checkout without picking up Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Ladies’ Home Journal, People, Entertainment Weekly, Town & Country, and maybe Cosmopolitan, if there was no one in line who knew me.
Later on, I discovered longer narratives in magazines like Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and Details, but even those were a challenge. It might take me a week to get through a story, reading a few paragraphs at the end of the day before I collapsed into an exhausted sleep.
Somewhere along the way, I started walking to stay in shape and discovered audiobooks, starting with cassette tape Walkmans and progressing to portable CD players, iPods, and my current iPhone. I’ve read many books while pounding the pavement and trails, usually something lighthearted to take me away from all the perils of life. Books by Sophie Kinsella, Lauren Weisberger, Madeleine Wickham, Jennifer Weiner, Beth Harbison, Meg Cabot, and Jennifer Crusie.
Along the way, I created a job for myself as a family entertainment writer and syndicated columnist, reviewing movies and TV shows based at my online magazine and Web site, Reel Life With Jane. Now I had less time than ever to read, as I spent my days and nights tapping out reviews, making new connections, scoring new syndication partners. I became the girl who pestered my book-reading friends: Does the movie resemble the book? Is the book better? How’d they do with the casting?
When Deb Eckerling graciously accepted my request to start this Based on the Book column, I planned to write about and review movies adapted from books. But an unexpected thing happened. I became so intrigued by The Hunger Games movie, due in theaters March 23, 2012, that I picked up the book by Suzanne Collins and devoured the entire thing in a few days. I feel triumphant and victorious!
It’s not the sort of book I would ordinarily read, and every so often, I’d stop and think, Jane! You’re reading a book about children killing each other! What is wrong with you?! But it was way too gripping to put down, and of course, it’s about much more than children killing each other. It’s a story of survival, love, good vs. evil, and so much more.
I’m also delighting in the fact that I can now put faces to the names in the book. Well, the faces of the people cast in the movie anyway. I can picture the soulful Jennifer Lawrence — whom I loved in Winter’s Bone — as Katniss Everdeen, the teenager who steps forward to take the place of her younger sister Prim, played by Willow Shields, in the deadly Hunger Games.
The hunky Liam Hemsworth seems perfect for Gale Hawthorne, and likewise, Josh Hutcherson as the baker boy Peeta Mellark. Don’t tell me how that triangle turns out, because I just started the second book, Catching Fire. Woody Harrelson as the drunken Haymitch Abernathy? Excellent.
I keep picturing Christian Siriano as Katniss’ friend and stylist Cinna, but I’ll keep an open mind with Lenny Kravitz. And Donald Sutherland as President Snow? Wow, awesome casting. I don’t have a good enough read on Caesar Flickerman to know if Stanley Tucci is a good choice, but he’s great at morphing into any role. Same with Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Toby Jones as Claudius Templesmith, Amandla Stenberg as Rue, and Alexander Ludwig as Cato. I’m very curious to see Jack Quaid, son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, as Marvel. I believe it’s his first feature film.
But most of all, I’m just super-excited about getting through a whole book, and I hope this is the beginning of me reading regularly again. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.
In the meantime, read more about the movie and cast at The Hunger Games 101, and tell me in the comments below: Are you excited about this movie? Have you read the books? And what upcoming movie adaptations would you recommend I read next?
Jane Boursaw is an entertainment writer and syndicated columnist specializing in family movies and TV. Learn more at Reel Life With Jane, follow her on Twitter, become a friend on Facebook, email email@example.com.