Oh dear...the bookshop... Our local indi bookshop, Oscar's. I am going to blame it on the pressures of contemporary culture, and any number of other factors that a well-practiced book junkie can summon up to justify a literary spending spree...
Actually, it could have been worse. It could have been a lot worse. Consider this scenario... There is a new blockbuster film out in the cinemas that everyone is talking about; an adaptation of the first novel in a teen series. Sixteen informs me that the book was fantastic, and haven't I read it? Really? And no, I reply to the incredulous face - after all, I've read everything, haven't I? - I haven't read this particular series. You should, he tells me, cos it's fantastic. And then there's the movie and all the hype. And then, there's this thing I have that reacts against that kind of hype and refuses, utterly, to have anything to do with whatever the new, fabulous thing is that everyone should read/see/eat/whatever....so I put lots of energy into not buying/reading/eating/seeing whatever the new super-hyped thing is. It's how I missed out on the beginnings of Harry Potter, never watched Friends or Sex and the City (both of which I'm catching up on way after the original telecasts), and any number of other things - some of which I've discovered way later and some of which I've never taken on.
This time, it's The Hunger Games. So much advertising and such a lot of commentary - and it's the latter that's finally got me to the point that I went to the bookshop to buy a copy of the first book. Recently, there was an opinion piece by Clare Cannon in the Sydney Morning Herald that caught my attention. She's a reviewer and had read and reviewed the books originally, but says she won't see the film. Her commentary focused on the artificiality of the concept. She points to the glorification of violence, the desensitisation of violence and murder that is, in the narrative, justifiable in order for the lead character to survive, desensitisation - again - to sexual exploitation, and sensational story telling...likening it to the graphic depiction of war and other acts of violence that we are now accustomed to seeing on the evening news.
A family friend of mine, a contemporary of Twentysix's, is a high school teacher, teaching back at their high school. She's on holidays at the moment, and decided to read The Hunger Games, because her students are all talking about it. She posted on Facebook how disturbing she was finding it, and made a comment that had she read it at the age a lot of her students are doing so, she'd have found it even more disturbing. We chatted about it and I sent her the link to the aforementioned article. I have yet to hear her final view of the book.
However, I now own a copy of the first book and it's my next read, so watch this space for my thoughts. I am certainly less eager to see the movie at this stage as I am bothered by the commentary so far.
In addition to The Hunger Games - which is why I went to the bookshop - I came away with two other books. One was impossible not to buy - it was on a sale table outside the shop...and it cost $10 for a ducky little hardback. The Lost Art of Reading by David L. Ulin is a 'ruminative essay' that speaks to the concept that, in these days of electronic media, 'reading is a revolutionary act.' Given where I started with this blog, this was $10 worth of irresistible purchase!
That in hand, I went into the shop in search of The Hunger Games, which meant wandering past many shelves full of books, against which I am simply not proof after many weeks of reading deprivation and, when I did manage to read, re-reading.... So, when I found Joanna Trollope's latest offering, The Soldier's Wife, I picked that up too. I do enjoy her books - she's one of the most consistent exponents of the contemporary novel. It's not high literature, but it's good solid writing of current times and issues, and she tells a good story peopled with believable characters.
There were many other books picked up, and resolutely put back. Tough call with many of them. But I have three new books that will find homes in different parts of the bookcases. This post is pre reading any of them, so there will be reviews and my commentary to follow...