Apr 13

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins


A year ago, I saw the movie version of The Hunger Games. I normally wouldn’t see a film adaptation before reading the book, but at the time I wasn’t really planning on reading it. But then The Famine Game was announced – an instance of The Game themed after The Hunger Games. As we’ve never been to Washington D.C., doing a one-week visit there and wrapping it up with The Game seems like a good way to kill two birds with one stone. So of course, this means I’m now reading The Hunger Games trilogy.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time The Game has lead me to read a YA series. It happened once before when we decided to apply for the Hogwarts and the Draconian Prophecy Game. Donna and I ended up zipping through the entire Harry Potter series, which we both found quite enjoyable. Also, the Hogwarts Game itself was amazing – plus, it was Los Jefes’ first Bay Area Game and our second full length Game. Good times!

Anyway, back to The Hunger Games. If you’ve seen the movie, there’s not much more the book will give you (at least according to my fading memory of the movie I saw a year ago). That said, I enjoyed reading the book. It’s a pretty quick read, the pace is good and Collins’ style is straight-forward. There’s a bit of a recurring theme of teenage emotional exploration (“Is he saying he likes me? But what about my friend G.? Oh, it’s all so confusing!”). Then again, this is a YA novel with a teenage heroine, so I suppose it’s par for the course.

If you’re looking for a readable, engaging book that’s part sci-fi, part dystopian future / political thriller and relatively action-packed, I’d suggest giving The Hunger Games a read. As for me, I’m looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy.

Apr 13

Ficciones – Jorge Luis Borges


I forget exactly when Borges ended up in my mental queue of authors to read. I think it was  sometime over the last year, probably in the context of something else I was reading. In any case, I recently found myself killing time in a used bookstore and picked up a copy of Ficciones.

The book is a collection of 17 short stories, divided into two sections. After I read the first two stories, I was tempted to put it down and walk away. The writing was fairly abstract, with a lot of references to obscure and/or fictional writing, plus he threw in a fair mix of foreign language side passages (mostly Latin). Right off the bat, he dives into the deep end of the philology pool and proceeds to do laps. This was exactly the reason I stopped reading Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum the first time I gave it a shot. I eventually picked up Pendulum years later and made it through to the end (it got better after the beginning).

With this in mind, I decided to power through and see if any of other stories might be a bit more engaging. It turned out to be a mix – I probably enjoyed about half of the stories. They tended towards the philosophical and metaphysical end of the spectrum, and occasionally veered into fantasy. For example, one tale I particularly enjoyed had to do with people living in a world that consisted of an infinite library. The endless rooms held endless books of an identical format. However, it was speculated that the books were simply permutations of all books that could be written using the alphabet and the format constraints of the book. Obviously, this would only produce a finite (though large) set of books, but there was further speculation that extended it out to infinity (I don’t think I fully understood that part, though).

Anyway, it’s a short book and you might consider giving it a go if you’re interested in philosophical and mystical sorts of things. Also, having a Latin dictionary on hand might be useful.