Though I'm an avid reader, I've always avoided the series books that have been so popular in recent years -- Harry Potter, Twilight, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and even The Hunger Games. About a week ago I spotted The Hunger Games on a shelf at Target and picked up a copy, turning it over and scanning the back quickly. I caught sight of the price, dropped the book in my red basket, and thought, "Hey, for seven bucks, it's worth a try."
And for the past seven days I've had my nose buried in The Hunger Games. Followed by Catching Fire, which I ran out to purchase when I got near the end of The Hunger Games and panicked at the thought of not knowing what was happening to Katniss and Peeta. Followed by Mockingjay, which I purchased the morning after I finished Catching Fire, a book I stayed up way, way past my routine 10pm bedtime to finish and spent the entire next day paying for by feeling exhausted.
Clearly, I was hooked. When my boyfriend came home from work one afternoon and saw me not in my my usual spot on the couch with my laptop on and the TV blaring, but curled up on the bed, my nose in Catching Fire, he laughed and then said, half-serious, "I'm starting to get concerned." And perhaps he had good reason to be -- I was into these books. Though I read all the time, for the first time in a long time (perhaps since childhood!) these books transported to another place, and their stories left me thinking about the characters even when the books were closed.
The Hunger Games books are filled with many things I strongly dislike -- killing animals, killing people, violence, places void of all hope -- but despite all these things, I've found myself inspired by Katniss and her endless adventures. Reading the books, I've been reminded of some important life lessons I hope never to forget.
5 Lessons from The Hunger Games
1. You are stronger than you realize. Life is going to throw some crazy things your way. Maybe they won't be an arena filled with mutts or a just-for-TV love affair, but crazy things will happen. That's life. But what we so often forget -- and Katniss continually reminded me as I read through the trilogy -- is that we're all so much stronger than we realize. When I look back on my life and recall some of the things I've been through, I'm sometimes shocked that I've made it to where I am today. I never consider myself particularly strong or brave, but I was -- and still am, I suppose. And you are too. If things are hard, remind yourself that you really are stronger than you realize.
2. Enemies can become friends... In The Hunger Games trilogy it's sometimes hard to tell who is on the side of good and who is on the side of evil. Real life can be like that too. Sometimes the people who you think might be the enemy end up being your biggest supporters. While reading I realized that it's important to give people a little bit of credit. I'm inherently a distrustful person -- a wonderful quality, I know -- and I find it hard not to think suspicious thoughts about people I don't know well. But while reading this trilogy I was reminded that things aren't always what they seem and judging people without fully understanding their motives can be downright dangerous.
3. ... and friends can become enemies. On the flip-side, the trilogy also reminded me of the opposite of #2: sometimes the people we love the most, the ones we put our trust in, can turn on us. In real life this lesson might not be so extreme -- perhaps it is just that a friend has become someone you can no longer trust or you've lost something essential to keeping a relationship alive. As painful as a friend-turned-enemy situation can be, it's part of life and something many of us have to deal with on occasion. People change; we change. What I was reminded of when reading was that everything happens for a reason and, even though it hurts, we are strong enough to get through the changes in relationships.
4. One person can make a difference. At the beginning of the first book, Katniss (and readers) had no idea how important she was. As time went on, her actions and reactions showed that her presence was more than just a pawn in a game. She was a symbol of change, a rebellious spirit who had an opportunity to change thousands of lives with a single act. Now, I know this is fiction and we're not all destined to be heroic warriors, but Katniss's bravery and determination reminded me that we all have power -- a power we can use for good or for evil. This power is choice. With every choice we make, we are impacting not only our lives but all of the lives touching ours. However small you might think you are, you have more power than you realize and every choice you make can impact others so choose wisely.
5. You can be a hero even if you are saved. This is my favorite lesson from the trilogy. Katniss was strong, brave, and often fearless. She saved lives and constantly put her own at risk for the greater good. But there were times when she, too, needed to be saved. After studying fairy tales and gender for years, I'd come to the conclusion that being rescued or saved was a bad thing, a sign of weakness, a symbol of women not being strong enough. But this trilogy reminded me that's just not true. Katniss was a fighter -- clever and courageous -- and still she needed to be saved at times. In my mind that doesn't make her any less of a hero -- and I think that should apply for real life too. You can still be a hero even if you need the help of others along the way.
Whether or not you've read The Hunger Games, you too can probably glean some wisdom from these lessons. With every turn of the page, Katniss made me feel motivated and inspired. I recently saw this iPhone alarm setting that reads "If Peeta and Katniss can survive the hunger games, then you can get up." It made me smile because that's how I felt while reading the books -- if these people could get through all of these hardships, then I could certainly overcome my piddly little problems. If you haven't read the books and are contemplating it, I'd recommend them. They're chock-full of motivation and inspiration -- and will certainly help you put whatever you might be going through into perspective!
Have you read The Hunger Games?
Did you learn any lessons?