Hunger Games, Jane Austen Revealed, and Whose Bible Is It?

Well, I have a quite a cornucopia of books for you today. You’re welcome.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the first third of the book (before the Games start). Collins set the scene nicely for a thought-provoking and moving story. Unfortunately, the execution of that story left something to be desired. Much of the rest of the book read as a cross between a first person shooter video game and a reality show (with some corny teen love triangle stuff thrown in). The writing kept coming off as shallow when it was (presumably?) trying to be deep. The solipsistic, slightly simplistic first person present tense also eventually got old. Still, if the rest of the books in the series are just a little less gory, I might consider reading them, even if it’s mostly for the sake of (pop) cultural literacy. What is it that people love about this book?

Jane Austen: A Life RevealedJane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a pretty fun quick read, although the title was a bit of an exaggeration. Apparently, we just don’t know that much about Austen’s personal life, largely because most of her letters were destroyed by family members after her death. Much of what is “revealed” in this book is the author’s idea of Austen’s personality. She’s taken the evidence and run with it a bit, but her conclusions are what I would imagine, judging from Austen’s heroines. And in fact, the psychologically autobiographical nature of Austen’s novels is highlighted in this biography by the novel synopses peppered through the text. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend reading this biography before first reading all of Austen’s novels, unless you really couldn’t care less about spoilers.

The Beginning PlaceThe Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The unevenness of Le Guin’s writing is fascinating to me. How is it possible that she can write so brilliantly sometimes, and then pull out a complete and utter loser of a book like this one at other times? The Beginning Place felt like it was only half-written. It meandered around between two unengaging worlds, and then eventually just stopped abruptly. There was some pretty blatant (if uninspiring) allegory, but it all seemed to lead nowhere. I’m as unenlightened after reading it as I was before.

Whose Bible Is It? A History of the Scriptures Through the AgesWhose Bible Is It? A History of the Scriptures Through the Ages by Jaroslav Pelikan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. Pelikan’s approach is brilliant. He sets the Jewish and Christian views of the Bible side by side through all their long history (and with an appropriate nod to Islam and how it interacts with the other major monotheistic faiths). Pelikan’s knowledge of the subjects in question is obviously encyclopedic, but this is a very accessible book. He gives the reader an opportunity to look at the Bible from various historical and religious points of view, and see how different views and interpretations of it have shaped history and thought. This book is a gorgeous labor of love by a scholar whose passion for the Bible is intellectual (and faultlessly methodical), but also literary and deeply spiritual.

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6 thoughts on “Hunger Games, Jane Austen Revealed, and Whose Bible Is It?

  • November 14, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    The last book sounds good. Thanks for the recommendation! I enjoy your reviews.

  • November 11, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Hunger Games gets way more gory. If you didn’t like #1, you really won’t like the others.

  • November 11, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    The Hunger Games only get more gory, I’m afraid.

  • November 11, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Don’t let her fool you. She has amazingly accurate aim and lightning quick reflexes. Ma-Ma-Ma-Ma-MONSTER KILL!!!

  • November 11, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Haha, no. But my husband used to play them all day long.

  • November 11, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Have you ever played a first person shooter video game?

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