Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, January 24, 2009

From "The Hunger Games" to Dave Ramsey

by Sariah S. Wilson

Today was a reading day. This is one of the luxuries of entering your eighth month of pregnancy - you can have days like I had today. I didn't have any errands to run or any place that I had to be - my husband took the boys to get their hair cut and to pick up medicine and did a great job of entertaining the baby today (her brothers are also very good at that).

My reading day technically started last night. That was when I started "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. This is a book I first heard about when I read a favorable review in The Romantic Times. Not too long after that, I ran across a review by Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly where he said he couldn't put it down. Next up was Stephenie Meyer saying she took it out to dinner with her and snuck it under the table so she could keep reading. I don't know if the kudos/favorable reviews get much better than that.

So while in Barnes and Noble using a Christmas gift card, I decided to pick this book up. I thought the premise sounded fascinating and it had such high critical reviews that it sounded like it would be worth checking out.

Once I started reading, I didn't want to stop. I truly can't remember the last time that I got that caught up in a book (possibly Harry Potter 7). It used to happen more frequently when I was younger, but as I get older and my responsibilities increase, I find that there often isn't time to get as into a book as I would like. It takes more these days to draw me in. The little people living in my house want silly things like food and clean clothes, which severely cuts into my reading time, I'm afraid.

Last night at 10:30 I thought I would go upstairs and read in bed for about an hour or so and call it a night. Instead, I suddenly realized that I had no idea what time it was or how long I'd been reading. I looked at my watch - 12:30! How had two hours passed so quickly? I knew I had to put the book down. I didn't want to, but I had to. The baby would be up at 6:00 and I needed to get some sleep.

The next morning I sent one of my sons to go upstairs and get my book for me. And then I read until I finished. And I actually yelled out loud in frustration when I read the words "End of Book One." This is a series? What? I have to wait? (And according to the Scholastic site I have to wait until September 8 until I can get the next one. If they do a midnight thing, I am SO THERE.)

Since this is an LDS blog, I will warn you that there is violence in this book. *I* didn't feel that it was gory or over the top but probably about right for a book that centers around a blood sport, but your mileage may vary. It is classified as YA, so no steamy scenes or language. Some of the deaths mercifully take place off screen, and I didn't feel completely grossed out by the ones the heroine witnesses (although be forewarned that they are still scenes of people dying in not fun ways).

This is the kind of book that you devour quickly, but it stays with you for days and days because of the topical messages on things like celebrity/fame, beauty, government and reality television. Here's the back cover blurb:

Twenty- four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

You can read the first chapter online. Be prepared to make a late night run to a bookstore if you do that. And hopefully you'll refrain from reading it tomorrow and hold off until Monday when you can rush out and pick up your own copy. It is GOOD.

But that wasn't the only thing I read today. I also picked up Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover." Apparently I'm a little late to the Dave Ramsey party, but I found he made a lot of sense and I'm looking forward to implementing his strategies into my life. I didn't have a profound, epiphany type moment as others have described having, and I think this is probably because my moment came in December when I had a profound change of heart when it came to money matters. I have continued on my journey of cutting my grocery bill literally in half, but having twice as much food to show for it. For the first time ever my extra freezer is stuffed to capacity and we have an actual food storage downstairs (and I may never have to buy toilet paper again since I've been getting tons of it for free for the last two months). My attitude toward money has already changed, and I'm excited to start getting a paycheck again and better implementing Dave Ramsey's strategies to helping our family. I don't know that I can get out of debt in the 18 months he thinks it should take, but I can be better about it than I am now. I'm looking forward to starting.

Has anyone else read a helpful/great book lately?

(P.S. - I ran across a recent review of "Servant to a King" by Alison Palmer, currently my newest favorite person. Check it out!)


At 1/24/2009 10:45 PM, Blogger Taffy said...

Hunger Games is sitting on my side table waiting for me to pick up. I have four other books on top of it because I KNOW when I pick it up I will not put it down. So i am reading the other books first. I can put those down....I need sleep....

At 1/25/2009 12:55 AM, Blogger Heffalump said...

Suzanne Collins is a great Author. I really enjoyed her Gregor the Overlander series and am excited to read this book as soon as I can get a copy.

At 1/25/2009 1:08 PM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

Thanks for the great review of The Hunger Games. I did read the first chapter and was immediately left wanting more, just as you predicted. Valentine's Day is coming up and I would like to convince my husband to give me a bouquet of books instead of flowers this year. This book may well be part of that bouquet. Not that I don't like flowers and chocolates, I do, but flowers die within a week (or less, if I touch them, because I have the exact opposite of a green thumb) and chocolate cells multiply and replenish my hips whether they need it or not. So thanks again for pointing out a great book that I will write on my list of suggestions. *g*

At 1/26/2009 12:25 AM, Blogger brandt said...

Being a finance major, I read Ramsey's book with great interest. For basic financial advice, he is spot on. I don't agree with him 100% (staying 100% debt free for the rest of your life no matter what), but his concept of saving and spending really did change my life.

And even though you warned me about Hunger Games, I read the first chapter anyways, and I'm drawn thank you very much (literally and sarcastically)

At 1/26/2009 2:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Debt free us the only way to go. Spend what you earn. Earn what you spend. Live the meager life. Scrimp. Save. Make it do or do without. Debt reduces free agency to zero. If you can eat, stay warm, put some clothes on your back, you're are wealthier than most of the world. You don't need 99 percent of what you think yo need.

I read the first chapter of hunger games. Thought it stunk!

At 1/26/2009 12:51 PM, Blogger brandt said...

However, Anonymous, Ramsey recommends never EVER using credit cards EVER. Never EVER get another mortgage EVER if you move.

I take a different approach.

Credit Cards, in my mind, are perfect cards for vacation budgets, or gas budgets, or online purchases. You never get nailed with the APR if you use your credit card like a debit card (meaning you can pay whatever you spend). Too many people get sucked into the notion that credit cards are "free money" (and I also see that in student loans, being a student myself).

I agree with what you said 99%. There really is no reason NOT to live within our means. I love his advice about selling things and delivering pizza to get out of debt and to get your emergency fund going.

Houses are another thing I differ with him on. Getting a mortgage paid off ASAP is very important, in my mind, but one can't always a.) guarantee a profit on a house that is sold and b.) have the cash to pay for a house. Again, it's all based off of your mortgage payment, and if you can afford that payment (and, in my recommendation, that payment PLUS), it's OK "going into debt" (taking out a mortgage).

I guess my definition of "going into debt" is a bit different than his

At 1/26/2009 6:05 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

Went to download Hunger Games on my Kindle and the battery is dead. [Scream] And the plug is at home, while I'm at work. [Scream and stomp!]

So how do you get free toilet paper?

At 1/26/2009 6:05 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

Oh, and the reason I'm goofing off at work? January + Retail = Pretty dead.

At 1/26/2009 7:45 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

You guys are doing good to wait until you have time to read it. I totally devoured this book. Typically when I'm reading my writer hat is on and I find myself admiring prose or descriptions or pacing or something. Not this time. I was completely and totally caught up in it.

I'm sort of ambivalent about Dave Ramsey's all debt is bad thing too. I don't think it's wrong to have a mortgage on a house (although I do appreciate the point he's making). I'm also not really sure what I think about funding college for my kids. Most of the people I went to school with who had their parents paying for it spent a lot of time goofing off. I had to take it seriously because *I* was the one who had to pay for it.

On getting free toilet paper - at my supermarket, Kroger, they sell packs of four rolls of Cottonelle toilet paper for 99 cents a package. There are routinely Cottonelle coupons for 50 cents, and Kroger doubles coupons. So doubled makes it free. I have like 50 of those things down in the basement right now and haven't had to buy any toilet paper for the last two months.

And Melanie, I am LOVING the idea of a bouquet of books. Hmmm, off to leave some not-so-subtle hints for the husband...

At 1/27/2009 7:16 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Taffy--maybe I'll come and borrow The Hunger Games from you. I'm like #17 in line at the library. But I'll probably buy it anyway--like I usually do.

I just read ELANTRIS by Brandon Sanderson. It was awesome.


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