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Books with a Beu

Jamie Beu, owner and co-author (with his wife) of CatholicFamily.info, is a "cradle Catholic", devoted husband, and father of two girls. He is a regular contributor to his parish newsletter, as well as an impassioned defender of the faith who is able to both support and challenge others as necessary -- all in an effort to build-up Christ's Kingdom on Earth. To this end, he does a lot of reading - not just of religious books (for education and research), but also of secular books, both to decompress as well as to keep a finger on the pulse of pop culture (the better to relate to others, as well as to help restore the culture).

Currently reading

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know
Meg Meeker, Meg Meeker
Dan Simmons
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
'John Townsend', 'Henry Cloud'
Boundaries Face to Face: How to Have That Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding
Henry Cloud
Jesus of Nazareth
Pope Benedict XVI, Adrian J. Walker
Permutation City
Greg Egan
Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions
Pope Benedict XVI
Is Jesus Coming Soon?: A Catholic Perspective on the Second Coming
Ralph Martin
Prelude to Foundation (Foundation: Prequel, #1)
Isaac Asimov
Autobiography of a Saint: Therese of Lisieux
Thérèse de Lisieux, Ronald A. Knox, Vernon Johnson

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1)

The Hunger Games - Suzanne  Collins Well, my wife requested this from the library, but the waiting list was so long that when we finally received it, she figured both of us should read it so we don't have to wait so long again. Although it was fairly interesting, it was also fairly mindless and not necessarily worth the wait (or the hype).

I can understand how this would appeal to the YA audience, but I hesitate to call this a true dystopian novel. For a novel to be truly dystopian (i.e., similar to 1984, The Stand, or even A Canticle for Leibowitz), there has to be a primary philosophical/sociological point that goes to the extreme that results in the dystopia (i.e., "thought police"; biological weapon mistake; or a revolt against technology, engineers, and scientists).

This book did not proceed from such an extreme point, at least not in any well-defined sense. Instead, it vaguely resembled a mix between Lord of the Flies and The Running Man (or maybe even The Long Walk, since it deals with teens).

I confess to enjoying these Bachman Books when I was younger, but none of them tried to paint a full dystopian worldview - just a game that takes place within that vaguely-defined horrible future of gruellingly fatal games. But The Hunger Games attempts to paint a picture of this whole world in which this depraived bloodsport exists, without really explaining (at least in any detail other than "the Capital wanted to punish the Districts") why such a world exists in the first place.

Again, maybe this resonates better with tweens and young adults who are dealing with learning "the rules of life" only to see them constantly shift and change on them. (Society, faith, friends, and family all giving teenagers conflicting advice: "do this..."; "except when this is the case..."; "no, don't listen to them..."; "forget that! This is what you *really* should do".) Maybe the mix of anarchy within strict authoritarianism strikes a chord with teens that it doesn't quite hit with an adult and parent.

That said, it's decent enough as "chewing gum reading", but not deeply philosophical or insightful. Given the content (violent, but not necessarily ultraviolent, with little to object to on a "sexual content" basis), I also wouldn't recommend it for anyone under, oh.. say... 14 or 15 years old? (It's definitely better than letting them read some of the other "urban horror" or "paranormal romance" crap that is geared toward their age group.)