Happy early birthday to Suzanne Collins! If you don’t know that name, get out from under that rock and pick up almost any newspaper or magazine from this past Winter and you’ll quickly figure out who she is. She is the author of the recently oh-so-popular The Hunger Games series. I doubt it would be much of an exaggeration to say that everyone everywhere has at least heard of this particularly trendy series. That’s the thing about books that are “trending;” even if you choose not to partake of it, you still cannot help but be aware of its existence and seemingly ever-growing popularity. So this Wednesday, I decided to do a bit of a tribute to books and series’ that seem to sweep the nation.
I’m talking about the books that “trend” in such a hard-core way that libraries and bookstores experience temporary but albeit frightening levels of patronage. I was working at the Oconee County Library when America was going through the “The Hunger Games” phase, and I cannot recount how many people came in and signed up for a new library card (whether it was their fist card or their old card had long since expired) not so that they could browse the shelves and enjoy our selection, but so I could hand them their new card in time for them to immediately hand it back and ask me to put The Hunger Games on hold for them.
Confession time: I have not read them. Like I said everyone and their mother (literally, moms love it) came to the library wanting to put their name on the hold list. I didn’t feel compelled to buy it and I certainly didn’t want to wait in line, so I passed. I’m sure I’ll read it later, once the madness has subsided. But I understand the allure of a trendy book just as well as the next reader. I rode along for the Harry Potter madness. And although the Song of Ice and Fire series has not fully swept the nation, it is gaining popularity quite quickly.
The important thing is that we, as readers of quality literature, only get caught up in the works that deserve to captivate the masses. There will always be books that become popular for reasons I’m never quite able to pinpoint, or reasons that are questionable at best, i.e. libido. Series’ like the Twilight saga and the recently controversial 50 Shades of Grey have nuzzled right in to the “lady porn” category, gaining popularity with females ranging from ages 15 to 60 based solely on their saucy contents. I have read no reviews praising the authors’ evident talent or eloquence; none commenting on the originality of subject matter and plot lines; it’s simply the female version of “Penthouse Forum.” Which is fine. Those who take offense don’t have to read it. Done deal. I’d just like to acknowledge the works that deserve this level of popularity. While some books become trendy because of controversy & social taboos, others employ fluid language as well as original and challenging story lines. Which is more worth our time? I’ll let you decide.