Books Besides the Bible: Was Battle Royale the Original Hunger Games?

Recently I have been in a few different bookstores with display signs proclaiming, “If you loved The Hunger Games, try this!” Beneath which are stacks of Koushun Takami's novel Battle Royale.A Japanese novel first translated into English about ten years ago, then retranslated in 2009, Battle Royale is something of a cult novel. I don't know if it will use The Hunger Games to piggyback into the mainstream, but it's already well-known enough that there are plenty of blog and forum posts claiming … [Read more...]

Books Besides the Bible: The Image of Christ in The Hunger Games

Every Monday in Books Besides the Bible, Ethan Bartlett considers the value and pleasure of reading for Christians. Warning: Spoilers of all three books ahead.To state the obvious, Katniss is not Christ, and The Hunger Games are not a Christian allegory in the manner of a series like Narnia. However, as I read The Hunger Games trilogy, I found it increasingly hard to ignore the number of Christ-symbols that appear throughout. I could do several thousand words on this, but for the sake of b … [Read more...]

Books Besides the Bible: The Fault in Our Stars

In Books Besides the Bible, Ethan Bartlett considers the value and pleasure of reading for Christians. “Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.” So begins Printz award-winning author John Green’s latest novel, The Fault in Our Stars.The novel is narrated … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: "Mother Night" (Vonnegut, 1961)

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some of the culture’s more inaccessible or intimidating artifacts.Cultural Vegetable of the Week: Mother Night (Kurt Vonnegut, 1961) Nutritional Value: A parable on the perils of pretendingIn Mother Night’s introduction, Kurt Vonnegut says his third novel has three morals. In order, they are:“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” “When you’re dead you’re dead.” “M … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: "The Age of Innocence" (Wharton, 1920)

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some of the culture’s more inaccessible or intimidating artifacts.Cultural Vegetable of the Week: The Age of Innocence (1920) Vegetable Equivalent: Iceberg lettuce Nutritional Value: An example of how “progressive” thought hides its own reactionary impulses Recommended Serving Size: Read slowly and steadily over a month; garnish with Martin Scorsese’s workmanlike adaptation if desiredEdith Wharton wrote The Age … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: "The Crying of Lot 49" (Pynchon, 1966)

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some of the culture’s more inaccessible or intimidating artifacts.Cultural Vegetable of the Week: Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) Vegetable Equivalent: An onion, mostly because it is multi-layered, but also because it might make you cry (but only from laughter) Nutritional Value: Witnessing the birth, development, and decay of an obsession Recommended Serving Size: As much as you can in as little time … [Read more...]

Our Ten Favorite Graphic Novels of 2011

2011 (and the spillover from late 2010) marked a ridiculously good year in the development of comics - or graphic novels if you care what people think of you. The medium experienced a couple works that will routinely find themselves in Best Of lists — and not just those treating 2011, but covering the entire history of the medium as well.This is not a Top 10 list of 2011. I feel daunted by the sheer number of worthwhile books that came out last year (both those I've heard of and those I haven … [Read more...]

Our Favorite Five Books of 2011

Throughout January, we'll be looking back on 2011 and unveiling our favorite things. This week, Carissa Smith shares an idiosyncratic list of the best five books of 2011--each presented as an entree with a bonus pairing.Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding Chad Harbach’s debut novel, The Art of Fielding, records the rise of college shortstop Henry Skrimshander, along with his near-derailment by performance anxiety. Henry’s struggle stands in as a metaphor for both “What am I supposed to do after c … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: Beowulf

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some of the culture’s more inaccessible or intimidating artifacts.Cultural Vegetable of the Week: Beowulf (the poem)Vegetable Equivalent: Spinach, the vegetable of warriorsNutritional Value: A Christian perspective on what’s worth keeping and discarding from the non-Christian pastRecommended Serving Size: The Seamus Heaney translation read loud in 200-line chunksThe Beowulf poet lived in Christian cult … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: "Gulliver's Travels"

High-brow Cultural Vegetable of the Week: Gulliver’s TravelsVegetable Equivalent: Broccoli, a vegetable forced upon you as a child but returned to with enthusiasm as an adultNutritional Value: Improved eyesight; greater awareness of proportionRecommended Serving Size: Parts One and Four and a refusal to accept the 2010 Jack Black-vehicle adaptation as a substituteGreat satire makes unfamiliar the things we take for granted. Properly deployed, satire forces us to be both the observer a … [Read more...]


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