Literary Persuasion–The Hunger Games

In an age where easy-to-watch films are everywhere, what makes us continue to dedicate our time to reading books?

I was kindly invited to guest post on the blog Propaganda for Change. I tried my hand at a more scientific post that talks about the persuasive content hidden in the pages of our papery friends, using the impressive Hunger Games Trilogy as an example.

If you’re reading this, then chances are you like to read. And you almost certainly like stories.
 
From an evolutionary viewpoint, the reason for loving stories is clear; prehistoric man could listen to his friend talking about a close encounter with a wolf in a cave and then he could use that knowledge to stay alive on his search for food. Stories were sugar coated pills of important information. They were also a way of creating beauty to bond with other humans and increase one’s survival (1). Even today, it’s a well-known fact that we tend to enjoy things that lengthen our lifespans–mother nature is funny that way.
 

Granted, the ‘don’t eat those red berries, because…’ story is extremely different from the modern fictional sagas, but we’re captivated by them just the same.
However, this still doesn’t explain our love of books in particular. These days, most books have been turned into films, which require little effort or time to watch. Reading a 700-page book is an entirely different form of crazy. It requires days, and sometimes weeks, of dedicated page flipping. Why do we do this?
 
One simple answer could be ‘the book is better than the film’. But why would we say this? What powerful force would make us struggle through not just one book, but a whole series because it’s ‘better’ than anything on the screen?
 
I believe the answer is ‘persuasion’. The writer is trying, and often succeeding, to convince you that those 100,000 words are worth your time. Essentially, a book is a never-ending stream of propaganda that tells you to read more propaganda. 
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4 thoughts on “Literary Persuasion–The Hunger Games

  1. You just get a lot more from the books than the movies in my opinion. As someone who loves the series the movies were good as far as book adaptations in Hollywood goes. Suzanne Collins straight up flipped America as we knew it. She gave us a girl who did something many of us would probably not have done at 16 and she killed a bunch of kids for decades! I’m hooked. Katniss may not be very dynamic the first book but the way her life is moving around her makes up for it. Great blog post!

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  2. Thanks Joy! And I agree–the movies are pretty reasonable. I love the locations they were filmed at!

    Have you ever seen a movie adaption that you preferred to the book?

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  3. I can only watch one movie before I get restless, yet I can read books for hours and still want more-not great when its 2am and you want to finish a 400 page book, but still! I find the difference is when you are reading you understand the characters and the author and the plot a lot better than when it is on a screen-usually the movie adaptations miss a lot of the small parts of a book plot that seem like nothing but really make the story believable and complete

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  4. Hi Petitechai, I can’t agree more! I’m continually watching movies and being like, “Wait–they left out that bit?!” To be honest, I’ve felt more than a little betrayed before by movie adaptions that left out some of my favorite bits! 😀

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