Suzanne Collins is seriously talented, but you already know that. She's the author of your favorite trilogy, The Hunger Games, which you grew up reading (and watching) — and totally loving. Before writing Katniss' epic story, Collins wrote episodes for Little Bear and Clifford's Puppy Days. She also worked on Clarissa Explains All (yes, really!) and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo for Nickelodeon. So, seems like Collins has always been providing you great stories with amazing characters.
Collins gifted us The Hunger Games in 2008, and as that story comes to a close on the big screen, I'm not sure I'm ready to let go of her amazing work and influence just yet. This need to have more Suzanne Collins in my life has led me to wondering about her favorite books. Mostly because I want to read all of them, and, secondly, because one of the best parts of learning an author's favorite books is that those stories usually had some influence on her work.
In some recent interviews with Collins, she revealed some of the titles that not only inspired her as a teenager, but that she's read time and time again. I guarantee you'll love her favorite books, too.
Myths and Enchantment Tales by Margaret Evans Price
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Collins explains that she's had a lifelong love for mythology. This also includes D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. If you're looking to refresh your mythology knowledge and impress your friends with strange facts on winged horses and centaurs, pick up a copy of one of Collins' favorite books on the subject!
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
In this dark and stormy classic, two siblings are in a desperate search for their missing scientist father, but the search brings them through space and time to a new planet. Goosebumps creator R.L. Stein believes that "Meg is a precursor to heroines such as Katniss from The Hunger Games," and I definitely agree with him. Meg has to make hard choices in a dystopian setting and face some life and death consequences... see any resemblance to Katniss?
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Taking place in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn, Francie Nolan is a young girl learning the value of a penny and how to survive at any cost. This is another book Collins mentions is one with a YA protagonist that she fell for as a teenager.
1984 by George Orwell
In an interview with The Independent, Collins mentioned her inspiration for The Hunger Games came from the fear of television and false media. Sounds kind of like 1984 and Brave New World — which, no coincidence, are some of her absolute favorites. If you're in need of a new dystopian world with extremely problematic governments, you'll want to keep a copy of these novels on your shelf.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Are you swept away by Hemingway's gorgeous sentences and iceberg theory of writing? This memoir documents Hemingway's views on Paris and the fascinating life he lived there. Collins says in the Entertainment Weekly interview that this is another book she's embarrassed to admit she's read one too many times.
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
As a teen, Collins loved this book. Carson McCullers' first novel proves that capturing the human spirit in the pages of a book mints a forever-reader. This book balances multiple characters all dealing with different issues, but all in search for some beauty in the world. You'll experience just as many (if not more) emotions while reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter that you did while reading The Hunger Games series.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Very few ever visit the Blackwood House, and for good reason. But when a stranger arrives and family secrets are revealed, desperate times call for desperate measures. This thrilling and mysterious novel has one of the most unhinging narrators of all time, and Collins loves it!
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy, one of the greatest writers of our time is loved by another fabulous writer. It only makes sense. Anna Karenina is the tale of love and adultery in high society Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Brush up on this classic that's also beloved by Collins herself.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Collins' father was a Vietnam Veteran, and while growing up, she heard quite a few war stories. So, it's no surprise that Slaughterhouse-Five is one of her all-time favorites. Centering on the Dresden bombing, this novel centers on a character "un-stuck" in time and travels in and out of moments of his life. It's an addicting book you'll have a hard time putting down.
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is basically the king of science fiction, but in Dandelion Wine, he sticks to the beautiful and simple story of a young boy discovering just how alive he is. This lovely story captures its readers as it portrays life in Green Town — including Collins. It just goes to show the author of an intense dystopian world can appreciate the simplicities in literature as well.
Germinal by Émile Zola
Known for its brutality and bleakness, Germinal doesn't spare you on the realities of poverty and injustice. Similar to The Hunger Games, Germinal brings you into a world of poor coal miners and wealthy upperclassmen who cross paths and ultimately create no happy ending. But who wants a happily ever after, anyway?
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
If you read Lord of the Flies in middle or high school, then you know the extreme similarities this and The Hunger Games trilogy have to one another. A group of young, stranded boys are left to survive on an island, and it's only a matter of time before fights break out and corruption spreads. They didn't broadcast it on television, but the kids can get just as brutal in this story as the tributes in The Hunger Games.
"Lord of the Flies' is one of my favorite books. That was a big influence on me as a teenager; I still read it every couple of years." —Suzanne Collins