Since this reccent advent of turning every semi popular YA novel into a movie, it’s easy to write the original book off. And, to be fair, a lot of the books are worth writing off (ie Twilight), but there are a couple blockbuster movies whose source material is actually worth the hype. You’re not too cool for them, if you haven’t read them, you’re missing out.

The Hunger Games

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Ok, so The Hunger Games get a lot of flack, and some of it rightfully so, but I’d argue that the dumbest things about the trilogy is because of the movies NOT the books. The biggest example being: Katniss IS NOT WHITE in the books, she’s brown, and it’s discussed at great length in the books how brown people in District 11 have less privilege and more dangerous jobs, then the white people who live in town. However these books surely aren’t perfect, the love triangle is really annoying, but Katniss is such a rich and complicated charter with so many other things going on at any given time: it’s fairly easy to ignore. I think they’re fun, fast, and addictive books; that talk about state violence, imperialism, exploitative media, diverse abilities & strengths, and even revolution in truly compelling ways. They’re a an ideal summer read.

Harry Potter

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These are the Swedish covers, and my favorites!

I don’t know what you’ve been doing the last 16 years that was more important then participating in this well deserved global phenomenon, whatever it was, it’s no longer acceptable: just read them. One of my favorite things about the Harry Potter books is how they grow up along with Harry, the first few books read a bit like a Roald Dahl books- a little dark, but silly and fun, with only child like consequences- but as the books continue they get more mature and complex. The more you learn about Voldemort and the Death Eaters the less they seem like childish supernatural villains, and the more they resemble real life fascists. Which brings me to what I adore about these books: they’re obviously anti-fascist texts. They explain over and over again that while magical creatures are different from wizards, these differences do not make them lesser. A very cool massage for a youth book series, it’s not about equality and sameness, it’s about difference and respect. Although this diversity only stretches as far as centaurs and muggle-borns, not wizards of color, which is a serious problem with the books: diversity shouldn’t just be a metaphor. If that won’t wholly ruin the books for you, they show fantastic examples of anti-fascist organizing from life underground, to magical pirate radio, to student resistance groups. And while the movies really focus on Harry and his hero’s story, the books enforce over and over that this fight is EVERYONE’S fight, and every wizard is needed to fight against and defeat Voldemort.

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