Autostraddle Book Club #5: We’re Reading The Hunger Games!

Usually we take a slightly queer-er tack for Autostraddle Book Club; for instance, Dorothy Allison and Eileen Myles come to mind. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing particularly gay about The Hunger Games without doing some serious slashfiction work of your own. But the 2/3 of the editorial team who has read it is obsessed with it, and I feel like the only way I can justify taking the time to read it to myself is to make it about work, so here we are! Seriously though, I don’t think any of us will regret this. Remember how excited Laneia was about the trailer for the movie? I know, right?

Before there was a movie, however, there was a trilogy of books — The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay — which every single person I knew was reading but I still didn’t pay attention to because, I don’t know, a lot of people also like Rachael Ray’s show. But it would appear that they are very enjoyable books to read! And unlike a certain other popular book series that has since become a major motion picture, The Hunger Games features a strong female protagonist who, like, makes decisions and stuff. What decisions exactly? I DON’T KNOW. I HAVE TO READ THEM TO FIND OUT. I do not believe they are entirely centered around a dude, though, so that’s cool.

We’ll be reading all three books, which sounds like a lot but from what I hear you will have no problem finishing the whole trilogy over the course of a week. What’s that, you say? You didn’t get the trilogy for Christmahanakwanzakah and you’re not sure whether you want to buy three whole books, even though it seems like a foregone conclusion that you’ll love them? Well, you lucky dog, this is your day, because we are giving away one set of books to a randomly chosen commenter! I have yet to have anyone satisfactorily explain to me why the deadly competition in THG is called a “hunger game” specifically, but it always makes me want a sandwich when I think about it. So, to enter your name into the giveaway, leave a comment on this post explaining what delicious thing you plan on snacking on while reading for book club, and we’ll enter your name into a random drawing to win the trilogy for free! We’ll keep taking comments up until midnight EST on Wednesday (as in, the end of Wednesday and the beginning of Thursday) and announce the winner on Friday. My answer is Hyderabadi Hungama flavor Masala Munchies. What about you?

After we all have our books and have read them like the bright-eyed chipper little fans that we are, having been prepared for this opportunity by years of intense Harry Potter devotion, we will reconvene here in the last week of March to share our feelings. Does that sound good? Good! Go forth and comment, and then later read! May the odds be ever in your favor! I saw that on the Internet somewhere!

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. I haven’t read them yet, either, but I am dying to find out what the excitement is all about. So as an entry to win free books (yey!) I will tell you that when I eventually get the books (one way or another), I plan on snacking on some whole grain Scoops and fresh salsa while reading. Because whole grain Scoops and fresh salsa are about the best snack food out there. They’re an addiction.

  2. Oh good, I have till March to re-read them, it’s been a while since I first read them and I’ve been looking for an excuse to read them again, I just have three books from the library I have to finish first.

  3. I can’t believe this timing! I actually just started reading the first one last night. I definitely need to win the set though, because I only have the first one and I am currently attempting to go 365 days without purchasing a book. I have a book buying problem, this is my rehab.

    • I just did the same thing. I saw this post, got the ebooks, and finished up a few hours ago.

      Just watched the trailer for the first time and I’m now officially excited for this movie to come out! And I love the Capitol fashion idea!

  4. I literally finished them all between Wednesday and Saturday and I had to take Saturday night to recover. INSANE GOOD.

    “As far as I can tell, there’s nothing particularly gay about The Hunger Games…”

    The gayest thing about the Hunger Games is the feelings you have for Katniss after you’re done reading them. She’s the hottest bitch on the block, for real.

    I’m going to fix myself some lamb and plum stew and settle in for a reread.

      • This is a recipe from Jack-Ass Magazine, AKA MY HEAD(as much of my cooking is), but here’s what I think I’m gonna do! What Katniss describes in the book is basically a tagine, so I’m gonna base it around that idea.

        1-2lbs stew meat (go more, I think)
        1 onion, all chopped up!
        2-3 cloves of mofo garlic, all chopped up!
        (you could sub the above for the awesome Trader Joe’s chopped onion/garlic/shallot situation, which is probably what I’m gonna do)
        3 carrots, thickly chopped
        1/2 can of tomato paste (UMAMI BITCHES!)
        2 Tbsps balsamic vinegar
        1/2 cup of red wine
        1 cup beef stock
        Couple of shakes of Worcestershire sauce
        1 1/2 cup pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
        1/2 cup almonds, chopped
        2 tsps rosemary
        A big pinch of brown sugar
        A big pinch or two of kosher salt
        A big pinch of pepper
        (you could probably also add a couple of potatoes! I hate potatoes in stew but this is Autostraddle! You do you!)
        A handful of flour
        A couple of teaspoons of olive oil

        — Heat your oven to 300 degrees.
        — Grab your dutch oven or other heavy bottomed sauce pan! You’re gonna stick it in the oven so just make sure there’s no plastic on it.
        — Heat it up to medium-high, and throw some olive oil down into it.
        — Toss your lamb meat in the flour until it’s coated, and brown your meat in the olive oil.
        — Once it’s brown and there are awesome crunchy bits on the bottom, remove the meat and set aside.
        — Get that onion and garlic in there. Stir it around for five minutes until it’s soft and a little brown.
        — Add the tomato paste. Make sure you toss it around on the bottom of the pan so the metallic taste of canned tomato paste goes away.
        — Add the almonds and prunes. Stir that shit around.
        — Add the carrots, sugar, spices and Worcestershire. Stir it around for a few minutes. Your house will now smell like heaven.
        — Deglaze that pan! It’s time to add the wine! Do it, and stir up all the brown bits.
        — Add the meat and stock to the pan. Bring it all to a boil, and once it’s boiling, cover and stick in the oven.
        — Cook for 2-3 hours, or however long you feel. One hour would probably be fine, but the longer it cooks, the more tender the meat will be. Check periodically to make sure it’s not burning, and add stock as needed. Turn down to 275 if it keeps getting dry really fast.

        HOPEFULLY, prunes will cook down to almost nothing to just create a thick, sweet stew sauce (this is my secret ingredient in my Guinness stew!), lamb will be insane tender, and it will be awesome. If you want to add half the prunes about 45 minutes before the stew is done cooking, they’ll be chunkier, and that would probably be totally excellent.

        If you want to feel like Katniss, eat it with wild rice and mouth off to some toolbag in your general area who’s trying to tell you what to do. It’ll make the lamb taste even better I promise.

  5. maple flavored sandwich cookies someone left in my dorm lobby and ramen! those books are ALWAYS CHECKED OUT OF THE LIBRARY ARGHHHHHAs you can tell, I am too damn poor to buy the books myself unless the goddesses at autostraddle swoop in and save me. I <3 y'all

  6. I almost passed out when I saw the trailer for The Hunger Games in theaters. These books are seriously amazing, and I eventually convinced myself that if Katniss wasn’t in this crazy dystopian society, she would for sure be a lesbian.
    Read them!!!

  7. Own them. Enjoyed them. It’s been awhile since a decent YA trilogy. Did you know: yellow birds mean luck in love. Will most definitely see the movies. It’s so rare that a young woman is the main character to save her world.

  8. I made a Boston Cream Pie at the weekend, using the Graham Crackers recipe that was posted up, despite living in a country where Graham Crackers aren’t commercially available. So I’ll be eating that.

  9. This is so perfect because I’ve been wanting to read these books and I have suddenly happened upon a lot of free time. The latter isn’t necessarily good but at least I’ll have something to do now…assuming I win these books!

    While I read, I will probably snack on white cheddar popcorn, because that’s what I’m usually snacking on.

  10. Fuck yes I loved those books! Though I maintain that they would have been better if they had been about Rue and Foxface. Finnick and Annie can come too. And Katniss! But Gale and Peeta both bored the hell out of me.

    • Also (since I never owned the books and would really like to reread them!), I’ll be snacking on Cadbury Creme Eggs. Not just one. I am going to eat one after the other after the other. It will be like an orgy of chocolate and really suggestive tongue motions. Yum.

  11. I wasn’t interested in the books til I saw the movie preview and it looked awesome so I went and got them. Read the first one in about a day, working on Catching Fire right now. I will be snacking on some cherry jelly hearts and cadbury cream eggs. Pick me!!!

  12. Incredibly inauthentuc pad thai which I can eat by the pan (when I’m cheating on vegetarianism).

    Excited! The last two books have yet to filter down to the used bookstores, so I’ve only read the first.


  13. I teach a Freshman English class at the University of Connecticut and this semester I decided to design a course around The Hunger Games trilogy. So excited! Tons to discuss. It is a bit lacking on queer stuff, though :/ But the series is still epically amazing :D

  14. can i lie and sat pita bread with hummus?
    i am actually eating a whole grain hot pocket w/ broccoli and cheese (as if the whole grain makes it any healthier) and drinking redbull..because i’m hella tired and i haven’t read “Catching Fire” in a couple days and i’m at a really gooooood part so i need energies.

  15. these books are fucking brill!!
    I love them. Katniss is awesome. and rue and johanna and finnick and maggie and peeta, it’s just full of amazing characters.
    plus, she’s an archer which is fantastic. I love archery.
    I read these books, then talked dad into buying them for me, then I convinced my brother into reading them, then his girlfriend and now my sister’s reading them. and they’ve all loved them

  16. Autostraddle, as usual you anticipate my every move. Just asked my little corner of the Twittersphere whether I (at the advanced age of 27) should be reading these before the movie comes out, and the overwhelming answer was yes. If you wanted to provide them for me, that would be MOST WELCOME INDEED.

    Plan to consume with homemade ninjabread men or perhaps chocolate-covered pretzels. You need something easy to grab one-handed so you don’t have to take your eye off the page.

    • People say that they are like Twilight because there is a subtle undertone of a love-triangle, but once you actually read the books you’ll realize that the love-triangle is nothing compared to everything else that happens. Don’t fret, just read them. You’ll understand.

  17. I would like to win these! I haven’t read them yet, but they look promising and I tend to like books about girls who can do archery and other types of bad ass things.

    I’d like to say that I’ll be snacking on something healthy and homemade, but let’s be real I’ll be eating Peanut Butter M&Ms.

  18. Hmmm… Pillsbury Ready-to-Bake cookies dipped in Nutella, and a bag of Boyscouts Kettle Corn. And fancy artisan Ginger Ale (which, by the way, totally looks alcoholic but isn’t). And then I will curl up and cry, because YET ANOTHER SERIES will have ended. *sniff sniff*

  19. I haven’t read the books, but I’m always skeptical about widespread recommendations from my peer group based on the number of people who recommended that other YA series.

    I guess I’d be snacking on kettle corn popcorn and wild berry tea.

  20. I read the books last month…I borrowed the first book, read it in a day and immediately walked to my local bookstore for the second book. The next day I got the third. I don’t think they’re amazing literature or anything but so engrossing. Someone in Portland go with me to see the movie, none of my friends care!

  21. I am not even all slash-fanfic but I always thought when reading these books that Katniss seems like such a homo! She is not really interested in those dudes except in the most “this is what you do, right?” kind of way. And her fascination with Rue is, I think, promising.

    • Eh, Rue is more a symbol/parallel of her little sister Prim–Katniss even compares them a couple times, and she tries to protect Rue like she protects Prim. if you’re looking for subtexty-ness, Johana might be your best bet.

      While I didn’t read Katniss as particularly gay, I found her somewhat “queer” in the sense of being different, other. She doesn’t react the way people expect her to, she’s reluctant to take sides (even later on…don’t want to spoil anything), she’s not willing to conform or play anyone’s game except when it means her family’s survival. She’s also a feminist character–not just in the kicking-ass heroine department, but also she notices and remarks on the double standard for female beauty, she’s a (generally) level-headed, independent protagonist, and she’s not super-focused on either Peeta or Gale or prone to any stereotypical Hollywood-ish swooning or mooning over a man.

      (In sum, Katniss is the polar opposite of Twilight’s Bella.)

  22. I stole this series from my 14 year old cousin 2 years ago…he finally asked for them back this past Christmas. So I just ordered my own copy of them and I can’t wait to reread them! While eating an entire tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream. By the time I get to Mockingjay, I’m gonna need some serious comfort food…

  23. Read the first book so far, and it’s not like anything I’ve read before. It isn’t the most amazing piece of writing I’ve ever read, but one the the most interesting. I most defenitely am looking forward to reading the rest :D

    I’ll be eating honey on toast, awesome

  24. I am so excited for this, I read the first one when someone recommended it a while back, and now I have been holding off on the last two books waiting until tax time when I bought my kindle… which has been ordered so I can get to the next two soon I hope!

  25. I’m going to be eating Nutella stuffed gluten free crepes with raspberries and bananas.


    I’ve been meaning to read these, despite the fact that people suggest they’re a ripoff of Battle Royale, just…less gory (which was a hell of a book, if you can handle general terror). SO I’D TOTALLY READ THESE IF YOU GAVE THEM TO ME. AND I’D GIVE YOU A CREPE.

  26. These books have been on my reading list for a while, and now I finally have an excuse to read them!

    I’d love to be snacking on Mushroom Bahjhee and Garlic Nan.

    Meanwhile I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I either win these books, or someone returns it at the library.

  27. *cue queer trailer*
    …In a world dominated by meat sticks, there are those who rebel against the hegemony of single-spice cooking. In the dark but food-grade underground their palettes and the most forbidden and flavorful of foods collide in…
    Tacos, the forbidden food. That is what I shall be eating, unless I get taco-blockoed.*

    And, as you can tell, I have not read the books.
    *And I am shamelessly plagiarizing.

  28. Wow! Another person who has not read these books. I am super excited to have a reason to get through them, because I can usually get YA books done in one sitting, but I was unable to get more than 20 pages in that time I checked the Hunger Games out from the library before getting bored and switching to something else.

    Also I thought this was funny:
    Q: Why is it called the ‘Hunger Games’?
    A: Because ‘Battle Royale’ was already taken.

  29. Not a huge reader, but I read this trilogy twice already. Obsessed with the storyline. Probs looking up every possible hunger games article. CanNOT wait for the midnight showing, katniss everdeen, aka jennifer lawrence is a bombshell. woot

    PS I’m def going to try that lamb/plum stew. Kudos for your take on the recipe up there.

  30. well this is exciting, i guess now i’ll have to read the books, during which i plan on munching cheese and bacon shapes (biscuits, but not in american. what’s the american word for a savoury flavoured cracker? why are flat wheat foodstuffs so complicated)

  31. I read the first book in one day. Now I am in the middle of the second one… But I didn’t expect that much food in the books. Does she plan to write a Hunger game cookbook later? I think it would sell :)

  32. A friend of mine suggested this book for some ‘light’ reading on a long haul flight from Canada to Australia. If by ‘light’ reading she meant read the whole thing, refuse to take meal and toilet breaks and still have time for an in flight movie…then I guess she would have been right!!

  33. Finally signed up as a member so I could comment on this post!
    It’s a four-month wait for these at the library, so I hope y’all can help me out; I started reading the preview on Google Books and am already addicted. If I get my hands on a copy, I will be munching on dark-chocolate-covered-pretzels as I read!

  34. I read them while I was full on with uni tests and I loved them, I devoured the three of them in less than a week. The actual resolution felt rushed and it was a bit underwhelming, but I LOVED the first and second book!

  35. I’ve never actually read The Hunger Games, quite ironically since everyone I know has, and since confirming with my inner-pretentious-hipster-book-critic who will only read experimental novels I probably never will.

    Curse ye, inner-pretentious-hipster-book-critic!

  36. I hope it’s not too late to enter. My favorite reading snack is pretzel sticks with a raspberry honey mustard dip I get at the farmer’s market. I could easily nom through half a bag of pretzels without even realizing it!

  37. The setting of these books always vaguely reminded me of The Long Walk (by Stephen King under his pseudonym Richard Bachman). Is there another major female character suitable for slashing with Katniss?

  38. Hi, don’t enter me in the contest thing to win the books because I already own them all and I want someone who hasn’t yet experienced the magic that is The Hunger Games to win them. I’m currently 3/4 of the way through Mockingjay and I am seriously addicted to these books. I was one of those book snobs that was all like “Noooo, I read Audre Lorde, I don’t need that commercial bullshit,” and them BAM…I splurged on all three books and was reading them. And by reading them, I mean doing nothing but read them and yelling at everyone/everything that tried to interfere with me reading them. Kind of like a crack addiciton, for instance. So, like…try and put a positive spin on a crack addiction, and there you have it: The Hunger Games.
    P.S. Agreed about the whole title-making-us-want-to-eat-a-sandwich-thing.

  39. Well, I’ve only read like half of the first book so far. I actually didn’t even know of this book’s existence until my English professor required us to read it. I’ve never read a trilogy series or any of those Twilight/Lord of the Rings books nor seen any of their respected movies. It FEELS LIKE reading a tour guide of white-washed North Korea, with an American survival reality tv show, and coming of age teenage romance novel. TOO BAD SHE DOESN’T TURN INTO SOME FEMINIST BUTCH DYKE AT THE END OF THE SERIES. What a twist!

  40. I work in a library, and these books are ALWAYS checked out. I’ve been kicking around the idea of making kale chips, so maybe I’ll give that a go once I get my hands on a copy.

    Y’know, if I don’t win the contest. ::eye shift::

  41. Perfect timing, you guys!

    Finished the first book a couple weeks ago, and after seeing the 100+ people on the waiting list at the library, picked up the other two books last weekend! Just started the second book, and I’m excited to read everyone’s thoughts.

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