Our Friends' Favorites: Suzanne Collins Shares the Books She Loved as a Teen

Author of The Hunger Games names 10 novels she read in her formative years, including ones by Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut.
Regan McMahon Senior Editor, Books | Mom of two Categories: Reading, We Recommend
Senior Editor, Books | Mom of two

For this installment of Our Friends' Favorites -- in which we ask Common Sense Media's friends and partners to share their top media picks -- we turn to Suzanne Collins, author of the internationally bestselling Hunger Games trilogy, to find out what novels she loved as a teen. The film adaptation of Book 2, Catching Fire, hits movie screens Nov. 22. To date, there are more than 65 million books in print!

Although she's tied up with the release of the movie Hunger Games: Catching Fire as well as plans for the final two in the film series, Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2 (set for release in November 2014 and 2015 respectively), our friends at Scholastic asked Collins the pertinent question (and we supplied the descriptions): 

What were some of your favorite novels when you were a teen?

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
    This poignant coming-of-age story offers a portrait of a young woman struggling to transcend her poor circumstances in turn-of-the-20th-century Williamsburg.  
  • The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers
    A haunting novel that captures the spiritual isolation, yearnings, and racial tension among residents of a Georgia mill town in the 1930s.
  • 1984, by George Orwell
    A classic by the science-fiction master about a postapocalyptic world in which people are divided and watched for their own good.
  • Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
    This 19th-century Russian classic traces Anna's rejection of her passionless marriage, her family, and society in favor of her doomed love affair with the handsome Count Vronksy.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
    A historical war account mixed with science fiction, this cult classic is a dark, unforgettable story laced with black humor.
  • A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle
    This story of a girl's journeys through time and space to rescue her father from IT, a giant pulsating brain, celebrates the power of individuality, bravery, and love.
  • Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    A gripping, thought-provoking story of marooned schoolboys and their savagery questions whether people are naturally prone to evil.
  • Boris, by Jaapter Haar
    Written by a Dutch historian, this riveting read about children surviving the siege of Leningrad during World War II shows the effects of war on the everyday life of a country.
  • Germinal, by Emile Zola
    A compelling, heartbreaking historical novel brings to life the oppressed coal miners of 1860s France and their eventual revolt.
  • Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury
    This tender, semiautobiographical novel from the science-fiction pro follows a 12-year-old boy's voyage of discovery in small-town Illinois during the magical summer of 1928.

For more book suggestions, check out Our Friends' Favorites posts featuring Chelsea ClintonLeVar BurtonGeena Davis, and Jennifer Siebel Newsom.


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About Regan McMahon

Regan has been reviewing children's books for more than a decade. A journalist and former book editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, she cites as one of her toughest assignments having to read and review the 784-page... Read more

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