I'm surprised that I've been at The Aegis for this long and have not mentioned my love of books in any column. I suppose it's expected, though, because reading and writing typically go hand-in-hand.

Ask anyone in my family and they will tell you just how much I love to read. I know to many parents it may seem hard to imagine reprimanding your children for reading too much, but for my stepmom it was necessary to make sure I didn't miss the school bus … again.

Tuesday night I had a short discussion with my brother-in-law about good books. He recommended the Eragon series, which I will be starting tonight, thanks to Harford County Public Library's e-book program, and I offered up The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, is a very, very popular series that I've been hearing about and seeing on the Top 100 lists for my e-reader for months. Yet I still avoided it.


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To be honest, I don't really know why. I just never took an interest. I used Christmas money to purchase a new e-reader last week and figured I might as well try a free sample of the first book.

I was hooked. I read the whole trilogy in three days while on vacation.

I'll give a brief preview and try to not give too much away. It's set in the future in Panem. The main character, Katniss Everdeen, refers to it as being once known as North America.

There are 12 districts, most of which are poor, ruled by the Capitol, which is both a physical place of abundance and a cruel government. To keep the districts subdued and to enforce its power, the Capitol uses the annual Hunger Games.

Each district is forced to send one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18, to fight to the death in an arena on live TV for the whole nation to watch. At times it is quite graphic but at its heart, it follows Katniss' struggle between survival and maintaining her humanity.

I hope I didn't give too much away but I really enjoyed the whole series. I highly recommend the books for anyone who is on the fence like my brother-in-law, who I'm hoping will read the series once he finds out I called him out in a column.

I once joked with my colleague, Bryna Zumer, that I wanted to open a used bookstore with the name "Whatever I please" because I would only stock my favorite books, which vary in style and genre, as you'll soon discover.

In the past few months, the only other book besides The Hunger Games that has really stuck with me was Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

Crazy Love is another book I had been hearing about, and even purchased for my sister, but had never considered reading until I saw it on the bookshelf at Christ Fellowship Church.

It is yet another book I was glued to for days, learning more about the "relentless" God who loves us passionately and wants the same in return. It was hard to read at times too, I'll admit, and much like Radical by David Platt in that sense.

It pushed me to be more and to do more, for other people than I had considered before. I need to love more and help more, rather than check things off on a list, like if I went to church on one Sunday. Events like the homeless vigil I covered a few weeks ago affirm that even more.

I'll be the first to admit that I haven't drastically altered my life but I'm trying to make a change. I take it day by day and as usual, I am a work in progress.

It is an inspiring book and a book I struggled with because of what I realized about myself, but one of my favorites. I have recommended it to so many people, so many times, that I think I'm borderline harassing some of my family members.

My imaginary store "Whatever I please" will probably never come to fruition and if it does, I doubt it would be successful because of how different my favorite books are. I would be pretty unreliable in that sense. I like everything from sci-fi to fantasy and Jodi Picoult's gripping novels.

I can already tell with what I've read about the Eragon series that had this column been delayed, it may have ended up on my list of recent favorite reads. I only hope that I can stretch it out longer than The Hunger Games and I'm not left with nothing to read in three days.

We'll see.