Ready for another Summer Reading challenge? This one is not too hard, I promise!
Pick up a book, any book, that has been made into a movie or a television show. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy – am I right? In fact, to make it even simpler, here’s a personally recommended list of books (and below that, a list of even more choices).
What’s the catch, you say? Well, all you have to do is write a 5 page essay comparing your book to its film and contrasting the ways in which…. just kidding! Read and relax and enjoy the rest of your summer :).
11/22/63 – Stephen King
King’s novel takes readers back in time – via a wormhole – to try and stop JFK’s assassination. The novel is a big read, but it moves fast, and the alternate history aspects are fascinating. (Watch the miniseries starring James Franco on Hulu).
84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff
Can a book be both heartwarming and snarky? If so, this is it. A memoir, told in letters, between a feisty NY reader and a stuffy British bookseller. And, with a movie that stars both Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins, you can’t go wrong.
Catch Me if You Can: The Amazing True Story of the Youngest and Most Daring Con Man in the History of Fun and Profit – Frank W. Abagnale
Read the book for the incredible details of Frank Abagnale’s true life of crime and deceit, then watch Spielberg’s movie for the stunning cinematography and the performances of Tom Hanks and Leo DiCaprio.
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Read this classic out of season for a twist; the humor and heart still shine through even if it’s not snowing! Then, watch whatever version of the movie – muppets, animated, Patrick Stewart-ified – you love most.
The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
One of my favs – both the movie and the book. Ondaatje is lyrical, and this love story, set in Italy during WWII, offers a great escape from the busy-ness of summer. The movie, which won an Academy Award for Best Picture, is also worth a view.
Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season Living Among the Wild Turkey – Joe Hutto
If you haven’t seen the Nature documentary, My Life as a Turkey, you should definitely watch this fascinating account of one man and his attempt to raise a brood of wild turkeys in Florida. Then, pick up the book for more insight and Hutto’s great sketches.
The Leftovers – Tom Perotta
What happens after the Rapture comes and people disappear? How do the survivors deal with loss, love, and the fear of the unknown? Perrotta’s book is not necessarily about the spirituality of the moment, but of the reality. (The HBO miniseries uses the book as a basis, but goes beyond Perrotta’s original story.)
The Martian – Andy Weir
Read this book, about an astronaut left alone on Mars, first – it’s way funnier than the movie. Then buckle down with the movie, starring Matt Damon, to get an incredible visual experience of what “stranded on Mars” means.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
If you’re looking for a fun, light read, check out the first in McCall Smith’s set of stories about Botswana’s dedicated and intrepid female detective, Precious Ramotswe. The first few books in the series have been made into an excellent BBC/HBO miniseries.
Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel features a number of linked short stories revealing the personality and story of a somewhat cantankerous Maine woman. The title character is portrayed by Frances McDormand in the Emmy Award-winning miniseries.
The Spies of Warsaw – Alan Furst
If you haven’t read Furst before, Spies is a good place to start. This espionage novel – set just at the cusp of WWII – combines the best aspects of the genre: a somewhat mysterious spy, a number of close (and missed) calls, and the possibility of a romance. When you’re done reading, check out the BBC miniseries. (The jazz soundtrack is excellent!)
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride – Cary Elwes
Okay, so this one wasn’t a book first, but it’s a great behind-the-scenes look at what happens when you make a movie from a beloved book (which you should also read, by the way). Elwes explores the cast, the scenes, and the extraordinary story of how such a small film blossomed into a cult classic. An awesome way to spend a summer afternoon or two!
And for more books into movies, here’s a list from Goodreads. Read on!