If you were one of the 43 million people who watched the Academy Awards ceremony last week, you may have been struck, as I was, by the number of nominated films based on books. Four of the nine Best Picture nominees — Captain Phillips, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, and The Wolf of Wall Street — were adapted from recently published books. And ten of the twenty acting nominees were from films adapted from books or plays. What does this say about Hollywood? It says that they are very smart to recognize the dramatic (and commercial) value of the printed page. A good story is a good story, especially if it lends itself to strong, sympathetic characters, lush landscapes and lots of dramatic tension.
This isn’t new. Every year there are many, many films based on books new and old. Some of the greatest movies in the history of film were adapted from books. Think of Gone with the Wind, the Grapes of Wrath, Pride and Prejudice and The Great Gatsby to name only a few. Children’s books are particularly suited for film adaptation- from the Harry Potter series to Charlotte’s Web, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Hollywood gets ideas from books, and since we love books as much as we love movies here at the library, a movie with a book tie-in is something that we look forward to. And there is much to look forward to this year.
There are more than 100 books being adapted for movies right now, dozens of which will be released this year. Which begs the question – do you read the book first and then watch the movie? Or vice versa? Personally, I prefer to read the book, and then, watch the movie. I like reading first, because I like to go into the movie with some idea of the plot. Although, I’ll confess that I’ve done it the other way round, most recently with Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings.
If you want to get a jump on some of the latest films in theaters and those due to be released this year, here is a list of books you’ll want to read: Catching Fire, and Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins, The Monuments Men, by Robert Edsel and Bret Witter, The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, Divergent, by Veronica Roth, Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, The Hundred-foot Journey, by Richard C. Morais, The Giver, by Lois Lowry, A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby, Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard, The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper, A Book of Common Prayer, by Joan Didion, Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy, A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson and Serena by Ron Rash. All books are available for you at the Raynham Public Library.