Good books often become movies that, to the reader, are either a tremendous success or a complete disappointment. I have found, with the exception of The Princess Bride, movies inspired by books have some significant differences from the printed inspiration. The details so eloquently waxed in print become lost in staging, and many storylines are modified to create a film with impact in a reasonable running time. And still I pay to see them, hoping for the best.
As a rule, the book is better than the movie. I like to read the book no sooner than six months prior to seeing the movie so the inconsistencies are not as glaring, or wait until I have seen the movie to read the book. Bottom line, a good read is a good read; the cinema powers know the book will (often) translate into a solid script and ticket sales. Below are a few books that Hollywood has seen the promise in and embraced. You may enjoy them too.
The Help by Kathryn Stickett. Now in paperback! The 1960’s in Jackson, Mississippi is the setting of a story exposing the world of the privileged Junior League ladies and the maids that see to their homes and children. The writing is engaging from the first chapter with characters you will never forget. This run away success is now a movie highly anticipated by readers. (IMBD release date August 10, 2011.)
I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson. A tragedy of humor as Kate Reddy tries to have it all: breadwinner career, husband, two children, friends and a reliable nanny. My friend, Joanna, introduced many women to this book to bring a little relief to a demanding life of a wife and mother. The film is most likely to be a chick-flick, so arrange a girls’ night out. WARNING: some strong language and sexual situations (not explicit). (IMBD release date September 16, 2011.)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. In a world of isolation where it is not certain a full stomach will ever be in one’s future, the government has developed a game competing a male and female from each district against each other in a reality program that has a nation engaged. To quote my friend, Paige, Collins can really turn a phrase (i.e. the writing is exceptional). The book is the first in a trilogy for teens and young adults. I (and many other adults) have enjoyed this series greatly. I look forward to seeing how it plays out on the screen, though I confess I am holding my breath about what compromises to the story may have occurred to make it a movie. This series is recommended to male and female readers 12 and older. (IMBD release date March 23. 2012.)
In theaters or a Red Box now…
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I have not read this See novel but have read Shanghai Girls and the sequel, Dreaming of Joy. Each brings you into the world of women in China, drawing you into their culture while exposing the internal strength required to survive in the variety of social economic circumstances from a time of bound feet to communist rule. I find her characters to have relatable qualities revealing a depth I connect to woven into a completely engaging storyline. Snow Flower is out, but in limited release and will probably be on DVD in the next few months.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Engaging, but not a light read. Told from the perspective of a man looking back on the most pivotal year of his life–the year he ran away from all he knew and joined the circus. The characters are rich, though the story at times is rough in the lack of value placed on animals and people by the antagonist. WARNING: some strong language, some sexual scenes that are more explicit.
Secretariat: the Making of a Champion by William Nack. Unto Meadow Farm, about to go under financially, is born the only animal to be named one of the top 10 athletes in the world … The history of a triple-crown winner is its own spoiler, yet that knowledge in no way diminishes the story supporting the facts. I like the strength of Penney Cheney and the graceful way she walked out what she knew in her heart to be true. It was my favorite movie of last year–it really won my heart. In the belief that the book is usually better, this book goes into my ‘to read’ pile.