Sunday, February 19, 2012

Leave the movie, read the book!

The book turned film. It’s not a new phenomenon by any means, but lit-based cinema seemed to be a noticeable theme this year.

 Some titles made the transition successfully, such as Oscar nominees The Help, The Descendants, and Hugo. Others didn’t fare so well. (I’m looking at you One For The Money. It’s not a good sign when your best review includes the sentence, “It will have you groaning between yawns.” But I digress….)

If you’re looking to ditch the Netflix and grab a good page-turner for the night, I recommend the following stories so entertaining, they inspired other mediums:

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1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The first book in Stieg Larsson’s famed series entertains and intrigues. While this dark tale starts out a bit slow, it builds momentum when Larsson gets to the 40 year-old murder mystery, the troubled investigative journalist hired to solve it, and the badass, pixie-sized heroine. It’s a veritable “book noir” filled with suspense, passion, and corruption.

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2. I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother
Okay--the recent SJP movie may have been subject to lackluster reviews, but the book is surprisingly delightful and poignant. Set in London and narrated by a clever protagonist, Allison Pearson’s debut novel recalls the charm of Bridget Jones’ Diary. And while this tale includes hilarious episodes similar to those in the aforementioned title (Reddy mangling store-bought mince pies so they’ll look homemade for her daughter’s school party to name one), it’s also filled with ever-relevant musings on how to succeed as a working parent. Wrapped in a sharp, witty package, the book is philosophical and interrogative at its core.

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3. The Help
If you haven’t jumped on The Help bandwagon, what are you waiting for? Yes, the film is touching and filled with exceptional performances. But the book is better. The strong narrative voices heighten both the endearing and heart wrenching moments, creating one of those wonderfully rare novels you don’t ever want to end. Kathryn Stockett has masterfully crafted unique characters that move through a rich story about bravery, oppression, resistance, friendship, and hope. It prompts important reflection on historical, political, and personal levels. Dare I say it’s the To Kill a Mockingbird of our generation? Better not—my fellow lit peeps will have my head. But it’s pretty darn close.

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