Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The List - Books and Movies

Books or movies? Movies or books? Sometimes I'm not sure which I love more. Books, yes, it's books. But movies are a close second. I'd far rather sit down and watch a movie than television (if I had my druthers and that's an argument I've long ago given up on!).

Here are some lists that combine the two:

My favorite movies adapted from books I've read:
1. "My Fair Lady" adapted from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. Hands down my favorite. Okay, granted, it's a play and not a novel. Still. Audrey Hepburn and all of those great costumes!

2. Franco Zefferelli's 1968 adaptation of William Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet." Actual young people playing the leads. Beautiful young people, great costumes, tragic love story. Are you getting tired of me talking about this movie yet?

3. "Little Women" adapted from Louisa May Alcott's book of the same name, the 1984 version starring Winona Ryder. I want to love the 1949 version starring Elizabeth Taylor and the 1933 version starring Katherine Hepburn but the actors just look too old. These are supposed to be very young girls, after all.

4.  "The Age of Innocence" adapted from the Edith Wharton book of the same name. It's very much a toss up which I like better, the book or the movie. The movie brings the book to life with the best background narration I've ever heard in a movie.

Whoopi Goldberg as Celie in
The Color Purple
5. "The Color Purple" adapted from Alice Hoffman's book by the same name. Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey were surprisingly good and the movie did a wonderful job of staying true to the book.

6. "To Kill A Mockingbird" adapted from Harper Lee's iconic novel. Because Gregory Peck. And a really wonderful job of bringing the book to life.

7. "Fried Green Tomatoes" adapted from Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe. I can never decide which is my favorite character. All I know is that some days, you just need to yell "Tawanda!"

My favorite movies adapted from books I want to read:
1. "The Princess Bride", book by William Goldman. Oh god, how I love this movie! I now have the book in print and on my Nook and, by golly, I'm going to read it soon. And then I'm going to pick up Cary Elwes' book about the making of the movie, As You Wish".

2. "Silver Linings Playbook" book by Matthew Quick. I wonder if the book really could be as good as Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Goodwin were in the movie adaptation?

3. "Breakfast At Tiffany's" book by Truman Capote although I'm aware that this collection of stories is quite different from the movie. And, of course, no Audrey Hepburn in the book.

4. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" book by Jonathan Safran Froer. This has been on my nightstand but I know it's going to make me cry so I just haven't been able to make myself pick it up. I just bought the audiobook. Picture me sobbing throughout my daily commute.

5. "The Descendents" book by Kaui Hart Hemmings. If the book is half as good as the movie at blending humor, sadness, and anger, I'll be a very happy girl.

6. "The Blind Side" by Michael Lewis. A happily-ever-after movie about a family who saves a young man who grows up to play football. You all know how much I love family and football!

My favorite books that have been adapted into movies I still need to see:
1. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I'm told the movie isn't as good as the book and I did wonder about some of the casting but this book has stuck with me and I really want to see what they made of it.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I had every intention of seeing this as soon as it came out. It doesn't seem to have done well in the theaters but I'm still anxious to see it.

3. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Oh, this book. I'm literally frightened to see this movie.

4. Serena by Ron Rash. The movie re-pairs Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Goodwin; not necessarily who I would have chosen but I think they are both very capable of handling the leads. Can. Not. Wait!

5. Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Have any of you seen this yet? I'm not sure it could quite capture the gut checks that  I had while reading the book but Julianna Moore won the Oscar for it so there's that.

Books that are better than the movie:

Most readers will agree that the book is almost always better than the movie but these particularly stand out for me. I've included only one Stephen King book adaptation but almost any of the movie adaptations of his work could be included.

1. The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket. The movie makers were stupid. It's a series of books that could easily have been made into a series of movies. But they lumped several into one movie and then put Jim Carrey in the lead role, effectively killing a potential movie franchise.

2. Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil by John Berendt. The movie was okay but the characters (and they were characters in every sense of the word) were mostly flat. These are real people that Berendt made jump off the page.

3. Cujo by Stephen King. You'd think seeing a giant rabid dog terrifying a woman and her child would be scarier than reading about it. You'd be very wrong. This book had me so on edge that my neighbors' dogs barking made me so jittery I had to stop reading. Of course, most of King's books are better read than watched.

4. Beloved by Toni Morrison. Morrison's writing is just so incredible that there's almost no way to adapt any of her books into movies and do it well. Even Oprah Winfrey couldn't make this movie work.

Now my question for you is this: which books that you've loved do you think might make great movies?


  1. What a lovely list! I remember that first time I saw that version of Romeo and Juliet. I was really quite young and went with a girlfriend. We were young enough to be squirmy during the love scenes. LOL

    Fried Green Tomatoes - love it. I agree about picking a favorite - well, maybe Kathy Bates with Tawanda. You do need to read Cary Elwes book, AS YOU WISH. If you love the movie, you'll have fun with the book. Have not seen the movie Still Alice yet. Will do so at some point. The book was so powerful.

    And I'll bring up a new question - what about movies that you think are better than the books? I have 3 off the top of my head - better for me anyway. And these feel a little more complete to me, probably because of the ensemble casts. Practical Magic (love Sandra and Nicole), The Jane Austen Book Club (Emily Blunt - love), and How To Make An American Quilt (so many women and Maya Angelou too).

  2. I loved the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. I read the book after having seen the movie a few times and really liked that as well. The Color Purple was a good adaptation, I agree.

    Ah, The Princess Bride! I adored the book and eventually came to love the movie. I saw the movie first--a gazillion times because it is one of my husband's favorites. Then my husband talked me into reading the book and there was no going back.

    I haven't seen The Book Thief yet, but, like you, it is a favorite book of mine. I had the opportunity to see the movie a couple times, but I keep resisting. I don't know why. Afraid of being disappointed maybe. I really liked Still Alice, but I am not sure I want to see the movie, no matter how good it may be. It was painful enough reading the book, given my family's history and my own fears about dementia.

    From your list of books that are better than the movie, I can really only speak to Bad Beginnings, and I completely agree with your assessment. I have seen the movie Cujo, but I never read the book nor do I want to.

  3. It's hard to see the movie and then read the book. I LOVE Princess Bride and own the book but I'm just not sure it'll live up to my LOVE of the movie. LOL! I have Serena on my e-reader and really should get to it. And yes, Midnight in the Garden of Evil was a bit of a dud. Love the book!

    Great post!!

  4. I definitely agree about the Little Women movies. I love Katharine Hepburn but she looks far too old to be Jo. The Winona Ryder version is probably my favorite as well. I also like Pride and Prejudice version with Kiera Knightly. I've watched the Kevin Sullivan Anne of Green Gables thousands of times and love it even though the 2nd part only vaguely resembles the books. I haven't seen Silver Linings Playbook but I saw the previews and attempted to read the book. I had a hard time meshing the image of Bradley Cooper with the almost childlike voice of the narrator.

  5. I thought the movie version of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was good, but the book is so much better.

    My favorite movie adaptation of a book I love is the 1963 version of The Haunting, adapted from Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House.

    My favorite movie adapted from a book I still want to read is Auntie Mame.

    I don't think the perfect movie of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend has been made yet. All three movies have serious flaws in the storytelling.

  6. Great list. I have watched and read The Princess Bride and Breakfast at Tiffany's. These are two examples of where the movie is so much better. Capote's original story is nothing like the movie. I always expect differences but not as many as there were.

    My favorite book-to-movie adaptation? The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Hands down.

  7. Great question. I thought The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and that series would make wonderful movies... I guess there is still hope :)

  8. What a fun list! I have found that I just can't read a book after I see the movie so I try as long as possible to watch a movie until I read the book. It didn't work with The Lovely Bones though...and I liked that movie!

  9. Excellent post and so much fun to read! I am 100% with you on My Fair Lady, To Kill a Mockingbird, R&J, and Little Women--I loved Age of Innocence, but haven't watched the movie yet. I remember liking both the book and movie of Fried Green Tomatoes, but need to refresh my memory on both :)

    I'm reading 12 Years a Slave soon, and am eager to see how it compares to the movie, which I haven't seen yet.

    Personally, I thought Princess Bride was MUCH better than the book, which irritated me. I think Breakfast at Tiffany's the movie is better than Capote's novella, which seems dated rather than classic. The book version of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is as good as the movie--both incredibly powerful.

    I'm hoping to final get around to reading The Book Thief this year.

    What did you miss? The mini-series of North and South, Wives & Daughters, and Cranford all do justice to Gaskell's novels and I love the books and adaptations equally well. Most recently I watched the movie version of Never Let Me Go and thought it wasn't nearly as good as the book--it told the story, but the tension for me wasn't nearly as sharp as in the book.

  10. I loved My Fair Lady a lot more than the book. The play was too stuffy for me as a teenager! Loved the movie version of Fried Green Tomatoes better than book. Princess Bride is also a better movie than book.

    We Need to Talk About Kevin...oh, that movie...frightening. I was traumatized for awhile after that movie. I'll pass on the book. The Book was so much better. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are always amazing to watch together. They have great chemistry.

    I'd say read the actual book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as well as listen to it. It's a visual experience. But the book is still so much better. The Descendants is one of my favorite movies. So good. I'd like to read the book as well.

    I'd love to see Graceling by Kristin Cashore turned into a movie if it's done right. Maybe finish up the Robert Langdon series so I can watch the rest of the books rather than read them. Great list!