The following is my list of the books and their movies that I enjoyed reading and watching the most this year. In looking back over my reviews for these books, I recall that I also had a lot of fun doing the background research for these books. Many of them had a rich history surrounding the book or the making of the movie, or there is simply a lot of chatter about the book and its movie to look over. The list is chronologically ordered according to when I reviewed them. Click through to the reviews to see them again. (Adam’s fiction list is tomorrow and non-fiction Wednesday).
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Although the validity of the story has been brought into question by the geisha whose life the story is based on, both the book and its movie beautifully, tragically, and intriguingly describe what life might have been like for a woman in Japan during the early to mid 1900s. This title stands as a favorite because I was impressed to find that the book painted just as wonderful picture in my mind as the movie does.
Dr. Sleep by Stephen King
As a fan of Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick, Jack Nicholson, it is no surprise that I loved the book and movie, The Shining, which preceded this book. This book, which is unique on my list because it doesn’t have a movie associated with it yet, was amazingly just as solid as the book that came before it. In a world where the majority of sequels fall flat or are an excuse for the writer/director to get another money grab, this book was awesome in the fact that it could easily stand-alone and still be great. I guarantee that this book will be made into a movie.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones
My husband introduced me to Japanese animated films, specifically Studio Ghibli movies, and I have to say that, for the most part, they do not disappoint. I was curious to see if the book that Howl’s Moving Castle was based on is as fun to listen to as the movie is to watch. While the book was different from the movie, they are both great in their own ways. And, those differences don’t detract from each other but they add to each other’s greatness. I was also excited to discover that this book and its movie would be a great way to get a younger listener interested in literature.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
This title comes with a great deal of nostalgia for me as it is one of my mother’s favorites and I even listened to the movie’s soundtrack on record a bunch growing up. I really enjoyed listening to this book because it was narrated by the great Michael C. Hall, who starred in Dexter, a favorite show of ours. What most surprised me was how rich of a back-story I discovered when I dug into the life of the author of this short and sweet story. The research led me to want to watch the movie, Capote, which is based on Truman’s life and was pretty amazing in and of itself.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
This book was an amazing listen. I had read the book before and seen the movie many times, but I still found all of the 40 hours of the book compelling. The fact that this 40-hour listen kept me interested the entire time and brought me to tears at moments really did surprise me. The movie couldn’t have possibly included everything from the novel, but I was very impressed with how well the book was adapted for the movie. I only wish that I could get my husband to love it as much as I do.
Fault In Our Stars by John Green
I originally read this book in 2013, about a year after it had originally been published. The book had a lot of chatter about it, and I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. Well, I fell in line with the rest of the world. I love the gambit of emotions that were found within the book, and I was excited to listen to the book again right before the movie was released. I dragged my husband to the theater with me opening weekend (he relented in part because he loves me and in part because he is a fan of John Green’s vlogs), and I loved the movie so much that the Blu-ray was on the top of my Christmas wish list this year.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Here’s another example of a book and movie that both lived up to the hype. Not only is the story incredibly compelling, but what I enjoyed most was how many layers the story had to it. The story is a mystery, a romance, a commentary and a horror all wrapped into one. Listening to the book is great both there is a male character for Nick’s POV and a female narrator for Amy’s POV. Both narrators did an excellent job of capturing the essences of their character and made the suspense of the novel that much more exciting. The film, as well, packed quite a punch with the actors chosen for the various crucial roles found in the novel. All-in-all a really fun experience.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Just thinking about this book and its movie gives me a thrill. And, because I listened to the commentary and watched some interviews with some of the people involved in the film, I can confirm that I am not alone. It seems that everyone who worked on this project from the author to the person who wrote the musical score thinks back on To Kill a Mockingbird fondly. I like it especially because both the book and the movie say so much without having to say too much. A lot of the themes found in the book were portrayed simply through observations and attitudes, and the actors achieved this same effect by expertly using their body language and tone. Most importantly, the story strikes a chord with me as a fellow southern and now mother.
Three Biggest Let Downs
While I was pleased to have a number of books and their movie live up to my expectations, I found a few this year that really fell flat for me. I probably wouldn’t be including this list except for when I went over all of the books that I had read this year, my heart sank a bit as I remembered how disappointed I was in some aspect of either these three book or their movies or the combination of the two.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver is a book that I don’t recall ever reading while in school. So, when I read it this year in anticipation for the movie that would be coming, I finally understood why it is such a good book to get kids to read. The book gives the reader a lot to think about while at the same time helps to develop a deeper love for fiction. The movie should have been great as it starred Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Katie Holmes. Still unsure of why it failed so poorly, I would argue that it might have something to with the fact that those actors were underutilized in the film. They came across as quite emotionless, which makes me think that perhaps the book simply should not have been made into a movie as the emotionless state was exactly what the society in the story was shooting for.
Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming
I am one of the few people I know who choose Roger Moore as their favorite Bond and the reason is because of this movie. I love the humor in it and how the story takes a lot of twists and turns. For this reason, I was so incredibly disappointed in this book. I could hardly stand the derogatory language used and outdated attitudes portrayed in the book by Ian Fleming. And, so much of what I loved about the movie was nowhere found in the book. I currently have On Her Majesty’s Secret Service on my wish list and am considering giving Fleming another chance to redeem himself in my eyes.
Silver Linings Playbook
It is actually difficult for me to put my finger on why this book and its movie were such a letdown to me. I would say that I am perhaps a victim of overhype in this case. The problem I think is that many of the things that I liked about the movie were not in the book and many of the aspects of the book that I appreciated most were not included in the movie. Instead of those differences helping to improve upon each other, similarly to Howl’s Moving Castle, the differences made both experiences less enjoyable as a whole. And, I really wanted to like both.