By December 16, 2008 3 Comments Read More →

Book Into Film Pairings, Part 3

My third installment on upcoming film adaptations begins in the summer season of 2009, so you’ve got plenty of time to build these books into your group’s schedule before the release date. These are summer films and many come from light, humorous books, so schedule them for that month after you’ve tackled something tough.

This year’s summer season opens with Angels and Demons. Brown’s thrillers strain credulity for many readers and the lack of depth in the characters make them tough discussions for book groups, but the good news is that many Brown fans liked this book better than the mega-selling Da Vinci Code. Again, by adding discussion of the film adaptation, you can get a hearty discussion out of a lighter book. This time symbologist Robert Langdon is on a search for the Illuminati and some terrorists. Tom Hanks again stars in the film, due out on May 15th.

The next month, on June 26th, Jodi Picoult makes it to the big screen for the first time (although some of her books have previously been made into television movies) with the adaptation of My Sister’s Keeper. As is usual with Picoult, the plot blends a contemporary news topic into the story of a novel. This book concerns a young girl genetically-engineered with the intent of being a source of donor materials and organs for her cancer-ridden older sister. As she turns 13 and a kidney donation is next on the agenda, Anna decides to sue her parents for the right to control her own body. With Cameron Diaz as the mother, Alec Baldwin as the lawyer, and Abigail Breslin as the daughter, the film, directed by Nick Cassavettes, is currently scheduled for June 26th.

A week later, on July 1st, nonfiction fans get their turn. Brian Burrough’s readable history Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-1934 documents the crimes of John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, ‘Creepy’ Karpis, and the Barker family. Their rise and the corruption in law enforcement that allowed them to flourish gave birth to the FBI under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover. Michael Mann’s film features an all-star cast, including Johnny Depp as Dillinger and Christian Bale as lawman Melvin Purvis.

A younger book group, or a group that wants to feel younger, would enjoy Larry Doyle’s funny book I Love You, Beth Cooper. It concerns what happens when a geeky valedictorian uses his graduation speech to proclaim his love for cheerleader Beth Cooper. The book plays with many of the familiar characters and cliches of teen movies. The film adaptation, starring Hayden Panetierre (of TV’s Heroes) is scheduled for July 10th.

The next week, on July 17th, a limited-release film by a little-known author named Rowling arrives in theaters. OK, just kidding Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the penultimate book in the series (although the last book will be split into two films), will be a huge film. This may not be the ideal entry point for book groups unless you’ve explored the Potter books previously, but with great films, audiobooks, and the original novels, the Potter series makes for an interesting study in the properties of different formats and how they affect us.

Julie Powell’s entertaining Julie & Julia, which documents her attempts to cook her way through an entire Julia Child cookbook in a tiny apartment kitchen, and Child’s own autobiography My Life in France, which among other subjects covers her service as a spy, have been adapted into one film by Nora Ephron. Both books are worthy reads for groups and some of the recipes could be cooked for a tasty addition to your meeting. The film, featuring Amy Adams as Powell and Meryl Streep in the Julia Child role (I guess she gets to add another accent to her resume) is due to arrive on August 7th.

As the summer ends, Ang Lee’s adaptation of Taking Woodstock is scheduled for August 14th (although this is the kind of dramatic film that seems likely to be postponed to the Oscar season if it is any good). Adapted from the memoir of Elliot Tiber, it’s the story of how he used his position as the head of the Bethel, New York Chamber of Commerce to issue the permits needed for the famous Woodstock festival to happen on his friend Max Yasgur’s farm. In the same time frame, Tiber clashed with his Old World Jewish parents, became aware of his own homosexuality, rubbed elbows with folks like Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Robert Mapplethorpe, and participated in the protests at the Stonewall Inn. It’s a remarkable story that should make a fascinating film.

 I’m having fun with this topic, so I’ll return once more next week to explore adaptations scheduled for the fall of 2009, which include films by Martin Scorsese and Peter Jackson and interesting approaches to some of the true classics of children’s literature.

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About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

3 Comments on "Book Into Film Pairings, Part 3"

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  1. tleecoc@aol.com' Tom Leecock says:

    I’ve passed through this blog several times now and have enjoyed your themes and suggestions, so I’ll pass one on to you. Our book group, which enjoys humor and nostalgia, found both in “108th Street” by T. David Lee. You might check it out and see if you think it’s suitable for Baby Boomers — and their kids. Keep up the nice work.

  2. sq1marketing@aol.com' Anthony says:

    Actually, the film of TAKING WOODSTOCK has already been described in various places as a “comedy” from Ang Lee and screenwriter/producer James Schamus. In addition, they will probably stay on target with the August release date for the film because it stays perfectly in line with the 40th anniversary of the original Woodstock concert back in August 1969. Dig it, everyone, take some TAKING WOODSTOCK as a summer read and you won’t be disappointed . . .

  3. jadebobcat@gmail.com' jennie says:

    I’ve really enjoyed the books into movies posts. But I just thought I’d let you know that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows WILL NOT be coming out this summer. The HP movie coming out in July is Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Keep up the good work!

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