The other day I saw the movie Revolutionary Road. It was amazing. Depressing and gut-wrenching as possible, but amazing nonetheless.
The movie was based on a Richard Yates novel of the same name — I was surprised I'd never really heard of this book. When I got home, I asked on Twitter to see what people thought. If it was half as good as the movie, I'm sure the book was quite Flashlight Worthy.
Well, apparently the book is a truly great one. And that go me thinking. Usually the movie just isn't as good as the book but sometimes, well sometimes the movie is every bit as good. So what great book/great movie combos are out there?
I asked on Twitter and was flooded with replies. 228 individual replies covering 47 titles — below are the 21 titles mentioned at least 3 times. If you've saw and loved the movie, then don't hesitate to read the book. And if you read and loved the book, well, I suppose it's ok to put down whatever you're reading to watch a great movie now and then. :)
by Anthony Burgess
This book is intense, violent, and graphic. It's also a fascinating commentary on society, and an exploration of freedom and consequences. I've re-read it several times, and always get something new out of it. I will say that I have to take occasional breaks from the intensity when reading it.
by Charles Frazier
Melissa Daniel says:
Ah... love! Sometimes a girl needs to curl up with a good book- one with passion, friendship, hope, adventure, and of course, two lovers who are separated by a great distance. Don’t watch the movie, read the book instead!
by Stephen King
This book, a collection of four novellas, is here because it includes a piece titled "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption". Yep, THAT Shawshank Redemption. Did you even know it was a Stephen King story?
by Jean-Dominique Bauby
I was quite surprised that this book was only mentioned once. Honestly, I think it's a more valid choice than 90% of what's here.
by Michael Ondaatje
by Chuck Palahniuk
One of two titles to be mention the most (6 times). If the book is half as good as the movie, it's a must-read for everyone. (Which means, I suppose, that I need to add this to the ever-growing pile by my bed.)
by Mario Puzo
Cary Branscum says:
If you liked the movie, you'll love this book. It's like having the characters bigger than life, expanding into Puzo's creation of character, and explanations of what's really going on in this tale set in the brutal world of organized crime. The secret of the Godfather? It's a story of a family, a desperate family from desperate times, who claw their way to the American Dream, only to find the past is not easily escaped. Leave the gun, take the canoli.
by Nick Hornby
I was a little surprised this title made the list. While I loved the book, I understood the movie to be not up to snuff. Maybe though that was just the objection of purists at the setting being moved from London to Chicago?
by Jon Krakauer
I was pleased to see this show up. Not only did I love the book, but I thought the movie was pitch-perfect in the way it captured the lyrical quality of the settings.
by Khaled Hosseini
L. Rivetz from Ocala, FL says:
A great book and without saying a single word about the plot, I'll recommend it for anyone who wants to understand the meaning of the word 'dignity'.
by Tom Perrotta
Personally? I thought this book was a bit lackluster. And I didn't love the movie either. But hey, that's just me. ;)
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Really, it was just "The Lord of the Rings" that was mentioned. But what the heck, I threw "The Hobbit" in for free.
by Dennis Lehane
Bert Savarese from Long Beach, MS says:
I read the book first, then found out it was going to be made into a movie. I was anxious about it — could a movie possibly be as good as the book? Could it capture the intricate emotions of the characters on film? Would it be true to the book or would I walk out of the theater disappointed, with a slight distaste in my mouth? So when it came to the theater, I had mixed feelings about going to see it. Finally I gave in: I wanted to know the answer to my questions. I felt as though there was a push/pull about seeing it on film but I wanted to see if they succeeded in painting the book on film. And, guess what? It followed the book almost exactly. So much so that the film seemed to fit right over the words I'd read: powerful, filled with tension, capturing the emotions of *each* character perfectly. I relived the story as if it was the first time I heard the words, felt the emotions, dreaded knowing what I knew. It was great! Read the book first, letting the story etch itself in your memory. After, see the movie and relive it as if you had never read the book! A double whammy!!
by Chuck Palahniuk, illustrated by Chuck Palahniuk
The first time I read this book, I wasn't completely convinced of its genius. But upon a second reading (it's part of my teaching curriculum) I've seen just how fantastic a story teller Kesey actually is. McMurphy's madness and sanity are best detailed through the voice of Chief Bromden and sadly, the movie never takes advantage of this detail.
by Isak Dinesen
Will Howarth says:
A memoir of seventeen years spent coffee-farming the cool, wet slopes above Nairobi. Written from her home in Denmark, Dinesen broods without apology on the beautiful, doomed dream of a colonial Africa.
by Jane Austen
Tsveta Borissova says:
This is a classic that has and will last through time. Any woman with a romantic soul has searched for her Mr. Darcy! Once you read it, it stays with you and there is nothing you can do but read the rest of Austen's books...
by Jane Austen
Tessa from England says:
Although the Ang Lee film was possibly the richest and most faithful adaptation of an Austen novel — and an excellent film — the book still has so much more to offer. Inevitably, a film is short and focuses on the romances in the plot line. The novel is much much broader than this — Jane Austen dissects the social strictures of her time with a keen and amused eye; characters are far more developed; the story unfolds at a more measured and richer pace. Most of all, you hear Jane Austen's writing voice. Witty, incisive, intelligent, wry. An astonishing observer of people, motivations, emotions and consequences. From her we learn that circumstances might have changed in 200 years, but people haven't.
by Stephen King
Stephen King is in good company. He and Jane Austen were the only two authors to make the list twice.
by Thomas Harris
Stacie Taylor from Mobile, Alabama says:
Mind-melding with characters isn't unusual for most readers, but Silence of the Lambs takes the experience to an entirely different level. You will seamlessly enter the mind of one of the most famous psychopathic characters in literature and vascillate between sympathizing with a killer and joining the BAU in the chase.
by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by W. W. Denslow
Kim Laird from Lansing, MI says:
I still adore the Wizard of Oz and have read it many times. It is very different from the movie in some crucial ways. It is a little old-fashioned in writing, but who can resist a little girl against the world, who learns to find herself? Lovely bits of imagination from the Cowardly Lion, brave Toto, and the flying monkeys.
by Richard Yates
And finally, the book that served as the genesis of this entire list.
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Peter from Flashlight Worthy HQ says:
This is a bonus 22nd book. It wasn't mentioned at all but it's one of my favorite novels of all time, and it's a rare case where watching the movie makes the excellent book even better, and vice-versa.
outlawradio from Brooklyn, NY says:
I first read this in a seminar on good judgment, after having enjoyed the movie years before. Ishiguro writes masterfully in the first person as a man who can best be described as a butler down to his very soul. His justifications and self-delusions about his own — and others' — failings are brilliantly observed. For those who see the movie, Anthony Hopkins is heart-breakingly perfect in the role.
by Margaret Mitchell
And yet another bonus book - #23.
Amazingly, this all-time classic book/movie combo only came up once or twice during the brainstorming session. Follow the "3 or more mentions" rule, I left it off the list.
Oh boy, was that a mistake! As soon as the list was published I was inundated with emails asking, insisting, demanding I add the book.
Ok, I give in. Here it is. :)
by S. E. Hinton
But wait, another bonus book! I also received numerous emails suggesting this book. Yes, it was a great book. Yes, it was a great movie. But what amazes me most (and this has nothing to do with books) is the way the movie starred so many well-known actors before they were well-known: Ralph Macchio, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez & Sofia Coppola. Whoever ran the casting of that movie is a genius!
by Harper Lee
Jane Wylen says:
This is a wonderful story of quiet bravery in the face of bitter hatred. A subplot about the hero's young daughter and a friend provides a wonderful counterpoint to the main story.
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. more...
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