Book Club Help: Best Book and Movie Combos

by Kim on October 30, 2009 · 39 comments

The “In Real Life” book club I’m a part of meet on Tuesday to talk about The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by A.S. Byatt. The book is a collection a short fairy stories that we generally enjoyed, although we didn’t have a lot to say about it. I’ll have a review of the book up sometime soon, I hope :)

popcornBut when we went to decide on our next book, we ran into some questions. One person suggested we pick a book and movie combination. This was a great idea, but when it came to picking we had a really hard time!

I mean, we thought of some of the recent obvious book to movie adaptations — Atonement, Revolutionary Road, The Reader — but we kept discovering someone in the group had already read the book.We also briefly considered Little Children by Tom Perrotta and About a Boy by Nick Hornby, but I can’t remember why we didn’t choose those.

capoteThe pair we eventually decided on was Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story by Kim Powers paired with the recent Truman Capote movie starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman. One person in the group has already read In Cold Blood, but the rest of us are going in with just a little background. I’m excited to see what happens — my copy of the book is already in the mail, yay!

But here’s where you all come in! If this book/movie pairing goes well, I think we’ll want to do it again. Since I don’t read a ton of fiction (and rarely pay attention to movies), I was a little useless coming up with ideas when we were brainstorming. So I figured I’d toss the question out to you all: What are some of your favorite book and movie pairs?

Image Credit: HeyPaul via Flickr

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Steph October 30, 2009 at 11:18 am

How timely! I’m responsible for my book club this month, and I decided to do a book & movie combo. The three options I pitched to my group were: In Cold Blood, Revolutionary Road, and The Virgin Suicides. Right now Rev Road is in the lead… we’ll see how things go!

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Steph: Revolutionary Road looks like a great movie. I think that would be a good book/movie combo. We thought about doing straight In Cold Blood, but one person had read the book already.

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Jodie October 30, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I want to say Pride and Prejudice but you’d have to pair it with the 6 hour BBC series not that Keira monstrosity. How bout The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? I Capture the Castle has a fantastic film to go with it as well (oh Bill Neighy). Oh or gosh The End of the Affair is just great! I want to go ggrab some movies now.

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Jodie: I finally watched the BBC P&P during spring break — it was awesome! Lots of great suggestions, thanks :)

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Care October 30, 2009 at 1:07 pm

goodness can I help with this! actually, I sug that you visit the LitFlicks Challenge page from last yr. unfortunately, Jessica seems to be inbtw: http://thebluestockings.com/challenges/completed/
but she has links to best film adapts, etc. :)
my fave? Mrs. Dalloway AND The Hours and movie The Hours

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Care: I did the book/movie combo for The Hours awhile ago — really interesting! I still haven’t gotten to read Mrs. Dalloway though… boo. Thanks for the LitFlicks link, I’ll check that out too.

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Kathy October 30, 2009 at 1:12 pm

One that comes to mind for me is The Secret Life of Bees. My son is taking a literature and film class and 2 of the movies I know they’ve read/watched The English Patient and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Can’t wait to see what you think of the book and movie.

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Kathy: The Talented Mr. Ripley would be awesome, I have always wanted to see that movie. I think the book was pretty short too?

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Florinda October 30, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Back before my book club went dormant, we did book/movie combos a few times. Memoirs of a Geisha went over pretty well. Although we didn’t do this one, I think your book club should reconsider About a Boy.

The most fun book/movie combo we had was definitely The Princess Bride. Anyone who had read the book before had done it a long time ago, so they didn’t mind re-reading it, and no one minded watching the movie again (although one of us had never seen it before!).

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Karenlibrarian November 2, 2009 at 9:10 am

I actually preferred the film version of About a Boy, which is unusual. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby also has an excellent adaptation. The location is changed to Chicago, but it’s still great.

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Florinda: I think we didn’t do About A Boy one because one person had read the book already. I still want to read it though — I love Nick Hornby! And I’ve never read The Princess Bride, that would be a fun one to do.

Karenlibrarian: High Fidelity is one of my favorite movies; I read the book last year, I think, and then watched the movie too. Both are so much fun :)

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Julia Smith October 30, 2009 at 5:41 pm

My favorite combo recently is Everything is Illuminated (book by Jonathan Safran Foer and film by Liev Schreiber.)

Try Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko / film by Timur Bekmambetov. Total fave of mine!

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Julia: Jonathan Safran Foer is a favorite author — I didn’t know Everything is Illuminated was made into a movie too. Cool!

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Julia Smith October 30, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Oh – oh!

The Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons / film by Zach Snyder. Definitely include the animated film Tales of the Black Freighter, narrated by Gerard Butler, which appears as a story within the story of Watchmen.

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Julia: Yes, The Watchmen is great too. I loved both the book and the comic. And the Tales of the Black Freighter movie was so creepy!

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Valerie October 30, 2009 at 7:45 pm

How about the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” and the book originally published as “Q and A”, reissued as “Slumdog Millionaire”? Both very worthy of discussion, I think! But they’re not exactly the same, so that’d keep the discussion interesting.

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Valerie: I think the book and movie being different would make for great discussion — what worked, what didn’t, etc. I forgot Slumdog Millionaire was originally a book.

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Thomas October 30, 2009 at 9:54 pm

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. The book is fantastic and the old B&W version is great too, but not very faithful to the book. You could discuss the differences. There is a new film version out that loosely based on the book as well, but I don’t think it is out in the US.

Two of the best movie adaptations of two of the best novels ever are A Room with a View and Howards End, both by E.M. Forster. Even many readers haven’t read these two great books.

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Karenlibrarian November 2, 2009 at 9:04 am

I completely agree, both the Forster books are magnificent. But if you’re going for A Room With a View, please watch the 1985 version with Helena Bonham Carter and Daniel Day-Lewis — it is far, far superior to the recent BBC version which adds a totally unnecessary epilogue. It completely ruined it for me.

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Thomas November 2, 2009 at 10:52 am

O.M.G. Karen Librarian is totally right, I should have specified. The 1985 version of Room with a View is PERFECTION. And Karen, I see your Bonham Carter and Day-Lewis, and up the ante with Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Simon Callow, Denholm Elliot, and a young, very handsome Julian Sands.

The recent BBC version was wrong in so, so many ways.

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Thomas and Karenlibrarian: Thanks for the clarifications :) I hate adaptations that do a terrible job. The BBC is usually good, so that’s weird.

I’ve never read E.M. Forester, so those are great suggestions.

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Karenlibrarian November 2, 2009 at 3:36 pm

I wouldn’t say that the recent BBC Room with a View was terrible, just disappointing, considering the 1985 version was so good. The only thing I really disliked was the tacked-on ending, but it would be hard to compare ANYTHING with the original, it really captured the book. The acting was excellent, great casting, and beautful locations. How can you top Merchant-Ivory productions?

Andi October 31, 2009 at 9:10 am

Oooh! I will have to think about the book/movie combo question, but I applaud you for choosing Capote in Kansas! I read it last year, I think. I had Kim Powers post a guest-spot on my blog, and I just adored the book. I hope you like it as much as I did. In Cold Blood was amazing, too.

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Andi: I’ve wanted to read Capote in Kansas for a really long time now — I’m glad the book club was open to the idea. I got a copy of In Cold Blood too, but who knows when I will have time to read it…

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Ardene October 31, 2009 at 11:01 am

How about The Reader (Bernhard Schlink)? And I second the vote for Howard’s End.

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Karenlibrarian November 2, 2009 at 9:09 am

I thought the movie adaptation was excellent. The young German boy was so good, he should have had an Academy Award nomination also.

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Ardene: Oh yeah, duh, The Reader is really recent too. Good idea!

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Lisa October 31, 2009 at 8:44 pm

I’m gonna have to third Howard’s End. Wonderful movie, great book. What about something Shakespearean? Anyone up for a real challenge?

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Lisa: Shakespeare would be a challenge — I have such a hard time with him. One of our members is a theater critic, so I’m sure she’d have a lot to say.

And Howard’s End again… why can’t I remember that book?

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Eva October 31, 2009 at 9:39 pm

I LOVED the movie Capote! Enjoy it. :)

In high school, I did a paper on the play The Crucible vs. the movie; it was especially interesting since Miller wrote both, so the changes came from him.

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Eva: Yay, I hope it is good! Hoffman is usually great in the movies he does though. The Crucible is a really fascinating play and movie for a lot of reasons. I didn’t realize Miller wrote the movie too.

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Karenlibrarian November 2, 2009 at 9:08 am

I just finished reading A Very Long Engagment by Sebastien Japrisot which I’ve been recommending to everyone. The movie starred Audrey Tautou and I loved it also.

Some of my other favorite books with good adaptations: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (multiple adaptations)
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (hilarious!)
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

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Kim November 2, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Karenlibrarian: Thanks for the suggestions, those all look interesting. I’ve heard for a couple, but not others.

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Karenlibrarian November 2, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Actually, Love in a Cold Climate might be too long for a book group viewing, it may have been two parts — and it’s based on two books by Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. But they’re still wonderful if you like period dramas.

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Jeanne November 3, 2009 at 6:34 pm

If anyone wants to do a Shakespeare, the Oliver Parker-directed Kenneth Branagh as Iago and Laurence Fishburn as Othello quick film version is really good. I call it “quick” because it’s greatly (but well) edited. Also there’s a funny Branagh/Emma Thompson Much Ado about Nothing–good except for a wooden Don John by Keanu Reeves.

And I’d like to chime in about how good that older film of A Room With a View is.

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Kim November 5, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Jeanne: Kenneth Branagh makes me laugh, mostly because of the awful version of Frankenstein that he did. It was just so over the top! I’ve seen him in a few Shakespeare movies too, and he’s better in those :)

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Mindy Withrow November 4, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Many of my favorite movies are the literary biography ones. I thought the film Miss Potter was a wonderful retelling of Beatrix’s life. I also recently read Elegy for Iris, a memoir by her husband of one of the greatest novelists, Iris Murdoch; the film version starring Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent, and Kate Winslet is beautiful and remarkably faithful to the book.

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Kim November 5, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Mindy: Those both sound awesome. I haven’t watched a literary biography in awhile, but I do love them. The cast of ‘Elegy of Iris’ sounds powerful.

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